Friday, December 31, 2004

Dec. 31 Part II

The side of me that's a recluse constantly wars with the side of me fascinated by the world.

Friday, December 31, 2004
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and warm

Depending upon which news agency you listen to, the death toll is somewhere between 120,000 and 130,000. The Daily News cover photos were of rich people sunbathing back on the Thai beaches – while thousands are suffering all around them. It makes me sick.

And that model chick moaning about her missing boyfriend as her private plane waits to whisk her off? If she’s refusing to leave, why isn’t that plane being used to ferry supplies?

It all makes me sick.

Rab McNeil has a great article in today’s issue of The Scotsman called “Well, so much for peace and Berti Vogts” looking back at 2004 and how ridiculous much of it was. And I mean ridiculous not meaning “fun.”

It was a difficult year, personally and professionally, and a year of enormous loss in order to make room for growth. On these days of Janus, today is the time to look backwards.

I did fairly well on my Resolutions. I had only three of them.

The first, to be the best me I could be and make my corner of the world the best I can, was rather hit and miss. There were times when I did it, and times when I was overwrought and overtired and chose to be a hermit. But I made progress.

The second was to commit more fully to my writing. Um, yeah, I would say I’ve done that.

The third was to visualize the positive life I crave. Again, that was hit and miss. For the most part, I succeeded. The first month of last year it didn’t quite work out that way (part of it was being in Houston, no offense meant to Houston), and I’ve been struggling to retain the positive in the past few weeks. Hopefully, I can get back on track with that.

Out of seven goals, three of them were to sell specific pieces that fell by the wayside as I concentrated on other work. And, I did not write the plays I wanted to write. I started the Boston Tea Party piece and lost it, because I tried to make it wait for a time to be written instead of writing it when it moved me. And, with the plays, when they come, I have to drop EVERYTHING and do them RIGHT AWAY. That was a hard and painful lesson to learn. The other writing can fit into nooks and crannies of stolen or scheduled time. The plays cannot.

I did, however, not only make the serial (The Widow’s Chamber was the one at the turn of the year) a success, but have three more that are also successful. I wanted to write three novels and I wrote the equivalent of four. And I sold more short stories.

I made more progress on the writing front than I realized, and I began cleaning my emotional house, which is always a good thing. While I don’t expect people to change to suit me, I can chose who stays and who goes. And I’m getting better at paying attention when the red flags go up warning of problems – such as conflicting agendas or people wanting me to be what they want me to be rather than what I am.

I’m perfectly willing to compromise. I am not willing to capitulate.

Far too many emotional dramas have taken place for me on New Year’s. Today, I release the pain of the past – it won’t necessarily be healed instantly, but at least I can release it and forgive. I especially have to forgive myself, because I tend to loathe myself for making poor choices, even when I fix those choices later on. I can’t make the progress I need to make if I keep replaying the old loops of pain and loathing. So they have to go. Even the mistakes of the path built strength to face the future.

And, in this day and age, Rab McNeil’s final line in his column is particularly poignant: “And make 2005 the year you stay alive.”

I hope to stay alive in 2005, and beyond.

There are no guarantees, but I hope to do so.

And I wish everyone else out there joy and peace and pleasure and abundance.

May you bring in your New Year with joy and all your fondest hopes come true.

May we all work together for peaceful co-existence and a high quality of life for all.

Happy New Year.


Thursday, December 30, 2004

Dec. 30 Part II

Tidbits from the day:

There was a little girl on the train coming back out from the city. Probably about four years old, short brown hair, big brown eyes. She stopped the conductor and said, “Could you please make the train go faster? I need to get home quick so I can play in the day light.”

The conductor promised to take her request to the engineer.

Very cute!

As I stood in Staples, totally stressed because they no longer make orange file folders and I wanted 2005 to be ORANGE (I get stubborn about the STUPIDEST things), this woman came up to me and started screaming at me because I told her I didn’t work there.

Now, I’m standing there in my outdoor wear, carrying the big bag from the bookstore, my arms full of computer disks and fretting over file folder colours. It’s pretty obvious I don’t work there, and what the hell is her problem?

I should have been compassionate; after all, she might be having a bad day or something in her life might be horrible.

Instead, I simply said, “I feel sorry for you” and walked away.

It was an improvement on my initial response, which was “Back off, bitch. It’s not my problem that you’re stupid.” But it was still not the most positive response I could have/should have given.

I used my gift card for both Will in the World and Margaret Frazer’s The Hunter’s Tale. I wanted Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal, but they were sold out. The clerk who helped me was really sweet – total space cadet aging ex-hippie, complete with the long gray hair and the thigh-high black patent leather boots. But he did go into the stock room and root around to try to find the book, which I appreciated.

I have to release a friendship because I can no longer respect the person as a human being. He’s an immensely talented artist – who has the most god awful taste in women you can imagine. Here’s this incredibly handsome, talented, kind, and, in many ways intelligent and intuitive man – who always goes for the wounded birds who are emotional wrecks, live in constant crisis and treat him badly. He’s got so many terrifically strong, intelligent, SANE women around him but never falls in love with one. It’s very much like my uncle, a brilliant artist in Europe, who can only work when he’s miserable.

That may be attractive when you’re twenty, but we’re all way past twenty, and it’s not cute any more.

I can’t expend any more emotional energy on a person who keeps running in the same destructive patterns. I used to think I had to be miserable in order to work and my work pretty much sucked. It’s much better now that I often work from a place of sacredness rather than misery. He’s good now – he could be BRILLIANT if he’d make the choice to be happy. It’s not that I want to be the woman in his life – there’s far too much water under our respective bridges for that – but I’d like to see some personal growth happen. He’s in the same place he was in when we were in our twenties. For crying out loud, his fifteen year old son is more mature than he is. These are his choices, and it’s up to him. But I have a harder and harder time being around him because I no longer respect him. So I can’t. It’s sad, but, for me, a necessary act of self-preservation.

Pet Peeve:
No, I didn’t add to the menagerie and I don’t have a Peeve as a pet. I just have to rant about ungrateful celebrities who whine about fan mail. I’ve worked for some really high profile people and dealt with their fan mail. And, as my writing expands, I’m getting more and more of my own. I like to deal with it myself – I don’t want to hire someone else to do it. But some people have to hire someone, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Plus, some of the fans are both crazy and unfairly demanding.

But if you’re going to do something in a public arena you have a certain responsibility to those who respond to your work.

Does that mean anyone can invade your home or call incessantly or interrupt your dinner? No. Come one, people show some manners! But it means when you are out and about at an industry event, or when someone takes the time to let you know the work means something, you respond with courtesy. There are some celebrities who are now refusing to accept fan mail and that’s just wrong. Those karma dogs are storing it up and when they squat on the doorstep . . .

Yes, it takes way too much time and prevents one from doing other things. But you build in x hours a week to deal with the mail, and, even though it takes a long time, unless the person is truly overly demanding or crazy, a postcard with a few kind words or returning a signed photo (provided the fan encloses a SASE – even celebrities can’t afford the postage for the amount of mail they receive) doesn’t take that long, and it matters.

I know, when I was starting in the business, a Baby Theatre Geek, that there were celebrities who were kind because they were kind. But it made a huge difference and introduced me to the joy of the work. I’m now trying to pay it forward, whenever I can. I don’t always succeed – I’m human AND I’m crabby at times – but I try. When someone makes demands that are greater than I can meet, I am straightforward about it. This is what I can do, and no more. But I try to be gracious and grateful. After all, in the entertainment industry, our calling is to move people emotionally. When we do so, how can we turn our backs on those who respond? It’s a difficult balance, to protect one’s private life and still acknowledge those touched by our work, but it CAN be done.

If I can forward a kindness the way certain performers and writers extended the kindness to me and get someone just starting out passionate about the business, it’s worth the additional time and the sometime frustration.

We all are granted the same amount of time every day. It’s how we use it that defines us.


Thursday, December 30, 2004
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and mild

The death toll has passed 114,000.

It would be nice to see the world working together to help, instead of what’s happening, with factions sniping at each other about money.

All the individuals I know are doing whatever they can to help. And lots of individual efforts combine to make a difference. So why can’t politicians shut their damn mouths for once and act? If some of them would actually put their asses onto an airplane and get over there and do some work – not just walk around, having a “tour” and handing out a half dozen water bottles and getting themselves photographed with survivors, but roll up their sleeves and work for a few weeks, I might have some respect for them.

I’m tired of empty words, empty lies, with nothing to back it up. If you’re going to talk the talk, walk the walk.

While it’s natural for such overwhelming grief to turn to anger, I hope a way is found to channel the anger into action that will actually help the survivors. Get in physical supplies, get in sanitation capacity and clean water, keep the people who managed to survive this disaster alive. Get hospital ships out there that can self-sustain so that the dead can be taken care of without putting the living into more danger.

Don’t let more people die because a bunch of politicians are flapping their yaps in comfort instead of doing something.

I have to go into the city to run an errand. Will try to get some work done on the serials. I plan to clear off my desk before the year turns.

Did some more work on the Goals, Dreams and Resolutions and will post the result on Saturday morning. Tomorrow, I will look back at this year an evaluate it.

The article on is getting a positive response. Let’s hope I can do the Lindisfarne article so it gets a similar response.

I’ve been spinning out storylines for Hereafter, and I’m not satisfied with any of them. Outlining is damned hard for me. But it’s a skill I better hone, so I have to sit down and do it. Maybe I can work on the outlines while I’m riding the train.

Part of me feels that I shouldn’t do anything except concentrate on relief aid. What I have to do is balance doing what I can for the relief efforts along with keeping my life on track. If I veer too far in either direction, life will get off-center and the results will be detrimental to both sides of the equation. By keeping in balance, positive progress can be made on both fronts.

I always feel exceptionally unbalanced at this time of year anyway, so it’s even more of a challenge than usual. And writing about work with relief efforts in this blog feels like I want some sort of recognition for it, when all I want to do is show up, do the work, and be anonymous. It’s not about me doing the work. It’s about the work getting done.


Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Dec. 29 Part II

The death toll from the tsunami is now past 76,000, and it’s thought that it will pass100,000. Such an enormous loss of life is nearly incomprehensible. The grief is overwhelming.

It’s almost enough to turn one into an Existentialist.

I continue to perform the Ceremonies for the Dead. I’m toying with the idea of writing a more encompassing ceremony to do on the Dark Moon, complete with a large pool filled with floating candles. Is that respectful or disrespectful, considering that the dead perished in the water? My gut instinct is that hundreds of floating candles will represent souls on the water, but I want to be respectful.

There are dozens of agencies sending aid. Two of them are The International Red Cross and UNICEF, easy to contact via the Internet. I was a volunteer military caseworker during Desert Storm with the Red Cross here in New York, and I have a great deal of respect for them.

The Houston Aeros Hockey Club is working with UNICEF to gather donations – visit their site for more information as well.

Unfortunately, along with all those who genuinely try to help, some agencies will be set up as scam operations. So make sure you research before you give money.

On another sad note, Jerry Orbach died last night. Although he achieved wide recognition for his television work, especially on Law and Order, he was a lifelong theatre man. I’ve seen him on stage several times and loved his work. He always saw shows on Broadway – usually knew half the company, too – so we’ve run into each other (sometimes literally) for my entire theatre career. He’s one of the most talented and nicest guys around. His death is a huge loss to the creative community.

Two episodes of Angel Hunt revised and sent to the editor.

The article is revised and sent off; the editor likes it. She performed some terrific gentle edits:

While polishing that article, I got an idea for another article for the site – but it has to wait until after I’ve met some of these deadlines.

While researching the Lindisfarne article, I wanted to fact check when the road was paved. So, I sent off an e-mail to the Heritage Center. Their response, received today, was that the road was paved during the “Coronation Decade.” Okay, I’m an American, when the hell was that? And whose Coronation? I’d assume Elizabeth II’s, but it’s always dangerous to assume anything. I need the facts. I contacted some friends in the UK – hopefully one of them can point me in the right direction. Come on, people, why couldn’t you just e-mail back the year? Urgh.

I nearly inserted a snide aside in the article, but then cut it. I’ll limit the snideness to the Diary, thank you very much, and keep the article professional.

Angel Hunt needs some more attention, I have to edit and send off what I can for The Widow’s Chamber and then I HAVE to do some more work on Cutthroat Charlotte.


Wednesday, December 29, 2004
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold


The show was fine on Monday night, although everyone’s sick and worn out from the crazy schedule. I got home late, because there was a train problem, and it seemed as though I’d barely gone to sleep when the alarm sounded and it was time to haul out of bed and get back on the train.

Yesterday was a long day – a double, eight-hour day call and then a show. It was fine. I’m just tired. But everyone’s tired – and they have a double show day today and another double show day tomorrow. It’ll be a miracle if anyone is left standing by New Year’s Eve.

It also pointed out, in even starker contrast, that I need to speed to transition along and be out of the theatre in less than three years. It’s been my whole life for twenty-four years, so it’s a very painful realization. But, although I am conscientious about my work and take pride in it, I don’t have the passion for it that I once had.

I discussed the situation with a friend of mine, explaining how I no longer have the physical or emotional stamina to do theatre – even swing work is taking a heavier toll than it should. He said something interesting: “Of course you have the stamina. You’ve simply chosen to channel it into the writing.” That’s an interesting perspective.

He also pointed out that it’s better to realize that the passion is gone while the ability is still there than to find out that the passion continues but the ability has waned. Being a pro athlete, that’s something he may have to face in the future.

I tend to be very emotionally vulnerable anyway at this time of the year – from directly after Christmas until about mid-January. I know the events that are the root of it, but I have yet to find a cure. Last year, I thought that going out on the road with a show would keep me busy enough to be a cure, and it had the opposite effect. So, this year I’m staying close to home and playing it all close to the vest. I’m keeping my inner circle twined closely around me and protecting myself as best I can.

Yoga Journal’s December issue had some interesting suggestions. Unfortunately, I didn’t take note of the article’s name or author, so I’m paraphrasing, and I apologize. But the suggestion was to set up “possibilities” instead of “expectations” that are bound to fail, and to “respond” rather than “react” to the world around you. Those phrases resonated within me, and I want to think about them for awhile and see how to apply them.

The Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions are turning out to be scarier and more demanding than I expected. I wonder if it’s because I’m making it public instead of keeping it private? That may be part of it, but articulating a plan that can work is more frightening than coming up with a list of Resolutions that can’t possibly be met.

I have more musings, but there’s work to be done first. I’m going to do another rewrite of the article for and send it off; there are serials to be written, the Lindisfarne article to be worked on, outlines to spin out.

The emotional malaise is threatening to turn physical (like a cold), so I’m taking my vitamins and herbal concoctions. I’ll be spending most of the next few days with a friend and don’t want to be sick.

I’d have a crisis of confidence about my writing work, but I simply don’t have the time. Doing the actual work is far more important than moaning about insecurities, most of which have no basis in fact. I can’t waste time in self-indulgence right now.

One of the more entertaining pastimes in the past couple of days, as I walked to and from the theatre, was to browse in bookstores and imagine how I’ll use my gift card. Will it be Will in the World or Ellis’s new biography of George Washington or a novel that catches my eye? The choices are delicious.

The burn is healing much better and faster than it would if I’d gone to the ER. New skin is forming, it’s remained sterile, and I think there will only be minimal scarring. It’s stopped the constant, gnawing pain and now itches, which is a good sign.

My next kitchen will be big enough so that I can actually stand in front of the stove when I’m pulling dishes out or pushing them in to the oven, not wrapped around the side of it the way I have to do it now.


Monday, December 27, 2004

Dec. 27 Part III

Two issues of The Widow’s Chamber in first draft.

The quarterly newsletter is almost done. I have to find a few links to insert, and it’ll be ready to go out the first week of January.

I’m going to stop the computer work now and think about the Goals, Dreams and Resolutions for a bit. Maybe I’ll do a bit of reading – I could use some gentle fiction or quiet poetry. If I don’t rest, both mentally and physically, I won’t be able to do the show tonight and then immediately turn around and do an eight hour call tomorrow morning. Tonight’s track is the one with the heavy coats.

Some yoga would be a wise choice, but I may opt for a long meditation instead.


Dec. 27 Part II

Just over two issues of Angel Hunt done and two drafts of the article for I also signed some contracts that needed to be done.

The burn is bothering me. I’m trying to keep it sterile while still going about my business.

According to my records, in the past few months, I’ve surfed about 500 blogs. I’d say maybe two dozen are blogs I go back and read. I think it’s great that there’s such a wide variety out there, and I’ve found some blogs of people with lives very different from my own – a pastry chef, a scuba instructor and an astronomer among them -- but there are also plenty out there that just turn me off.

I dread going in to the show tonight and then having a long day there tomorrow. The mental preparation is more difficult than the physical one.

My friends went off exploring, leaving me time to write. They will be back for an early dinner; then they go off to listen to some live music while I go to work.

I’ve fallen into my typical End of Year Despair. Instead of focusing on the growth – and there’s been a lot of it – I’m fretting about what didn’t get done. It’s a pattern I need to break.

Time to take a deep breath and then tackle The Widow’s Chamber.


Monday, December 27, 2004
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Snowy and cold

I’d like to wish author Gerina Dunwich
a very happy birthday! I enjoy her work, and hope a great day today is the start of a great year for her.

I have permission to link to and mention the political blog I mentioned in a previous post. It’s Dave Pell’s column, and some of the best and most coherent writing out there:

It’s worth bookmarking. I’m also adding it to my list of “Recommended Reading” for my students.

According to this morning’s news, the death toll from the tsunamis is up to 21,000. How can there possibly be words to describe the grief, the horror, the loss? I’ll spend the next few days, if not weeks, performing Ceremonies for the Dead, much as I do in the days around the end of October. At times like this, I wish I was a billionaire, so that I could send aid, but this is what I can do, and I will do it.

Discussion with friends was quite lively (bottles of wine and all). They are both life-long diarists as well, and we got into discussion about the whys, wherefores and power of the diary. There was a great deal of pulling books out of shelves and taking down the atlas, etc., etc., leaving quite an avalanche of literature in the middle of the living room floor. But it was fun. We got into an especially heated debate about the Tolstoys.

Since I read their diaries, I have not been able to read and enjoy any of Tolstoy’s work. His hypocrisy, deliberate cruelty, and self-obsession revolt me so much that I can’t get past it to appreciate the quality of the actual writing – okay, I never had much patience with Anna – I always thought she was an idiot to throw herself under a train – but I used to appreciate his craft. Now he just sickens me.

And that brings up the question: Does genius excuse bad behavior?

At eighteen, I would have said, “Absolutely.”

Now, I say, “No.”

Too often, people claim genius as a reason for treating people badly and being selfish to a degree of harming everyone around them. Granted, there’s more psychological complexity around them with the people who indulge them – all of that s/m co-dependence – but I’m tired of artists who sacrifice the lives of those around them in order to do their work.

In other words, if you think you’re too good to do the laundry or the dishes because you’re a “genius”, get out of my face, because I want nothing to do with you. It’s the daily details that keep a person grounded and that allow the work to speak universally.

Does Tolstoy’s work speak universally? It does, to millions of readers. It never really did to me, and by the time I read the diaries, I was so disgusted that I can’t get beyond two or three pages without wanting to throw the book across the room. It’s a personal response to someone whose life I don’t respect.

But is his life any of my business? Of course not. His life was the business of himself and his family. I don’t have the right to judge it. Any more than I think readers of my serials or short stories or whatever have a right to judge my life. Because, as entwined as my life and work are, there is still a separation.

And I work hard to make sure I don’t perform deliberate acts of cruelty. I stand firm in not compromising about my work – I don’t get myself into relationships anymore where I’m supposed to be “the little woman”. I’m interested in partnerships, where each helps the other, not one person is devoted to the other’s dreams/careers/etc. at the expense of one’s own. As I would not submerge my own work and talent in order to pour all that energy into someone else’s life, I would not want my partner/husband/lover/whatever to give up his creative life for me. It’s got to work both ways.

I’ve tried the whole helpmeet thing in the past, and, fortunately, my survival instinct always kicked in early enough to get out. And now I know the warning signs when someone wants that, and I can put a stop to it immediately, saving us all time, energy and heartache.

I guess, in general, I’m tired of all the justifications people give for cruelty – genius, religion, money, power.

I don’t believe that one has to sacrifice being a great artist in order to be a decent human being. I think it’s an indulgent excuse. I think some artists’ works might have even been stronger if they’d practiced more kindness and less self-indulgence.

Are there artists whose work I avoid because I think their lives were too hypocritical? Tolstoy is the one who immediately comes to mind. I’m sure there are others. Right now, I can’t think of them, but I’m sure there are even contemporary writers, actors, etc., whose work I turn away from because I think they’re vile people. It doesn’t mean I feel I have the right to tell them to work a different way or be a different way, because I don’t. But I can make a choice not to have anything to do with them or their work.

Ah, I just thought of two of them – one an author, one an actor. I won’t mention their names, because they are both alive and it’s unfair. But there’s one particular author whose work was popular several years ago who I think is both a lousy writer and a lousy human being. And there’s an actor whose work I don’t particularly like who I think is such a loathsome person that I won’t be in the same room with said actor – to the point of refusing wok on a production in which that person is involved.

In both those cases, I don’t like the work or the person. But what of cases where the work is spectacular and the person is vile? And can we really know the extent of someone’s life while they’re still alive? But is it always truth that comes with history?

There are dozens of answers to these questions. I don’t pretend to have the only ones or the right ones. I can only respond, case-by-case, as best I can individually and try to figure out why I have such a strong reaction to certain lives and works and not to others. It’s a murky, complicated labyrinth.

And I can’t spend all day in there. I was called to go in to Wicked tonight – which means I’ll get home around 1 AM, have to get up at six and be back on an 8 AM train tomorrow for my long day call. I better watch out or I will be a vile person by tomorrow night.

In the meantime, Angel Hunt week begins today. I need to get some work done on that, more done on Charlotte and Widow’s Chamber, and the first draft of the article done – before 4:30 this afternoon, when I have to catch my train.

Enough theorizing. Down to work.

The burn on my arm is blistered – I should have gone to the hospital. But hey, the hospital closed and the nearest one – I don’t even know where it is. But I’m treating it here and will wrap it in sterilized gauze to go to work, because there’s no way it’s not going to get bumped, rubbed, and who knows what else.

Delta deserves to go out of business for the way they ruined thousands of people’s holidays, canceling Comair flights because a computer went down. People were able to fly before computers were used to assign flights. The system crashes, you have a HUMAN assign flights and fax the list around and you SOLVE THE PROBLEM. This tendency to simply shrug and refuse to create solutions whenever there’s a computer glitch has got to stop. The world ran just fine before computers were used in every aspect of life, and we can’t forget how to function when the power goes off.

If it requires creative or individual thought, the majority don’t want to do it. Anyone who says, “I can’t” or “it’s not my job” should be instantly fired. Especially if that person is in a management or supervisory capacity.


Sunday, December 26, 2004

Dec. 26 Part III

We offer up prayers for those 11,000+ killed in the tsunamis triggered by the earthquakes in Asia today. Those who survived and/or lost loved ones are also in our thoughts.

As I track down links to ways for individuals to help, I will post them.

Dec. 26 Part II

It’s snowing!!!!

Never a dull moment. Waiting for one set of guests; phone call from another set of unexpected guests who caught, on impulse, a flight in to visit for a few days. And as I’m traveling to the airport, a call from Wicked, asking me to come in for the matinee.

Of course, I couldn’t.

And it would have been much easier to pick up my friends if they’d told me the right airport.

But it’s all sorted. One set of guests come and gone; the other settled and preparing for tonight’s full moon.

Plenty of lively discussion about whether to continue to live in the US or emigrate. One pair of friends has applied to emigrate to Canada. The other friends live outside the US and are encouraging me to move to Paris – where they treat writers well. Actually, the best place for writers I’ve ever visited is Australia. They treat writers very well there. We all agree that Iceland’s 100% literacy rate and high quality of life are inviting. The thought of living on an island makes me nervous, though.

One friend summed up the disturbing swing of the country’s mood: “It’s not just about disagreeing and then respecting different viewpoints. It’s become ‘I disagree with you and I’m going to crush you’.” This attitude that patriotism means blind acceptance of bad decisions on the part of our government is ludicrous. It’s because I love my country that I get so angry when the individuals who comprise government work from personal ego instead of for the good of the nation as a whole.

And that’s not the principle upon which our founding fathers worked. Ben, George, John – come back! We need you!

Another batch of healing bath salts done (they can only be done during the waxing moon).

Also, since today was the first day of the Twelve Days of Christmas (Partridge in a Pear Tree, anyone?), last night’s dream was prophetic. Each dream you dream during the nights leading up to Twelfth Night is an augury for the coming year and is connected to a particular month. In other words, last night’s dream was for January.

Unfortunately, it was an argument with a supervisor that I knew in the dream but have yet to meet.

So I won’t accept any new shows in January and the literal interpretation of the dream is nullified.

I just have to figure out what the symbolic meaning is.

Something to do with the career transition, no doubt. The supervisor in the dream was “disappointed in me” – and part of the conflict in the transition is the feeling that I’m letting people down. Which is ridiculous, because for every person who leaves the business, there are at least a hundred lined up to take his place.

Maybe I’ll get some work on the serials done.

With guests?

Yeah, right.

At least there are plenty of leftovers, and the guests brought quite a large supply of wine. Which we’ve already opened.

Let’s hope I don’t get called in to work tonight! It would be, um . . .interesting.


Sunday, December 26, 2004
Full Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

First Day of Kwanzaa: Umoja (Unity)

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could celebrate our diversity with unity? Of course we can. It’s simply that so many choose not to. And it’s the diversity that makes us strong. Strongly distinct, creative individuals working together are what make a society work. Conformity does not create cohesion – it creates spiritual illness, which manifests in cruelty.

The place is tidied up and I will try to get some writing done while I wait for the guests. It’s supposed to snow today, and that would be lovely.

I worked on the material for the classes last night, in and around watching, for about the seven hundredth time Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen in White Christmas. I love the costumes in that movie.

I’ve visited some very interesting blogs over the past week, and, as soon as I get permission from the authors, I will post links. There’s one very interesting political blog – the author has a wide frame of reference. I can only write about politics in a personal context. Unlike most people, who believe that political decisions have nothing to do with them, politics affect my everyday life. I wish I could go back to a time and place where they didn’t, but they do. And I can only respond to them on a personal level. I can’t imagine that I’m the only person who is affected by political decisions – but many people choose to ignore them, and then are shocked when everything falls apart. Personal choice. Anyway, the author of this particular blog has the knowledge, the resources and the tools to not only see the bigger picture, but communicate it well.

I’m also going to ask some of my fellow bloggers if I can include their links in the Recommended Reading List I give to my students.

I’m glad I had a bit of a break from the usual time spent online over the past few days. I’ve found myself feeling less generosity towards “wanna-be” writers than I should. I get quite impatient with the writers with zero credits who bounce onto boards announcing that they’re going to be famous – but they don’t actually want to do the work to get published.


That’s a question each individual has to answer for himself (using the pronoun in the sense of all humanity, not a specific gender).

If you want to be a writer, sit your butt down in that chair every day and WRITE!!! No whining, no excuses. If you’re not writing, you obviously don’t want it enough. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with keeping a diary as one’s only form of writing or occasionally jotting down something you find interesting, and having it be something you do on the side.

But, if you want to be a genuine, professional writer, if this is your passion and your career choice – you sit down and do it. The work doesn’t happen by itself. If you wait for the Muse to show up instead of invoking the Muse, demanding the Muse, challenging the Muse – you’ll never get it done.

Career Writers get it done. No matter what other demands are made on them.

Everyone is capable of carrying a notebook and jotting down ideas, formulating sentences in all the time spent on trains, in waiting rooms, waiting to pick up kids from activities, etc. Writers write. Others don’t. And sometimes you give up mindless TV and meandering phone conversations. And sometimes the mindless TV and the meandering phone calls are what you need to get back on track.

It’s about desire and priority. Those have to drive you.

How badly do I want the writing?


And I’m earning my way towards my Fantasy Castle of Creation – building it word by word, laying the foundation of ink and paper, coalescing the five elements to create my visions. It’s slow work, sometimes frustrating, sometimes tedious, and requires a supreme commitment. Word by word.

Will it matter to anyone hundreds of years down the line, or is it simply another form of narcissism?

Who knows?

But when I doubt myself, I remember the letter I received from the woman who, coming to one of my plays on a whim, decided not to kill herself; decided that life was still worth living and that she could and would turn her life around. Even if my work doesn’t affect anyone else, I made one positive difference, mattered to one person, and that’s worth it.


Saturday, December 25, 2004

Dec. 25 Part II

Today could be a milestone.

If I don’t get a last minute call to go in to one of the shows, this will be the first Christmas Day in twenty four years that I have not worked.

Even last year, when I knew I was going to transition out of the theatre, I worked on Rent on Christmas Eve and on Gypsy on Christmas Day.

People forget that, when they over-glamorize life in the business. Movie stars often don’t work on holidays, but theatre people do. That’s when audience members have the time off and want to see a show.

Every time the phone rings, I jump, hoping that it’s not a call to come in.

I want to reclaim my holidays.

Over the last few years, I started to do just that. I don’t work on Halloween – it’s too important a day for me, and I no longer compromise on it. It’s spelled out in my contracts. Most of the time (except for the past two years), I don’t work on Thanksgiving, because that’s when we’re summoned to Maine.

Because of that, I always agreed to work on Christmas so other people could have it off.

And, as of last year, I now refuse to work on New Year’s Eve. I do not go into Manhattan on that crazy day. I put in my time fighting my way through that hell, and I’m not a big New Year’s Eve fan anyway. So I don’t do it.

Wrestling the 20-pound turkey into the oven was quite a feat. For some reason, the preparers had embedded plastic into it to tie the legs together. I don’t want anything plastic in my turkey. So I had to dig into it with sanitized pliers to get it out, then stuff it, and it’s so big the top barely fits on the pan. But it smells good.

I wrote a few more episodes of Tapestry this morning, revised eight episodes and sent them all off. I’m caught up – until the next Tapestry week. Angel Hunt week begins Monday and I’m still behind on Cutthroat Charlotte and, especially, on The Widow’s Chamber.

Someday I’ll be caught up – for maybe 24 hours.

I burned my forearm badly taking the turkey out of the oven. It’s a combination of steam and grease burn, and I’m surprised by how much it hurt. Had the hospital up the street not closed – YESTERDAY – I might have gone up there to get treated; however, I wasn’t about to lose the rest of the day in a hospital emergency room. And what’s the use of herbal studies if I don’t make use of them? So I used a combination of aloe from the plant in the kitchen and some Pennsylvania Dutch Folk Remedies – and they worked. It stings a bit, but it barely shows. Instead of the entire forearm blistered and swollen, I have a bit of a raised area of about 4 inches just above the wrist. I will continue to work on it tonight, tomorrow, and Monday, and perhaps I won’t need to wrap it to go to work on Tuesday.

I fretted terribly about my downstairs neighbor. She has her television on constantly when she’s home, and always cracks her door so she knows who’s coming and going. She’s difficult and intrusive and off-putting, but I still worried about her being alone for Christmas. I was admonished by the family in no uncertain terms NOT to invite her upstairs – she would have gone through drawers and cupboards, read personal papers and, in general, upset everyone – but I was trying to figure out a way to make her feel someone thought of her while still protecting my family’s privacy and holiday spirit. Fortunately, someone came to pick her up to go somewhere, so she’s not alone and I’m off the hook. I would have felt horrible leaving her alone down there, yet had I brought her up here, everyone else would have been miserable. There was no way to win.

But the dinner was good and the clean-up, though complicated, went well. What was that saying they made us copy over and over in third grade penmanship lessons for the letter “M”: “Many hands make light work.” My penmanship is still lousy, but the saying stuck.

I’ve got the turkey bones cooking in a pot to make stock, and had a quiet bit of afternoon re-reading books I’ll use in my “Writers and Journals” intensive.

The books have me thinking about a question that I share with you:

Who are you spiritual ancestors?

I don’t mean your blood relatives, nor do I mean icons of your religious faith. But who has had enormous influence on you, for good or bad, and been a guiding force in your life?

I’m going to ponder that question for a few days. As I considered it, I realized that not all of my spiritual ancestors were a positive influence.

Must do some more tidying up tonight. The friends who bailed yesterday are going to stop by tomorrow around noon – which means more like three. So I’ll tidy up a bit and keep my morning free to write.

Both Charlotte and The Widow’s Chamber need my attention tomorrow – two issues of each would be a good day’s work. And I want to work on the article for and the Lindisfarne article, as well as spinning out my storylines for Hereafter.

Tapestry took an interesting twist right before I folded in the New Year’s story, with a bizarre new character named Zack Grendl. Tom has proven himself to be less than stellar, though not as much of a jerk as I originally thought he’d be. He’s got room to grow, and either he’ll grow up a bit and earn Nina, or she’ll outgrow him first. Honestly, I have no idea which way it will go. I’m as curious to find out as I hope my readers are.

I think I may have to insert one more short arc before sending Nina to Chicago and then on to Edinburgh. I got an interesting idea. Which has to be put aside for a month – but hopefully not lost – while I concentrate on all the other serials. Part of me wonders if maybe I should write three months’ worth at a time instead of one month, in order to stay longer in the world of each piece.

So much contemplation is necessary this week to prepare for a clean-slated New Year!

Plus, I have to finish the Update Newsletter.

But first, another chocolate truffle.

And later tonight, I’ll burn a candle for The Lost – those we love who have died, those we may not know who died (such as soldiers we don’t know personally but have lost collectively as a country). Today is about peace and love, and part of that is remembrance, and hopefully learning how to create more peace and love and less unnecessary loss.


Saturday, December 25, 2004
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold


And may Peace, Joy, and Prosperity be showered upon all.

I managed to get some work done on Tapestry yesterday. Since these episodes deal with Nina on the holidays, I want to finish them off today, while I’m in the midst of the holiday energy. What she’s dealing with contrasts nicely and I want that tense juxtaposition.

Watched one of my favorite movies last night, Christmas in Connecticut. That movie just makes me laugh! And the actors seem like they’re having a blast and doing it quite tongue-in-cheek.

One of my favorite gifts is a fun one – “Moose in a Mug” – a stuffed moose in a Christmas mug. I still collect stuffed animals, and I have mugs from just about everywhere I’ve traveled. So my little stuffed moose sits on the desk, and I’m drinking my coffee out of the red-and-white snowflake mug.

The stockings were great fun. Off to shower and then make the stuffing and put the 20 pound turkey into the oven. We experience lovely, quiet Christmas days –while the turkey cooks, I’ll write and maybe dip into the biography of Mary, Queen of Scots that I received. Reading is always the most important part of our traditional Christmas Day celebrations – because, after all, what’s better than books for Christmas?

Started the handwritten diary again last night – I’d let it lapse since July because of this blog. But I need the dynamic between the two. I’ve kept handwritten journals for over thirty years – I’m not going to stop now because of the blog. After all, the blog is about my writing life, and, while it’s deeply integrated with my life as a whole, there are still things outside of the writing that I need to explore in private space.

The cats love Christmas – all the paper and bows and chaos! I’ll sprinkle some catnip onto their stocking and let them explore their toys.

Off to stuff the turkey.

May you all have a wonderful, beautiful, restful day.


Friday, December 24, 2004

Dec. 24 Part II

My friends called and bailed for this afternoon. All that dashing around and food prep this morning for nothing.

Oh, well. Part of me is relieved – it’ll remain a small, relaxed, family-oriented Christmas.

The pork roast is in the oven, soaked with a sage/rosemary/thyme/garlic rub. The apartment smells wonderful. And we’ve dived into the devilled eggs and opened the chardonnay sent by my friend who moved to Virginia. Carols play on the CD player, the tree is on, the candles are lit, and now I can relax with my loved ones.

Hope you’re doing the same.


Friday, December 24, 2004
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold


I hope everyone has a peaceful, joyful and abundant holiday.

On a slightly sour note, the local meteorologists can bite me. They claimed it would be rainy and mild yesterday, that it would be warm today and cold and clear for Christmas Day.

By the time I got in to the city yesterday, it was raining sideways with howling winds and a rapidly dropping temperature. I did my drop-off at Rent, walked the 20+ blocks up Ninth Avenue to Lincoln Center to do another drop-off at The Rivals, and then headed back down to do yet another drop-off at Mamma Mia. I was so soaked by the time I finally got to Wicked that I could wring water out of my clothes. And this is in waterproof gear with an umbrella. And today, it’s very cold. And, looking out the window right now, it looks like snow. Just stuck my head out the window and inhaled. It smells like snow, too. So much for meteorologists. They should only get paid when they’re right.

I was sad to see that one of my favorite restaurants, Martini’s, on 53rd and 7th, has been gutted. Since it was so close to the Broadway Theatre on 53rd, we often went there after Saigon. I’ve been to some great parties and had some good dates there.

I grabbed some Chinese food, handed out the last of the gifts at Wicked, and read over the notes. The notes hadn’t been updated and were basically irrelevant to the actors now doing the roles. Fortunately, the guy who was supposed to fill in that track, who had to fill in in the men’s ensemble instead, had his notes – he recently did this track. So he lent me his notes and I helped him with the sewing he planned to do upstairs, but couldn’t doing the ensemble track.

It all worked out. I enjoyed being with everyone. Everyone was delirious with exhaustion and holiday hype. After all, they performed 13 shows without a break. They’ll have today off, then do another 10 in a row before having New Year’s Eve off.

A regular show week consists of 8 shows, but around the holidays, it always gets nuts.

Cashed my check, managed to catch my train and was home around 1 AM. Then, of course, I couldn’t sleep and puttered around getting things ready for today.

Up early. Friends are stopping by semi-unexpectedly today – only I don’t know what time they plan to arrive, which sort of throws things into a tizzy. Last minute grocery shopping, dropped the cake off to my mechanic, picked up the last minute stocking stuffers. Wrapped everything.

Fixed a nice batch of devilled eggs – based on the recipe from The New Basics Cookbook, but, of course with a few changes. I love that cookbook. My copy is in storage, and I just may have to go out and buy another copy. I kept taking it out of the library until they wouldn’t let me anymore.

I have another lemon sponge cake in the oven, in preparation for the guests. I wanted to do a filling of raspberry, but I seem to be out of anything remotely connected to raspberries. I don’t think strawberry, apricot, or blackberry will work with lemon – maybe the blackberry, but I don’t want to risk it with guests coming. So I’ll settle for a basic chocolate filling/frosting spread instead. I have plenty of cheeses and crackers and the devilled eggs, and an assortment of beverages, so I think we’re covered.

They’re not staying for dinner, but I wish I knew when to expect them so I could figure out when to put in the pork roast for our dinner. Whenever they say they’ll be here, I have to add at least three hours anyway. They’re never on time and it drives me nuts. Okay, so it’s a short drive, but still . . .

We always do the present-opening on Christmas Eve and then the stockings on Christmas Day. That’s why I always go on and on about stocking stuffers. The stockings are a big deal, because they are the focus of Christmas morning. Planning what I’m going to do for the stockings is one of my favorite preparations.

I’m tired of the grinches who try to ruin people’s belief in Santa Claus. Although our image is based on the Coca Cola ads from earlier in the 20th century, the St. Nicholas archetype has been around for hundreds of years. Over the years, as my godchildren come to me in tears because someone told them Santa doesn’t exist, my response is: “Of course Santa exists. Santa is the personification of the spirit of giving. We’re all Santa in some form or another. The guy in the sled flying over the globe is simply the energy of generosity spreading across the earth.”

So, there! :)

Have some work to do on Tapestry while I wait for the guests. The place is straightened up to receive them. It’s just a case of stashing some files in another room and lighting the candles and incense when they show up.

I hope everyone has a great day!

Back to the writing.


Thursday, December 23, 2004

December 23 Part II

So I’m getting thrown into a track at Wicked tonight that I’ve never done. I’ll be dressing The Wizard – actually, the understudy Wizard, who I dress frequently when I’m in doing another track and he’s in his regular track. We love working together, so it won’t be a problem. So I’m just going to go in and fly by the seat of my pants and hope the regular dresser writes good notes.

So I will leave for the city now in order to distribute the gifts and make my 6:30 call.

I brought cakes over to the wine shop and to the vet’s, and I have the cake packed to take to Rent. Tomorrow, I bring the final cake to the mechanic.

I wrote three issues of Tapestry. Planned to write more, but hey, I’m in demand right now, and I better roll with it.


Thursday, December 23, 2004
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and mild

Busy day coming up! I’m going to run around this morning delivering cakes. I’ll come back, write, pack a few more presents, and then haul in my next load of gifts to Manhattan. We’re presenting the gift tonight to the supervisor at Wicked, and I want to be there.

I got two episodes of Tapestry edited and sent off last night. A third one is almost ready. I have to rewrite another that was almost done – there’s a whole section told in passive flashback that will work better in active dialogue. I’ll be able to communicate more about the characters and move the story along.

I still have some last minute running around to do tomorrow – mostly to get some stocking stuffers.

I loved the headline in the Scotsman this morning – about the internet cutting “festive stress.” I like that term – I’ll have to use it. Frequently. In various and sundry projects.

While I enjoy shopping online, there’s also something about shopping in person that I enjoy. I don’t shop in malls – I go to small, out of the way shops or individual artisans. I end up having tea with them and talking about their views on life as I pick out presents. That’s the kind of shopping I like to do.

Even though I no longer go to church and I have problems with the mis-use of organized religion to excuse atrocity done in its name, and Yule is my holiday of faith rather than Christmas, I’m tired of the political correctness of the holiday. Since the theme of the season, no matter what the religion, is “Peace on earth, good will to ALL”, let’s do it by joining in celebrations for all religions.

In Manhattan, I used to set up my Yule tree, my Christmas decorations, a beautiful menorah, and I was hunting for a Kwanzaa set up but didn’t have it before I moved. I did participate in the Kwanzaa celebrations my neighbors threw, and it was sooo much fun.

When I was a little kid, I used to sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus on Christmas morning. I figured everyone was fussing with what he did as an adult, but no one was wishing him Happy Birthday, and everyone should be wished “Happy Birthday”. Okay, so there’s the whole theory that he was actually born in March and all that, but since the holiday is set in late December, the season of lights, cut the kid a break and wish him “Happy Birthday”, okay?

If I know someone celebrates Christmas, I say “Merry Christmas.” If I know someone celebrates Chanukah, I say “Happy Chanukah”. If it’s Yule, it’s “Happy Yule”. If I don’t know what they celebrate, I say, “I don’t know what your holiday of choice is, but I hope you have a happy one.”

Of course, when someone says, “Well, I’m an atheist and I think it’s all crap”, I say, “Enjoy the lights anyway.”

The point is to experience peace, joy and love, and to SHARE it.

That’s different than FORCING it, saying there’s only one way. And because so many people try to shove their beliefs down everyone else’s throats, the backlash has been to segregate the holidays, and I think that’s causing more harm than good.

And as I learn more about other holidays, I’ll add them to the mix.

Granted, I start the holiday season on October 31 with Samhein, and celebrate all the way through January 6 (Twelfth Night) – you think that’s a bit excessive? But I’d like to see coherence with holidays, in that we can all partake and enjoy ALL of them. That way, we understand each others’ faiths and I think that leads to tolerance and peaceful co-existence.

I love to be included in holiday celebrations when I don’t know anything about the holiday, or when someone has completely different traditions than I do. I learn so much, and I’m HONORED to be included.

So, I merrily celebrate everything I can, and my biggest wishes are for


I’ll just step off this soapbox, fold it up and tuck it right over there, and get back to work on Tapestry. Nina has to be pushed into even deeper emotional confusion so she can make yet another personal mistake over New Year’s, after she finds a body in the . . .well, you just have to subscribe to Tapestry and find out (ooh, little commercial vixen)!


Wednesday, December 22, 2004

December 22 Part II

Well. Quite a day.

I have four lemon sponge cakes cooling, and two more painted wine glasses drying.

And I may have a new script writing contract. liked my samples, and we had a long phone discussion this afternoon about my going to work for them as one of their script writers. I’m going to come up with an outline for Jan. 5, and the opening. Should they like it, we’ll sign contracts and I deliver a 120 page script to them shortly thereafter.

It’s in the romance genre, which is not the genre in which I’m most comfortable. I made it very clear that Harlequin-style romance is not what I do (am I shooting myself here in the foot? Harlequin pays steady money). But the staff likes my style, so we’ll see what I can come up with.

I have four possible story ideas that I will spin out and see which one they want: a time travel, a 1920s farce, a turn-of-the-century romantic suspense in Boston, and something set in NY in 1911 (those of you familiar with my work will know exactly to what event that pertains).

I’m also wondering if I should use a new pseudonym for the work I do for this site, or if it’s stronger marketing savvy to use a pseudonym already in play.

I have two weeks to spin out these ideas and see what’s strong. The challenge will be keeping the characters down to manageable levels. I have to think in terms of small theatre play scripting as far as cast. It will force me to focus on the two protagonists.

And I have to get the Lindisfarne article done by Jan. 2.

And the article for by this time next week.

And I have serial episodes up the ying-yang due NOW.

And I’m still having trouble intermittently posting on the writers’ group board.

And I’m so tired I could fall over.

But . . .I’m happy and grateful to have all these opportunities and I will rise to the occasion(s) without bitching and moaning – too much. I’m crafting both a career and a life.

In the meantime, back to Tapestry.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and mild

I was up for 21 hours yesterday.

I am a basket case today.

I woke up at 3:30 AM. Since I had to be up at 6 anyway, it didn’t make sense for me to go back to sleep – once I’m up, I’m up. If I start dozing, I’m groggy all day.

Got some busy-work done and made the 8 AM train. I’m not fond of riding during rush hour, and I’m sick of the MTA crying poverty, raising rates and giving zero service. In addition, the execs vote themselves raises of $40,000 and up, in addition to housing allowances of $48,000. And we wonder why the system has no money!

Anyway, the train wasn’t too crowded. I probably could have found a seat, but with all the luggage I hauled, I chose to stand.

A man and woman conversed opposite me. This guy, married with two kids, was completely obsessed with teenage sexual proclivities. He talked about it incessantly and in detail for the entire 50 minute train ride. He pretending to be shocked, but his tone (in addition to his normal, slightly nasal and condescending vocal quality) and the body language -- the way he leaned across the woman to talk to her, etc., showed how much this topic turns him on. His hypocrisy was interesting – his words saying one thing about the topic, but his body language saying another. Useful character study. Wondering if he’s living a double life yet or if that’s still to come.

Day work was fine. I muddled through a seven hour shoe call in three and a half hours – which means I only did the stuff that was the worst – mostly checking rubber and getting rid of scuff marks. And then I had to do my regular Tuesday call.

I played Elf Girl, running around distributing presents. One friend was there today instead of Thursday, when I expected her, and I didn’t have her gift with me and felt like an idiot.

I planned to be Invisible Elf Girl and leave at 5, but one of the dressers is injured and they asked me to stay and do the show. It was fine – my favorite track, and the actors were glad to see me. They were all thrilled with their gifts, which is nice, and several asked if they could special order more bath salts. I’ll have to make up another batch before Sunday’s full moon to make sure I’m covered. The salts can only be made during the waxing moon.

But I was pretty tired by the end of it all. I haven’t done the track in awhile, and I’m very sore today from hauling around the heavy coats.

I ran a gift down to the theatre where another friend is working on my dinner break. I haven’t seen him for ages and miss him, but hopefully we’ll get to visit soon. Our work schedules aren’t meshing right now.

I cheated and ate at McDonald’s for dinner – cheap and close. There was a table full of noisy, meaty guys nearby. They work out at a local gym – an old-style gym, not a health club – and were attempting to convince one of their number into trying for the Golden Gloves boxing title.

More interesting character studies.

I got back to the theatre before my call time and enjoyed a few minutes of silence. There’s something very beautiful about a silent theatre preparing for a performance -- before all the personnel arrive and actually get to work.

I’m re-reading texts I’ll use in my classes. First up is Alexandra Johnson’s The Hidden Writer. It’s one of my favorite books about writers and their journals. I’ll discuss it in more depth in another entry.

My friend and I received a wonderful portent for a good upcoming year as we walked from work to the train – how lovely to get such an omen on the Winter Solstice! And, when I got home, I found a new tarot deck to review: The Tarot of the Four Elements. It’s stunningly beautiful and I can’t wait to start working with it.

I received a Christmas card from a writer friend in Edinburgh that was stamped “Missent to Bermuda”. Huh? Pretty funny.

Did my Winter Solstice work, checked on the e-mail, and by the time I got to bed, I’d been up for 21 hours.

I’m paying for it today – I’m not 18 anymore.

Lost most of the morning, waiting for the exterminator to show up for his monthly appointment – never showed, never called. Not happy about this. Everything has to be arranged so he has access, the cats have to be stashed so they’re away from what he uses, etc.

When I was sure he wouldn’t show up, I ran errands. I came up with a few new story ideas, including, of all things, a new Halloween story! But hey, if I do it in the next few weeks, I can send it off in time to appear somewhere by next Halloween.

Emerging Women Writers will publish two of my short stories under two different names in their January issue.’s Freelance Writing Forum asked me to do an article about the Goals, Dreams and Resolutions.

My editor at Time-Travel Britain needs me to send her the photos as a zip – only I don’t have a zip drive, so I’m not sure what to do. I asked her what the other options are.

I’m very upset about the attack that killed at least 15 of our soldiers yesterday. I hate feeling so helpless about it all.

I’m off to paint some more glassware, bake four cakes and wrap presents. I have another round of deliveries to make tomorrow.

Oh, yeah, and I better get some writing done today.

I think in between the baking and the writing needs to be at least a short nap so that I can actually formulate a semi-articulate sentence or two.


Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Tuesday, December 21, 2004
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cold (it’s still dark out; don’t know if it’ll be sunny or not).


May a happy, beautiful and peaceful day auger a joyous and prosperous 2005.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Dec. 20 Part IV

A close call.

I walked away from my computer for a minute to get something across the room. And I hear a dog barking (no dogs are allowed in my building). And I hear voices, having a conversation.

Not the kind of voices one hears when one is writing – call it Alpha State, call it a trip to the Writing Planet, call it a visit to the Writing Dimension (or is it dementia?).

Nor were they the voices from a neighbor’s television in another apartment.

These were strange voices in MY apartment.

But no one’s there.

And the place isn’t haunted.

And the cats are asleep (although they twitched a bit at the sound of a dog barking).

So I figure, okay, I’ve finally snapped. I lost that last marble. My elevator is stuck several floors below the top. I’m on my way to the rubber room.

But the voices are still quite distinct.

So I go back to my desk and see that I was still signed on to my ISP, and some little feline must have walked across the keyboard on her way to a new nap spot, because some weird site was loading with dogs chasing butterflies and two people seated over a picnic having a conversation.

I was SOOOO relieved.

So maybe I’m only a little frayed, not snapped. Maybe I have a marble or two left. And maybe I hit the override button on the elevator and it’s moving again.

In any case, I caught up on all the material from KIC.

Some cards came in today, from people whose addresses I don’t have, so I have to get out another batch tonight.

I meant to make it an early night because I have to get up at 6 AM. It could still be an early night if I get those cards done.

Why do I think by then there will be yet another distraction?

Dec. 20 Part III

Wrote some more holiday cards. Polished up a couple of short stories and submitted them. Did some on-line marketing. Did some more work on the Business Plan. Wrote a few letters.

Worked on the Lindisfarne article. I’m just letting myself go in the first draft, getting a variety of thoughts and feelings and memories of the place down. I’ll shape it once it’s all on paper, rather than trying to call up memories to fit a format. In this case, I think it will work better. And I want to prepare an excellent sidebar.

Read through the April and May blog entries and took some notes, to give myself an overview of the year. It left me feeling more hopeful than I thought it would, and is certainly helping me with the GDR and the Business Plan.

I toyed with the idea of creating “Ink in My Kitchen” as a separate blog, but I’m afraid that will make me feel fragmented. I’ll keep it within this one, but give it a bold sub-heading.

Also considered reformatting the blog. Just because. However, I really like this format and find it soothing. So why change simply to change?

Now that Mercury’s direct, I seem to be able to post on the writers’ group. Go figure.

Invited another writer I think would be a good fit into the group – two new invitees in the past couple of weeks. I hope they enjoy it!

Here’s another really good blog, called “Seeking Clarity”:

Will print out the KIC mag stuff and see if I can turn it all around tonight. Don’t want to get behind.

Maybe I’ll do some more work on “Touch” tonight, but I think I should make it an early night. Tomorrow will be a very long day, between a double work call and hauling in a suitcase full of gifts.

I’m looking forward to a nice glass of wine tomorrow night and some holiday cheer!


Dec. 20 Part II

Edited two issues of Charlotte well enough to be submitted. The rest of the issues still need work – hopefully I can get them out in the next couple of days.

Wrote three issues of Tapestry easily. Will edit them either later tonight or tomorrow. Tom is just full of surprises. It’s good for Nina to be a little off kilter because someone is nice to her – but Tom’s own conflict is going to cause her to make yet another bad choice when I fold in the New Year’s theatre story into the piece.

Also did some more work on the Business Plan and the Goals, Dreams and Resolutions.
I’m starting to feel a little clearer, at least business-wise, about what I need to do in the coming year.

Part of me was hesitant to post the entry about the conflict I’m experiencing. Yet, reading what some of my friends are going through, there seem to be several of us at a crossroads, who are cutting the deadwood out of our lives. And that’s a good thing.

I need to do some work on the January newsletter. January is pretty close.

Printed out the blog entries from April and May so far. I’m going to read back over them to try to chart progress – if there’s been any. I think that will help with the plan for 2005.

It’s beautifully quiet – unusual around here mid-afternoon on a Monday – so I’m going to have a cup of tea and enjoy the quiet for a bit before getting back to work.

And the work will be the Lindisfarne article.

Oh, Colin, thanks for the reminder – it’s “The Malt Shovel” in Edinburgh. I have some excellent memories associated with that place!


Monday, December 20, 2004
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury DIRECT – Yeah!
Sunny, snowy, and VERY cold

Although I didn’t sleep well last night – too much on my mind, this morning’s cold, crisp snowy morning is inspiring.

Back to the serials, and another stack of material arrived from the KIC Print Mag. So I’ll have my hands full. But the serials have to come first.

Actually, first, I’m going to go and dig my mother’s car out. She has a doctor’s appointment this morning, and, at age 80, she shouldn’t have to be digging herself out of a snow bank. In fact, the building should clean the parking lot, considering how much they charge her for parking, but that’s a whole other rant.

I don’t mind – the physical activity will do me good. Then I’ll trudge to the post office for an errand and get the paper on my way back, and hope that all these loose threads of thought that have floating around for the last few days will weave themselves into something not only coherent, but interesting.

Michelle (Celtic Dreamer) has an idea for the recipe project: “Ink in My Kitchen”. I kind of like it, and will use it as a working title! Thank you!!! Everything I’d considered: “The Heritage Recipe Project”, “Legacy of the Foremothers”, etc. is a bit too ponderous. Those women were pretty extraordinary – one was a single mother in the 1840’s – with good senses of humour, and I want to honor that.

Oh, and I’m not being gender exclusive by using recipes from my female ancestors – I haven’t come up with any written by the men. If I do, they were most certainly included.

I know, when my great-grandparents ran a small hotel, that was famous throughout the region for the quality of my great-grandmother’s baking, that my great-grandfather spent a good deal of time hauling water from the well in yoked buckets – so I think my great-grandmother took care of all the cooking!

My best friend The Snow Shovel and I have a date.

Hey, that would be a great name for a pub -- The Bent Snow Shovel. Isn't there some sort of pub with "shovel" in its name in Edinburgh, as one comes up the street from the station towards Old Town? I can't remember the name of the street, but when you leave the train station, you turn left, cross over another street (past the Tattoo offices). There's a street that goes uphill, slightly to the left, kind of bendy, and there's a pub on the left hand side with low tables and good food. Can't remember the name, but know that we've eaten there several times.


Sunday, December 19, 2004

Dec. 19 Part III

First off, let me thank the Renaissance Man who read one of Saturday’s entries and e-mailed me in great distress: Don’t worry – I’m not just going to go off and burn the poems in a fit of pique. I’m struggling with some decisions right now – perhaps I’m having a bit of a Dark Night of the Soul. The work is a part of me, even if I choose not to expose it publicly. Even though on an artistic level, most of it is truly awful. And yes, I am familiar with some of the many aspects your art embodies. Should I choose to purge myself of the work, it will be a long-mulled over and deliberate decision. I give you my word that if I ever hit that point of distaste with my work, the poems will be sent to you for safekeeping. Thank you for taking the time to reach out to a stranger.

Any other readers, feel free to skip down to the writing update beginning with Charlotte. The next few paragraphs are a tangent from the working journal.

By the time Mercury goes direct, I am so battered that I just want to lie there for awhile and let the blood seep into the carpet (figuratively – don’t worry). There has got to be a better way to get through these retrogrades that I do.

Part of it, this year anyway, is that, underneath all this holiday cheer is underlying despair for me. I’d love to blame it on the election, and my horror at the path this country is choosing to take grows daily – especially as I see lives around me casually destroyed day by day. It would be very easy to blame it on Them and then not have to do anything about it for another four years.

But that’s not the entire matter. Any person with both a brain and a heart has to be concerned at what’s happening all over the world, no matter for whom that person voted.

The real root of it is that this life transition is much harder and more painful than I’d like to be. Because I’m putting in the planning instead of simply jumping in the abyss as I usually do, I want to be rewarded for my forethought by a smooth transition. And that is simply not going to happen.

I’m dealing with many intersecting agendas, my own and others, on many different levels. I’ve never fit in – I grew up in a conformist Eastern suburb as someone odd and different. While it wasn’t always pleasant, it bothered me less than it bothered others who were different because I didn’t care much for the people who fit in and didn’t want to be like them. There were moments, here and there, where it would have been nice. But the desire to belong was never a driving force in my life.

I followed my own path through college and in carving out a career in the theatre. In theatre, I felt more a part of something bigger than myself, although I was never in any of the cliques. That saddened me over one period of my life, where I worked heart and soul for a small off-Broadway company who never saw me for me, just as someone who could get things done. But I learned a lot there that has served me well since, so, while I had some painful times then, I have no regrets now.

I’ve certain made some messes in my life, but I attempted to live with integrity. Sometimes I failed. I made amends when and where I could, once I realized where the wounds were.

It’s certainly taken a toll on relationships. I am simply never going to “settle down” and be a housewife. I adore men, and I’ve had some wonderful men in my life (and, unfortunately, one or two who weren’t so wonderful). But I don’t understand why, once I’ve been coaxed into a relationship, I’m supposed to sit home while the man goes out and has the adventures. I’ll travel along as a partner, or I’ll go off on my own – but I won’t sit home. The world is too fascinating a place for me not to experience it first hand. There are plenty of those who like to sit home and wait – more power to them. But if I don’t start out that way, why would anyone think suddenly I’m going to turn into someone else if there’s a commitment involved? It doesn’t make sense. Partially, it’s the fairy tales and various fictions we’re fed – the whole “happily ever after”. You can live happily ever after and still be yourself.

How many talented, fascinating people have I watched (of both genders) “give it all up” for the partner? Why does being in a relationship mean only one person gets to live up to his/her potential? I don’t agree with that at all. And I won’t live that way.

So this transition is tougher than I want it to be. Working on the Goals, Dreams and Resolutions – realizing that there’s little more than a week before I have to solidify my decisions and cough them up – is making me feel even more pressured to choose paths at several crossroads I now face. I’d hoped I could handle them one by one.

You know, like in a quest story, where the challenges might pile up, but at least they come up one after the other? Only in my case, they are multi-dimensional.

I’ve met Hecate at the crossroads and I’m not asking the right questions. Maybe because deep down I know some of the answers and I want them to be different.

Sometimes free will really sucks. And personal responsibility’s no joyride, either

Cutthroat Charlotte update.
The interaction with the Spanish mercenaries isn’t working properly. The technical information, as far as I can tell, is correct. But the spirit isn’t quite there. I’m going to let the episodes sit some more today while I send out a Cosmic Yoo-hoo and hope somebody appropriate answers. Oh, yeah, and do some more research. A lot more research. I’m going to crack those translations of the material in Spanish no matter what! I just don’t think I can do it by the deadline for this month’s episodes. So I will scoot Sebastian Alarico off until I’ve gotten a better handle on his frame of reference – Sebastian himself is going to do some horrible stuff to Charlotte in the future – and then bring him back when I know what I’m talking about.

And it doesn’t help that I still haven’t caught up with The Widow’s Chamber.

But Tapestry calls and I’m going to fly on that for a few episodes today. The next few Tuesdays I won’t be able to write at all on the serials, because I’ll be leaving the house by 8 AM and getting back around 8 PM, so . . .I’ll be fried.

And I’ve got to work on the Lindisfarne article this week, too.

Links, etc.
If you’ve managed to survive the post thus far, I have some interesting links to recommend:

My friend Angela, who writes the Roses and Brambles blog, has a new serial available on Keep it Coming:

Another colleague of mine, from a freelancers’ forum, also has a new serial with Keep It Coming:

While doing some surfing as part of Blog Explosion (thanks, Zarina), I found a terrific blog called “Greener Pastures” – I’ve also added it to my links because I plan to read it every day:

And, last but not least, a poet friend started a blog:

Goals, Dreams and Resolutions
We’re coming down to the wire on this. While most of it has been worked and reworked, some of it is still in flux, and I have to make decisions.

Clear the Slot must be a priority. I think I’ve gone far off course with the way I’ve handled one character’s personal demon and I need to do some more research before I do another draft. But another draft must be written and it must start making the rounds again. It’s been far too many months since I’ve actively marketed it.

An agent is the wrong path for this book. It’s unique. It can’t be pigeonholed. And it’s the first of five books about this particular group of characters. Sweep Check has had three false starts and has foundered for a year now. Both of these books need to get back on track.

I have to research the markets very carefully. My gut tells me that a smaller press is the way to go. But small presses tend to want work that’s darker in shock value. While the five books definitely darken as they evolve, Slot is a valentine to those who play hockey and those who love it. It’s not all hearts and flowers, but there’s a lot of affection within it. I’m not willing to compromise on that. Nor am I willing to compromise on telling the stories, in-depth, of the entire team rather than just focusing on two or three members. Each team member is equally important, just like it works on the ice.

I have my work cut out for me.

Ransagh and Intricacies of the Labyrinth must be priorities, again because they are unique. Periwinkle and Change on the Fly must be priorities because they’ll sell.

And what about Curse of the Moon-Faced Clock, Oath of the Amber Tiger, and The Other Project? Not to mention the Congress Corners stories.

And the serials.

And the columns.

And the articles.

And the teaching.

And the plays.

And the business writing, which I need to bring in the money.

How do I come up with a SANE plan to get it all done? If I’m too tightly scheduled, I resent it and act out. If I don’t stay organized, projects will fall through the cracks.

And I need to squeeze enough theatre work in there both so that I remain in contact with the outside world – I won’t say “reality” because theatre is about creating illusion -- and so I can keep my insurance.

Who thought being in theatre could be a good practical decision?

And it can’t be all work and no play. I know how I am – if I work too hard, I play way too hard, and that’s when I get myself into trouble.

Anyway, these are some of the questions with which I’m wrestling and will continue to do so between now and the first of January.

I’m also printing out the 2004 blog entries so that I can read them over and use them to see where I’ve come – who knows, maybe I’m just running in place – and maybe that will help guide me where I’m going.

The New Project
I promised I’d share the new project and I will. Yes, after the above rant, it sounds like I shouldn’t take on anything except maybe three weeks on Bora Bora.

However, I’ve been gathering recipes from my grandmothers and great-grandmothers. I want to work on them – many of them don’t have measurements – things like “one sifter of flour” or “a handful” of something.

A recipe a week is too much; a recipe a month is too little. So I’m going to attempt to try a new recipe every three weeks or so, and write about the process of working on the recipe. I hope that blog readers or friends in various writing forums, cooking forums, etc. will also give some of the recipes a try and let me know what sort of adjustments they find useful.

Will this be a book?

Honestly, I don’t know. I suspect it will – and then feel guilty to ask for friends to volunteer their time to help test recipes. However, I won’t mention anyone or include anyone else’s comments, adjustment, et al, without the proper permission. I want to try it for a few months and see how it goes. It might just be something for us to talk about when we’re not talking about writing or blogging or politics or whatever. Sometimes trying to figure out whether it’s a half a cup of sugar or three quarters of a cup of sugar can be soothing.

What I’ll do is post on the blog when it’s time to start a new recipe and ask if anyone wants to help try it out. Any volunteers can e-mail me and let me know. I’ll e-mail the original recipe and off we go. And I’ll write about what works and doesn’t work in the recipe, and what kind of changes/mutations/etc. the piece goes through.

No one has to sign up for the duration. I just figured I’d let whoever was interested in the particular recipe respond, and keep careful notes. I’ve done a bit of work on the project before, but it’s fallen by the wayside, so I figure if I put it on the schedule, it has a better chance of actually happening.

I wanted to come up with a pithy title, but I'm fresh out of pith.

Movies, TV, Etc.
Answers to some questions I received:
Actually, I don’t watch a lot of television. It used to be because I worked nights in theatre. Now, it’s because there are so many commercials that the minute I get pulled in to anyone’s world, I’m jolted out by an ad for hemorrhoid cream or something.

I try to catch The West Wing and Lost, and NCIS is my guilty pleasure, but that’s all I watch regularly.

I hate so-called Reality shows –and whenever I get into a debate with someone, I make sure to watch an episode or two of a particular show so I have a frame of reference – because I’m sick of seeing people rewarded with large sums of money for being their worst selves.

Art is supposed to help us become our best selves in life – so Reality Television, in my mind, should use some form of art to make people better selves.

Video games: Nothing against them. I just don’t play them. And why? Because I get distracted. The three or four times I’ve tried to play a video game, I thought about stories for the characters and started writing and let go of the –whatever the stick’s called –and that was it.

Movies: A friend who read the blog told me I should go see National Treasure because, although the movie’s not very good and the script would make me throw things, Sean Bean is worth the $10.50. Glad to hear it. I’ll probably wait until it comes out on video, no offense meant to the actor, whose work I enjoy.

The last movie I saw in the theatre was Seabiscuit. And that’s because I’m acquainted with some of the jockeys in it – although I loved the book and hopefully would have seen the movie anyway.

First, I go see movies or plays my friends are in or have worked on.

Second, I see movies or plays acquaintances/colleagues are in or have worked on.

Then I’ll go see things with no one in them I know. By then, they’re usually on video. And I’d rather watch them at home, without the other annoying people talking on their cell phones all around me.

On that happy note, back to Charlotte and The Widow’s Chamber. Technically, I don’t have to start Tapestry until after midnight.

Guess I had to get a lot off my chest tonight, didn’t I?


Dec. 19 Part II

Well, I’m one step from blithering idiotdom (no smart-ass comments, please). It took me longer to wrap the gifts than to make them. And this year, I didn’t do (much) fancy packaging.

I literally have to pack a wheeled suitcase in order to get in just the gifts for Wicked on Tuesday. I’m waiting until Thursday to bring in the gifts for Rent and for my friends working on other shows.

And here I thought I had a shorter list this year because I’m only a swing. But I like to do things for the people I work with, make/give them a little something special so that they know they matter, and I also want to make sure no one’s left out, so . . .it’s a long list.

I’m exhausted.

And Wicked’s booked me for double calls on the next three Tuesdays – good money, but I’m combining the principal call with the shoe call.

So it’s a twenty minute nap and then an all-nighter to finish what needs to be done on the remaining episodes of Charlotte.

And then tomorrow I’ll share the new project.



Sunday, December 19, 2004
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
About to Storm

There’s a big storm coming, and both the cats and I are jumpy. Once it actually starts, we’re all fine, but the build-up . . .

Wrote just over 1200 words of the first draft of “Touch” last night – a very bizarre story, with one character in Poughkeepsie and one in South Dakota and . . .well, you’ll just have to read it when it’s done! I figure this is the first third, not the first half, so the piece will run longer than expected, but maybe I can cut it. No maybe about it – I’ll be cutting quite a bit.

So far this morning, I did three loads of laundry and ran the errands to get the last few bits I needed before I wrap. I was surprised at how few people were out – I just zipped around from place to place with no problem.

Must wrap, then write, then do a long entry with links that may be of interest, and also, word on a new non-fiction project.

But for now, I need to get back to work.