Rockin' out

by Lorin Michel Saturday, March 11, 2017 8:42 PM

I don't like to work outside. Technically I don't like to work inside either but that bothers me less. I have never liked to garden or plant; I don't care what a particular species is. I don't know most trees from other trees; there are types of cactus here in the desert I don't know the names of yet and I'm ok with that. It's a bit surprising that I don't like to work in the yard since I like to be outside. I blame my mother (sorry, mom) because she used to make us work in the yard when we were kids. I've never liked to be "made" to do anything, something mom can attest to. Ditto my late father, my brother and sister, my ex-husband, my current husband, my kid.

But today, I worked outside. Not for very long but long enough to help my husband.

Every once in a while, we need to disassociate. We have been and remain consumed by the politics of this time. We rant and rave and plot and plan. It's exhausting and all consuming. And necessary. But even the most hardened anarchists need a break from it all every now and again. It's why I have school and why Kevin spends so much time doing physical things. Several weeks ago, he spent time redoing the brakes on the Classic. Last weekend he started back on his never-ending swale project. Yesterday, he went to Lowes and various other places including a stone and rock place called D & D. He came home with several buckets of decorative stone for the sides of the driveway. 

This is something we've been planning to do since we moved in ­– to finish the driveway so that when you come up to the house, it doesn't look under construction. We love the desert look. All of our vegetation is completely natural. We only use native plants. Kevin has transplanted several cacti from other areas of our property to where he wants them. He did this is the center round-about, he did it along the driveway, coincidentally where we placed rock last night. 

He dumped his six buckets of rocks, lovely ½” desert brown, and I donned my new work-outside gloves and spread the rock around. Yes, I do realize the incongruity of someone hating to work outside having work-outside gloves. It’s my second pair. Justin got me the first years ago when he worked at the Do-it-Center in Agoura. I finally wore through them last fall. Kevin got me a new, heavy duty pair for Christmas.

The results of this decorative rock were stunning. 

So today, after swaling, and while I was at the grocery store, he went back to the rock store, twice, each time coming home with eight buckets of rock. He dumped them each along the south side of the driveway, and once I had put away groceries, I once again donned my work gloves and with the help of his knee pads, spread it around. 

We’re not done. But we made progress, and it’s going to be just gorgeous when it’s done.

Today we rocked out. And it was a good thing.

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Fiction. Now more than ever.

by Lorin Michel Friday, March 10, 2017 9:23 PM

I saw an article headline today on Slate about why writing fiction is so hard in the toddler error. It was entitled The Urgency of Writing Fiction in the Trump Era and in it, writers Ben Winters and Hector Tobar talked about … actually I have no idea because the article was behind the pay wall and while I pay for some online content, I have not subscribed to Slate Plus. I did a quick google search and came up with a tone of articles about much the same topic. The majority talked about having a new sense of urgency in addition to a responsibility. Ernest Hemingway said “The writer’s job is to tell the truth.” A hard job to be sure in this error of time.

Interestingly, the professor of the current class I’m taking says nearly the opposite of what Hemingway said. In one of our lectures, he informed us that we were all about to become expert liars. However, the current stories we’re working on all stemmed from something that actually happened to us or to someone we know. So I suppose both Hemingway and McNeely (my current prof) are correct. 

I have always loved the escape of fiction. When I was young, a long time before there was Amazon or BN.com, I used to go to the town library where I would check out two or three books at a time. My reading for the week. It wasn’t uncommon for me to polish off a book over the course of 24 hours. I never read non-fiction, other than for school, preferring to immerse myself in the lives of people I imagined to be real rather than those who actually were. Fictional people are just deeper, more nuanced and infinitely prone to situations, sometimes of their own making, sometimes not, where they have to change. Maybe they change for the better, maybe for the worse, but they are forced by circumstance to do something in keeping with who they are.

After I became a professional writer, my reading time dropped, especially after I went out on my own. The hours I work are long, though worthwhile financially, and I often don’t have the energy to do much of anything, including read. In this new error of time, I find myself reading too much non-fiction and it makes my heart ache for a good work of fiction wherein the bullying, amoral antagonist gets just what he deserves. I remain hopeful. 

Only for the briefest time when I was young did I dream, as most young girls, of being either a famous singer or a famous actress. Staying truer to my more introverted ways, what I really wanted to be was a writer, an author. If I became famous for that, all the better. But being able to create worlds and populate those worlds with characters both good and bad, and then escorting them toward their logical end is what gives me hope still, even today. It’s why I’m taking classes. 

My first class was in the fall and didn’t end until after the election. I had a story due and I found myself almost unable to concentrate, both before and after November 8. I was terrified of what would happen and then it did. Reality was too much to bear. The idea of trying to channel my anger and disappointment, my fear and loathing, my sheer terror into something fictional just seemed beyond me especially since I don’t write horror stories.

Perhaps I should try. 

The class I’m taking now has existed entirely while the toddler has been first the elect and now the official. Somehow I’ve been able to write much more clearly, and I actually think better since … him. I don’t know why. But this quote by Kurt Vonnegut pretty much sums it up: “The reason we write fiction is because it’s so much easier to exist spending part of each day in an imaginary world.”

It’s the escape, and that alone is worth celebrating.

An early spring

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, March 8, 2017 7:16 PM

It seems that there are several groundhogs with differing opinions. On February 2 of this year, Phil, of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania fame, rose from his hole in the ground to see his shadow and casually predict that we were in for at least six more weeks of cold and snow, of bluster and blow, a prediction that is actually decided upon prior to Phil by the powers that be. Who knew? However, there are two other furry predictors, both from a more northern capacity, who offered contradictory opinions on the same date. 

Ontario, Canada’s Wiarton Willie and Nova Scotia’s Shubenacadie Sam emerged from their no doubt cozier holes in the ground to proclaim, via their lack of visible shadows, that spring was on the way. 

Sam was the first to make his bold, and it turns out true, prediction before scurrying off into a snowy yard to hide. “Soon we shall see the many colours of green,” a town crier bellowed in Shubenacadie Provincial Wildlife Park. Really.

Willie evidently made his prediction by whispering in the mayor’s ear. “Wiarton Willie sees no shadow in sight. He says early spring. Will his prediction be right?” warbled another town crier. Honest. 

Turns out Willie and Sam may have indeed overshadowed poor Phil down here in the states. According to a report in that bastion of fake news, The New York Times, in an article published today, “Spring came early. Scientists say climate change is a culprit.” At least they didn’t say that it was the culprit, leaving room for the possibility that there are additional causes. 

The article, by Jeremy White and Henry Fountain (don’t you love that a guy named “fountain” is writing about weather science?), says that contrary to the three rodents, February’s temperatures were abnormally high and that traditional spring weather arrived more than three weeks earlier than usual in many places. Spring’s official first day is March 20, but some places in the southern US evidently had leaves springing out by mid-January. Fruit trees are budding everywhere. Here in the desert, the ocotillos are blooming, and alternating between brilliant green and an autumnal gold. 

And wouldn’t you know it: that pesky thing called climate change is definitely sort of probably involved as new research shows a strong link between global warming and the very warm February we all experienced. In fact, February was the second warmest February on record with temperatures as much as 11º higher than normal. 

All I know is that it was in the 80s today. It will be in the 80s tomorrow and for as far as the weather app on my iPhone shows which is a week from Friday, with almost all sun and absolutely no rain. My husband has been running around in shorts and while I haven’t gotten that brave yet, I have put on flip flops with my sweatpants. It’s my own little proclamation of spring. For wence cometh the flip flops, then cometh the heat and vice versa.

I’ve taken the blankets off the bed. The windows are open and the ceiling fan has been on while we sleep. Last night there were crickets, and today there was a gila monster crossing the driveway. I’ve heard bees buzzing in the flowering trees. It’s definitely spring, and today, I’ll celebrate that.

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In darkness light

by Lorin Michel Saturday, March 4, 2017 7:08 PM

I took Riley for a long walk this morning as is our custom on a Saturday when the world is lazier and not so demanding of my time. It was 8 o’clock and there was still a layer of cool under the sun. It would be gone by the time we returned. As he trotted along, I let my mind go blank as I often do on these walks. It’s an opportunity to just be, be with the dog, be with the desert, be with the day. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have worn black, but by the time I realized that, it was too late. The day warmed faster than I anticipated. Riley was panting, and we stopped for some water. Just beyond the front gate, about a mile and a quarter from the house, we encountered one of our neighbors. She was just returning from a walk. Evidently she’d gone with her husband but she only got so far and then she was done so she turned around while he kept going. 

Riley seemed grateful for the pause. He laid down on the pavement to pant in relative silence while Alexis and I chatted for a bit. She looked great considering she was out exercising. Cute short leggings and a lace t-shirt. The women in my small neighborhood always look good, never leaving the house without makeup, never looking too schlubby. Except for me. I’ve come to terms with it; I’m fine was long as I’m comfortable. 

She and her husband are thinking about moving to Scottsdale. She’ll be cleaning out closets today. Somehow we started chatting about working outside, that I’d left Kevin working in the rocks around the house, how he’s never happier than when he’s playing in the dirt. Her husband is the same. She said one of the things he is absolutely obsessed with is cutting the grass. They have a tiny piece of grass but he’s committed to it. Soon enough, Mike, her husband, came back. Somewhere along the way his walk had turned to a jog. We said our goodbyes and have a nice days and Riley and I continued on while they went through the gate. 

When we came back, I could hear the lawnmower and I smiled. 

 

For once this morning, I didn’t check the news or my email before I left on my walk. It was freeing. I’ve become numb to the daily torrent of news and conspiracies. It’s infuriating and nauseating and sad. SAD! I think the country is becoming numb, too. It’s not that we’re not outraged. It’s that the outrage has become normal. I wonder if this is how the virulent right felt about Obama for eight years. I wonder how they were able to sustain their fury. My fury hasn’t subsided. It has just become part of me, the new normal. It’s no way to live but here we are. 

I was of course treated to the latest tweet storm as soon as I turned on my computer. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so dangerous. 

When will we awaken from this nightmare?

 

In the pre-Watergate era, a judge by the name of Damon J. Keith of the US Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled that governments couldn’t wiretap individuals without a warrant. In his decision, Keith wrote, among other things, that “democracy dies in the dark.” Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, one of the reporters who “followed the money” in the Watergate case along with his partner Carl Bernstein, has used a similar phrase in several of his books including one of the most recent “The Last of the President’s Men.” That phrase – Democracy Dies in Darkness – now appears under the masthead of the Washington Post. 

According to Woodward it’s “about the dangers of secrecy in government;” about institutions shining a light into a darkness that could otherwise consume us. Retired Supreme Court Justice David Souter said in 2012: “That is the way democracy dies. And if something is not done to improve the level of civic knowledge, that is what you should worry about at night.”

Something to think about.

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Finding a decent Chinese restaurant and other stuff

by Lorin Michel Friday, March 3, 2017 9:34 PM

It’s Friday. I wondered aloud today how much longer I can continue to run at this ridiculous pace. I wasn’t speaking to anyone in particular and the only person within earshot was the husband unit. Riley was in my office but he was sleeping and didn’t care much. The answer to my wonder was and is, of course, as long as necessary. For weeks, I have been slammed. I start work early in the morning; I work until late into the evening. And school. Every day is like this, and if I take any time off, meaning, like, Saturday, I don’t sleep because I have too much to do and I’m behind, and so I wonder. 

I have a big assignment due for school on Monday. I am not close to being done. I have essentially two more days. I am nervous, but I will get something done that will hopefully be OK. I am not doing well in this class though, partly because it’s a harder class and mostly because my work load is so over the top that there simply isn’t much time for anything else. I’m trying. I’m also failing, I hope not literally. 

I have neglected my blog. I was so strict for so long about writing and posting daily, but because of the work and school and the current state of our country, I have let that slide. Some days I’m busy; some I just can’t find anything good to write about. It’s not a good habit to get into. I remember not too long ago when there would be a technical issue prohibiting me from posting and I would be apoplectic. That doesn’t happen now. I don’t like it and need to get back to it. I will be better. 

My kid is coming home soon. He’ll be here for a month or so, then he’s off to Australia. I’m looking forward to him being here – we all are. It’s going to be interesting to see what he and Kelsey decide to do. After Australia, which is only about a six week gig, he’ll be off again. He’ll need to think about the future, about changing jobs, changing tours, or getting a more staid and stagnant job. Hmmmm. 

April is going to be a very busy month here at Il Sogno. Justin will be here. Roy and Bobbi are thinking of coming for a weekend. Jeff and Chris (Kevin’s brother and sister-in-law) may come, too. My sister and her family are thinking about a trip to Arizona to see the Grand Canyon and then to see us.

Riley is having skin issues. Spring brings out his allergies. On top of all of his anxiety, once the weather changes, he starts to itch. He’s been itching badly. I wonder if it’s a metaphor. 

Kevin fixed the brakes on his Classic. The independent dealership wanted $1500; he did it for about $325. We took it out tonight and Kevin had me drive. I have to admit to a bit of nervousness as we pulled out of the driveway and started down the very steep Falcon Crest. We took Riley. Destination: China Bamboo.

China Bamboo is a Chinese restaurant we’ve only gotten food from once. Tonight marks the second time. Shrimp egg rolls, vegetable egg rolls, vegetable lo mein, Szechuan shrimp. 

The truck rattled and rolled down Catalina Highway, across Tanque Verde, and into the parking lot. Kevin jumped out, got the food, climbed back in and off we went again. The brakes were good, the truck was good, the food once we got home was also good.

It’s Friday. I’m still working, taking just a few minutes to dash off a ridiculous post because I’m feeling guilty and running at a ridiculous pace that shows no sign of abatement. But it’s not bad; it’s all good. Being busy, being in school, having good Chinese food, and that Justin is coming home soon… it’s all worth celebrating.

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Fawning

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, March 1, 2017 7:57 PM

Salivating. Glowing. Groveling. Appalling. The normalization of the toddler who would be king was on disgusting display last night following his unbelievably incredible feat of reading off a TelePrompTer and not sounding deranged. Amazing how far we've come and how low we've sunk that this is now the standard on which he is judged. This from the enemy of the American people. They should be ashamed. They should be embarrassed. They should be, but they're not. They've all been so desperate to make this man-baby into something worthy of the office that they have been reduced to this. They should engage in some self-reflection.

I am not a media basher. I believe that journalism is a noble profession. I don't think that everyone should agree with me nor do I think that they should have condemned the speech given last night. The fact that he didn't froth at the mouth or burst into flames is improvement. But just because he didn't do those things doesn't mean he was presidential or that it was a good speech. It was a speech, read off a machine by a nasty human being who cares not one wit about anyone other than himself. He wasn't good. He just wasn't maniacal. That is not a good standard by which to measure someone and it certainly isn't appropriate for members of the media to fawn over someone's ability to be restrained for an hour. That would be like deciding that because Charles Manson didn't spout demonic phrases this afternoon he's no longer out of his fucking mind. 

I expected it, though, the fawning. It was time. It’s cyclical. For the last 40 days – dog, has it only been that long? – there was been constant scrutiny. There have been negative stories because of negative acts. There have been bad op-eds. But the media, like America in general, loves a good comeback. If someone has been down, and that person can then pick themselves back up and become something or someone special, they fawn and salivate and glow all over themselves. 

Think Robert Downey Jr, after finally getting sober. Think John Travolta before and then after Pulp Fiction. Think the hated New England Patriots in this year’s Super Bowl. Even those who can’t stand them grudgingly acknowledged their impressive and winning comeback. There are countless others who aren’t famous but who have changed their lives for the better, pulling themselves back from the brink of destruction to prosper and thrive. 

The toddler in chief is not one of those people. 

Because for every person who has picked themselves up, there are those who are still not celebrated. Mel Gibson and Roman Polanski come to mind. The toddler is a bit like those two, only much worse because of the power he has in his tiny hands.

He’s Gordon Gekko in Wall Street, with worse hair and makeup. He wants to be the salesman. He wants to tell people what they want to hear and say it in such a way as to get people to forget that he’s a miserable mother fucker who cares about one thing and one thing only: making you afraid of it and telling you who’s to blame for it. (Hat tip: Aaron Sorkin from The American President) 

Mexicans. Syrians. Immigrants. Democrats. Women. The media. 

And the media bought it nearly en masse last night. But for those of us who remained disgusted, appalled, disappointed, fearful and distrustful of toddlers everywhere, what he did last night was sickening, not glorious, not triumphant. Not worth fawning over. He just did what he’s been doing for a year and a half, only with his indoor voice. 

Will we ever learn, ever grow up, ever hold people of power to account, ever not be influenced by power and celebrity and a spray tan? I remain hopeful, last night and today notwithstanding.

Here’s to tomorrow and the possibility that it holds to stop this malignant narcissist in his tiny tracks. That would be worth celebrating.

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Metaphorically speaking

by Lorin Michel Monday, February 27, 2017 9:09 PM

I’ve gone back to school – I’m just about finished with my second class – and I’m loving it. It’s kicking my butt, especially this second class, but I’m learning a lot. The current short story I’m writing was doing really well but each week as I added more to it per the weekly writing assignments, it seemed to get more and more convoluted. In addition to love and learn, it’s also been frustrating. 

This week’s assignment was called the “cut-up.” We were to print out our stories thus far, mark each scene, and then cut up the story, laying each scene out on the floor (or tape the scenes up to the wall) and see what emerges. The idea was to find out where the drama is, what the scenes are saying. Is the main source of the drama only a paragraph while the superfluous scene at the mailbox is two pages? I was skeptical. In fact, I was irritated by the whole idea. 

But then I started thinking. The story has been bugging me. It wasn’t working and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Every night for the past week and a half, I’ve been awake thinking about it, struggling with it. 

I didn’t do the cut-up at first because I didn’t know what good it would do. 

Today I did it and suddenly there was more clarity. I had already come to some conclusions, just based on my endless worrying and chewing, but this assignment actually showed where I was having trouble. 

I cut up my 8 pages of scenes and arranged them on the floor of my office. I took a picture like I was supposed to and along with my report, I posted it in my group. I was so excited about it, I had Kevin come in and look at the mess I’d made. He’s been so great helping me with these classes, reading my drivel and giving hugely constructive help and critiques. He came into my office and started to laugh. 

“This is it?” he said. “This is the story? What do you think?” 

He knelt down on the floor to take a closer look. I told him I thought it was actually a fascinating exercise and that it seemed to solidify the ideas and thoughts that I’ve been having over the past week in terms of how it needs to change. 

“Well, good,” he said. 

Riley was outside. It was an odd day, cloudy but not necessarily cold. Rain was on its way in, arriving tomorrow. A nice breeze was brewing. As the dog came to the door, asking to come in please, Kevin reached over and opened it. Just at that moment, the breeze arrived and it rushed in, disrupting my cut-up. Suddenly all of my carefully arranged scenes were jumbled together, and my cut-up was a dust-up. 

Kevin looked sheepish. I didn’t care. I’d already photographed it and posted it; I didn’t need the neatness of it anymore. 

“Kind of a metaphor, don’t you think?” he asked. And he was right. My story right now is jumbled, everything is a bit mixed up. And that’s a good thing. It is a mess. But as I scooped up all the pieces, it occurred to me that maybe this was more than a metaphor. It’s a sign. Mix it up, rearrange, rewrite and hopefully come up with something better.

Metaphorically speaking.

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Like candy to a

by Lorin Michel Saturday, February 25, 2017 7:19 PM

Baby. Baby boomer. Whatever. I am not a big candy eater. I like an occasional piece of fudge. I have been known to eat an entire box of Red Vines at the movies. But I don’t feel the need to keep chocolate in the house and never really have. However, when it comes to turtles, I am powerless to resist.

Turtles, for the uninitiated, are candies where pecans and caramel are stuck together in goo and then dipped into milk chocolate. I’ve loved them since I was a kid. I don’t remember when this love affair started but I do remember buying them at a small candy store in Maine called Len Libby. We vacationed up there every summer and a trip to Len Libby’s was one of the highlights. I always left with a bag of turtles. My mother has been buying them for me ever since, and mostly as one of my Christmas presents. 

Turtles, come to find out, are actually a branded candy that were first made in 1918 by Johnson’s Candy Company. The legend is that a salesman came into the commissary’s dipping room and showed a candy to one of the dippers who remarked that the confection looked like a turtle. Thus a candy was born. The company trademarked the name and the trademark followed them when they became DeMet’s and then Nestle and then Brynwood Partner’s DeMet’s Candy Company and finally Yildiz Holding. 

Doesn’t sound very sweet. 

People everywhere have made these chocolate covered delights for years, including Len Libby and See’s Candies. Some were better than others, largely due to the type of chocolate and caramel used. Speaking from personal experience, I don’t think I ever met a turtle I didn’t like if not love. 

So imagine my joy when I was in the grocery store this morning. It was my usual weekly jaunt to replenish the coffers, also known as the fridge and the pantry. I was turning down the first row of frozen foods because we needed a frozen pizza. I say “needed” because ever since Kevin fell from the sky on Thanksgiving several years ago in the infamous “why didn’t Auntie Warren holded the ladder for Uncle Kebin” incident, we always keep a frozen pizza in the freezer. This is because that horrific day was spent in the emergency room and by the time we got home that evening, everything was closed and all that we had in the house to eat was a frozen pizza. It’s fallback food, no pun intended. Also nostalgia-food. 

I started down the aisle and there at the front, in a lovely display, were boxes of Russell Stover candy along with Whitman Samplers. I have no idea why. Maybe they were left over from Valentine’s Day which is big on candy, but there it was. I stopped because if memory serves, my mother is a big Russel Stover fan, and it made me think of her.

That’s when I saw that one of the boxes was Pecan Delights. Pecans and caramel covered in milk chocolate. Turtles.

I bought a box because I am powerless to resist turtles and because it was in the perfect spot to catch my attention. What can I say? It was like candy to a tail-end baby-boomer and I’ll celebrate tonight by having half of one.

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A villain in a bad B movie

by Lorin Michel Friday, February 24, 2017 9:39 PM

Is that redundant? A “bad B movie?” I suppose it is. A B movie by definition is not great, hence the designation of not quite being excellent. The actual definition is as follows: “a movie made with a low or limited budget.” It tends to describe a film with minimal artistic ambition. Think Vincent Price movies in the 1950s or movies made by John Carpenter in the 70s and 80s, or any of the George Romero zombie movies. The interesting thing is that these films and their villains are almost always of the horror variety. These villains tend to wear masks (Michael Myers) or Jason Voorhess (Friday the 13th) or Freddy Kruger (Nightmare on Elm Street). Or they’re zombies. They also tend to be completely one dimensional, villains who are only bad. They have no charm, no humor. They’re not good looking, they don’t love their spouse. They don’t have a dog. They thrive on mayhem and cruelty. They have no redeeming qualities at all.

Does this remind you of anyone? 

I was looking at the Washington Post as I so often do. I subscribe to it online and I consume their reporting on a daily basis. I love that the new statement below the masthead is “Democracy dies in darkness.” Knowing they’re the ones who brought down Nixon gives me hope. 

On the front page, as happens so unfortunately often, there was a picture of the toddler with his incipient thumbs up, a gesture that I find absolutely revolting not to mention unbecoming. Every time I see him, I feel rage building inside. The level of loathing in my soul rises to incomprehensible levels. Most days I don’t know where to put it so I just suffocate it, and wait for it to pass. Like heartburn. 

We get the newspaper delivered to the house on Wednesday and Sunday. It’s the local paper and I hate it so I’m going to cancel it. Every day, I miss my Los Angeles Times. The one good thing about the paper is that it includes USA Today so it’s a bit of national news and good reporting. Unfortunately because the toddler is the current occupant of the White House – a fact that continues to engender disbelief – his appalling face is often on the front page. On Wednesdays and Sundays when I reach for USA Today, I find that there is often a hole torn out on the front page. My husband has taken to tearing out the toddler’s face, article on the back notwithstanding. 

It struck me today as I brought Riley back in and walked past several pieces of newspaper under the Classic, each of which had a hole on the page. Then I saw the Post online and I shook my head. The man that is now representing our once lush and loved country is a villain in a B movie. He is devoid of any redeeming value, any positive attributes. He has no charm, no humor, no ability to speak coherently. He is needlessly cruel, an affront to more than half the country and probably more than half the world. He gives the word “ugly” a bad connotation. He loves no one but himself, he thrives on chaos, and is so vile that I honestly don’t think a dog would even like him let alone love him. And dogs are notoriously loving to just about anyone. 

Think about that. Our president is a villain in a bad B movie. He’s Michael and Jason and Freddy, with worse hair and a scarier mask.

I suppose the only good thing is that the villain rarely wins. Though before he is finally taken down, he does tend to spill an obscene amount of blood. Something to think about as we all scream it out loud.

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Auntie in Absentia

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, February 22, 2017 10:03 PM

When I was young, I developed a fascination with the West. I don’t know what triggered it. I had never been here and wouldn’t travel here until my junior year of college. But I was fascinated by Native Americans. I was fascinated with the desert. It seemed to be calling to me. I moved west in 1984, the week after I graduated from college. I never really considered moving back east, not even when I was alone on the morning of January 17, 1994, when the Northridge Earthquake rattled the bones of Los Angeles. I had no electricity for a while; I had no phone. I had my car phone (this was before cell phones) but my car was trapped in my unattached garage and I couldn’t get to it. When I finally was able to, I called my dad and left a message. 

He called the next day, when I had electricity and phone again.

“Don’t you think it’s about time you started thinking about moving back home?” he asked with great concern. 

No. It wasn’t time then. And it’s not now. After 30 plus years here, I’m dug in. I chose to move here. I chose to live far away. And while I love it and feel completely at home here, that it’s where I was always supposed to be, the fact remains that I am far away from my mom, my sister and her family, my brother (my dad died in 2002). That means I’m not involved in the day to day. I don’t go to my sister’s house for dinner on a Friday. I don’t get to help my mother with whatever she needs help with around the house. I don’t get to see everyone. I don’t get to see my niece and nephew grow up. 

My niece, Shawn, is 17. She’s a senior in high school and will be graduating in June, starting college in the fall, perhaps at my alma mater, the University of New Hampshire. She’s thinking about studying journalism and I for one think it’s a great idea. Journalism has taken a lot of hits over the years and especially the last month. But it’s more important than ever. If she can become a journalist and make a difference, I applaud that, and her. 

But before she can do that, she has to finish high school, and she has to complete her senior project. I don’t know what it is but it has something to do with meditation. I know this because my sister posted something on Facebook this morning asking if anyone knew of any local meditation classes. I didn’t, of course – how could I? But I fired up the trusty google and found a couple of possible places. I posted them for her. She called me; we talked. She called one of the places and lo and behold it seems that it might work.

I know it’s stupid, but it made me feel that I helped, that I was involved. I’ve helped with the occasional paper; I gave some advice on Shawn’s college essay. But on this, if it works, I was able to contribute.

I may not be there physically, but Auntie Lorin was on the case, helping Shawn to meditate … very quietly.

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