Swallowed a Spoonful Of Kryptonite. And Suddenly Something Happened To Me.

One of my worst traits is getting into something so obsessively and with so much attention that every other aspect of my life suffers. My husband knows this all too well. He has had to put his foot down on weekly basis and demand my attention to which I typically have replied with glazed over eyes, spacing out on what he has said.

My worst trait is not owning up to it, and refusing to admit that my behavior is borderline compulsive, when the scenario described above happens.

Two months ago I got into online gaming (one of the more ridiculous examples I can choose from). I’ve always been really big into the Final Fantasy series of RPG’s as they’ve fulfilled the space of satisfying the need to explore and venture. I’m a domesticated little kitty cat these days… and squishy in the face of daily things adults have to do to get on with their lives (sidenote: the funny thing is …My husband has told me how he doesn’t get that I can stare real danger in the face without blinking an eye, but completely crumble if there is even a smallest glitch in my day. Answer is that it’s because I can be stupid, if you’re reading this, husband. Lol).

Turns out that Final Fantasy XIV Realm Reborn is a real time sink.

Not that I didn’t totally let it suck me in and scream: Please give me more! At the top of my lungs. The first thing in the morning I would do is open up my laptop and sign in to play some more. The last thing at night I would do is to sign in and play to get that next level. That next piece of gear. Unlock that next dungeon.

And I’m not gonna lie. It really is fucking awesome. I love the social aspect of the game and the community around it, the people playing it. And of course… Grinding hours on end to get to the next point I need to be. That’s just how my brain works. I lock on a target and go at it until mission accomplished. I’m worse than a terrier after a prey.

What’s not awesome is ignoring the rest of your life and the ones you love. Supposedly love, they will be thinking soon enough.

I’m gonna do a crappy attempt at keeping this short&sweet and actually getting to the subject of this blog post in the near future.

The moral of the story is that I basically quit writing and drawing, quit working out, let down the one I love (and definitely not in that order), because I got into something once again so obsessively that I let it interrupt everything else.

And that’s wrong. Just to underline the moral part.

I have periods of compulsoriness over things, husband intervenes for the sake of having a balanced way of life, huge fight may ensue as I try to slither my way out of it with whatever reasoning (excuses). We are both artists and individuals with strong points of view so fireworks explode …And not in the sky in pretty colorful patterns. Usually I do a 180, work out a balance until the next thing comes along I get really excited about and make my life’s mission.

Microsoft’s OneNote is quite possible the next thing I will obsess about.

It’s an amazing writing tool I’m currently using to map out a project I have had in the back of my mind for nearly a decade, and to clean out You And Me And the Devil Makes Three. Check it out, if you haven’t yet, OneNote will change your life.

It’s basically one note to rule them all, for example you can create a multimedia experience to remember that specific emotion or set of mind you need to write a chapter, including sound and video, or just write out a structure for a story.

I used to be diligent about writing and drawing, learning things, jumping through hoops and walking through fire to become a better artist so that I could translate experiences on paper in a way that perhaps others did not see. It saddens me I’m no longer this way.

But.

Just like the last book in a trilogy gets split into two movies there is always a but. I took a big spoonful of my personal kryptonite and started thinking of the future. Something I typically hiss at like the devil at a bible.

I have a month long vacation coming up in May and I have plans for it. I am going to bloom.

Staring in the mirror and seeing the cracks in the reflection is never fun, but duck taping over the cracks is never the solution either.

Let’s face it, we all dream of having the perfect body and the perfect soul (to reference a song lol), mostly in that order, and that’s what I’m gonna aim for, but not in the obsessive boot camp way that I have.

I am calling myself out. I will find a way to keep a balance like I was walking on a tight rope. I will keep my mind strong and body strong. And most of all, I will give time to my loved one, god knows how he deserves it. And devil knows how I have not.

And oh yeah. I will finish my first book.

I will leave you with this:

And for you lazy bastards, who don’t want to listen to it:

Mind strong, Body strong
Try to find equilibrium
Head straight, Screwed on
Been screwed up for too long

I don’t want to lean on the waves
I watch the storm evaporate
I think of you in starry skies
I keep you so alive

Lets walk through the fire together
Disappear in the golden sands

It’s all in your face
I see you break
It’s like the sound of winter
The bleeding love, the silent escape
You’ve got to hang on to yourself
It’s like the sound of winter

Medusa smiles, Judas lips
Open arms and finger tips
Love bites and Recompense
I’ll be with you until the end

Lets walk through the fire together
Disappear in the golden sands

It’s all in your face
I see you break
It’s like the sound of winter
The bleeding love, the silent escape
You’ve got to hang on to yourself

It’s all in your face
I see you break
It’s like the sound of winter
The bleeding love, the silent escape
You’ve got to hang on to yourself
It’s like the sound of winter

Hang on to yourself
Hang on to yourself

It’s like the sound of winter

It’s all in your face
I see you break
It’s like the sound of winter
The bleeding love, the silent escape
You’ve got to hang on to yourself
It’s like the sound of winter

It’s like the sound of winter

Hang on to yourself
Hang on to yourself

Why Disney’s Frozen crashes and burns

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A word of warning, if you want to see this movie, do not proceed… I am about to open up.

I didn’t have any preconceived notions before seeing Frozen, I didn’t go in there wanting to hate it, I mean, people were raving about it, like… Holy crap, it’s like the Lion King reincarnated as Frozen, it’s Nemo all over again! And if you look at the numbers, it’s easy to believe that, it’s made over 777 million worldwide… But as I kept watching the new Disney movie, a story about two sisters, who are princesses (… so original), and the older one of them has this crazy magical power of shooting ice and snow out of her hands, which gets her in trouble, the cringe on my face got uglier and uglier.

And here’s why.

The movie basically tries to teach that true love conquers all, but somehow manages to make its characters act against its own basic principle pretty much at all times. The underlying moral of the story is of nonacceptance, fearing the unknown, suppressing the bad memories instead of dealing with them, denial and abandonment. Frozen is plagued by these weird morals and also some serious inconsistencies in the logic department.

A bit dramatic? No.

The story starts out with the two princesses, Anna (the younger one) and Elsa (the queen to be) playing in the castle at night, Elsa is making snow come out of her hands (which they never explain btw, why she even has this power, when no one else in her family has it… that we know), and Anna gets all unruly and starts jumping from one tall snow pile to another. Elsa tries to stop her sister before she gets hurt by making more snow piles for her to jump on, because her irresponsible sister is not watching her step… But oh no, Elsa accidentally hits Anna in her head with some weird ice magic and she goes unconscious.

The next thing we know is that their parents take Anna to these trolls (they’re king and queen, and they don’t have like… a doctor or a healer in the castle at hand?) that live in a forest, and the first golden nugget of advice we get is that all of Anna’s memories of magic and her sister’s special power should be suppressed. Now, I’m pretty sure that nowadays it’s advisable to deal with your traumas, talk about your feelings and all that crap, you know, deal with it. Even the trolls say that hey… Elsa’s gonna be fucked from now on btw, she’s gonna be scared shitless of her power, it’s gonna be her enemy.

But hey, let’s go ahead with it anyways, and let’s isolate her as well from other people and society, so Elsa basically grows up all alone, locked up in her little room, where she cries in a corner because her hands shoot ice out of them. I don’t know about you guys, but I think these days that’s called “deprivation of freedom”… And we usually call the cops, when we see that happen.

So yeah, great parenting advice, Frozen.

So years go by, Elsa is trapped in her little room singing “conceal, don’t feel, put on a show, don’t let them know” (completely healthy), Anna gets away without consequences after being the irresponsible one and grows estranged from her sister. Their parents die and are buried in like.. 10 seconds in the movie, so Elsa is bound to be the queen and the story really takes off on her coronation day.

And here’s what I learned from Game of Thrones… You do NOT put a person on the throne to rule a kingdom, who people don’t even know, I mean, Elsa is supposed to be the queen, but her subjects haven’t even seen her? For over a decade? Good luck getting their loyalty. This is a major parenting fail! Her parents should have helped Elsa deal with her magic situation, kept Anna in the loop to help her out, for moral support and slowly introduce her power to the people to avoid a total clausterfuck later on.

So it’s Elsa’s coronation day and Anna has trouble waking up, when it’s the day she gets to see her sister after years and years, a total logic fail, Anna should have been up all night shaking with excitement like a dog with freaking rabies… But no, she’s all about going to the party and hooking up with a good looking guy. Nice priorities.

And Anna does meet a handsome prince at the party after the official coronation, where all went well, Elsa managed to control her power and no one and nothing froze. Elsa and Anna kind of try to talk to each other, but they’re totally estranged and it’s awkward. Later on the not so sensible Anna introduces the handsome prince to Elsa as her fiance, someone she just met like an hour ago, and Elsa is all concerned for her sister, being mature and responsible, she says no way you’re marrying that guy and Anna is like… None of your business, I’m gonna do what I want. So Elsa tells her sister to leave then, which is a complete 180 from what she was trying to accomplish two seconds before, so much caring for your sister and what she does.

So Elsa loses her cool with Anna and all hell breaks loose, a frozen hell, basically the whole kingdom goes into a deep frozen state. The people at the party get scared and accuse Elsa of sorcery, so she runs away into the wild and the kingdom freezes over. The people ask Anna if she is a sorcerer as well and she replies… “I’m completely ordinary”, like don’t associate me with that freaky stuff.

But Anna pulls through and decides to go after her sister leaving the guy she just met an hour and a half ago (at this point) in charge of her kingdom, instead of all the advisers they probably have. What grinds my gears is that she’s been fine with her sister being isolated for a decade, but now she is hell bent on bringing Elsa back and reaching out to her? Right.

In her search she meets Kristoff, the sanest and most level headed person in this movie, who ends up helping Anna out with finding Elsa. He sells ice for a living and has a reindeer and a sled, which gets trashed though after they get chased by a pack of wolves. They end up meeting Olof, a talking snowman, who dreams of summer and sings a whole song about wanting to be warm… Kristoff is like, hey shouldn’t we tell the snowman he’s gonna freaking die, if he goes close to fire or the summer comes… And Anna stays true to her nature yet again by saying “Don’t you dare!”. Don’t you dare what? Possibly saving the snowman’s life?

But that’s not even the most upsetting thing about Anna and Kristoff meeting Olof, the talking snowman, both of them seem completely fine with him, like it’s just another day and there’s nothing strange going on, so… If we follow this logic then it would probably have been totally okay to tell the people about Elsa’s ice and snow making powers instead of hiding her away for years.

So Anna, Kristoff, the reindeer and Olof find Elsa’s awesome ice castle eventually and Anna goes in. She tries to reason with Elsa, who is just way too scared to be around people, because she thinks she’s just gonna end up hurting everybody with her power…

Anna refuses to leave Elsa alone so she makes this huge ice monster throw Anna and her buddies out of the castle like a big ass bouncer, telling them to never come back… Which seems kinda weird, when she was scared of hurting people with her powers just like a minute ago.

Alas, Anna, Kristoff, Olof and reindeer decide to go back, and they realize Anna’s hair is turning white, she got struck by Elsa’s power again back in the castle, but this time it struck her in the heart. Anna gets weaker and Kristoff takes her to the trolls (as a kid he happened to witness the trolls healing Anna, when the king and queen took her to them, what a coincidence, so that’s why he knows exactly where to go).

For some reason the trolls are very keen on having Kristoff marry Anna and try to force it on them, even when they find out that Anna is already engaged, so I guess it’s totally fine to break people up. And also, one of the most upsetting things is that… The trolls keep calling Kristoff a fixer upper, when he is the sanest person with the best advice in the whole movie! Get away from him you trolls, don’t infect him with your craziness that led to Elsa’s super bad trauma and the two sisters’ estrangement from each other.

We find out eventually that only an act of true love will cure Anna from being turned into ice, so Kristoff takes Anna back to town so she can get kissed by the prince. But oh no! Not only is Elsa now imprisoned by the prince, but Anna is locked away as well. It turns out that the prince, Anna’s fiance, has been evil all along, he only wanted to marry Anna so he could have her kingdom! I think I yelled what?! in sync with Anna. There was no pre-warning, or set up for the prince being evil what so ever! You can’t just pull that crap out of nowhere, they had plenty of chances to introduce the chance of him being a baddie in the movie.

The now evil prince tells everybody else that Anna’s dead, but thank god they had the time to get married before she did, and of course nobody witnessed the marriage vows, so their marriage is totally legit and he should be the king.

In the meanwhile Olof helps Anna escape the castle (oh yeah, Elsa broke out of there too), he thinks that if Kristoff kisses Anna, that’s gonna be the true act of love that will save her just in the nick of time. And let me tell you, if that’s how she would have been saved… Then that would have been the final nail in the coffin, because she just freaking met Kristoff that day too!

The movie manages to redeem itself a little bit by having Anna save Elsa from being killed by the prince turned bad with the cost of putting her own life at risk, and so she performs an act of true love by saving her sister’s life, and Anna saves her own butt in the process.

Fast forward to a time, when everybody’s happy, the kingdom has unfrozen and the people love their queen with magic powers despite wanting to lynch her for them just what, like two days ago? And this underlines the fact that… If only her parents had not locked Elsa away from Anna and everybody else, nothing bad would have happened as far as her powers go. And Disney might have had a better story in their hands with less inconsistencies.

Frozen is loosely based on, or inspired by a fairy tale written by Hans Christian Andersen, the Snow Queen. Now, I’ve read quite a few of his stories (pretty much every single one attributed to him), the Snow Queen being one of them. Had the makers of Frozen been a little bit more inspired by it, followed the story, it would have been an awesome tale. Alas, they did not.

And that’s not to say I don’t root for original stories as Disney movies, but if you’re gonna credit one of the most famous story tellers as your inspiration to your story, then at least make him proud and do some justice to the original material.

You Naughty Bird

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“You naughty little bird, you didn’t tell me that.” My husband commented on my revelation of starting a new book series.

A playsome quarrel ensued on whether I had told him that I started reading the first book in the series of Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson, called Gardens of the Moons. And by the way, I did tell him about it. To my delight, it’s really easy to get into (epic fantasy, good stuff… good stuff), and thankfully, there are ten books in the series so I’m not gonna run out of stuff to read while waiting for another George R.R. Martin installment…

In my previous post I wrote I had just finished the latest book in A Song of Ice And Fire (also known as Game of Thrones on TV), I wish I could OMG what happened after the red wedding to everybody who watches the TV show, but I’m gonna have to bite my knuckles and shut up until everybody’s caught up. But let me say: Oh my god.

It’s not easy dealing with withdrawal symptoms when it comes to really awesome books, but the Malazan books seem like they will medicate me well.

I have always been a lover of fantasy and science fiction, I read the Hobbit and LOTR and Silmarillion by Tolkien (obviously loved them to death, and revisited them a couple of times) in elementary school, then Arthur C. Clarke and some other random sci-fi books. There is just something about immersing yourself into the unknown. Another big favorite of mine was Agatha Christie, mystery and detective novels really spooked me, but I couldn’t get enough of them. And of course I have to mention Stephen King, the king of suspense, I guess with his last name it was just meant to be.

All of the writers above have influenced me greatly (hopefully for the better, lol), and I guess I just forgot that reading is a great tool, for inspirational reasons and it provides learning experiences as well.

My husband kept asking me for almost two weeks whether I had chosen my next book series to read and I just couldn’t figure it out… And then I ran out of pages of Dance with the Dragons. Hubby just looked at me and said: I kept asking you.

So today he acknowledged my choice for my next commitment and told me I was a naughty little bird for not telling him (which I totally did, bears repeating), I wonder what he would say, if he knew that today, I also wrote the beginnings of two chapters from the points of view of two different characters for my sci-fi series. My dearest darling. My precious. 

(Sorry, I couldn’t help it)

Shhh. Don’t tell him or he will slap my butt for not working on The Tube instead. Or You and Me and the Devil Makes Three. Oh by the way, I added the first chapter of it here on my site. You’re welcome. (Lol, no, I don’t think I’m all that).

My Black Christmas

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No, nothing terrible happened, it’s just that one of the main guests was missing: snow!

It became a real task choosing a Christmas song to listen to, had to skip all the ones with lyrics about white snowbanks and such things: “Nope, can’t listen to this one, alright skip this song…” (not really). But yes, this Christmas was grey and black as it rained all week. And it’s still a water park out there.

It was like a wet apocalypse, if you can imagine that. We went to the forest on Christmas day in the hopes of finding some mushrooms due to the extraordinary weather circumstances in December, warm and rainy, have I said it rained enough times now? Alas, we did not find any mushrooms, so that tanked as well then. We did make (well… my dad did) mushroom sauce out of dried ones, and that was delicious!

It was not a total disaster of course, Christmas day and the evening before that. Food was plentiful and drink too, the atmosphere was merry and the sauna was piping hot!

I gotta say going to the sauna is my favorite tradition, just spending time alone in a dim and cozy place relaxes you like nothing else in the world… There’s the hissing sounds of water hitting the hot stones, scorching air nipping at your skin ever so slightly, warm and fuzzy feelings just enveloping you in their embrace. Some people go and swim in the icy lake after going to the sauna, it really gets your blood pumping, they make a hole in the ice and just dip in. If you haven’t got a lake at hand, the next alternative is rolling in the snow!

Alas, none of the two options were available this year, due to warm weather, did I already mention it was really warm this year? And rainy.

I am looking forward to next year, it’s my resolve to come out with my first book, that’s the big one, also, I wish to get better with my diet and exercise regime (notice the usage of less determined words with these two, lol).

And one more thing, I’m about to finish A Song of Ice and Fire- series (Game of Thrones), and I’m on the look out for a new mammoth series to read, got any good suggestions? Comment and post below! And happy new year! Soon to come, that is.

Crashing Through a Wall

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There are seven windows and three doors in this apartment to walk or jump out of, but I’m still stuck here, in this awkward space, breathing in stale air that has been lingering on for days now. Where’s my crayon. I wanted to try doodling a door of my own. Right there on the wall across my comfy sofa. I’ll make it nice and rosy too with lots of vines circling the door frame, decorative. Maybe crashing through that wall would be easier than walking through the dead empty space he calls a door.

I have been absent from the blogosphere a while now. The paragraph above is my attempt at figuring out why I haven’t made even a tiny little peep for weeks, it’s like the rivers of writing runneth dry one day and the flow I enjoyed was gone. GONE.

And it sucked so bad. There’s no other way of putting it. The paragraph I started this post with describes a stale place no one wants to stay in permanently (the opening of a book called You and Me and the Devil Makes Three), we all visit that place every now and then… It feels like you’re inside the head of Devil himself dreaming his dreams for him.

So what changed? Can’t say I know, maybe I just finally said fuck it, I’m gonna spew out whatever may come. Perhaps it was my crazy hours at work wearing me out physically and mentally, going in super early, like 5 am early. Maybe it was the darkness that descended on this country, the land froze to its core and daylight became scarce. 5 hours of light is all we get now, if it’s not snowing.

The Stark family from A Song of Ice and Fire would say the winter’s come. As I watched the season change, the nature go in hibernation, my mind’s landscape got stripped of its valleys and hills, rivers and meadows, it became flat and it felt like my personality flatlined.

At work I would go through the motions, get into a routine that would help me get through the day. I was so blah.

Different characters and ideas for plots and my next project (once my current books You and Me and the Devil Makes Three as well as The Tube are completed) would still run through my head and get me a little bit excited, but nothing concrete happened.

Thankfully seasons change. It’s still dark as hell and winter is here, but I rearranged my mental map, I’m not claiming I know how to navigate it, but at least I know where I am now.

I have 8 days of winter holiday coming up, which I’m really excited about. Also, my husband saw my unvoiced struggles with writing and suggested that we should go to a cabin in northern Norway in the summer, in the middle of nowhere… A place where I can finish my book projects in peace. Cannot wait for that!

I hope you are having a great Sunday, it’s nearly time for me to go to bed (another early morning tomorrow) and start the week well rested.

Born in 1984

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George Orwell made year 1984 famous with his book that is similarly titled, and I can’t help but draw a connection between his story and the generation that was born around the 80′s and after. Orwell imagined a society in the late 40′s that would actualize itself in the lives of a whole generation in the world of today.

It is no surprise that the sales of “Nineteen Eighty-four” went up by 7,000 percent on Amazon, when the reaches of the mass surveillance programs came to public light, but I have to wonder, have our attitudes already been re-educated to accept what Orwell called Big Brother is watching you?

We have a show titled Big Brother, a celebration of 24/7 surveillance on ordinary people living under one roof, not to mention the growing number of other reality shows that follow their subjects around. Social media has given a platform to non-celebrities to get their piece of the exposure pie, every now and then lifting one of us ordinary people to the pedestal of skyrocketing public interest in who we are and what we do. There is a craving for wanting to be seen and heard.

Having been born in 1984, I remember seeing a lot of events on TV. When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, I was only five years old, and I wondered why people were hacking at a wall with sledgehammers and crying. Later, I understood the importance of what I had seen. Back then people had to physically climb over a wall, and eventually bring it down, to promote freedom of choice and not be patronized by their own government.

Even though I was in another country and very young to understand what was going on, the emotionally charged images on the screen affected me deeply, I have drawn from them in my own writing in You and Me and the Devil Makes Three:

“His eyes turned dark grey like the stone on the Berlin wall in 1989, the moment to pick up the sledgehammers had come about. Two worlds were about to collide and I could only stand aside like the East German government, watching people hack away at the wall.”

In my book I use the Berlin Wall to describe a moment in which my main character has to face the consequences of what she’s done, she can’t control the events anymore and like the day, when the gates of the Berlin wall stood open, she had to let the truth come to light, stand aside much like the East German government and let its people cross over.

In 1991 I recall watching Boris Yeltsin stand atop a tank in Moscow, giving a speech, again, too young to understand what was going on. Later the same year the giant of USSR was brought to its knees, an event that’s been described as a victory for freedom, democracy over totalitarianism.

Those same borders of the west and the east can be drawn onto a different map now, this time all digital. There are unseen walls and authorities governing information on the internet, eavesdropping on what’s being said and shared. Awareness of those invisible walls and systems in place is increasing, because there are people like Snowden and Assange, who take the sledgehammer and pound it to the wall so others can see it too.

The recent leaks on surveillance are not the last of their kind, I’m sure. I feel we are at a breaking point as a society, where change driven by the will of people doesn’t necessarily happen on the streets anymore as massive protests (of course it can do that, Arab Spring as a good recent example), but on an immaterial level that uses internet as one of its tools.

And it’s important to protect the integrity of that tool. For now it’s been relatively safe to state your opinion online and share information, but there are places, where it isn’t quite so, and where information is not readily available on certain topics.

Orwell told a tale of a totalitarian society almost 65 years ago and it has become quite the reality for my generation, and we contribute to it somewhat on daily basis for example by using social media, watching shows like Big Brother, we are becoming more desensitized to being watched and being followed. It’s almost as if our inner Winston Smiths are being awakened, where in the end, after all the struggle against the Big Brother, we end up professing our love to it.

This Blood Inside These Veins

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In my early twenties I had a taste for writing poetry (I bet you thought I was gonna say blood, didn’t you?), and most of it had a darker twist to it. And that’s nothing new under the Sun, young adult in anguish writing poetry? Yeah. That description fits about every other young adult out there. Or teen. I had a whole life of rebellion and revolution that existed exclusively on paper, and I liked it.

I just recently read some of the poems from years ago, and they’re definitely rugged, like me, even crude …but it reminded me of a time, when I wasn’t all soft around the corners, minding what I was gonna say and put out there, worried if it was okay to say things in a certain way and not feel like a walking cliché. I was more true to myself, I wasn’t trying to figure out so bad what everyone else wanted to read instead of just… writing what I wanted and letting people find my texts on their own in the process. Like I used to.

One of the poems was titled “This blood inside these veins”, and it got me thinking about where I wanna go as a writer… Possibly as an artist, what is the essence that’s circulating within me? Powering my heart and my brain, what drives me forward? Do I wanna stay wrapped safely in cotton balls and cellophane, or do I wanna make my stand and use the backbone that was given to me?

Going back to square one is not in my plans, falling in the trap of nostalgia and chasing old times, but I am calling BS on myself. I know I have an edge, even if it’s hiding somewhere under all the fluff I accumulated over the years, making the corners all soft and dull.

I’m gonna leave you with This Blood Inside These Veins, it’s not anywhere near perfect, but it’s coming from somewhere once upon a time genuine.

 

This graphite and ink beneath these paper grooves,
it’s only for court jesters and village fools.
Erase every story and line I ever made,
have time erode their meaning and moral,
let it all fade.

Take a good look at my paper heart,
and tear it apart.
Did you read what was written on there?
Or did you just throw it away without care?

Carve your name on my soul stone hard,
and leave it scarred.
Did you look what was engraved on there?
Or did you just crush it without care?

This blood and oxygen inside these veins,
it’s only for the living dead and deadly insane.
Infect every body part and cell,
have my ink and graphite ring the heavy iron bell,
let it cry its last farewell.

***

If you liked what you just read, you should check out the poetry page, which will be up very soon!

The Last Breath of Summer

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This is a little story inspired by a late walk into the forest with my dog. It’s called “The Last Breath of Summer”. Hope you enjoy it.

“The Last Breath of Summer”

The Sun was setting  lazily over the thick tree line, leaving a golden trim on the moss green forest. Bright yellow, red and orange leaves were scattered all over the ground, hiding the trails and paths that had been carved in the ground over time. Reminding that winter was close.

Ingrid steadied her steps and clutched onto the plastic bag full of fruits of the forest, mushrooms the colors of the earth, all shapes and sizes. She had raided the grounds clear of them for a few weeks now, her cupboards were filled to the brim with dried mushrooms in plastic containers, in neat rows and stacks.

She would let the mushrooms simmer on the skillet until the water evaporated just enough, throw in a slice of butter, sautée some onions and add cream. Honey, salt and pepper was all that was needed to flavor the sauce she had learned to make so many decades ago. She kept making it, in search of the right flavor, but it never quite matched her father’s sauce.

The soft rustling of dry leaves under Ingrid’s boots reminded her she still had  3 miles to trek back home. Her feet were sore, legs stiff. She was getting too old to be going this far, eight decades of forest trekking should have taught her better. But she kept moving, one step after another.

The last breath of summer engulfed Ingrid in her embrace. It stroked her cheeks with a gentleness she hadn’t know for so long. Her long fingers played in Ingrid’s hair like a wild child, tousling locks of white hair, as white as first snow. Just like Otto had played with her locks that one autumn morning a lifetime ago. In the afternoon Ingrid had come back from the forest, to find that Otto had left her, passed onto greener pastures, some place where summer never ended. Their third year after exchanging vows ratified by God.

A small clearing in the forest opened up before Ingrid like her memory of Otto in the eye of her mind, she sat on a tree stump to look at it. And she could almost see him looking back at her with those blue eyes. Blue like a summer sky, with little grey dots here and there, little birds cruising in the sky she called them.

Light filtered by the forest pierced through long hay swaying in the air, bright yellow just like Otto’s smile. It was that smile that had drawn her to him like a moth to a flame. Some of the hay had been patted down, as if summer herself had lain down her head to find a resting place for the winter months.

Ingrid wanted to find her rest too. And she prayed for it every night. Take me home. She whispered in her pillow before drifting to sleep, asking for death to lead her into a dance macabre. But death always said …Not tonight my dearest, the music will not play for you.

The colors of gold and green were turning to hues of blue, like Ingrid’s mood. The warmth was gone, the last breath of summer had come to visit her to say her goodbyes. Perhaps she would see another summer, perhaps not, if she prayed hard enough.

The winters were as harsh as they came in the arctic circle. Ingrid was harder. That she had proved. The years had carved her face like a skilled sculptor the finest of marbles, eroded her face like weather yielded mountains to its will, but she remained tough.

Another winter would carve its mark on her, and she would come out of it, withstand her ground.

That night Ingrid made a mushroom sauce, it had the same flavor she remembered from childhood, as if her father himself had stood in her small kitchen guiding Ingrid’s hand.

And that night, she did not whisper things to her pillow. Before drifting off, she thought she heard faint music, music she could not recognize, but it was so comforting, like a mother’s voice to a wailing child. She gave her delicate hand to a handsome fellow, who promised to take her home.

Ingrid rose from her bed, her feet felt soft, her legs limber, and she danced like she had never danced before.

Procrastination (is my mortal enemy)

I like to take comfort in the fact that Leonardo da Vinci was known for his talent for procrastinating… That is to say it happens even to the best and toughest among us. We plan ahead and set a goal. And then we take roads that do not lead us anywhere near our goal … despite the intricate road map we had ahead of us all along.

An example. I had four days off in a row last week and I made a vow I would write during those days. I ended up doing all kinds of things, except for writing.

In retrospect, there is no use crying over spilled milk, right? But let me do just that for a moment here. I could have stuck to my guns and fought the urge to do all things but work on my first draft of The Tube. I could have just sat down and put my fingers on the keyboard, like I did today. Today, I finished a chapter and started a new one, three paragraphs in.

That could have been a week ago.

Sometimes it’s good to give yourself a hard time. Especially when it comes to falling into the trap of procrastination. Putting things off. Ignoring the inevitable. That approach doesn’t get you anything in life. But it does give you a ticket to a scenic guilt trip. And like I said… At times well deserved.

I’m not saying that you have to beat yourself with the bendiest and sharpest stick you could possibly find, but you have to realize that results and progress are due to actual steps taken, not steps dreamed of.

Someone said that goals with no set timelines and dates are just dreams. And dreams don’t have a whole lot to do with reality. I had a solid plan for my four days and that failed quite gloriously.

And that is why you should have a support system. A person you know will call you out on your BS, when it looks like that you’re about to get sidetracked. Whether it’s with writing, working out, anything really you want to get accomplished.

Dreams will never be reality until we actualize them. They’re good to have, but don’t let them become your enemy, they will do just that, if you let them.

To illustrate or not to illustrate

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I have a new set of watercolors sitting on my drawing desk, as well as a new bottle of ink. They’ve been staring at me relentlessly for a couple of weeks now, I was really excited about getting back to doing more drawing and re-familiarizing myself with painting… But then work happened, and getting sick, and other mundane stuff that life just throws at you at a speed you didn’t even know existed.

Drawing was something I took very seriously in my early 20′s, I strove for achieving the hyper-realistic look for a drawing… And I studied anatomy books like it was my religion. I mean, I was studying art history and art education back then, so it kind of went with the job description, for a lack of a better expression. A few years later the visual arts took a backseat, when my hubby asked: “When are you gonna write that book you always talk about?”

What book? I thought to myself. A hundred pages later I found the answer.

Now, I’ve kept a sketch book close by at hand throughout the years.

Artwork-Behemothwebsize

It’s filled with material like this. As well as all kinds of scribbles on the pages, bits of dialogue, plot developments, lyrics, what not. But nothing too serious.

The different sketches are mostly ideas for book illustrations. I wanted to include drawings and paintings to add that… I don’t know, I wouldn’t necessarily call it extra flavoring, but perhaps a curiosity of some sort. Like a little snippet of what was going through my head while I was writing that particular scene. Perhaps a view of a scene filled with action, or a portrait of a character.

And now I think I would be making a mistake by doing that. The reason I love reading is the fact that I can create whole worlds in my imagination, and the author’s words provide the building blocks. I, as a reader, get to decide what the characters and their surroundings look like for the most part. And it’s exciting. Exhilarating.

So, I decided not to go with illustrating any of my stories. I don’t want to impose my own visualizations and musings on the reader, when they might have a more vivid image in their head of the story they’re reading than I did.

I describe some works of art in You and Me and the Devil Makes Three, and there’s a good chance they’re gonna be actual paintings and drawings one of these days. But most likely those works won’t be found on the pages of the book itself, but readers can check them out online, if they’re interested, or something of the same sort.

My sketchbook is a great additional writing tool, I’ve always been more of a visual person, and drawing can be very relaxing and meditative… If you’re not getting too methodical and organized about it. You can make anything the most tedious task in the world, drawing is littered with mathematics and mechanical work… And when you really get into it, it will short circuit anybody’s brain.

Working out different details and plot points by doing quick sketches is a cool way to blow off some writing steam, I definitely recommend it. I will now go and do just that with my new watercolors and ink.

 

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