Living in “the” Moment

This is sort of a Romance, sort of not

Tori Caduta wanted to live in the moment.

She was finding it quite a difficult thing to do, at least difficult to do for any length of time.

She tried all the tricks, meditation, staring at flowers, listening for birds, Beach Frisbeeadmiring colors, sitting at a playground and watching – children, sunsets, men.

Watching a man was probably her best way to stay in the moment, at least for a moment. Then she found herself stepping into another moment, a moment where she would walk up to the man and say something she imagined would be quite irresistible such as, “Would you step into my moment” or “You have a moment, don’t you?” or “You have a wine stain on your shirt.”

The trouble with that, of course, was that it required slipping out of the moment. And what good was finding a moment only to have that moment lead to the end of the very moment she was trying so desperately to live within.

Tori tried driving an hour just to sit on the beach so she could watch the waves roll in and out and out and in. That started really well. The waves helped her empty her mind until two well tanned young men playing Frisbee moved between her and the ocean. Then the Frisbee landed at her feet. She knew what they were doing. She refused their request to play because, after all, she was there to try to live in the moment, not to play Frisbee or anything else they might have wanted to play.

Nothing seemed to work. Sometimes she felt like she was living in the moment, but that never lasted very long, rarely more than 10 or 15 seconds before she realized she was thinking about something else. There was the job, and the bills and the TV shows she watched last night, and the TV shows she was going to watch tonight, and what she was having for dinner, and should she buy some Ben and Jerry’s or just go with a large container of ice cream.

Of course, the Ben and Jerry’s was always so good but so expensive, but a large container left her feeling like she should have another bowl full if she wanted to continue trying to enjoy it in the moment. Worst of all was when she left the moment she was trying to be in to have a discussion in her head about how good the moment was and how to make it better. Usually, the whole thing was fruitless because she couldn’t get into any of the moments she wanted to be in.

The kind of moment Tori really wanted to get into was one where Tom Cruise was sitting looking at the flowers with her or with Johnny Depp watching the stars and pointing out the Milky Way, or even one where she was watching the sunset over a dinner with Robin Williams and laughing so hard she didn’t dare drink anything. She probably wouldn’t be able to keep up with him, but he would be paying for the dinner and that would be an incredible moment.

If only those two guys playing Frisbee had been Jake Gyllenhall or Ryan Gosling. That would have been a pretty good moment because it would have meant she was probably sitting in the middle of a movie scene and maybe they would be doing their acting stuff around her, maybe even with her. Yes, with her would be very good.

It would even be better than the only real moment she ever had before, when Jonah Hill bumped into her at the airport and said, “Excuse me.” Maybe it wasn’t much of a moment at the time. Hardly anybody knew him, but that was the kind of moment she wanted to live in again for a very long time.

A Pole in the WayAbsorbed in thought, while remembering that moment and the look on Jonah’s face, Tori suddenly walked nose first into a light pole. She saw stars. She checked her nose to make sure it wasn’t broken. It wasn’t. As she continued down the street, she could hardly see. There were people and things in her way, but who or what they were she couldn’t tell. She knew there was probably a lot of blood, but it didn’t matter, because for the moment, her nose really hurt.

Someone stepped in front of her, blocking her path. “Here,” he said, holding a piece of cloth gently under her nose. We have to get you to a hospital. If Tori hadn’t been in so much pain, she might have noticed the beginning of the moment she was looking for.


A Year Long Struggle and a Decision Made

Two PathsFor the past 3+ years I have been writing Children’s books and submitting them to agents, hoping to get published. I would still be doing that if a strange thing hadn’t happened to me a year ago. I had a severe sinus infection, so bad that I was rushed from the local hospital to another one 60 miles away where they operated on me to drain the infection. Afterwards one of the doctors said, “You should be down on your knees thanking whatever higher power you believe in because you should have been dead before you ever got to us.” My treatments didn’t end when I left the hospital six days later. They continued for six more weeks with a nurse visiting me at my home every day. In a sense I am still being treated, still taking special medications because I am now highly susceptible to reinfection.

While I may be very fortunate to be alive, something within me died. Whatever creativity I had disappeared. I tried, but could not come up with an idea for any children’s story. I had a list of 92 story ideas. This is what happened whenever I picked out one of them to work on. Nothing! Sure, I wrote. I added sentences, but nothing new happened.

I turned to other things: poetry and blog posts. Every now and then I pulled out that list, but there is no interest there, no desire. Maybe the real problem is that I have realized how terribly hard it is to get a children’s book published. The field is so crowded, the competition at such a high level, that I just don’t want to do it anymore, even though I think I do, because I would love to see my granddaughter reading a book I wrote. Nevertheless, I think my subconscious is telling me the truth is if I had any real talent something would have happened by now. At the least an agent would have written some encouraging when rejecting a story.

There are thousands and thousands of people who are trying to crack the market. Many of those who eventually got published spent five or ten years at it. Let’s be frank here: I am 70 years old. Enough said!

My creativity has returned though. Every week I write a new poem or two (I’m sure I could write more if I made that a goal), and I write a number of blog posts, but last week I wrote the first draft of a short story. It’s the first story I’ve written in more than a year. There is also that book I was writing, Good - Better signsthat I set aside three years ago…

So, I will still be writing about writing here, maybe doing an occasional book review, maybe posting a flash fiction type short, but what I’ve been trying to say here is: My emphasis has changed. Your thoughts?

Why Did I Just See ‘The Interview’

I just watched ‘The Interview,’ that new Seth Rogan film. I wasn’t going toThe Interview Poster see it because I heard it was terrible, but with all the publicity (I wasn’t going to let the North Koreans try to keep me from seeing a movie!) and after seeing that it had an IMDB rating of 7.9 I thought it couldn’t be all that bad.

It was ‘all that bad.’ In fact, it was worse. I think the North Koreans were doing us a favor by trying to keep Sony from releasing the movie.

I wondered how such a terrible movie could be rated so highly. Years ago I saw ‘Something About Mary,’ after most of my friends said it was a great movie. I thought it was trite, infantile, and not worth more than $1.50.

So, I did a little research and found that ‘The Interview’ was different in that most of my friends who’d seen it also thought it was terrible. I found that the movie had a 10.0 IMDB rating before it was released. In other words, the North Koreans don’t have access to IMDB, but Seth Rogan’s and James Franco‘s fans and many, many Americans who also don’t want the North Koreans to tell us we can’t watch a crappy movie if we want to spend $8.50 to watch a crappy movie.

I just gave ‘The Interview’ two stars on IMDB. That may have been generous, but I like Seth Rogan and the movie did have one or two funny lines (although I can’t remember either one of them). I noticed that in the day or so since I checked IMDB the movies rating has dropped to 7.8, so if it was once 10.0 and it’s now 7.8, it seems there are quite a few people, like me, who are also rating it closer to what a movie we wouldn’t even recommend to a North Korean should be.

There is one question I should be, and am, asking myself, should I trust IMDB in the future? Probably not. Maybe I should start checking Rotten Tomatoes before I see a movie from now on.

Revisiting Old Friends

Once every few months the urge comes over me and I know nothing more is going to be done that evening, no more writing, noHarry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets perusing of recipes, no time with football or baseball or Facebook or even a good book, especially a good book.

Some old friends hato must be  revisited.

I stare at my small rack of videos.

Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, or perhaps Shrek.

It is not an easy decision.

Should I visit with Harry, Hermione, Ron, and Snape or maybe Frodo, Samwise, Gandalf, and Galadriel? Of course it’s been awhile since I took the time to visit Shrek, Fiona, and Donkey.

There was a night a year or so ago when I found the decision so difficult that I fell asleep while trying to decide. The decision does not entail merely choosing which group of friends to visit, but when to visit. Should it be the Fellowship,  the Return, the Towers, or Shrek one, two, three or Forever, or the Stone, the Goblet, the Phoenix, Azkaban, the Chamber,  the Hallows one or two?,

It’s times like this when I need a sorting hat.

Silly, I know. Every now and then I need an evening of escape, better in some ways than re-reading a favorite book. I rarely re-read a book, simply because there are so many new books to read. Right now I have a stack of 15 books waiting to be read and by the time I finish all of them my total of books read will probably include another 15 or 20 more. It is much easier to visit a favorite book somewhat vicariously — by watching the movie. Of course that cannot always be done. For instance, I recently watched Ender’s Game. The movie was disappointing. I doubt re-watching it will bring back to mind all that the book was, but maybe.

In the end, I managed to choose a movie to watch, I did. The Chamber of Secrets.

Was that the right choice?

It doesn’t matter, because no matter which of the 14 videos I revisit, I always enjoy whichever one  I choose.

Misspelling or do you say mispeling?

I was just looking at a Your Dictionary infographic of ten commonly misspelled or misused words. And I have to admit, I have a problem with some of them. First, the last on the list which and that, I’ll never understand. As far as I’m concerned the two words are often interchangeable. I use whichever one seems to better say whatever it is I am trying to say: Which is the truth. That is the truth.

I also have problems with it’s and its as well as there, their, and they’re. I’ll often use one where the other belongs. It’s not that I don’t know the difference. Its It’s just that I’m lazy. When writing a first draft I don’t pay attention to what I’m writing, especially grammar and spelling. My goal is to get the thoughts and words on the page. I’ll deal with how their they’re presented in a later draft.

If the wrong word slips past in later drafts the problem is sort of a brain freeze. Many years ago I was a sportswriter for a small newspaper, the Wausau Daily Herald. The sports editor called me over to his desk where he had my story on his layout screen.

“Do you see anything wrong with this,” he asked. I looked at it, thinking maybe he didn’t like my headline for a story about an conference’s undefeated first place team’s victory: Number One Won One Again.

“Nope,” I said.

“Look at the first sentence.”

It should have been glaringly obvious, but my eyes went right past it. Cloverbelt Conference leader, Colby, one another won.

I think either I was blinded by my headline or I had just used one too many won’s.

That happens sometimes. I can read and  reread and re-reread something and each time miss something that should be glaringly obvious simply because it’s such a simple mistake I shouldn’t have made it in the first place.

I have a similar problem with apostrophes. Often, for some odd reason, when I’m rereading something I’ve written, I’ll discover an apostrophe in a strange place. Here’s one I found the other day, She couldn’t decide which of two pie’s she would make, apple or blueberry. That kind of thing happens when I’m thinking more about what I’m writing than the actual words on paper. Which is another reason or should it be, that is another reason I sometimes wake up to find a totally indecipherable note on the nightstand. I’m sure it was a fantastic idea, but I hope I dream it again on a night when I’m a bit more lucid (that’s a funny sentence isn’t it?).

Here’s the YourDictionary chart.Goodreads chart of common misspelled words

Words Invented by Writers

A sneetchThere is more to creative writing than just making up stories and characters that often seem very real. In some ways making up stuff is one of the perks of being a writer. A writer can live in imaginary worlds and can even make up words such as scrutchel (a word I just made up which should mean: using a word that doesn’t exist as a crutch for not wanting to actually find one that means what you want to say).

Writer’s have been creating words for thousands of years. Dr. Seuss made up hundreds of words himself (zummers, spazzim, thnadners, sneedle, yuzz, thneeds, and sneetches to list just a few).

However, many words created recently by writers have become so common in our daily usage that we might be surprised to discover where they came from.

A list of words created by writers that I found in The Guardian had a couple surprises for me. For instance, I always thought Banana Republic was  just the name of a store, taken from the slang description of any unstable dictatorship, usually in South or Central America. Not so. The word was created by the writer, O. Henry  in 1904.

Check out the other nine words in this list some of  them might  surprise you. The top 10 words invented by writers.

Anyway, next time you write something, even if it’s just a note or memo to  your boss, look for an opportunity to make up a word. You might be surprised how much fun it is.