novel

Still Nobody

Living is great. But it’s also tiresome.

I like to dig into my sticky weird soul and I like others to go with me. And even though an industrious and creative project can occupy my deepest-deep and heal my chronic soul-sickness, I know I’m a nobody. And so are you. Humans are the new termites. There’s just too many of us to keep track of anymore.

What will our aardvark be, I wonder? The Russians are human, too, and multiplying, so they are as plentiful and edible as the rest of us. Still, they’re getting out of hand and so, maybe, just maybe, the aardvark will be an antibiotic-resistant bacteria or thoughtless press of a big or little button. We just don’t know yet, so thank goodness for denial.

Can I get an AMEN?

In light of our limitations, why do we make art when life is scary and not nearly as sweet as it could be? There’s so much art around, already made. Ready-made. Factory made. Made to order, even.

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I continue to dig and create because I have to. Yet it’s not a compulsion; it’s a love story. I am in-love with living, as tired as my middle-aged bones are. Music, art and the written word fill me with passion. As I age, I adapt. Am I whittling away my life force with a bad attitude and sour grapes? Or am I giving my goodies the attention they deserve?

These days I find my life force coiled in the blankness of a new document. I tap the keyboard instead of thumping the strings of my Danelectro Longhorn bass that once sustained my younger creative self. Back when brushing my lips against a mic and having my voice grow flowering vines along with Brian, Marissa, Michele and Mel was as romantic as a wild spring sky over Joshua Tree. That was then, this is not then.  

This year, on Valentine’s Day, I decided to send my first-born novel out into the wild blue yonder. I did what I could to set her onto a path where people might find her and love her. I wonder, do you read fiction? Family dramas? Stories set in the 1970s along the Florida Space Coast?

I hope so.

Please buy my book. Please read it. Please tell your friends if you like it. Pretty sure WHAT YOU CARRY is a great choice for book clubs. And remember -- I’m nobody and so are you. It’s freer to be a nobody. Dig into your own stickiness, your own weird soul. I’ve been saying for years that our souls are like sink holes - deep and dark and old - nobody knows how deep they go. And still, they connect like ground water when it finds the river and flows out to a sea as vast as the universe. Enjoy the waves.

Photo by Al Satterwhite

Photo by Al Satterwhite

 

 

 

 

GLORY

 

For the past few months, not incidentally since my mother’s death, I have been feeling lack luster, uninspired and just okay. I tear-up easily and look forward to bedtime. The upshot is I haven’t had the energy to be anxious. I get what needs doing done, but not much more. So when one of my most reliable friend’s eyes filled with tears at the end of a long conversation, and said, “I wish you could see yourself the way I do, the way God does,” I didn’t know what the hell she meant. Except I did know what she meant because I started crying too, and then my insides slid out onto Peet's laminate wood floor.

I was lost to myself, again.

The exact nature of my wrongs is to forget my glory. To forget that there’s nothing wrong with me, that my humanity is my finest asset and that making mistakes is how I learn, not an indictment. My glory is real and my dead spots give contrast making the picture more interesting.

Most revolutionary: glory does not come from what I do, but who I am.

Glory is a fraught idea. In the home where I grew up, it was ascribed to God, and God alone. To God be the glory for the things he hath done, not, to Sandy be the glory for the gal that she is. Any personal entanglement with glory was a reason to feel shame. The problem for my family, (and the family in the novel WHAT YOU CARRY) is that essential belief, to God be the Glory, muddied with every vision of grandeur and Schizophrenic delusion my father had. Like a dirty cloth washing a window my Dad would become Christ and my Mom would flip out.

The novel I have written is named WHAT YOU CARRY.  The subtitle might as well be The Seven Self-Defeating Habits of Ineffectual People. What those self-defeating habits look like in the Thompson family, the family in the novel, are as follows:

1 –I better figure this out on my own

2 – Keep trying--you can control crazy

3 – My best is not good enough

4 – Don’t waste time attending to the wound, chase down the shooter

5 – I’ll feel better when you’re punished

6 – Continue polishing turds

7 – Keep your sick thoughts to yourself

Or some such nonsense. It’s fun to pull legs.

Unlike me, the Thompson family does not have a track record of relying on trusted friends. Sure, there are good people in their lives, but wisdom is not what they curate. The Thompsons are swinging wildly, scared to death and blaming the sick guy for ruining their days. Set in the seventies, in rural Florida, there are few good meds available and not a lot of family services. 

How easy it is to sink to the bottom where self-defeating attitudes fester and twist, where tendrils of self-loathing rise up and wrap around an ankle! To drift slowly downward and not realize the desire for fresh air has evaporated. And how powerful to know it is just as easy, if I chose to look, to grab the outstretched hand offered to help pull me back to the surface. It has to be my hand, my decision to reach, my willingness to look at my insides with curiosity not shame.

We all have a painful past. Why I love to read emotionally sweaty stuff is because I am emotionally sweaty. Literature acts like a conductor’s wand commanding bows to rise and fall over heartstrings. May that mission be accomplished in EXACT NATURE.

I'm good enough, and smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me.

I'm good enough, and smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me.