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CELEBRITY DEPRESSION August 12, 2014

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suffering        I was deeply struck by the suicide of Robin Williams. I recall feeling this same confusion when I heard about Bruce Springsteen’s bout of depression and Thomas Kinkaid’s death. These are men who have made a mark in the world and have bank accounts stuffed full of more money than most of us can imagine. Their work is lauded, awarded and held up as an example for others, yet they felt unfulfilled. How can that be? A change of perspective is the best cure for depression, so I question why Williams couldn’t have gone on a spiritual retreat or worked with a charity or great cause to boost his spirits and give his life a new sense of meaning. But then the voice of my life coach cuts in and rings in my ears. She told me, “You can’t judge your insides by other people’s outsides.” No matter how successful or entitled somebody else may seem, we all suffer from having to live with ourselves. We all house doubt, insecurity and occasional self-loathing. There are others who may have looked upon my depression a couple of years ago as just as ridiculous and unfathomable. I am a prolific novelist, I have a home with acreage that is paid off, a pension, a good husband and I get to travel frequently. I am fed, sheltered and own more clothes than I can wear. So what else do I need? But that elusive else, that something more that we feel is missing is what sends us into the gloomy depths of depression and nobody can assign happiness and fulfillment to anyone else, especially based on a bank account balance and/or whatever front that person is projecting.

Have we always been so unhappy, or is it just through media that we are now being made aware of how miserable people are? Are longer lives working against us because we are now outliving our wills to live? I am happy again, but it took a lot of work. Once that grey cloud formed over my head and followed me everywhere, my mind was my worst enemy and actually seemed determined to fabricate my destruction. But from somewhere within arose a gratitude for this life and I somehow kicked off that dark cloak and emerged again into the sunlight.

It’s very hard to control unhappy thoughts, but it can be done. The most important tools are to not compare yourself to others and to learn to eject those negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones. If ever there was proof of Satan on this earth, it’s hanging there in the thick fog of depression that descends upon us and causes us to see ourselves as worthless.
Here’s hoping that the afterlife does not punish those who take their own lives. I sincerely believe that there is no penalty – that life in its entirety is a learning experience and that hell lies not in the afterlife, but in life right here, where we suffer and watch others suffer.

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Death Dance of the Frog May 10, 2014

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASpring unearths all sorts of odd and amazing things. This little guy wins the award for amazing spring find of 2014. I found him while walking around the pond with my dogs. He is underwater, floating and enrobed in a scum. When the wind blows, the water ripples make him look like he’s dancing.

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Finding an Agent for Literary Fiction March 22, 2014

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Whale tail mug       I have been looking for an agent for my latest novel, a story about the boyhood of Captain Ahab. I studied Moby Dick and Herman Melville extensively and interjected a peppering of Melville’s phrases and many of his themes into my work. While sending it out, I got a few very strange replies from agent asking to see a partial or complete manuscript. The oddest comment was, “This isn’t a thriller. Wasn’t Moby Dick a thriller?” I began to realize that a lot of agents who said they represented literary fiction have no idea what serious literary fiction is. So when I got good comments about how beautiful my writing is or how with the right agent my career and I could go far, I savored them. The rest I discarded.
Presently I have received positive responses from eight agents including one of the biggest in the U.S. and one of the biggest in the UK . They were both taken with the partial they were sent and asked for the entire manuscript. I am convinced this is my breakout novel that will launch my career.

It took time and patience, but I didn’t give up on my book. I took early comments to heart, put the work aside for a while, then went back and rewrote the book. Now that it’s finished, I’ve gone back to work on another I had completed some time back. I’ve finally learned that it’s important to let the work sit, digest feedback, and go back to it fresh. I probably would have given up on this book by now, but received some very strange messages from the universe. My brother and I don’t exchange gifts anymore, so I was surprised when I suddenly got a package from him. Bear in mind he had no idea I was writing a book that referenced Moby Dick. I opened the package to find a whale tail mug. (See photo.) The handle came up and attached to the mug in a whale tail. My brother knows me and he knows I love color, but the mug is white. Spooky, huh? Then, everywhere I turned, there were Moby Dick, whale and Ahab references. In crosswords puzzles, comics, commercials, magazines, and every time I turned on the TV. I even found a whale tail charm at a garage sale I had no intention of stopping at. The car just turned in without me even thinking about it. The strangest was one day when I was feeling down and asked for a whale sign. I turned on the TV and Moby Dick, the opera, was on. I can’t help but think this is all positive and means something.

Stay tuned, I’ll let you know how things turn out. Is the universe just screwing with me (again) or is it guiding and helping me?

The Value of Christmas Ornaments December 9, 2013

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA    They’re pretty homely and probably would be overlooked at even a really crappy rummage sale and wind up in the trash pile. But to me they are beautiful and they bring so many wonderful holiday memories flooding into my mind whenever I look at them. They’re my favorite Christmas ornaments salvaged from my childhood, and it’s nothing short of a miracle that they’ve survived all these decades. They’re worth absolutely nothing if you care to place a monetary value on them. Styrofoam and pipe cleaners simply haven’t gone up in value like gold and silver. These four little men have Styrofoam balls, adorned with sprigs of tin paper holly, for heads. Glass ornaments are stuck in them to act as eyes and noses. Their mouths and bodies are pipe cleaners. What is especially magical about them is that they can be placed on the Christmas tree, but can also be twisted to sit on a lamp or dangle from a dresser mirror, or even a kitchen cabinet knob. They were a lot like the Elf on the Shelf to me, watching carefully to report back to Santa about my behavior. I still hold my breath every year as I take the top off the tin in which they are stored. Then I have to grin, and, yes, have even been known to giggle aloud, as I pull back the tissue paper to find those familiar faces smiling up at me. I now hang them on one of my big plants where they can cavort among the Christmas cards received that year.

You just can’t put a price on some things. I have no idea if anyone is going to want them once I pass on from this earth, but these silly little ornaments have made my Christmas year after year. Just looking at them reminds me of how special this season is and I feel transported back to those wonderful, simple times in which I was so fortunate to grow up. I recently e-mailed a picture of the ornaments to my brother and he couldn’t believe I still had them. Sometimes I can’t either. The presence of these goofy guys is just a little more proof of the pure magic of Christmas.

Some Really Big Fish June 10, 2013

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Fishing ChampsMy husband (extreme right) was in a fishing tournament yesterday. His team not only won, they set a new weight record. I’m a bleeding heart when it comes to animals, but am still proud.

IT’S TIME TO STOP FOLLOWING THE FOLLOWING April 9, 2013

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       poe We sat on the edges of our seats while FOX counted down the days to the start of THE FOLLOWING, which we were told would be very different and exciting. The concept of a cult following a serial killer and the Poe references were so exciting in the previews  that I can confidently pronounce this show the biggest disappointment of 2013.
       

        I think one problem is the lack of chemistry between characters and how weak they are. Agent Parker is supposed to be Hardy’s boss, but she’s not the one who is calling the shots. And plausibly, Hardy would never be on this case at all since he is having an affair with Joe, the serial killer’s wife. That alone, was almost enough to make me stop watching immediately. Bacon’s character also would not be on this case because he wrote a book about the killer. He might be a consultant, but he wouldn’t be the one chasing down Joe with gun drawn. He certainly wouldn’t be calling all the shots while his superior gnaws her manicured nails waiting for him to give the word on what to do next.

     Show after show, three hot-dogging agents run into situations with no backup. Then once the bad guys have escaped, there is suddenly a SWAT team dissecting the site. It seems to be the same old crap episode after episode. A bad guy escapes and a good guy is captured or in grave danger. Unfortunately, that is what has come to be expected and last night I actually yawned when Agent Parker was captured. The writers are lazy and must think their audience is a band of idiots.

     My biggest question is, where is all the cool Poe imagery? They seem to have forgotten that. I keep thinking how they magnificently could have murdered while using some of Poe’s storylines. But there’s still hope — maybe they’ll brick Parker up into a wall. It’s a good thing Poe isn’t around to see THE FOLLOWING. I think he’d be very insulted that he was used merely as a tool to gain viewers instead of the icon I had expected him to be in this show. I am torn. There are only a few episodes left, but I’m not sure I can sit through more inane, predictable and very disappointing plots.

PARAPROSDOKIANS December 31, 2012

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  PARAPROSDOKIANS I did not write the following. It was sent to me by a friend, but is so delightful I felt compelled to share. My favorites are numbers 6, 8 and 12.  Happy 2013!

Paraprosdokians are figures of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected; frequently humorous. Winston Churchill loved them.
1. Where there’s a will, I want to be in it.
2. The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it’s still on my list.
3. Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
4. If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.
5. We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.
6. War does not determine who is right – only who is left.
7. Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit.. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
8. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.
9. I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.
10. In filling out an application, where it says, ‘In case of emergency, Notify:’ I put ‘DOCTOR’.
11. Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.
12. You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.
13. I used to be indecisive. Now I’m not so sure.

14. To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.
15. Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.
16. You’re never too old to learn something stupid.
17. I’m supposed to respect my elders, but it’s getting harder and harder for me to find one now.

WHY I STILL BELIEVE IN SANTA CLAUS December 13, 2012

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santa       I don’t remember how old I was when my aunt turned to me and said, “You don’t still believe in Santa, do you?” I know that I was young enough that my brother gasped and turned to stare at me with wide, horrified eyes and my mother was furious. But there was no need for shock or anger because I didn’t believe her anyway. I figured Santa simply gave up on those who didn’t believe in him and stole out of their lives, but was alive and ever-present for all of us who did. And I believe that to this day.
        Who among us doesn’t recall being a child and struggling to stay awake long enough to see or hear Santa’s sleigh? Do you still listen for it? I do, even though I can’t explain why, and my husband says this gives him all the evidence he’ll ever need to have me committed one day. But without fail, a fantastic wave of enchantment rises up and hits me every Christmas Eve. I suddenly turn back into that snotty-nosed little kid who strains to hear sleigh bells as her mile-long Christmas list parades through her head.
       To lose one’s faith in Santa Claus is an awful thing. It’s losing one of the most glimmering parts of yourself, and surrendering to an existence that doesn’t allow for magic, miracles or promise. It’s trading the possibility of all that can be for the mundane. I won’t ever lose my faith in Santa. My stocking might hang empty and my Christmas wish list may never grow any shorter, but every year I’ll receive a wonderful gift of hope while my heart beats quickly and my eyes shine with optimism as they stare up into a winter’s sky in search of Santa’s sleigh.
        Christmas isn’t just one day out of the year, it’s a season. To many, it’s only a season of shopping and baking and making yourself both crazy and broke. But for others, it’s a time to reflect and consider how to make a contribution to this world. Christmas is a feeling of goodness, a sensation of being connected to our fellow human beings, a flood of wonderful memories and a warming of the heart. It’s a time when we feel thankful for what we have and strive to share our good fortune with those less fortunate. The generosity of people donating to food banks, shelters and charities is overwhelming during the winter holidays, and if such rampant giving took place all year long, nobody would ever be hungry. This beautiful spirit of giving is Santa. He exists.

WRITING, VALIUM AND VODKA November 28, 2012

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        We ‘ve all heard about Thomas Kincaid doing himself in (perhaps accidentally as reported) with vodka and Valium. I must say, having just discovered this magical combination, that it’s a wonderful and very numbing concoction that allows cares to melt completely away. Why a successful recognized artist like Kincaid would need numbing is beyond me, but it’s a terrific diversion for someone like me who sits waiting, waiting, waiting for an agent to take me on — or a job offer in the nine-to-five world where I have never quite fit in. February will mark two years that I have been looking — submitting resumes weekly but getting a mere handful of interviews, and no calls back. Perhaps I don’t realize it, but am actually somehow blocking my success in that area since I truly want to write full-time.
I should be on top of the world right now. I had an agency request a six-week exclusive on one of my books. Two months later they reported a positive response and said it was going on to another reader. That was October 10 and I am still waiting for the second opinion. I have another agency looking at it, too, and their response is due any day now. But they are in NYC so who knows how long Hurricane Sandy will have set them back. These are reasons for hope, so perhaps I’m depressed because I’m in between books right now, having just finishing my latest. It’s hard for me to just live this life and not have a book to obsess me.
I work part-time at a small local paper and they sent the staff to a life coach so we could do an article on our experiences with her. She spoke about symbolic creatures — deceitful monkeys that climb on our shoulders and sabotage our success with their negative talk. If we listen, we fall. If we can ignore them, we can climb over them and crush them with the heels of our boots. She said their voices grow stronger the closer we get to our goals, so I am trying to keep those thoughts foremost in my mind and convince my brain that I am very close to success. Another statement I cling to until my fingers bleed is “Success is doing what you say you are going to do.” I say I am going to write and finish novels. And I do. That makes me, to some degree, a success. I’m a great success to my dogs. I get them fed every day. I take them out for walks and romps in all weather, and I provide them with their every wish and whim. As a matter of fact, I will finish this up and stumble outside with them for a while. It’s nice being a hero to someone.
But why am I so stressed? This is a dream life compared to those of people in many other parts of the world. I manage to pay my bills each month with my assortment of creative ways to make money. I lack for nothing, being sheltered, fed, clothed and entertained. But the monkeys on my shoulder keep scaring me about not having anything for retirement. Maybe I never will. I’ll be a greeter or hostess or a freelance writer forever. Let’s hope dementia sets in just enough for me to be one of those incessantly happy little ladies who are joyous for the experience of seeing every person whose path they cross.

If any of you have experience with Valium and vodka, please let me know so we can share war stories. I could use some contact with someone who understands what I’m going through.

A FEW LAST GLIMPSES OF FALL November 4, 2012

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          I finally downloaded the many pictures I have been taking into the computer. There are some very nice autumn shots, so I thought I’d share a few of them. Most were taken on the warm October afternoons when it felt as if fall would be with us forever. Today, it’s evident that it is past. It’s very cold, and the leaves are goners, merely soggy, shapeless clumps where they linger stubbornly on the ground.

           I like the shot of our barn with the branch boasting autumn colors draping across the front. The old oak and the other ancient trees on this side of the house are my solace all four seasons.

         It seems the only sign left of autumn is this bag of Halloween tortilla chips that we haven’t yet opened. So we better eat them slowly and savor each one, for they, too, will be gone before we know it.