writing

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Priceless? Maybe,

Published September 19, 2017 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

aI was trying to get the bits and pieces of my brain together to write an essay for Real Simple magazine’s current writing contest, themed “Your happiest moment”.  It had a 1500 word limit and a $3,000 prize. No sweat. I even knew what moment I wanted to write about.

I started a rough draft in an actual notebook. This is how I started most of my better work. I really wanted this to be one of my better works, because after a long long time of trying to figure out what happiness was and how to maintain it and years of therapy and driving miles back and forth to various parts of the Southwest and millions and millions of gallons of coffee and God only knows how many trips to the thrift store/bookstore/doughnut shop, and being called crazy by someone whose job is to give advice at actual commitment hearings (That really happened! It put a joyful feather right there in my crazy aluminum hat.)

I had it altogether. It was very important because my very careful budgeting has revealed that I am short about $400 a month. And I ‘m not dead sure what that is going to come from. (Tutoring is a possibility but not for at least another few months until I get into the swing of things.) The extra cash would certainly help.

Guess what happened?

My best laid plans were nudged, pushed and kicked out of the way by three of my students needing to retest (I blame the pencils) after school and discovering that I needed to fit in two extra lessons into my packed day to get everyone caught up and I somehow dropped a weird glitch into the grade book causing a zero that wasn’t really a zero to pop up in Progress Reports and crush the spirits of a cadre of 9 year olds. So I had to fix all of that. And then I had to go home and re-heat my noodles and chicken for dinner as I made my lunch, fed my cats and pull some things together to wear to school, because, did I mention I have Morning Duty this week? Which means I have to to get to school at 7:15, entitling me to leave at 3:45 unless, of course, you have kids to test or have a meeting.

So here I am 18 hours too late to win the big prize. But it is important to me so here it is:

I am living a blessed life. I have I roof over my head and I kind of know where my meal is coming from. I even know where the cats’ next meal is coming from.  I know that Happiness doesn’t come from other people. It doesn’t come from a place, and it certainly doesn’t care if you’re wearing make-up or if you remembered to shave your legs today.  Happiness pops in and out when you least expect it. I have so many happy moments in my life to chose from, how could I possibly narrow it down to one?

When I finally found the one, I realized that it was many years in the making.

I have always enjoyed singing. When I was a child, I thought singing was simple, just open your mouth and go.  When I was in the third grade, one of my fellow students said I wasn’t singing right. Well, what was that all about? I was smart and in the best reader group, how could I possibly be doing something wrong?

I remember very clearly, my third grade teacher, the beloved Mrs. Craven (she lived next door to the Von Erich family, they of the wrestling dynasty) standing next to me, listening for a moment and then declaring that I was off-key. I had no idea what this meant and being a small bear, I didn’t know how to fix it, so I kept getting worse. Mrs. Craven advised me to just move my lips during that song.

I do not recall what event required third graders to belt forth a musically superior rendition of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, but I do recall I did not sing it. I didn’t move my lips either.

Many years later when I was in high school, the Band Director decided that we had the talent to put together our own jazz vocal group. (I have no idea why a school that had a Clown Ministry, really, we did, did not have a choir director) One of my fellow vocalists was listening to me sing and not understand what the director was asking me to do.  She said, “Listen for the note and hit it when you hear it and and you feel it.”  She convinced me that if I could feel the note, I could sing it.

Fast forward to That Time My Head Blew Up. I had many, many challenges, including regaining the ability to to talk clearly and with inflection. I never even gave a thought to being able to sing again. I just wanted to be able to do something by myself that remotely resembled normal. At this point I couldn’t even fasten my own bra and didn’t have permission to shower without someone within shouting distance.

I was not concerned with singing.

One day I was in my hospital room listening to the soundtrack to “Oh Brother, where art thou?”  and just enjoying the blue grass and the song “Down to the river” by Alison Kraus came in. I listened for a bit and right when the bridge swelled, I felt the note and I could sing it.

That was my happiest moment.

I think that’s what you call priceless.

 

Finally! Circumstance is here!

Published April 10, 2017 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

After many, many moons the novel (well Novella) is here . Circumstance the novel! is now available on Amazon. If you have Kindle select you can read it free of charge.

This has been a long journey.  It began with a small notebook and large salad at Fuzzy’s. As I ate my salad I observed a couple who was clearly at having an awkward second date or possibly morning after the first date experience.

The girl kept leaving to go to the restroom. She was either in the yakking stage of a hangover or trying to call someone to rescue her. I kept watching them and a story about how she was leaving because she had an eating disorder and the guy didn’t want to break up with her because she was emotionally fragile, but he was kind of seeing someone on the side, spun out.

The side girl, who he thought was a random rocker chick from the club next door, was actually a homeless runaway. The homeless runaway turned into a character, Vanessa Riley.

The story then became hers. She had the life of an entitled teenager from a wealthy family in Baltimore. She was in love with her best friend’s brother, Charlie.  This from this came the story of Charlie’s whole family. Eventually the story turned into a crime novel, with Vanessa’s murder making her the last victim of a serial killer.

After many, many drafts with many tangential side stories, including Vanessa’s mother drowning her sorrows in too many martinis and falling into the welcoming arms of Charlie’s 19 year old best friend, it became clear to me that the real story was between Charlie and the killer, Robert Stephen Nichols.

Nichols has his own series of tangents and back stories.   He was a pure sociopath who freely admitted his guilt when the game was clearly finished.

The novella has been finished and edited for quite some time; I was just waiting to hear the results of a writing contest before I published.

Please check it out and if you love it, review it. In fact if you loathe it, review it!

It’s not working

Published January 22, 2016 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I did not get called in for a specific job today; my plan was to write and start the tidying journey of the room I lovingly refer to as Mt. Crapmore and here it is nigh on to noon, CST, and I have gotten as far as reading my email.

My Amanda Friend says that I should listen to my conscience and subconscious, both of whom are on in blanket fort on the couch, and rest and nap.   It’s tempting.

A bazillion years ago my brother answered a Myspace posting asking what he thought my job would be if I wasn’t involved in theatre. He said, “True Crime Novelist.” (I know, how can it be both True and Novel? Truman Capote and Erik Larson are masters of the genre. My copy of In Cold Blood is  staring at me right now.  It would definitely be a good day to catch up on my reading.)

I think that is definitely a good job for me. I am interested in research and True Crime and after listening to what is meant to be spooky, crime drama podcast that somehow made cult murders sound droning and boring, I know that the genre need a specific voice.  I’m just not doing very well at the writing without a real deadline thing.

I think I may  have a severe case of the crummies. I don’t feel 100%.  Maybe if I had something that would drag the muse out if its cage and get it going, I would be able to jump right into it. How do I find a worthy story?

Well, check the crime articles on Huffington Post (because I have no other source of information)

  1. The actor who voices Squidward on  Spongebob Squarepants has been arrested for DUI. Interesting, but I don’t want to read a whole story, much less write one, about it.
  2. Coco Austin shares a bikini picture. How is that a crime?

With stories like this to chose from, I went to cold case button. The one that grabbed my attention for the longest amount of time is the case of four bodied found encased in steel drums and burked in New Hampshire.  The deaths occurred over 30 years ago and have been ruled homicides. (because no one dies of natural causes and is ceremoniously sealed in a barrel)  The bodies are of an adult woman and three female children between the ages of 1-11. The adult and two of the children  are linked by mitochondrial DNA, so they are related, but the nature of the relationship, as is the identity of the third child is unknown.

Advances of forensic science may lead to finding the identities of these people.  (You will note I do not explain the process. My math skills make my science look great.)  Article Details here.

In my opinion, the story is in the third child; who she is and how she wound up with the people that caused her to be killed.   There are stories in the whole event, the circumstance and the identities. I think the mystery is in the most obvious unknown. (I’m not dead sure what I meant by that.)

 

With apologies to Alfred, Lord

Published January 3, 2016 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

In honor of this, blog six hundred, I offer a take on a classic.  I mean no disrespect to the Light Brigade.

I

Half a page, half a page, half a page onward

All in the valley of mirth towards the six hundred.

“Forward, the spritely ones

Time weasels all for funs.

Into the valley of mirth

Towards the six hundred.

II

Forward, the words you made

Was there ever a brain dismayed

As all who had wondered.

  What neurologist blundered

  None wants to reply

   None to reason why,

No frenches to fry

   Into the valley of Mirth

  Toward s the six hundred

III

Cat to the right of me

Netflix to the left of me

Distractions in front of me

Dancing and flirting

So tempting and swell

Entertainment it knows me well

Into the pile of words

Deadlines they sure are hell

Towards the six hundred.

IV

Flashed all their humor there

Words turned up in the air

Trying to find meaning there

Wasting time while

   I weigh and wonder

Thinking in the thought smoke

Would I have this problem without a stroke?

Blogs, Stories, Plays

Dragged from my brain with a choke

  House cleaning goes asunder

The time I won’t get back as I go towards the six hundred.

V

Pictures to the right of me

News to the left of me. ,

Inspiration all around me

Things I want to write all brilliant and bright

Things I know so well

From the keys and check to spell.

Writer’s block can go to hell!

It comes from a place of Joyful swell

All  the things I can  tell

The stories that are still left

After the six hundred.

Kind of a big number

Published June 29, 2014 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

To whom it may concern: I have been compiling notes for the past few days for this blog.(Not the blog in general, this specific blog.) I want it to be especially significant because it is the 450th.  That is not to say that every other  one was a heap of word fluff. (All though most of them probably were.)  I have had a lot of interesting things happen around me lately that will more than likely appear in plays or short stories with thinly veiled characters based on these events. It is too soon to write about these. In fact, the veil will be so thin that I suspect publishing it after my death will be too soon.

So what do I want to say? That question led me to the bigger query: What do I want?  (Right now I want a big icy coffee and some animal crackers and maybe something to help me with this ADD thing that has crept up on me with my rapidly advancing age.)

The want thing is hard to pin down. There are several things that I can think of like a full-time job, so I can keep my leaky roof over my head and have some level of solvency.  But what do I really want? (I will punch anyone in the face if they start singing that Spice Girls song. A  cold glass of punch would be good now too . . . maybe I should get something to drink.)

Fairly high on the list of the things that I want is the ability to make things fair.

Now I know that there is no way that I can even up all of the odds for everyone, but I would love to be able to at least provide the resources to balance things out.

As I wend my way through the course work that is part and parcel of the Alternative Certification process, my mind floods with ideas for my own class room (and perhaps how to tone down the rhetoric a bit because really , what was that? )

According to a recent module (that’s what each individual section of the course work is called. I guess it’s the cubicle of the education world. I like to think it is a space ship full of ideas that I can maybe blast into space when I grow weary of it.), education is the key to a better life and more earning potential (Now I’m not the best person to make that argument from a dollars and cents perspective. With those diplomas and credentials I do have earning potential. I just don’t have earning actual. At least I know what I’m missing. Approximately 9 centimeters of brain. For real.  I have pictures.)

I guess what I want is opportunity. The opportunity to even the odds, to make a bit of difference to someone or a lot of someones and give them  a foot hold into more and/or better education.

So how do I do that?  Well I can start by teaching. I am taking baby steps in that direction. I can only go as fast as my brain and time will let me. I have already applied for four different teaching positions. I know that new postings will come up in the middle of July, and most teaching positions don’t start until August. I have six more modules to complete and then I have to take the appropriate tests.

Once I have done all of that, all I can do is wait. And because Writer Chick hates that, I spend my time mulling over what  specifically I can accomplish.

I know there is only so much one person can do, particularly when all occasions do inform against me. (Hamlet might as well have been talking about public education for all of the sound and fury signifying nothing. I know, that last one was from the Scottish Play.)

That certainly was a long way to go to say something without actually saying anything.

I promise I will make an attempt to make sense. I make no guarantees, but I will make the attempt. I will be back soon with the fact based five year plan.

A big thank you to Actor Boy, Amanda Friend, Sara Killer, and all of the others who have supported me in the creation of this and other long-winded blurbs from my very tired keyboard. (Seriously, the X , N, J, and P have decided they want to work on flex schedule. This will get interesting.)

 

Back again, back again, bloggity blog

Published September 24, 2013 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I don’t know if I have anything worthwhile to say today. I’m not sure I’m qualified to judge what is good or wordworthy (worth spending the words on. I just made that up. The next time you hear some weirdo, probably me, wasting time that you can never get back, you can tell them/me, that wasn’t wordworthy. Then direct them to my webpage www.ellesview.com. Unless, of course it’s me, because I know where it is.)

I am one story into a six story contract on this ghostwriting thing.   The story I just finished writing was uncomfortable, and almost painful, like candling your own ear. (I’m not at all suggesting anyone try that, I’m just trying to paint a wordworthy picture.) I sent it in, fully expecting to get an email filled with hysterical laughter and perhaps a curse put upon my head and a demand that I rewrite that monstrosity or surrender one of my diplomas.

The publisher loved it. In fact he said, “Thanks! Excellent story.”

Just what I needed, more proof that I have no idea what is happening around me.

So here I am on a Tuesday taking a survey of the world around me. I have already been out for the day. My errands are run. I need to figure out what to do next. It’s not that I don’t have plenty to do. There’s just varying levels of repugnance associate to each task.

My job now is to figure out where on the repugnance pyramid I want to find myself. (and other short stories by Jack Kerouac)

I’m also easily distracted. It took me about ten minutes to write that sentence, because when I was writing it, I remembered that I needed to scan the check I just received for payment on my house in NM.  Then I remembered that I needed to create an Excel file for the whole thing. Then I remembered that I had left tomatoes and bananas in the car (World’s Worst Stripper names.)  When I brought that in, I remembered that I also bought a bag of Chicago Mix popcorn. Then I got distracted by the Oriental Trading Company Catalog. (If you have never had the delight of that particular distraction, go to the website. It’s amazing and somehow comforting to know that there is a place where you can get glow in the dark bouncing eyeballs for less than 50 cents each.)

Then I got back to the sentence.  This is why I can’t get anything done. And I really need to. I watched a great documentary last night. (For those of you who are new to my shenanigans, I watch documentaries while I’m ghosting or editing the stories of which I’m not a big fan because I don’t want my brain to completely cave in. Also, if I drop dead of another stroke, I would hope that whoever finds my cat hair laden corpse will notice that I was watching some cerebral documentary and not waxing idiotic by writing a phrase like “Kaleidoscope of passion.” I actually wrote that and it was published in a story. )

The documentary was “Miss Representation” It’s about how women are depicted in the media and how women are underrepresented in positions of power.  It inspired me.

And I all I have done today is write about shopping and buy bananas.

Sigh

The face of the truth:enfrentarán la verdad

Published April 24, 2013 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

For some reason the weird crap that keeps happening to me is starting to crack me up (I mean that both ways; it makes me laugh and I think it may slowly be driving me insane.)

I went to see my psychologist and as I was walking down the hall to her office, I passed what I am sure is a wonderful non-profit “Depression Connection.” I had the terribly inappropriate urge to laugh hysterically as I passed in front of their glass doors.  (I did not, I do have a shard of control left.)

I am slowly working my way through “Gated Grief.” I’m sure it was as difficult to write as it is to read.  It’s a very good book; it’s the content that is slowing my progress. The book is about the author, Leila Levinson, quest to get to know her recently deceased father, who was one of the American Liberators of one of the Concentration Camps. Her quest includes interviewing veterans who also liberated the camps. A few of the things that struck me, is the description of the “psychic closing off” as a coping mechanism for seeing an unimaginable hell.  What I read today has me pondering the question, if you truly knew what the truth looks like, would you be able to face it?

As I have been taught/told/teach, writers don’t write in a vacuum; at some level their writing is indicative of the time in which they are living.    As I attempt to find the actual face of the truth, I wonder if I am actually capable of staring into it without possibly turning into a pillar of salt.

I don’t know. I just don’t know.