For several days over the last couple of weeks, I’ve come across the topic of Faust via different forums: Facebook, Twitter, etc. Anyway, this recurrence has reminded me of an occurrence that took place when I was 15. My mom took me and a friend to a book store in an area mall, I forget which one. I’d just finished reading most of The Vampire Chronicles in which Faust is referenced many times. So, I wanted to read Faust. I really enjoy books that lead me onto other things, that reference classic literature or themes about which I can learn. One thing I enjoyed about Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles was her use of geography. I even did a report for my sophomore geography class, a project that required us to read a book and describe the different places written about in it, on The Vampire Lestat (I was already reading it at the time, so I figured, What the hell?).
At any rate, I asked the bookstore clerk about Faust, as I wasn’t able to find it on the shelves. He rudely advised me I should have come as soon as I’d gotten my book list because they’d run out from other students buying them up. I was so confused, and I asked what he was talking about. He asked me if I were buying the book for school. I said, “No, I’m buying it for myself.” His response, “Wow, impressive.” I still took him for a dumbass.
Epilogue: He ordered the book, and I read it. Then a pen pal of mine sent me copy of the book written in both English and German, as I was studying German at the time. I still have both copies. They survived Hurricane Katrina in a plastic Rubbermaid container that, although it weighed at least a hundred pounds, floated inside my house. All of my books were left unscathed.
My husband actually discovered them, and my cat, just a day after I’d written in my journal how I wished my books and my cat had survived. It was 33 days later. The cat has since run away, but the books remain.
Hello, Readers. Yes, Virginia, The Wordsmith does exist. It’s been a bit since I’ve written a blog post. I promise I’ve been working tirelessly on my novel the whole time. Really. I’m nearly almost halfway kind of completely close to being finished the first draft. My friend also recently invited me to join her writing group, for which I am glad. Because how is my novel going to become a best seller if experienced readers and writers don’t give me their input?
To all my bloggy friends, I have a backlog of your blogs to read. I swear I’m not ignoring them. Although, I might not get to everyone’s posts before the release of “Memos From Your Closet Monster 2.” (If you haven’t read the original, give it a read. Also, I have no idea if there will be a sequel. Maybe. . . ??)
Anyhoo, since it’s nigh the end of 2012, and we’ve all apparently survived the apocalypse, I’ve decided to comprise yet another year in review.
Number 1: Cancer – If you’re just tuning in, you can catch up here. It looks like we might be almost closely completely finished most of RB’s treatment for now. No idea of when he’ll be discharged. It’s been a long ten months. Everyday is another battle. But, we started out 2012 with a sick child and no idea of what was causing his illness. We found out, and although it was a devastating diagnosis, RB’s been making it look like a cake walk, and for that I am very thankful. He’s recovered more than the doctors said he would, and he continues to improve all the time. That kid’s my hero.
Number 2: Related to number one. I was reminded of the kindness within my fellow humans at a time when I was certain there was no compassion left in the universe. People gave donations, time, and labor to help our family. My employer has been unbelievably considerate and understanding during this difficult time. My coworkers organized a fundraiser, as did my cousins-on both sides of the family. My mom’s coworkers organized a carwash at their store, and the Down South Rollers held a carshow benefit for RB. So many people went far beyond anything we’d ever expected, and there are probably folks I am forgetting. I sincerely apologize for that, but it only proves how many people were involved in assisting us that I can’t remember them all without a detailed list.
(I’m still missing some photos from one event held at Zaddie’s Tavern for RB by cousins. If any one of you have some of theses photos, please pass them along. Thank you!)
My very selfless friend at Observations from an Overworked Momma organized an online auction for RB. She even went so far as to acquire several children’s books, signed by author Cornell Landry even. She, along with some of our other friends, visited RB at the hospital for Christmas and brought us gifts and care packages. I love these guys, y’all.
My friend about whom I’ve previously written The Otherwordly Goddess of Script got me a giftcard to Walgreens. Those of you who have been following my blog long enough know the significance of this!
I’ve made friends since RB’s admission to CHNOLA, too. We are blessed with family and friends who are always willing to help out and support us, and without these people, I wouldn’t be able to function.
Number 3: Also related to numbers one and two. Through my blog, and because of our shared hope in finding a cure, I’ve met several wonderfully inspiring people who have helped me remain positive more than they probably know. Their optimism has helped me remember that I should stay hopeful even in the face of adversity. Kudos to you The Monster in Your Closet , Pinwheels and Poppies, and The Lucky Mom. (Sorry if I left anyone out. I love you all!)
Number 5: Being included in The Monster in Your Closet’s FTIAT series. Writing my entry and reading the others has helped me, again, realize although times are hard, there is always something for which to be thankful. Plus, it’s a big deal to a writer who was only published one other time this year (and rejected many times). Oh, you missed it? Well, go on and read away at The Foliate Oak Literary Journal. (Deb, I’m adding your thing on future submission letters, by the way. Just to let you know. ;})
Number 6: In fiction, there is a point where the protagonist has a major change. It’s near the climax of the story, usually. Either there is a physical battle or an emotional one; it transfigures the protagonist. Somehow, after Hurricane Katrina, I felt the change a little. I was touched by the kindness we received, but was also tarnished by the derision to which we were subjected. Things are different now, and this is my battle. I know there’s been a metamorphosis, an evolution. The snide cynic in me still exists, but she is muted by the newly emerged optimist, the person who will still fight for what’s right but is more understanding and compassionate. In the words of Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) via Pulp Fiction, “I’m trying real hard to be the shepherd.”
Number 7: Fibromyalgia. Yep. I was diagnosed on the 29th of November. Because why the not at this point, right? At any rate, I’ve been taking my meds like a good little girl, eating right, exercising, and treating my body a lot better. I cut caffeine almost out completely, and I quit drinking. My doctor also decided I have depression and anxiety (can’t imagine why), and since starting my medicine and resuming my daily yoga and meditation, I’ve been feeling much better. I still feel like the Tin Man when I wake up in the morning, but after forcing myself to stretch and move my stiff muscles, I start to feel much more productive. My fatigue is somewhat better, but somedays are still rough. I will see my doctor again for a follow up in January, and I’m hopeful he will be able to help me with my unresolved issues. Fibromyalgia is the perfect example of irony, because it causes stiffness and pain that makes the patient want to be still, but the pain and stiffness is only relieved by moving around. Universe. You’ve one upped me again. But, don’t worry. You’re not putting me down that easily. “So I’ll do as I please like the well-tempered breeze, blowin’ which way I see fit. I’ll grey with the clay seven days till the day when they throw me on the potter’s scrap heap. But take my advice; you’ll have to bury me twice, ’cause the first time I won’t rest easily. But don’t let me die still wondering what it was I left behind.” “Don’t Let Me Die Still Wondering” Flogging Molly
Number 8: I don’t know how many of these I should have, so I’ll just add another one. SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t read the 700th and final issue of the Amazing Spider-Man, don’t read this part. Peter Parker dies in an epic battle with Doc Oc; they somehow switch bodies, and Peter Parker dies in Otto’s body. Doc Oc takes over Peter’s body and receives all of his memories, thoughts, and feelings of responsibility-supposedly. He becomes the Superior Spider-Man. WHATEVER! RIP ASM. You’ve been part of my life for many, many years. I won’t forget you, PP. “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Number 9: I lost 5 pounds.
Number 10: I wrote a blog post! Finally!
Auld lang syne, and all that, folks! May you all have a wonderful 2013 filled with health, happiness, and good fortune.
Winning. Not something that’s been a big part of my life. Much like the unfortunate likes of Charlie Brown or the Amazing Luckless Peter Parker, I’ve been one acquainted with catastrophe. Literally, and I’m not misusing literally.
I’ll never be the person who wins the Powerball twice in ten years (bastards) or finds a briefcase full of a million dollars (okay, seriously, that’s mob money). You won’t see me winning any competition. I’ve often joked that if there were a contest which required its winner to be named Donnell Jeansonne and have my social security number, some identity thief would win it.
But when you are a luckless schlub, you learn to really appreciate the things in life that some people might find trivial. To be completely cliché I’ll maintain I’ll never be wealthy, but my life is enriched by the people in it. Some of those people are close friends and family. Some are new friends. Some are acquaintances. Still, some are folks I’ve never met in real life, and may never meet.
One of those wonderful people is a lovely lady and author of the blog Pinwheels and Poppies. We met as WordPress bloggers when I first read her blog The Coming Adventures of a Soon-to-be Baldie in which she writes of an upcoming trip to Chicago to participate in a St. Baldrick’s event. The blog was posted on March 19, 2012-just thirteen days after I learned my own son, then twenty-eight months old, had a malignant brain tumor.
We’ve corresponded via the Internet since then, and today she shared something with me. Although I’ve been behind in blogging (I promise all of my free time is spent working on my novel.), she’s awarded my humble blog with the Liebster Award.
Coincidentally, I studied German for three years in high school and two in college. I can’t say I’m fluent anymore as parts of my brain have gone on permanent vacation. But I do know that among the word’s meanings, one of them is beloved. And with this knowledge, I want to thank my friend at Pinwheels and Poppies for awarding my blog, and as always for dedicating herself to helping raise money for pediatric cancer research.
Now there are rules that go along with this award. Just like Spidey says, “With great power comes great responsibility.” These rules don’t appear to be carved in stone or anything, but basically they are intended for bloggers to pay it forward by acknowledging the blogger who awarded them and to pass it along to other, also lesser known, blogs. According to seemingly official Liebster Award criteria posted by P&P, an awarded blogger should recognize three to five other bloggers with less than 300 subscribers.
Past bloggers have also passed down rules that an awarded blogger should state eleven things about herself/himself, and should answer eleven questions set by the person giving the award. And that we should write eleven questions for our own awarded bloggers.
Since the lovely lady who has seen fit to give me this award has followed the eleven question rule, I will follow suit.
11 Questions for Me:
1. What is your earliest memory?
A tight squeeze and a bright light. Just kidding. My earliest memory is from last week. Who am I again?
2. What are your personal religious/spiritual beliefs?
Spiritual yes. Religious hardly.
3. Favorite comfort food?
I really can’t answer this question. I’m from NOLA. Everything is comfort food.
4. Are you crafty? If so, what’s your crafting niche?
Is sticking yourself repeatedly with sewing needles and burning yourself with hot glue guns a craft? Because if so, that.
5. Who do you think is hotter- Johnny Depp or Robert Downey Jr?
6. What’s your astrological sign? Do you believe in astrology?
I was born on the Virgo/Libra cusp. I’m a little of both and a little of neither. I lean more toward the Libra in me. For entertainment purposes only.
7. How many countries have you been to? Which ones?
Four not including the USA. Mexico, St. Maarten, the Bahamas, Grand Caymen. Also the US Virgin Islands which I didn’t count because it’s the US.
8. Have you read 50 Shades of Grey? Opinion?
9. Which decade do you feel like you belong in? Why?
The Seventies. I could see all the cool bands, man.
10. Do you garden? If yes, what kind of gardening do you do?
Does watching my husband mow the lawn count as gardening? Then yes.
11. What blows your mind more- outer space or life as we know it?
Outer space, man! Seriously. The universe is fucking awesome.
Now that that’s finished, here are eleven things to know about moi:
1. When you’re on fire you don’t remember to stop, drop, and roll. I know this from experience.
2. I say fuck a lot. But not as much as motherfucker.
3. I think if I had a British accent I’d be much funnier.
4. I once tap danced in front of the Cabildo and made $11-true story. Also, I can’t tap dance.
5. I’m pretty sure I’d make a successful psychic. I can’t see the future, but I’m pretty good at bullshitting people.
6. I like the Regular Show.
7. Me and my bestie once played Spider-Man for Playstation 2 for twelve straight hours until we finished because we didn’t have a memory card.
8. I’m fairly jolly for a person whose life’s in the shitter.
9. I am a book hoarder. I buy books I never read, some I do read, some I read multiple times. I am addicted to buying books.
10. Anyone who’s ever heard my name knows how much I love Queen and Freddie Mercury.
11. My fantasy destination in Phuket, Thailand.
And here are the next award winners of the prestigious, glamorous, delicious Liebster Award. Drumroll please……..
Shark Week has ended, and I must admit I am having withdrawals. It happens every year. See, I really like sharks. Like, a lot.
I’ve even acquired the moniker “Nell Shark”, given to me by my dad when I was a teen. I wasn’t only given the nickname because of my love of the carnivorous fish, but also because there was a time when I could consume anything I wanted, like a shark, and my dad would joke that I’d probably swallowed a license plate somewhere. This name was also born from a nickname given to my dad in the time of Saturday Night Live’s Land Shark sketches. He’s often called Lan, and so he became Lan Shark. Being his offspring, I suppose it was only natural that I also share the shark title. Over the years I’ve taken on more of an image of a whale-shark, but I digress.
If reincarnation exists, I want to be a shark. I think it would be wonderful to swim freely in the ocean, at the top of the food chain, not a worry in the world. Except for, you know, commercial fishing nets, shark nets designed to protect beaches, fishermen killing you for your fins, and crazed people hunting you because they think you’re going to chomp innocent surfers and swimmers for fun. Besides all that, I think it would be real nice. I’d even make extra sure not to accidentally taste anyone, which as we all know, could result in maiming or killing them.
Speaking of hunting sharks and sharks accidentally tasting people, one of my favorite movies is Jaws. I love the movie, although I don’t love what it did for sharks. I must make an admission here, as well: I’ve never read the novel.
I know. I’m sorry for my literary sin of loving a movie for so long without reading the story which inspired it. Truly repentant. My penance will be to read War and Peace twice and recite The Illiad fourteen times. I’ve never read War and Peace, either, but I imagine reading it twice would be quite the compensation for any wrongdoing.
But now, now I can claim absolution! For I have received my copy of Jaws, the novel, written by one Peter Benchley (I understand Mr. Benchley and his wife became advocates for shark conservation after seeing the anti-shark furor created by his novel and from Steven Spielberg’s movie which came out a year later) .
And I didn’t just buy the novel, I bought a vintage (sure, why not?) hardcover copy. It’s used, not in mint condition, but in good condition. The jacket is a little torn, but the book itself is in tact. It was cheap, and it smells delicious. Ecstasy! Is anyone not excited by the smell of an old book? It’s just me, then? All right.
I was pleased and surprised when the book arrived. When I ordered it, I was under the assumption that I was ordering a used copy of a print reissued in 2005. But no! It’s the real thing, baby. Not some reissued young whippersnapper copy. I’m very happy.
To a lot of people this is a silly thing about which to become excited. Oh well. Not to Nell Sharks*.
*My son, Robot Boy, is also a big shark fan. Even at his young age, he watches Shark Week programming, and chomps like a shark on the chewy tubes given to him by his speech therapist. Once, before he was sick, Jaws came on television. Fearing he would be afraid, I stood in front of the television as Jaws attacked some folks on a banana boat while blood filled the water. RB saw Jaws’s attack anyway, and instead of crying or getting scared, he started shouting “Rawr! Rawr!” pretending to be Jaws. His nickname is Chompy Shark.
Whenever I see a blank page, I have a desire to fill it, to put something meaningful down. I must control myself when I’m in a store where journals, tablets, or just plain notebooks are available. I own too many half filled journals and notebooks. Despite a conscious effort to control my hoarding tendencies, I still give in.
I’m not really a hoarder. Quite the opposite actually. Except with books. I’ve so many that I haven’t read, much like the journals I’ve yet to fill. I will read them, just like I will fill the others. I want to.
When I was in highschool, I had a particular art teacher I adored, and one day she asked me what I would do when I’d read all the books in the world. My answer: write my own.
Something has been lost of the catharses of putting pen to paper. With technology, computers, smart phones, and electronic tablets hardly anyone bothers with the toil of writing manually, it seems. But we writers do; I do. There was a time when it was the only form of writing mankind had, putting quill to paper, reed to papyrus, chisel to tablet, primitive paint to cave walls.
I can type my words, dictate them onto recorder, or express them verbally to another, however none of those methods can take the place of channeling my ideas through the pen and onto a tangible surface. Most of my writing is done via keyboard, but still nothing-to me-compares with the pure act of writing, of using my magic wand, my hand wielding yet restraining its power.
Words on the page. Not the electronic landscape with which our eyes and minds have become familiar, but literal writing. Putting ideas on the page, there to fill the blank spaces.