Yes, I like to analyze things, try to figure out some people's motivations. Some folks I think are driven by insecurities or fears of being unliked or unloved. At a glance, I can't say. But I also try to learn in hopes of being a better, more tolerant, and kinder person.
I'm making progress. I think? But I also acknowledge I have a long, long way to go to be fully enlightened. I might need a few lifetimes, in fact.
But not long ago I was called out for making an "at least" statement about someone's frustrating situation. It was something mother-related. An acquaintance was frustrated because her human hailstorm of a mother was visiting for one of the holidays and my take was "at least it's only one day."
After being called out on that (by someone else when I mentioned the exchange) I realized that this person might have been truly frustrated by the impending visit from her mother. (Since my mother's not alive, I wouldn't mind a visit from her, especially if it's from the pre-dementia version, but a nosy, judgmental, controlling mother -- which is the way this person makes her mom out to be -- I could see not looking forward to that sort of visitor.)
This comment made me realize I was making an invalidating statement, though. Instead of being sympathetic I discounted her feelings.
So I try to learn from it and be better. I emphasize the word try here.
This same person, however, I realize uses the same invalidations on me.
Case in point: At my workplace we've had a couple Covid cases. They've been far and few in between, though. My takeaway: At least we're not spreading it to one another. (At least? Did I just say that? But at least I'm not invalidating myself if I'm using an "at least" statement on myself, right? I'm trying to find some silver linings here.)
Also, we had tests after one scare, and as of last Thursday I am Covid-free.
My invalidating acquaintance hit me with her best shot, however, not long before that Thursday test.
When I'd shared the same above details about the Covid in our office, this person responded with a brisk "Everybody has Covid nowadays. One in 15 people in the UK now has Covid."
I replied with something along the lines of "it does seem like most everyone knows someone, often someone very close to them, with Covid these days" and let it go.
Her math checks out, obviously. (Invalidating comments make me sarcastic, what can I say?)
Also, the test I took last week said otherwise, so I guess I'm not everybody. Is that a good or bad thing? Maybe I'm not anybody.
That comment she made also hurt my feelings a bit, which I was tempted to mention, but what's the point with a routine invalidator?
(If you're curious about invalidation, here's a little blog post I found on the topic.)
Lately I've been shopping online. (Sometimes I'm "shopping," where I'm just browsing websites, adding things to the cart, and then forgetting them.)
But winter coats are tempting, especially when they're on deep discount. They're also leading me into an amusing memory.
When I was a teen my mother and I went grocery shopping, and she didn't really feel like getting dressed. So, she stripped off her nightgown (and she was naked beneath), slipped on some winter boots, and put on a long faux fur winter coat. And we shopped.
I was kind of horrified. Being a teen it was easy to find things to be horrified about. But I was also highly amused. The coat was long and it was in no way obvious that she was starkers underneath the coat, but the knowledge itself was highly hilarious to me.
There's not a lot more to the story, though. She didn't get pulled over. She didn't get accused of shoplifting and be asked to remove her coat so she could be searched. (That might have to happen in a future book, though.) It was just a weird shopping excursion happening on a cold winter's day after we'd had a heavy snowfall.
I also wonder how many people do things like that. Shop in a raincoat or trench coat with nothing underneath. It'd be hard to tell, but it's a funny premise.
Part of me would love to do something weird like that, but I also would probably be too hot on top and feel too drafty from below, so maybe not. I take pleasure in layering. I also take a lot of displeasure in being padded up by a coat for a long time. So again, maybe not.
I'll have to find something else that's weird. Or write it up.
SIGNS OF SOMETHING
Ah, Facebook provides endless distractions. I love the little oddball memes and amusements. Especially ones that might link astrology or your birth month to some trait. Or one that shows your zodiac sign's ideal Thanksgiving meal. They're like potato chips, hard to stop at just one.
A recent one I came across was titled "Your Body's Weak Spot According to Astrology." My mother actually studied astrology. A lot. She did charts, listened to astrology shows on the radio (I guess today she'd be into podcasts on the topic), and would buy books.
They were fun to read through. I guess it kind of gives you a different mirror view of yourself. Oooh, I'm a Taurus and like luxury and comfort? Yes, please! My colors are earth brown? Hmmm... Not so sure there.
But the weak spots made me think of my childhood. I'm a Taurus, and the throat and neck were my body parts of concern. I had lots of sore throats as a kid, possibly due to stress, because I had some anxiety. My mother would invariably mention that my sore throats were connected to my Taurean nature. I'm not sure about that, but I liked it at the time. I still like it today, but for sentimental reasons. And I like oddball trivia.
According to this chart, though, each sign's weak spots are as follows:
I also can't help but wonder what Fiona (the character based heavily on my opinionated and outspoken mother) would say about this. I may put her on an astrology kick and have her comment on people. I'm highly amused imagining her going: "Oh, she's an Aquarius all right. Look at those fat, swollen ankles!" Someone is an ugly pedicure is sure to be a Pisces by her logic.
I'm both delighted and frightened imagining what she might say.
ONE DAY i'LL GET IT TOGETHER
I'm terrible with follow-through. I'm convinced it's undiagnosed ADHD. If I'd actually go and get tested maybe I'd have an answer. (There goes that undiagnosed ADHD again!)
I have to admit I've been lax on writing lately. Keeping the house up, running to this or that appointment, work, family ... they keep a writer away from her writing. Then there's the laziness (undiagnosed ADHD?) and depression.
Vitamin D helps, but not enough. Self-flagellation (I'm excellent at self-loathing, FYI) isn't helping either.
My dying PC could be a factor. (A tiny bit, anyways.)
So I bit the bullet and splurged on a new MacBook Air. It's slim and slender but it's got what I need to get cracking: A keyboard for typing. Some software and applications for preserving writing, and tinkering with covers and other ideas. I can also format my stuff in Vellum again! It all feels so shiny and new.
So that's what I'm doing now. Revamping the covers a bit as I work on book six (I've got several thousand words and some directions I can meander into). I've also got some other projects in mind, some resulting from my periodic bizarre dreams, or random brain farts/musings about threads I'd like to stitch into stories. There is also another semi children's book that I call my own version of Alice in Wonderland (as a very loose elevator pitch) that I intend to get back to. At least I feel like with the new laptop that I've recovered some of my brain. Now, I must tell my easily distracted gray matter to get going on writing and outlining and all that good stuff. My seven or eight fans depend on it!
(Did I mention I'm great at poking fun at myself? Or maybe I'm just being super realistic?)
Oh, and happy Thanksgiving, if you celebrate the day.
BOOK 5 OUT NOW!
Finally! Book five of my paranormal fantasy series is out now. It's called A Cold Spell, and it starts with my main character Poppy Blue going out for a romantic getaway with her love, Roger.
It goes swimmingly but then after a big snowstorm hits town, Roger has to go to his family's cabin to make some repairs. He comes back alright, it seems, but he's not quite himself, and Poppy's left wondering:
Plus she has a game of chicken poop bingo to bust up. And you just know when there's something happening, her sassy mother Fiona isn't far behind.
Who says winter is boring? Instead of freezing your ass off, how about laughing it off?
Download your copy here today!
KEEPING A MEMORY ALIVE
A bit of a sad day, because June 15, 2021 is the two-year anniversary of my mother's passing.
I'm not too broken up about it. (The first year, however was awful, like being thrust into an emotional maelstrom.) Instead I guess you could say I'm more reflective.
I think a big help was working on my soon-to-publish fifth book, A Cold Spell. It's getting some final looks now, but should land in July. The character of Fiona is based hugely on my mother. I did take a few liberties, making Fiona born in the U.S., (my mother was born in Germany), among a few other small details. But in spirit Fiona is very much my mother. She's blonde. She loves glittery and shiny things. She likes to stand up for the underdog. She's ornery. She can drive her daughter crazy sometimes, but they're close. They have one another's backs.
Sometimes I wish I could have had my mother's back a bit more in her last years. She had dementia and would get quite combative. I would prickle and fight against that sometimes. It took a while to learn how to handle a loved one with dementia. It makes it all the harder when the mother who raised you, who is supposed to know more and know better, suddenly doesn't.
But I think in some ways I've tried to make some amends to her in my books. She was alive to see three of them published, and liked that, one, I'd written books, and two, that she hugely inspired a character in them. I think she also liked that I infused the books with little tidbits and memories of things we'd done and places we'd seen.
She's been surprisingly easy to write, too. Possibly the easiest, and most fun. When I write her character's antics I don't necessarily see my mother in my head, but I feel her, in a way, if that makes sense.
Hopefully when you read more of Poppy and Fiona's adventures (because Fiona has a huge role in book number five), you feel her spirit and sass there, too.
She'd insist upon it.
I keep thinking about yesterday's post, where I decide I'm going to play invisible and see if my absence is noticed.
It makes me think of a sad ghost. Also of a Keanu Reeves quote. I think he was asked on some talk show, about what happens after we die, and he responded with something like, he didn't know, but “I know the ones who love us will miss us."
I always thought that was touching, profound, and beautiful.
It's true, too. I don't know if my mother or father are in some other realm. In my books the father is in another realm and visits his ghost-spotting daughter from time to time, but as for what I believe, I don't really know. I know what I want to believe. It'd be nice to see loved ones again. But I guess if we poof into nothingness that's, well, not exactly comforting, but things could be worse.
But I do love my mother and father and I do miss them.
It also makes me think of book and story ideas. What if the ghost isn't missed by anyone? Do cease to exist? If they made some kind of difference or contribution they might live on in some way. What if a forgotten ghost is the one who haunts the earthly realm? Their essence lingers, hoping someone will know or learn who they are, to understand something elemental about them.
It's just spitballing, but maybe it's an idea for something down the line.
This is probably better for the therapist's chair, and I'm looking for one with my new health insurance, but sometimes being ignored hurts worse than being bullied. Being shoved or insulted is painful, yes, but so is being treated like you're not there.
I know some people I've kept in touch with loosely over the years. We've never been super close but I used to feel like I was more a part of things. The last few years, however, it's not the case. There's a queen bee-type in the group who likes the spotlight to be on herself. I'm fine with that. I don't necessarily want to be the center of attention all the time. I just don't want to be ignored either. I feel like a houseplant. Instead of ones that need hours and hours of sun and watering and fussing, I'm just some low maintenance bit of greenery that likes a little bit of sunshine and a splash of water now and then.
Some so-called friendships have me feeling like I'm a long-dead weed as opposed to something worth considering and nurturing, however.
I don't feel unloved or unappreciated, except by one group, and I kind of just feel like maybe it's time to move on, to devote energy on more productive pursuits.
Mainly it's because the queen bee ignores everything I say or do. If I see her in person, every time I speak she get up to go have a cigarette, go pee, or refresh her drink. She doesn't do it for any other people. She actually bothers to ask the others what's up with their lives, or to respond to them, to show interest. In those cases I listen and ask after things, but I also try and volunteer about myself a little tidbit now and then.
I didn't grow up so-called normally. We moved around. I was shy. My parents split when I was young. My mother drank heavily for years so for a long time I felt I had to watch out for her, to make sure she made it to bed okay, or that she didn't fall asleep with a cigarette in her mouth and burn the house down. She was in a bad car crash, too, and needed months to recuperate. I was 16 and would go home at lunch to tend to her.
I don't think I ever quite learned how to socialize with my own peers so much. When everyone else was curling their hair and squealing over boys I felt like a rejected square peg who never fit in.
Later on I realized I probably had severe depression because my dad died when i was a teen and I had no one to really open up to about it.
Least of all in school.
Instead of compassion I mostly got teased or mocked, possibly because I was different from the rest, and didn't have that shared history most people in my high school had. And you know, high school and junior high, where if you're different they let you know about it, and usually in most unpleasant ways. So I tried to fade and survive and hope for something better.
It did come along. Lots of good things, in fact. But one thing I still don't feel great about is often feeling ignored. I do have a couple good friends and a solid husband who make me feel appreciated. But I'm trying to move away from the people who make me feel less than. (Admitting maybe I'm responsible for it a bit myself, since I'm not sure I do the right things. I always have a battle in my head, a "they probably don't want me around" way of feeling. (And when people ignore me, that's exactly how I feel.)
But I'm conducting an experiment with this group. I'm just going to fade to silence. I've tried to speak up, share bits of my life. I've asked after people, after both good news and bad. Sent cards after a loved one died. Sometimes I've just randomly checked in to see how folks are doing. After so many efforts I feel like I'm a ghost in the room, conversation swirling around me. So, I'm going to become a so-called ghost, and just recede. And I'm curious to see if my absence will be noticed. Instead of burning bridges, I'm going to see if they crumble and dissolve.
I think that might be the kindest approach. No accusations. No questions. No rage. Just a simple shuttering. I'm curious to see if they'll notice.
LEAVE IT UNSAID
Valentine's Day is coming up, and while I'm not big on celebrating all the fuss (I'd rather get a random gift or declaration of admiration, thank you very much), I do love the hearts and flowers. Possibly because they brighten up the dulled grays and washed-out whites of a Michigan winter.
V-day also makes me think of dates, both good and bad. The one I'm posting here, I might have to put in a book one day and have Fiona give some comments about it.
She would not approve.
In my college years, when I lived in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, I once went on a date and a guy brought me some flowers. They were red and white, not 100 percent my taste, because I'm not wild about those deep red roses, but it was a sweet gesture. Until he told me they were plucked from a funeral home. I guess he'd been in town for his aunt's or uncle's funeral or something. That's where you self-edit, though. Bring the flowers. Don't say where you got them. Unless you know your date will find it awesome that the flowers you bring got to spend the afternoon standing next a an embalmed uncle, I say, leave it unsaid. (And I'm fully aware there are people who are into that, and that's fine ... it's just not me.)
Have you ever had a romantic gesture that fell flat? Feel free to share in the comments.
THAT'S SO GAY
I was reading a review of another writer's latest book and the reviewer complained about what she thought was a too-common trope: The male gay best friend. Admittedly this particular writer (and many others) do have the gay best friend routine down.
I have a gay character or two in my Poppy books, too. Jordan Keep joined in the second book, Plenty of Trouble. I purposely didn't want to make him flamboyantly, stereotypically gay. Yes, he has some artistic flair and can make some fantastic store displays and arrange furniture like a dream, so I guess that's a bit stereotypical, but I didn't want a gay man mincing across the page.
I made some fantastic friendships in college, with mostly gay men. No one lisped. No one squealed or demanded glamming up. (Though my character Fiona might in many ways have a lot in common with stereotypical gay males, now that I think of it.) My friends usually liked what I considered really good dance music. (I mean, Madonna's Vogue or some Diana Ross disco jams ... bring it ion!) But otherwise these were guys who seemed mostly like any other guy, except they liked guys. In many ways they were like Max Blum from Happy Endings, but not likely to devour a deep dish pizza in one sitting and use the shirt they were wearing as napkins...
But this reviewer made some intriguing suggestions: Why not have a lesbian best friend? Or a gay lead character?
That would be interesting, I thought. I do have my gay Jordan and his boyfriend Ash. They just happen to be guys who date, and, yes, probably dress nicer than your average fellow, but they're not going to be rocking sequins and boas any time soon.
I also introduced the character of Meadow not long ago either. She's not really gay or straight, however. She has an affinity for sweets, and is drawn to people she finds to be sweet-natured. It doesn't matter if they're male or female. I kind of think of her fitting some nature vs. nurture theories: If we weren't nurtured into gender roles and expectations, would any of us be gay or straight? Tina would like Tammy. Tammy might one day like Tom. Tina would move on and date Sharon. And so on.
That's a post for another day, perhaps.
But a prominent lesbian character might be an interesting challenge. The wheels are turning. ...
I'm Magenta Wilde, author of the Poppy Blue paranormal fantasy series, and the forthcoming Happily Hereafter series. Hint: It involves ghosts.