That Practice Makes Perfect Thing

When people start writing, it is common to think, “I can’t be a writer. I am not nearly as good as Stephen King/Ernest Hemingway/Toni Morrison/Fill-in-the-Blank, so why should I even try?”

Watching “How to Be a Writer” videos or reading/listening to those types of books, the common refrain is, “Practice Makes Perfect.” Of course, we all know this. I remind myself of this often.

Queen – Live at the Rainbow ’74

Queen Live at the Rainbow 1974

So as I was chilling after a long day’s physical work in my room, I turned on a Queen concert I had not seen in its entirety – their Live at the Rainbow in 1974.

Queen was fully formed in 1971 with the addition of John Deacon on bass, added to Brian May (guitar and vocals), Roger Taylor (percussion and vocals), and Freddie Mercury (vocals and piano). So, this concert, the Queen II Tour, was a mere 3 years into their formation and it was their first tour.

And it shows.

Watching it, I smiled at the (for lack of a better word) immaturity of their stage presence, their cohesiveness, and even the way the songs sounded. Each song in their set sounded similar compared to the massive diversity of later albums. They were also decidedly slower compared to later years. “Seven Seas of Rhye,” was especially slow compared to future concerts. (“Stone Cold Crazy” definitely picked up the speed of that show.)

By the time I saw Queen on November 4, 1978 during their Jazz Tour, they were an amazingly gifted band whose show was incredible. In those four short years of practice… in the studio and on tour… they had become monstrously great.

Moving forward even more, by the time they were at Live Aid in 1985, they stole the show from dozens of seasoned bands and singers. That was only eleven years after The Rainbow show.

Progression

Queen Live at the Rainbow 1974

Looking at the speed of their progression, I think about my own writing. Has my writing advanced in the last eleven years? Have I practiced enough? Do I practice enough?

No.

I am buoyed by having watched Live at the Rainbow ’74. I see what a great deal of desire and practice can do for an artist. I want to be an artist. In order to do that, I need to get my ass writing again. I’ve not written since October 1, 2022… the day after NaNoWriMo ended… and I’ve sporadically done a couple of edits on the book that needs to come out.

Side Note: Editing is HARD!

Forward Movement

Queen Live at the Rainbow '74
Barb Writing 2008

I wrote my 3 Pages this morning. I am finishing this post. I will do my best to do a bit of editing, even if it is just for five minutes.

Onward, Ho!

Decluttering While Fat

(See my duvet cover up there? I make my bed every day now! Shocking news, I promise.)

I’m decluttering my space. I live in a small room (and am blessed to have it!) and it was crammed with stuff.

I “purged” a lot of it after I moved here in December 2014. I was in a state of shock, my partner having transitioned from female to male, my being asked to leave, moving 3000 miles away, and ending up back home where I started.

In 2015, my brother made a bonfire for me and I burned the medical charts I’d brought with me, many of my mementos (not even taking pictures of a lot of them), but kept a lot of other mementos having some sense I would want them when I had woken up from my PTSD that lasted three years.

I weighed almost 300 pounds when I got back to Orlando and my weight gradually went up until, in 2019, I knew I had gained a great deal of weight. I didn’t go to a doctor during the COVID years, so when I got back to a doctor that insisted I get weighed in early 2021, I weighed 370 pounds. I had been using a walker for over a year already.

I stayed off the scale for most of 2021, “refusing” to get weighed. The reality was most doctor’s offices’ scales didn’t go over 300, so it was moot anyway.

Then I got COVID in December 2021 and began having heart palpitations that I ignored until April 2022. I went to ER and was put in the hospital. Testing showed I had heart and lung damage from COVID even though I barely had a sniffle from it.

Setting Up My Immobility

Note: I do not have any before pics of my space and am looking for a before pic of myself and will add it when I find something. I will take a pic of myself now when the kids come to visit at the end of March.

As I got fatter and fatter, my mobility lessened (of course) and I moved everything in my room to within reach. I didn’t need to get up for anything but the bathroom, the kitchen, and to walk the two steps to the bed. Everything was microwavable or I ordered from Uber Eats.

Decluttering
This is next to me, but is incredibly decluttered compared to before. I have already gotten rid of 2 crates I had next to me holding things.

I was in so much pain, I was sometimes drinking a bottle of amaretto three times a week. A bottle a night. Three times a week. Amaretto is 2910 calories per 750 ml bottle. And 53.6 percent carbs (sugar!). Three times a week, I was adding 9000 sugar calories to my already huge body.

April 26, 2022

By the time I was in the hospital from the COVID effects, I was all but immobile. I couldn’t go to the kitchen without using the walker. I was eating so much, it freaks me out now remembering.

I was weighed in the hospital and I weighed 395 pounds. I was five pounds away from 400 pounds.

Four Hundred Pounds.

Me.

I wrote about the visit with the ElectroCardiologist and how he gave me the ultimatum: “You can either change your life or you can live in a nursing home.”

My life shifted 180 degrees. (Read the post to see what I have done.)

Side note: I found the cardiologist in my medical records and emailed a giant thank you to him for saving my life. We had a great back and forth about the challenges of medicine and how good it was to hear he had done something positive. I will always be grateful to him for his wake up call.

Decluttering While LESS Fat

Decluttering
The rule: Never bring in new clothes unless you have purged old ones. DONE and DONE! These are all new clothes because old ones are GONE!

It has been nine months since the doctor gave me a glimpse of my possible future and I am now down 110 pounds. All from the changes I said in the above referenced post.

As I have lost weight and had less pain, I am able to breathe easier. I am not using the walker at all anymore. I’m able to walk to the mailbox (which is kind of far). I’m able to take the trash to the curb and not have to stop to breathe.

I watch the How to Declutter shows on YouTube and a constant refrain is to move. Get up off your ass and get momentum going for you. Stop at five minutes. Set the clock for 25 minutes (the Pomodoro Method), then rest for five and start 25 again. Don’t stop until a room is done. Don’t stop until a segment of the house is done. Don’t stop until everything in the house is picked up, tidied, scrubbed. Declutter, then tidy the garage. Declutter toys, shoes, clothes, Tupperware, spoons, dishes, toothpaste, toothbrushes, hairspray, toss expired items (medications and food in particular), donate extra linens, declutter pictures, get rid of tchotchkes, toss old birthday cards, receipts, donate books, and toss magazines.

The list really is endless since decluttering and tidying are an ongoing experience.

Common Rules

  • Touch something once.
  • If you see it, pick it up and walk to put it where it belongs.
  • Have a schedule for when you clean things.
  • Tidy (pick things up) from bottom to top.
  • Clean from top to bottom.

They show people on the floor scrubbing baseboards, grout, floors, walls. People are cleaning ovens, stoves, and making sure to wash their dishes before bed every night.

In general, this decluttering and tidying is a physical experience.

Moving Towards My Clean & Organized Future

Before I lost all this weight, my kids came in and helped me a clean and tidy a couple of times a year. The girls are going to redecorate my room and replace old furniture with a new desk, a wall unit, and a computer chair. When this plan started, the gist was to hire a company to come in, clean and declutter while I told them yay or nay, then set the room back up with the new things.

Instead, I am decluttering, cleaning, and keeping my room tidy.

Decluttering
These are all temp places until the end of March, but they feel good. This is next to my door.

I am moving. Physically moving.

This is something I have not been able to do for over a decade and here I am, getting up and getting something from another room, my mind amazed at my mobility and eagerness to move my body. If I forget something somewhere, I go get it without sighing and thinking, “I can do without that,” or “I’ll get it later.” I’m in awe of my body, my mind, and my motivation to get off my ass and get things done. This week alone, I mopped my room for the first time. It was a Swiffer liquid mop, but for fuck’s sake, I would never have thought to do that, let alone physically be able to do it a year ago.

Decluttering and Tidying When I Was Fat & Had Limited Mobility

I’ve thought about doing a whole blog post for those who cannot physically get up and do things like I am now. Then I remember, I sucked at trying to do it and hope they have someone like my kids to help them.

I used a reaching tool for things on the floor or were too high for me to grab. I swept for about 30 seconds at a time and dreaded having to use the dust pan because I would have to lean over. Then I bought one with a long handle and that helped, but it still was very challenging to empty into the trash can. If I cleaned, that meant I had trash to take out and the outside trash cans would have taken me 10 minutes to get to, stopping to lean against the wall or sit in a chair to catch my breath. Now, I get to them in 30 seconds.

I wonder if the decluttering and tidying might be a way to move our bodies for those of us who hate the gym or hate to exercise at all. There is a lot of talk about motivation to start, motivation to keep going once started, and motivation to continue after the initial cleaning and tidying is finished. I don’t know where my motivation has come from.

Oh. Yes I do.

Decluttering
The back right corner. This will definitely be different in a month.

It’s coming from sitting outside my body and watching it move around the room, the house, outside the house. It comes from doing things I have not done in over a decade. It comes because I don’t want it to abate. I have wondered these past months if I am still in hypomania, but I really think I am in a healthier, physically easier, state.

I did not expect this.

But I sure as fuck am loving it.

Music Comes Alive!

I’m listening to Frampton Comes Alive! and thinking about how long it’s been since I’ve blogged.

Como siempre, health issues arise and fall, but I’m tired of talking about those.

Work has been good, if not terribly busy. I’m writing some great pieces for work and I am proud of that.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young and really loving that music from my childhood. It’s made me think about how old my musical idols are and how people are dying every day and too soon, it will be Brian May, Roger Taylor, John Deacon, Peter Frampton, Yusef Islam (Cat Stevens) and more.

My mom brought this music to me. From The Association and The Moody Blues to America and, of course, Pink Floyd and Queen.

My sister Amy gave me Kansas, Styx, Aerosmith, Boston, and The Eagles.

Amy and I had a tumultuous life together. She died of an accidental overdose to Fentanyl in 2011, before everyone carried Narcan. We really didn’t like each other very much, even if we loved each other deep, deep down.

My favorite memory of her… with her… was when I was driving her somewhere and we had not been talking for an hour, just listening to the radio. We were probably angry with each other, hence our silence. Then “American Pie” by Don McLean came on and without hesitation, we both sang every word of that 8 minute, 37 second long song together. I remember crying as it ended because it had been the most tender moment I’d ever shared with my sister. It turned out to be the most tender moment I would ever share with her.

I can feel that love flowing from us still… a beloved memory recreated with music.

Morning Pages – again

I used to do Morning Pages, an idea that comes from Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way.

“The bedrock tool of a creative recovery is a daily practice called Morning Pages.”

Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. *There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages*– they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.”

The last time I did Morning Pages was around 2011-2014. I can’t tell you exactly because in December of 2014, when Zack and I broke up and I left San Diego for Orlando, I shredded all my Morning Pages.

Morning Pages

My Kind of Religion

Writing is definitely a spiritual experience for me. At least most of the time. Morning Pages were very holy for me. I clung to Morning Pages tightly and never missed a day. I woke up. I wrote three pages. Without fail. I put them away and began my day. I didn’t get coffee first. I didn’t feed the dogs first. I didn’t check my phone first. I wrote first. If I had been at a birth and got home in the morning, I slept, but when I awoke, I did the Morning Pages.

Morning Pages

Writing About Drugs

Oh, I did take my opiates before I wrote. I did do that.

I wrote about my drug addiction mostly during those years. I didn’t know that was what I was doing. I was just sharing stream of consciousness. Here’s a sample of what I might have written:

“I have 20 Norco left and 24 days before I can get the rx refilled. I need to slow down. I already took 2 this morning. Or was it 3? I can’t remember. It’s not enough, but I am going to run out of pills. Who can I ask this month for extra pills?”

Morning Pages

At the end of the Rx month, my words would morph into, “Fuck, what am I going to do? I only have 8 Percocet left and 3 Norco and 10 days before refill. I can take 1 Norco every 3 days, but can I do that? I already took 2 this morning. I counted and counted and recounted again and I do only have 3 left. I recounted the Percocet and there really were only 8. I am fucked. I looked in the drawer to see if I dropped any in there. I dug in the chair wondering if I might have missed one.”

Morning Pages

And on and on like that. For years.

You can see why I shredded them.

I was clean for a month when Zack and I broke up and I was filled with shame about those drug-addled years. I didn’t want anyone to see my shame. Interestingly, I don’t miss those pages. I know what it felt like writing them. I know what it felt like being in that intense agony of wanting more drugs.

Getting Rid of Morning Pages

Some people shred or burn their pages as they write them lest someone see their thoughts and words. If someone is in a house of nosy people (like I have lived in before), shredding seems like a really smart thing to do. I don’t expect to have to do that this time. I can add this book of Morning Pages to the pile of journals I have already written in.

Keeping Morning Pages

It’s taken me 9 years before I felt okay enough to start Morning Pages again. I’m a little nervous, but also very excited.

I am also re-beginning journal writing, which is very different than Morning Pages. Both new journals come tomorrow.

I am very excited to get started.

Again.

What I Wonder About Queen

The Band as a Whole

Queen

Did the guys give Freddie shit about what he wore on stage? How did Freddie respond? In the commentary of Montreal 1981, Roger says he always laughed when Freddie wore shorts on stage. Brian said he just didn’t know what to say about them. Did they tease like boys? Did they tell Freddie his dick was going to fall out of the white shorts and maybe he should wear underwear? Did they tell him the first five rows could see his dick even when it hasn’t fallen out? Did Freddie laugh his ass off and say, “I don’t give a fuck, dear.”

Looking at the masses of photos they modeled for, did they get sick of it all? They look great and relaxed in almost all of them. How did they tolerate that crazy boring part of being stars? When someone said, “You have a photo shoot in two hours,” did they moan and groan about having to get dressed again, to model, again. Did they just take it in stride? What was the worst part of the job of Queen? If I had to pick what would drive me crazy would be photo sessions, mostly because I do not always feel pretty enough to be photographed 24/7. If you are a Queen member, do you just see it as a normal part of your day?

What did they snort coke with? Fingernails? (As Roger simulates in “One Vision.” at 4:43) $100 bills? Silver or gold spoons? Was “Killer Queen” really about snorting coke?

I really don’t care much about the other drugs they might have done.

I know they drank cases of Moët, but what about wine? What was each of their favorite wines? They drink/drank lots of whisky; what is/was their favorite? Are any of them considered alcoholics? Have they ever tried not drinking?

When it came to lyrics, did they see who could use the most complex word? Was it a contest to see who could have the most creative lyrics? I think about their Scrabble games and how competitive they were making words; did that translate to writing songs as well?

John Deacon

John Deacon

Does John ever listen to his famous bass riffs and smile? Does he listen to other bassists fawn over his music? Does John ever miss performing? Does he pick up his bass at home and play? Even all by himself? Does he have a collection of his basses in the house?

When John wrote, “I Want to Break Free,” had he been having an affair and wanted out of his marriage? How did he fix his marriage so they are still together after 48 years?

Did John have fun when he was in the band? Does he have good memories? Is he happy now? I really hope he has had a wonderful life. Such a gentle soul.

Brian May

Brian May

Did Brian snort coke like the others? With the others? He has said he did not do any drugs. Did he worry about his 180 IQ? How did he avoid all that with the other three around him doing drugs?

Was Brian the guy who was the furthest out of the circle? People think it was John, but Brian dealt with depression. Was part of that his isolation from not partying like the others? Or did he and he just has kept his secrets tighter than the others.

Did the guys know Brian suffered from depression? Did Brian ever tell any of them when he was having a hard time? I would imagine he told Roger when he went into the treatment center in 1997. Did he tell John? Was his stint in Arizona before or after they filmed “No One But You (Only The Good Die Young)“?

Is Brian happy? It’s as if I can see the pain in his eyes on IG and YouTube sometimes. He does speak about his on and off again difficulties. Are they as painful as in the past when he needed a lot of help to get balanced again? I can relate to Brian so much and my heart hurts feeling those same types of emotions… and that he might feel something similar… I wish better for both of us.

On a more humorous note, did the guys tell Brian not use such big words except when he was playing Scrabble? (Even then, Roger never forgave Bri for getting the highest score for one word – 168 points. Bri, used all his letters on a triple word score, spelling “lacquers.” Roger spits, “Bastard!” in the video.)

Freddie Mercury

Freddie Mercury

Freddie had a fun life. I don’t even question that. Did he love his time in the band, too? I can’t imagine he would not have since he stayed and was a major proponent of the band staying together.

Freddie seemed like he loved his life. Listening to some of his songs, he also felt sad deeply… longingly… at times. He really did seem otherworldly. That had to have been difficult sometimes/a lot. Did he ever wish for something different? More anonymity? What was it like in his mind? Was he always thinking in song?

Did anyone in the band not visit Freddie at the end and hurt his feelings? What did Freddie think? Did Freddie ever wonder where he got AIDS? Did he care? Did he cry when he got the diagnosis? Did he have other friends with AIDS to talk to?

He loved Mary. Full stop.

Roger Taylor

Roger Taylor

Did Roger ever get any Sexually Transmitted Infections from his dalliances? Are there Roger babies running around all over the world? Does he know about them? Does he take care of them? Does he visit them? How could he not have any other kids?

Roger is snarky and sarcastic and incredibly dryly funny. I didn’t like Roger for a long time (despite finding him yummingly attractive) until I heard some of his songs that illustrated his heart better than any interview ever did.

Surrender” is a song about domestic violence… one I can relate to because of my client who was killed by her estranged husband.

You can’t hurt me now, I’m gone from you
You can’t hurt me now
You can’t hurt me now
You can’t reach me where I’ve gone to
I surrender

And “Foreign Sand”

Why do we fear what we don’t understand
Can’t we reach out our hands to try to just say hello
Try to plant a seed, fulfill the need
To make it grow, just say hello

Someone without a heart does not write lyrics like that. Now I would have Roger’s baby.

So Many Thoughts

I am sure I have more questions, but these are ones that have been floating around in my head. It feels good to have written them down. Doubtful I will ever get any answers, but the questions are now out in the Universe. Float around, question marks!

Queen Questions

The Band You Never Want to Be In

Taylor Hawkins loved the band Queen. Taylor was the drummer in Foo Fighters who died at the age of 50 on March 25, 2022.

Roger Taylor, Queen’s drummer, became such good friends with Taylor Hawkins, the Taylor family considers Hawkins as Roger’s son Rufus “Tiger” as his almost godson.” It was Freddie Mercury who gave Tiger his nickname; clearly, it stuck.

Freddie Mercury died November 24, 1991 when he was 45 and Tiger was eight months old.

I’m sure others figured this out a lot sooner than I did, but the close ties between the two bands, with Taylor Hawkins as the connector, has to be spooky in that Queen and the Foo Fighters each lost a beloved member who had been with them for over two decades.

What I hope is Roger Taylor and Brian May are a support for Dave Grohl (whose best friend was Taylor Hawkins) and the other Foo Fighters members as they grieve their drummer Taylor. What a sad club they belong to, with such an amazing connection being the wonderful Taylor Hawkins. Hawkins even shares a name with Roger and Tiger Taylor. 

My head spins as I consider it all. Theirs must as well.

Tributes

This first video was made by the three remaining members of Queen… John Deacon, Brian May, and Roger Taylor… as a tribute to Freddie Mercury. It’s exquisitely, sadly, beautiful. It was the last video John Deacon ever did before retiring from Queen, and music, altogether. There was an enormous Tribute Concert for Freddie, but I wanted to share this kind gift his bandmates gave him privately.

Bring tissues.

This second video is from the Taylor Hawkins Tribute Concert held in London on September 3, 2022. Taylor’s 16-year old son Shane is featured as drummer in his dad’s place as they sang “My Hero.” 

I can’t watch this without chills or tears.

Again, I hope… no, am sure… each comforts the other… Queen and Foo Fighters.

I’m so glad they have been friends for so long.

Winter Solstice 2022

Oh, praise the Goddess! It is finally the Winter Solstice! 

aaron-burden Winter Solstice
artist: Aaron Burden

I love this day because it means the dark begins to recede and light comes back to my life.

I Hate SAD

Seasonal Affective Disorder sucks. I don’t think I have SAD very strongly living in Florida, but I have been sleeping so much it didn’t dawn on me until today why I am so blah.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

I need to work a lot because I’m going to be gone for over a week and unable to work and work has been so slow as it is. This next paycheck is very sad. And the one after, even worse. And yet I keep sleeping. I tried sleeping in the chair, waiting for calls, but it’s a compulsion to sleep in the bed, covered with a blanket and comforter.

As I write that, I want to sign out of work and crawl back into bed.

Sleep

Night, night.

Listen Up! The Joy of John Deacon’s Bass

It’s always been difficult for me to hear the bass line of any music, including Queen’s. I often heard about Deacy’s (Deek-ee) skills, but unless he was playing without the band, I just could not hear him.

John Deacon Bass

Until Today

This morning, I put on headphones and turned Queen videos on YouTube and, amazingly, I could, all of a sudden, hear Deacy’s bass lines! Shocked, I listened to the next song, then the next. There it was again. Did I just need headphones on all this time? 

But I’d listened with headphones before, yet the bass never popped out like it did this morning.

Focus

For song after song, I concentrated to hear the bass John was playing, all but ignoring Freddie, Roger, and Brian, wanting to hear, finally, what I had been missing for far too long.

I am in heaven!

Amazing Listen

Below is Charles Berthoud playing Deacy’s most famous bass creation and one every new bass player learns first. This is  1:33 minutes long, but will move you to tears with its beauty and connection.

Thanks, John!

A Placenta & Circumcision Story

You might find parts of this amusing, if you can consider ocular lymphoma (eye cancer) amusing, too.

Finding Joy in Tragedy

My former partner Zack was finally diagnosed with ocular lymphoma. We’d fought for the doctors not to ignore him or give flippant answers to why his sclera was oozing out of his eye socket. Dr. Google was right on this one and we knew it was. They eventually listened after lots of testing and said, “Yes, it is cancer.”

It’s good to know that Zack is a hilarious person, extremely vulgar with a penchant for shocking people with his sexual humor. He is a font of laughter and joy.

I adore him.

Scaffolding

During the pre-op discussion of the surgery, one of the docs talked about using a “covering” as a scaffold for the eye cells to grow along to cover the hole that will be left after melon-balling the cancer out. (We call any kind of scooping surgery “melon-balling.”)

Hmmm… what might that scaffolding be made out of?

Doctor: Well, it will be one of two things. It will either be the foreskin of a circumcised penis… 

Me: Of a baby?!

Doctor (without acknowledging my presence): Yes.

Zack (without skipping a beat): Well, I can’t have that because then I will be cock-eyed.

Me: laughing my head off

2 Doctors: acted like they didn’t hear anything and moved on

Scaffolding 2

Zack: What’s the other choice?

Doctor: Amnion.

Me perking up: Amnion? Like amnion and chorion?

Doctor seems to hear me: Yes.

(Note: The amnion and chorion together make the amniotic sac part of the placenta.)

Me: Oh, my god! I have placentas in my freezer! I could bring swatches and see what matches Zack’s eye best!

Doctor (monotone): No. It has to come from pathology.

Zack and I: laughing and shaking our heads at how obtuse these doctors are

Zack: I choose the amnion, please.

Doctor: Noted.

As Zack and I walked out of the doctors’ office, we continued laughing and I reminded Zack that we weren’t choosing a surgeon because they laugh at our jokes, but at their skill with a scalpel.

The surgery went great and here we are 20 years later and no reoccurrence of ocular lymphoma.

Afterthoughts

I know because I know, women are never asked if they want to donate their placentas so someone with cancer might benefit from a part of it. I have scoured the consent papers and, at that time, never saw anything consenting to a donation. I doubt parents knew their son’s foreskin could also be used elsewhere in medicine. Consent, anyone?

The morning of Zack’s surgery, he and I felt it was important to take a moment and thank the mother and baby for their donation, wherever they were. We were very thankful for their gift. We have thought of them often over the years, hoping they were repaid somehow for their unknowing kindness.

Bipolar Diary: Why Me, Weird?

For three days, I had slight hallucinations (scent and visual), but yesterday, they came back with a vengeance. 

Three frogs, each the size of my hand, bound across my wall by my pictures, across from where I sit. There is no way for a frog to get in here except under the door and I have that sealed because we have new kittens who can crawl under there. And if it was one, I could excuse my mind, but three? Hopping on the wall like they were a dance troupe? That I can’t ignore.

Then there is the clock. Again. Bright and glowing in its 3D fashion like it was in my delicious hypomania days.

Where Am I?

I can’t pinpoint where I am with my Bipolar Disorder (1). I usually can gauge it easily, like reading the time on a watch, being able to see the way the hands move and in what direction.

I am a bit lost right now. I thought the hypomania was gone and felt sad, but not depressed. Now I am awake, yet not terribly productive. At least for the moment.

I am just getting over a hefty bout of pyelonephritis (kidney infection) as well as a cold. Could that be why I am having a hard time organizing my mental thoughts about what is… and is not… happening?

Psych Appointment Soon

I have my psych appointment soon, so that’s good. Not that they can tell me anything I don’t already know, but it’s good to be validated.

“No, I do not need to go into the hospital.” (Really, really, I do not. They just always ask, so thought I would answer it here.)

I can’t go to the hospital, I have things to do.

Bipolar Diary: Sweet Spot is Gone

My hypomania is totally gone and I am mourning its loss terribly. I am not depressed, but I am so tired of being tired and having to nap again several times during the day.

Work is Suffering

I am unable to keep up the hours working as well as the great writing I had been doing. I am back to my usual struggle to meet my minimum needs to survive.

My Blog is All But Forgotten

I haven’t thought about writing here until this morning and that breaks my heart, too. I had been having so much fun writing almost every day. And now, writing here is barely a memory.

Wish to Create Hypomania

Wouldn’t that be amazing to be able to manifest hypomania sheerly by will?

Would that that were possible.

My WIP: Intro to the Introduction

I had a great day of writing today! I am at 42,000+ words. Almost done with NaNoWriMo! Wheee!

After my head explosion of being accused of writing porn in my Work In Progress, In the Bushes, my youngest daughter (who is in her thirties in case you were wondering) suggested I write an Introduction to the book to explain the sexual nature and how I will be using the vernacular of the time which is very different than that of today.

I was able to put on paper what has been in my thoughts for a long while.

However, as I wrote, I found I needed something to introduce the Introduction and came up with this.

The Pre-Introduction:

Leave your Political and Social Correctness at the door!
This entire book is politically and socially incorrect. Every word. Every theme. Every story. All of it. Completely and totally un-PC and socially incorrect. It will be helpful if you could adopt a No Offense Taken attitude. If you cannot, you might want to get a refund on your purchase now.
You have been forewarned.

Clear Enough?

I cannot tell you how satisfying it was to say these things as if I were talking to the reader.

Do other writers have to do this, too? I have never seen anything like it yet, but I don’t read a lot of controversial books.

What would you do if you saw this in a book?

Whew!

Boy, do I feel better.

Sometimes kids are so freakin’ wise. Thanks, baby girl!.

NaNoWriMo Porn Intro
Photograph I took of California Screamin’ Roller Coaster at Disney’s California Adventure.

NaNoWriMo: Anticipating This Porn Issue

Yesterday, I did a post called NaNoWriMo: It is NOT Porn! My youngest daughter read the post and the snippet from the WIP and came up with a great solution for the guaranteed critiques saying the exact same thing.

Detailed Forward

My daughter said I will need a detailed forward explaining the book before the story begins.

Brilliant!

In the forward, I can explain: This is history… and then talk about the realities of those years, how people will want it hidden and not discussed, and I am talking about it because it has to be shared or the memories of the things I went through will vanish. Sure, others have their own experiences and they can write about them, but these are mine. And I know because I know, these are not isolated and unique.

New Freedom to Write

This morning, I woke up to a new feeling of ease and comfort about my writing. I’ve been plowing along in NaNoWriMo (passed 40,000 words last night!), but have had that niggling, “What if?” feeling and then “What if” turned into something I had not consciously anticipated, but should have.

“That’s porn.”

It’s History

Now I have a way to mitigate at least some of the criticism that will rain on my pages once I get this thing out.

I’m very excited to write this morning.

NaNoWriMo: It is NOT Porn!

I wrote a blog post back in April 2022 about my ongoing desire to “find my tribe” of writers with whom to talk as I’m writing In the Bushes. That blog post is here: Censored Out of NaNoWriMo Forum.

I have since tried half a dozen other writing groups I found on the Net, some that required payment to join. When I asked if they would take me, half didn’t answer and the other half said, “No, too triggering.”

I’m really beginning to hate the word “triggering. It’s triggering me!

When to Share -and when not to share

I am not sharing any writing samples unless asked. (And I have not been asked until a couple of days ago.) I rarely share anything of the actual writing because I know it can be a lot to take. But when I do send out inquiries looking for people who might also have similar experiences, were around during those times pre-AIDS, people who were in the gay community then, I get nothing. I want to be clear in what I am looking for, not ambiguous, or worse, not truthful. I want to find people, not beta readers, not people to read to without familiarity, but people who were there and I can build trust with before we read to and with each other. While I am not looking for beta readers at the moment, I will need a couple/few in the future. Beta readers often come from writing groups, so that is a long-term goal.

Here’s part of the request I have sent out to folks:

“I’m keeping the vernacular of the time, hence wanting to talk to others who were in the discos – the glory holes, the bath houses, etc. – during those years. I was a fag hag who lived with groups of gay men, so was privy to their sexual lives. While graphic sex isn’t the driving factor of what I’m writing, it is definitely the undercurrent throughout. (And I am not wanting to have sexual discussions here!)”

Yeah, it’s a tad expressive, but I feel I need to explain what might be to come when talking about the book. I don’t want what happened today to happen with others (read below).

Mid-Thoughts

I have read the previous section a dozen times and think I need to revise my explanation to add what I said about getting to know people and garnering trust before sharing any writing or reading to each other.

I don’t understand why this is so difficult. I cannot possibly be the only person who remembers these times. Sadly, many have died, but not everyone I don’t think. And where are the women like me who were there? I was not the only fag hag at the bars. Where are they now?

NaNoWriMo 2022

I thought I’d found a nice group with whom to hang out. I barely shared what I was writing even though some others wrote detailed examples of their work. Without going into details, even though there are many, I privately opened up to a member that I was looking for people who understood my writing to hang out with. She explained my dilemma (without reading any of my work) to a discussion group and they had ideas for me to find my tribe, ideas I had already done and continue to do. In the interim, I shared a piece of my work that had sex in it, but it was a mild section to explain why I was having a hard time finding people to share with. Not share the work, but to share my experiences until trust was had, then share work. (Why does this have to be explained? I don’t understand. What am I saying wrong?)

While she was eloquent in her comments back to me, they included allusions such as, “Are you trying to shock people? Change people’s minds? Make it easier for kids to talk about sexuality?” (Who the fuck brought KIDS into this?)

Then the comment: “It’s basically porn.”

NaNoWriMo Porn

It Is Not Porn!

Porn has a legal definition as well as a societal one.

Legal: n. pictures and/or writings of sexual activity intended solely to excite lascivious feelings of a particularly blatant and aberrational kind, such as acts involving children, animals, orgies, and all types of sexual intercourse.

Societal: Pornography refers to material dealing with sex designed to arouse its readers or viewers. Webster’s Dictionary defines “pornography” as “writings, pictures, etc. intended primarily to arouse sexual desire.”

I have looked at this legally, to see if I am describing illegal activities beyond public sex and I am not. I was also reminded that sex with underaged people (and by underage, I am talking 17-years old) and adults happen in books and movies all the time. While much of what I am describing comes from real events, it is all cloaked in novel (fiction) form so those who were there or had those experiences will not be outed or feel endangered. Everyone is a composite.

Not the Last Time

This was the first time what I’m writing was called porn, which is probably why my head exploded. It will, most assuredly, not be the last. I am forewarned and forearmed.

In the original NaNoWriMo post I mentioned above, I closed the email with:

“This reminds me of the 1978 book called Faggots by Larry Kramer (I encourage you to look it up) when the gay community went berserk with his disclosing what they wanted to keep hidden. I can relate!

“Instead of feeling thwarted, I am empowered to move forward faster.

“Thanks for the sword!”

NaNoWriMo Porn

NaNoWriMo: Scaffolding

I used to be a Pantser… a writer who writes by the seat of their pants without an outline. I was arrogantly proud of not using outlines and “just letting the words flow.”

Next, there are Plotters and they write with an outline that’s usually prepared before they start writing the book, but can also be altered during writing.

Outline? What’s an Outline?

I have been working (periodically) on In the Bushes (working title) for five years now. I worked on it during NaNoWriMo three years ago and won because I wrote 50,000 words that November. However, the last two NaNos were a bust for me because there was so much blurred, unorganized writing all I could do was skim what I had written and then try to find a place to pick up where I might have left off. It was impossible to move forward and I quit NaNo within the first week both years.

NaNoWriMo 2022 Scaffolding

After last year’s failure, I thought I should read up on outlines. Maybe I could use a teensy bit of organization? So I started reading.

I just looked in my Audible library and have read fifteen books specifically about outlines or have sections on outlines in them. In just the last year.

Information Confusion

Of course several of the books countered each other. Most said their way was The Best. Some were okay, but others I tossed aside as useless.

The two books that resonated most with me were Save the Cat! Writes a Novel and How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method. I’m not going to explain either of them, just know they teach different ways of doing an outline and I combined them.

Becoming a Plantser

NaNoWriMo 2022 Scaffolding

I’ve since become a Plantser… a person who does a combination of both Pantsing and Plotting. Starting in June, about four months before Preptober, which is the month before NaNoWriMo in November, I began arranging my outline in Scrivener. I’ve written a lot of words in this WIP, but it needed arranging in some sort of order.

I started with years: 1978, 1982, and 1988, the three most prominent years in the book. Then I moved to locations: Orlando, New York City, Washington, D.C., and Orlando again. These I could move around as needed, but had specific parts to the story. I could move the cities to their proper years when I knew where they would go. I arranged the characters I had into the years I knew they would be in and for those whose years were still unknown, they went into their own folders.

When I was done moving people and folders around as if I were playing Backgammon, I made sure the title of the folder aligned with what was inside. Here’s a fun one: “DC ScabiesIwoJima.” In Scrivener, there’s a place for notes on the side and I write clearer notes about what my folder has inside. I’ll leave this one up to your imagination.

NaNoWriMo 2022 Scaffolding

Lastly, I wrote “NNWM next to the folders I wanted/needed to work on this NaNoWriMo. So the folder I mentioned above says: “NNWM DC ScabiesIwoJima.”

I rarely worked in chronological order when I was Pantsing. Now, however, I am going down the list, starting at 1978 and moving down, filling in what is next. And next. And next again.

Where is the Pantsing Part?

Sure, I’m doing a good deal of Plotting, but I do not have the amount of detail either the books or people have said I should have.

I do not write back stories for my characters. I don’t write what the motivations of the neighbor might be. I don’t go into the minutiae many books suggest. I am more loose with those aspects.

NaNoWriMo Ease

This is my first NaNoWriMo with any kind of an outline and the difference is amazing.

I am so organized. That is not a sentence either my mind or mouth has uttered much in my life.

The writing is flowing each day with complete ease and joy. I do not dread the page. I am not crying with frustration confused about where to start. When I start the next morning, I merely read the last sentence and move forward. I am not spending hours re-reading and editing what I had been writing for months and, quite sadly, years.

NaNoWriMo 2022 Scaffolding

It’s stunning how easy NaNo is this year. As of today, with ten more days left to get to 50,000 words, I have 35 thousand plus words. If I continue as I have been, I will get there a couple of days early.

The novel will not be finished. Not remotely so. I will have to re-write so much because I am seeing where I went wrong in other parts. I can see through the muck easier now that things are neater. They are not perfect, mind you. Just neater.

Scaling the Scaffolding

I see the outline more as scaffolding… people call it that a lot, apparently. I was writing a couple of days ago and a new character I had not anticipated walked in on a beam I did not see I had lain down for her. She wandered in easily, walked on that skyscraper’s beam as if she were walking in the garden grass, introduced herself to me and made herself a space in my book. I wondered where she would have gone had I not had the scaffolding up at all. Would I have found her? Seen her at all?

NaNoWriMo 2022 Scaffolding

What’s Perfect for YOU?

I would never presume to tell a Pantser to learn to outline. Each person finds their own paths to writing. I am trying not to be cranky with my Self about that stubbornness all those years when I “should” have at least tried another way when I found myself flailing for so long.

And I will give a little shoutout to hypomania for the ability to focus more. Here’s to mental illness!

NaNoWriMo: Filling My Plot Holes

As I said in my post this morning, I felt much better after coming up with a strategy for inserting sexual innuendos into my WIP. I have practiced with my writing all day long and am not doing a bad job of it, as you can see in this paragraph.

Hypomanic Writing

I wrote quite a bit today. The post this morning, my NaNo word count, and a work post as well. It feels good to have the words falling out of my fingers.

After my 24-hour work day on the 8th (did I mention that?), I was exhausted for the next six days, napping like I had not since before the hypomania. I thought for sure the 24-hour day had zapped my supply of energy and I was really not happy about it. But starting mid-day yesterday, I started waking up again. So when I wrote so much today, it felt fantastic!

And yeah, the clock is still doing its weird blue glowing crap it’s been doing for a couple of months. I ignore it for the most part.

Drag Queens: “Teach Me Tonight”

This version of  “Teach Me Tonight” was a frequent Drag standard in 1978ish.

On YouTube, there are great LGBT history videos that I’m watching to help jog my memory of the sexual innuendos I need for my WIP. Besides what I need them for, they are amazing pieces of historical art and I encourage you to take a look as well. As much as I know, I am still learning from the Drag Queens, Female Impersonators, Transwomen, and more. Really good stuff.

I look forward to writing more tomorrow.

NaNoWriMo: Plot Holes Abound

So I’m writing writing and it’s going great when all of a sudden, I write, “Lisa walked away, but turned her head and stuck out her tongue. Manny yelled, ‘Hey, I’ve got somewhere you can put that.'”

And I had a writing epiphany.

That was the first sexual innuendo I had written in 135,000 words. (No comment from the peanut gallery about my over-writing. I know.)

Naughty Allusions

The gay world I was in in the late 70s and early 80s was rife with sex talk of all kinds. (I assume life still is, beyond my work.) I experienced everything from double entendre to graphically obvious and everything inbetween. How could I have forgotten that until now? And what the holy (har) fuck (har har) am I going to do about it now?

Burying My Head in the Snow

I was so upset last night I crawled into bed and cried before putting old Christmas movies on TV and melting into pretty dancing dresses and Santa Clause.

In the back of my Christmas mind, I kept thinking about the thousands of gay sex comments and jokes I would need to dredge up in my memory so I could use about one hundred of them. My stomach hurt trying to come up with even one. (Well, except for that one there.)

Drag Shows

I learned much of my naughty banter from drag queens. The ones on RuPaul’s Drag Race are quite different than the ones whose shows I attended and where P would grab strangers’ groins (that is P and the pic is mine) and ask to see their packages unzipped.

(I included one of P’s shows at the bottom.)

Paul Wegman at Parliament House

First, I don’t think drag queens would be allowed to grab strangers’ crotches anymore and then public nudity would surely be a no-no, right? And none of that would go on RuPaul’s show at all since it is on TV.

Drag Queens on YouTube

Ahhh, my YouTube addiction shall be rewarded with watching some 1970s and 1980s drag shows!

Amusingly, my dear Queen (the band) is interspersed with drag queens. My search title was: “1970 Drag Queen Shows” and drag shows and 1970’s Queen shows both popped up. I couldn’t have smiled more. And my stomach ache went away.

Tons of Work Ahead (and Behind)

I suspect I will be inserting the innuendos, double entendre, and smutty comments during the editing process when I am finished with the book. I will try, from here on out, to include them in my writing.

I was shocked by my realization, but think I have a solution so am not so freaked out today.

Oh, and I have finished my word count for today, and it is only 8:30am: 28,099 total words for November. Wheee! Apparently I can write when the pressure is on.