What’s an “Operator?” – (Thanks, Rick Beato!)

Rick Beato is one of my favorite YouTubers. He is a fantastic guitar player and music teacher who dissects songs that often go over my head (as a non-musician), but enough of the time I do understand enough to keep watching since I do love music and played flute and piccolo for many years. I watch him even if it’s just to hear music-speak; it’s all fascinating.

He had a segment with Mary Spender, another musician YouTuber, and they talked about Jim Croce’s song “Operator” which was written in 1972. While the majority of the discussion was music-oriented, I was piqued by his mentioning items in the song that younger people probably have no clue about. I am talking about the time around 1972 in this post.

I’m writing this specifically for my kids and grandkids, but I’m spring boarding off you, Rick… thanks!

Operator Jim Croce

Baseline: Our Family’s Telephone

This was on the kitchen wall at the house where I grew up. I made the pic bigger so you could see the numbers in the middle of the dial.

Operator Jim Croce
First, there is the dial. You put your finger in the hole and spin it around to dial the number. This is why we still say “dial a phone” – we did! The area code says 305… the same area code written there decades after it changed to 407. And the phone number where I grew up – 855-9485 – always imprinted in my mind. This phone was corded, as they all were then, with a short cord until they the made longer ones when I was a teenager. Still, the long ones didn’t go very far and got really tangled, so that was annoying.
Operator Jim Croce
Same phone showing the short cord.

Party Lines

Until I was about 11 years old (1972), we had a party line. That’s when several households shared one phone line. Not number, but line. When our phone number was called, we had a certain ring. When the other houses’ numbers were called, they had their own distinct rings. Some rings were two short rings, a break, and then a longer ring. Something like that. But, if you wanted to… and many did… you could pick up the phone and listen in on the other people’s calls. You could talk, too, but mostly people just wanted to listen in. Privacy was not a thing back then. The major reasons, clearly, were the party line and the short phone cord.

If you needed to make a call and someone from the party line was on their phone, you either had to wait until they were done or tell them you needed the phone and hope they hung up. More often than not, they did not hang up and you got angrier and angrier the longer they talked. I distinctly remember my mom trying to get one of the teens off the line for quite awhile and ended up slamming the phone down after calling her a bitch. I asked what a bitch was and my mom, ever the avoider, said, “I said, ‘witch.'” I can hear her yelling bitch all these decades later.

Slamming a Phone Down

Operator Jim Croce

Busy Signal

If you were on the phone and another person was trying to call you, they got a busy signal. They would get a busy signal until you hung up the phone. No one could get through. There was no call-waiting until I was an adult.

We didn’t have Caller ID until well after call-waiting came around.

There was one phone number per house until I was in my late teens when parents got their own lines in their bedrooms. Which we used when they weren’t home because we could lie on the bed and yack for hours. Our parents would call their line and know we were on it. For hours. We always got in trouble, but did it anyway.

It’s so odd to think we know exactly who is calling now. People can call and get a ring even if someone is talking to us, and we can go anywhere there is a signal, even lying on our beds.

Prank Calls

How many of you remember either placing prank calls during slumber parties or receiving dirty prank calls on Saturday nights?

I remember both.

We were giggling girls calling random numbers and giggling more when some unsuspecting person picked up their phone. We would do any number of silly things; ask them what they were wearing… ask, “Is your refrigerator running? Then go catch it!” It’s embarrassing me to even write that I did these things. At the time, they were hilarious.

The scary ones were the calls in to us. Heavy breathing men who, now I know, were probably wanking. We didn’t know that then, though. Men who tried to talk dirty to us. We would quickly hang up and nervously laugh about what they said.

The worst were when they tried to terrify us with murder or rape talk. We couldn’t hang up fast enough, but not before we clung to each other in fear.

It’s odd thinking prank phone calls are a thing in our past that shan’t be repeated.

“Help Me Place This Call?”

In the first line of the song “Operator,” we have an operator who, among other things, was someone who would dial for the caller.

“Operator, oh, could you help me place this call?”

Operator Jim Croce

ATT – American Telephone and Telegraph Company operator. ATT acquired Bell Telephone in 1885 and was the phone company until 1984 when the US government broke ATT into parts, eliminating their monopoly.

Women (and they were always women) were hired to be telephone operators and they had a few jobs, but mainly (from what I know), they talked to people who dialed 0 (zero) on a phone. Back then there was no 911, so if there was an emergency, you dialed 0 and they would connect you to who you needed… fire, ambulance, or police. Operators were initially around the country and you never knew where you would get an Operator so that made it difficult if you needed emergency help, so they were eventually hired more locally, in an area code, for example.

Area Codes

Sorry this is jumping around, but things are popping out as I write that need to be addressed before the next item. Didn’t expect the rabbit hole with the word “operator,” did you?

Before I was born, phone numbers were different than they are now. They often combined letters and numbers. In 1972, they were different, too. Then, we had seven numbers unless we were calling out of our area. Then we had to use the area code before the seven numbers. An area code grouped regions together.

The area code for Orlando and surrounding areas was 305 when I was growing up. That went all the way down the southeast to Key West. So if we were calling anywhere in our area code, there was no extra fee. As Orlando and everywhere else grew, they needed more area codes and in 1988, Orlando’s changed from 305 to 407. It was quite distressing to lose our 305, but now no one gives it a second thought. Today, Orlando also has 321 area code numbers.

As we all know, even if you are calling next door, you have to dial the area code. Ten number dialing is totally normal for us now.

Pay Phones

Operator Jim Croce
A phone booth with the folding door.

In the olden days, we had to pay for calls – to dial the pay phone (hence its name) and to pay for long-distance calls (“distance” being quite arbitrary). If you didn’t have money for a call, for many years, you were out of luck. Rarely, you could beg an operator (who you could call even without money) to place a call for you.

Operator Jim Croce
Note the dial with numbers and letters by the finger slot. Phone numbers used letters in my mom’s day. By the time I was dialing a phone, only numbers were used. See also where you put the coins at the top? You had to carry a lot of change for long-distance calls.

In my mom’s time, calls were a nickel (five cents). In mine, they were a dime (ten cents) and that lasted for a very long time. In 1981, Bell Systems raised prices around the country to a quarter (25 cents) a call.

To make a long-distance call, you would need many quarters to pay for the call, putting the coins in as the operator told you how much to put into the phone. I always found it interesting how they knew the amount I put in and would continue the call. If, while you were talking, the money/time ran out, the operator would break in tell you to deposit more. If you could put a lot in, you wouldn’t be interrupted as much and, as far as I remember, if your call finished before you ran out of money, the coins would drop down into the coin return thingie.

The Coin Return

Operator Jim Croce

An annoying thing happened a lot; when you put a coin in, it would just drop to the coin return. Did the phone or operator think you put a Canadian coin in the phone? You would put the same coin in, trying several times, and invariably, it would fall through to the coin return slot. Occasionally, the repeat try would actually work and that was worthy of a “whoopeeeee!” as it echoed inside the small enclosed booth.

It was normal for everyone to check the coin return for coins someone forgot to get out before they left the phone booth. If there were phone booths today, I would be checking for loose change in them, that’s how ingrained that behavior was.

Operator Jim Croce
Accurate meme.

Collect Calls

If we didn’t have money, but had to call someone, we could… or would… call collect.

Me: “I need to make a collect call to 305-855-9485. My name is Barbie.”

Operator talking to the person called: “I have a collect call from Barbie. Will you accept the charges?” I could hear the operator ask that question.

Whomever I was calling would either accept or refuse the call. If they refused it could be one of two reasons; one, they didn’t want to talk to me, or two, I was calling to let them know I was okay and they didn’t need to accept the charge. We would do that if we needed to check in and didn’t want to spend money.

What machinations!

Operator Jim Croce

Third Party Calling

Third party billing could be demonstrated best by my I-Ran-Away-From-Home story.

Me: “Operator, I need to make a call and charge it to (random area code and number).”

Operator: “Okay.”

Me: (talking to parents for free and some stranger got charged for the call) – (gift: bad karma)

Occasionally, the operator would call that third number to see if they would pay, then I would hang up and try another operator. Invariably, within a couple three calls, I could call for free without my parents ever knowing. Years later, I learned people did not have to pay for those stranger calls. I was quite relieved.

Finding a Number

Jim Croce’s next line is:

“And give me the number if you can find it”

At one time, operators did look things up for us. Remember, there was a time, in my lifetime, that there were no computers. They had to turn the phone book’s pages just like we did on this end of the phone.

Operator Jim Croce
A public pay phone booth with hanging phone book, encased in a plastic cover.

While there were phone books hanging on pay phones, it wasn’t uncommon to have a page ripped out because someone wanted to save the number for future reference. I doubt many people thought, “Gee, what if someone needs this page?” They were in their own heads and kept the page they wanted.

Once computers came around, a new type of operator was born – the Information, or 411, Operator. I had a partner who was a 411 operator and it was one of the strangest jobs ever. A call-center job, people asked the oddest questions.

“What is the airline closest to the airport?”

“What is the closest taxi to my house?”

Operator Jim Croce
Antique Call Center

They thought they called 911 all the time and 411 finally started forwarding it instead of trying to explain the person needed to hang up and dial again. Alternately, 911 had the same issue with people calling to ask for the number to Shakey’s Pizza.

Phone Books

Yes another obsolete item attached to the phones of the past.

Operator Jim Croce
A stack of smaller phone books. Some were several inches thick. The Yellow Pages (what they were called) were ads. The White Pages (also what they were called) were residences.
Operator Jim Croce
Notice the 7-digit numbers. No area code needed to be used wherever this was.
Operator Jim Croce
Yellow Pages Ads

Phone books came every year in December for the year ahead. The ads cost money and it was a big thing to be in the phone book. It was how everyone found what they were looking for.

When people were short, they would sometimes sit on a big phone book to lift them up. In the car, kids at the dinner table, in high chairs.

Come December, when we knew the new phone book would be out soon, a lot of people made Phone Book Christmas Trees. We did this a lot. Tons of glitter. Messy.

Operator Jim Croce
How to make a Phone Book Christmas tree.
Operator Jim Croce
Glitter Phone Book Christmas Tree

Who Does Not Hang Up On You?

The second-to-the-last verse says:

“Operator, oh, let’s forget about this call
There’s no one there I really wanted to talk to
Thank you for your time
Ah, you’ve been so much more than kind
You can keep the dime”

It was wonderful to hear that soothing female voice on the other end at times, especially when you were scared and waiting for the police or ambulance to arrive. She was someone who would talk to you and not randomly hang up.

I know many of us felt like Jim Croce, only having that voice to validate our existence.

Bless the telephone operators.

I’m Wearing a Shirt!!

That might seem weird hearing me say that, but I have not put on a normal shirt that I could buy in a regular store in over a decade. I have been wearing huge, baggy dresses that are either specially made or come from “super-size” women’s clothing stores.

But since I’ve lost 70 pounds, I thought I would give it a try. It’s the biggest size, but it fucking fits! I have tears I am so excited.

Of course I had to put Queen on first!

Queen Shirt Fits

A Night at the Opera Queen

Yay, me!!

Below, Brian May sings his song “’39” from Queen’s A Night at the Opera album. 

This is a song about traveling far and fast, then returning to a changed world. This is exactly how I feel.

Thanks, Bri!

Being Ghosted

I’ve been ghosted several times in my life. It sucks every time.

Ghosted

I’ve been ghosted by midwives, but they are weird, so I am not horribly shocked by that. Although I do want to say, “We did experience life and death together. And now you can’t bother talking to me anymore? How did you come to hate me so much? Some of us worked side by side for years!” Again, midwives are weird women. So be it.

But what about best friends for life? People I have known for 50+ years? People who have seen the best and worst of me and I of them? People who know my favorite music, my bodily functions, my slightest moods? What could I do that is so horrible as to alienate them until the end of my life?

Sex It Down

Ghosted

There are two best friends who have ghosted me, both of whom (I assume because I have not been told exactly) because of sex. Not our sex, but the part sex has (and has had) in my life. One who found out that BDSM had a part in my life and the other because I’m a sex worker. It’s not even like I talked to them about these things! I am not that stupid.

The BDSM one happened through the grapevine. The other one, I told her what I was doing now that I have retired from midwifery, nothing more. I had no idea either would freak out so much they would cut me out of their lives.

I just saw this meme:

Ghosted

I tell you what, this helped me a lot.

Is It Me?

As much as I know the issue was theirs, there is a part of me, a good-sized part, that feels I am bad, wrong, a horrible person. How could people I love turn their backs on me during good and bad times? I know these people! They would never unfriend someone unless they were terrible people, right?

Sharing these thoughts, my vulnerabilities, gives them more power. I understand that. But they had that power by giving me their friendship in the first place; I gave it (friendship and power) to them in return.

For me, it was without limits. Well, if they hurt someone I loved, that would disqualify the relationship, but for fuck’s sake, what they did in their bedroom or for a living? Why the fuck does that make a difference to me?

Hmmm… a little aggro showing. (Hear my British verbiage? HA!)

“You’ve Got a Friend”

It’s true.

You do.

Working on Stuff… and the bloody clock!

I am watching so many Brits now I’m picking up British slang. When I say, “Taking a piss” (kind of meaning “pulling your leg”) you can worry about my up and moving to the UK. (Nevahhh!)

Tristan’s Birthday

Today is my first baby’s 40th birthday. It’s just shocking how fast time flies. He was just put in my arms a minute ago. I love my boy so very much!

Tristan 40

“Operator”

I’m working on a post that is now interminably long called “Operator” which is based on the Jim Croce song. I like it a lot, but it’s more intricate than I expected. Who knew that word could lead down so many rabbit holes?

Operator

The Clock

The fucking clock continues annoying me endlessly. The blue numbers are often in licking blue flames, jumping out of the clock’s face. I wish I were an animator so I could animate what I see. It’s frustrating I can’t show you all this dancing and flashing, the numbers with a life of their own.

I can’t help wondering why it is the clock that’s tormenting me. Am I not in the moment enough? Do I need to watch my time more closely? What’s going to happen when NaNoWriMo starts in 12 days? Will I really be “against the clock” then?

My Clock

Hallucinations

I have mild hallucinations elsewhere. (Can hallucinations be considered “mild?”) I continue being in a deliciously energetic place, so can only assume it is the high end of hypomania. I am sleeping more, so that’s good, but I am continuing to be somewhat impulsive and weird. Work is benefiting greatly from my productivity, so there is that. 

flower

Oncology Report

My labs at the hematologist/oncologist were relatively good. My doctor was shocked at my 70 pound weight loss. I keep being asked if I had a gastric bypass. “Yes. In 2001.” They ask, “A revision?” Nope. I just quit eating Uber Eats and all processed foods. 70 pounds in 5.5 months without starving or denying myself food is pretty damn good. I am proud of myself!

I do need an iron infusion, but that’s no big deal. I’ll have that done next week. Then I don’t see her until the end of December. Wheeee!

Iron Infusion
My Iron Infusion IV… pic from my vantage point.

Scrivener

Off to Scrivener to do some NaNo prep. It’s rushing closer and closer!

Scrivener
NNWM = NaNoWriMo – a few of the projects I need to do for November.

“Death on Two Legs”: When a Writer Gets Revenge

There are plenty of songs, articles, and posts about getting revenge on someone through words.

There might not be any better song than “Death on Two Legs (Dedicated to…)” by Queen on the 1975 A Night at the Opera album.

Death on two legs
Tearing me apart
Death on two legs
You never had a heart (You never did)
Of your own (Right from the start)
Insane, should be put inside
You’re a sewer rat decaying in a cesspool of pride
Should be made unemployed
Then make yourself null and void
Make me feel good (I feel good)

This section is not even the worst of the lyrics. Give a listen for the whole picture.

Warnings Abound

When Googling “Revenge Memoir” a slew of posts and articles come up explaining why revenge memoirs are not the way to go about exacting revenge on someone.

It seems like revenge songs are way more common. They would be fun to sing, wouldn’t they?

Queen’s “Death on Two Legs (Dedicated to…)” was about their first manager, Norman Sheffield, who swirled in Queen’s money while they were still broke. While Sheffield’s name or job was not mentioned, Sheffield outed himself by suing Queen for defamation. They settled out of court and Sheffield, many years later, wrote Life on Two Legs: Set the Record Straight where, of course, he denied stealing from Queen.

What I Wish I Could Write

There are plenty of people in my life, including midwives, who I wish I could write trash about. Sadly, I doubt that will ever happen. If I do write about my midwifery life, the bitches will be composites and while they can’t know for absolute sure, they will know who they are by their own words still floating around trying to stab me and polluting their own air.

That felt good.

(And yes I know my own words affect me, but they are inside even if you don’t see or hear them and writing them outside is a release. Of sorts. I’ll accept the consequences.)

The following song is perfect to close on.

Funko Roger Finally Arrived! (Quite Hungover)

I got the notice that Roger had arrived, but when I checked my doorstep, it was empty. I looked the 1/8 mile up to the mailbox and saw the box hanging out.

I got dressed, put shoes on, brushed my hair, grabbed my phone in case I fell down and needed help, and began my hike out to the front 40.

Not used to trudging further than to the kitchen, I walked. Rested. Walked. Rested. Cursing Roger the whole way. If there was an Uber that could have picked him up to bring his too-hungover-to-walk-to-the-house-himself Funko, I would have called one. Instead, I had to go pick the yummy idol up m’self (my bad British accent there).

Finally in my arms, Roger’s box (haha, as opposed to allllll the other of Roger’sboxes“) tucked under my arm, I hiked back to the homestead, again in fits and starts. Again, cussing at Roger for not being sober enough to walk his own ass to his new home.

Roger Finally Joins the Queen Funko Team

Once I caught my breath in the house, the journey became irrelevant as I scissored the box open, opened the Funko box, and tipped Roger out of the clear, hard plastic into my hands.

Roger Taylor Queen Funko
Queen’s Roger Taylor Funko

Do you see his hooded eyelids? He even looks hungover! If I had sunglasses, I would put them on him because I’m sure the light is a tad much for his brain at the moment.

My Own Funk-Y World

Above, you get to see how my bizarre mind works. I should put these mental shenanigans on paper and make some cash out of it.

Watch Roger’s amazing live performance of his song “I’m in Love With My Car.” It’s the second song in this medley starting with “Killer Queen.”

It’s gloriously fantastic!

Queen Has a Typo (I’m Going to Faint)

What do I do? 

It is on Instagram on Brian May’s site: @BrianMayForReal and I wrote a comment, but deleted it a couple of minutes later not sure of protocol.

I really am quite distressed.

Queen Typo
“Memebers” instead of “Members”

The Scheme of the World

I know that, with what is happening in the world, this is a nothing.

In my pitiful defense, I can see typos 100 miles away. They make me twitch if I see them randomly. If I see them over and over, I want to fix them with a black Sharpie.

My girls explained that some people/sites put typos in to slow readers down. It slows me down for sure; I leave the site. I do make allowances for non-English speakers or not-English native speakers.

But this is Queen, for fuck’s sake! They have millions and millions of dollars! They have to have proofreaders! I will be one for them if they need one. (Can you imagine? My Funkos on my desk at Queen Headquarters?)

I’m trying to avert my eyes.

It will be a “Miracle” if I can.

How Have I Lived Without Dolls?

There have been no dolls in the house since the kids were little and even then, I don’t remember playing with them, making them listen and talk. The last time I remember playing with dolls was with Barbie Dolls. I was about eight before I was “too old” for them.

Queen Funkos Are the Bomb

I am having the best time with my Funko Deacy (John), Freddie, and Brian. I’m still waiting for party-boy Roger to arrive. I talk to them all the time. It’s so funny how easy they are to talk to. Avid listeners, they hold their instruments and Freddie has a grip on his mic. I squint and wonder if Freddie is going to hold his microphone out for me to speak into. He’s not remembering that what I share is kind of private.

(I am so crazy.)

Queen Funkos
John Deacon, Freddie Mercury, Brian May – Queen Funkos

Writing as Dolls

I have kept journals for decades and suppose I talk to the pages as I am to the dolls, but something feels different. I get up to grab a Diet Coke and ask the boys (for they were boys then; ask Bri) to make sure no one takes my seat. Or I ask them to monitor the phone and let me know if I’m getting a call. I’ve never done that with writing.

With writing, I am talking to myself and then answering myself. In writing, it’s more introspection – just like here in the blog.

Would writing as dolls be all dialogue? Would I ask, then answer?

It seems quicker to just yack with the boys.

Sing for me, Barbie!

Bipolar Diary & More: “Time Keeps On Slippin’…”

I am still in this weird hypomania thing. It’s yummy as hell, so not complaining, but time is just weird.

And the fucking clock is still messing with my head. Glow. Not glow. Float. Fall over. Annoying.

I figure as long as my Queen Funkos aren’t singing “Bohemian Rhapsody” to me, I’m not totally losing my mind. (Roger still hasn’t arrived. I am sure he is partying somewhere en route.)

Poking Around

I got myself some poking today. Not the fun kind, get your head out of the gutter.

I got a pneumonia shot, a flu shot, and my third COVID booster (full dose). It’s been several hours and I feel great. No arm soreness or feeling odd at all. I don’t usually have negative reactions to vaccinations, so that’s good.

Scrivener

Scrivener is the software I use for writing. I’ve written in Scrivener for almost four years now, so you would think I know it well.

Somewhere along the way, my Toolbars got wonky and I can’t figure out how the holy hell to fix it. I have Googled, YouTube’d, Scrivener Manual’d, Scrivener Forum’d, Reddit’d, and if there was an adult book named Scrivener, I would have found it from searching the issue so intensely.

Scrivener
Me, throttling Scrivener.

NaNoWriMo Preptober

I’m still prepping for NaNoWriMo in 16 days. It’s getting closer and I’m trying not to get nervous. I have to quit talking about it because people keep asking if I’m finally going to finish this book I keep talking about. I sure hope so!

Be well!

Enjoy The Steve Miller Band’s “Fly Like an Eagle.”

“Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’ slippin'”

IllumiNations Baby

This is a fun birth story I have rarely shared.

When I was a doula for a client, another Disney fan, she went into the hospital to have her baby.

Searching her bags, her husband couldn’t find her iPod. She got more and more agitated, saying she had to have her music. She knew exactly what she wanted to have her baby born to (not unusual for clients to do this).

Mom was telling dad he had to go back home for the music and I told her he would not have time. That made her even more distraught.

I suspected it was something Disney. Baby of Mine from Dumbo is a common Disney birth song. I had my iPod and asked her what the song was, maybe I had it on my iPod.

Crying, she said I would never have it and moaned out, “IllumiNations.”

IllumiNations Music

IllumiNations was the closing water, fireworks, and light show at EPCOT from 1999-2019. It was glorious and I can still see every detail in my mind and it’s 2022. 

As my client cried, I dug out my iPod and connected it to her speaker (that they had not forgotten) and turned on the IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth music.

Her eyes opened wide and she said, “You’re not serious. You really have this on your iPod?” 

I said, “Listen for yourself!”

She leaned back, her face went from tight and teary to utter calm with a smile.

Baby Born to IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth

The birth was wonderful. Mom got her music and it was good.

Afterwards, we could not stop laughing that I had the one thing she wanted for the birth. How many doulas in the world would have that music at that moment for her?

I was never happier for a serendipitous moment as this one.

 

Cut-Up Writing Technique (Thanks Bowie!)

I have easily read 100 books about writing on a wide variety of topics:

  • Inspiration
  • Motivation
  • Technique
  • Tools
  • Strategies
  • Planning
  • Timing
  • Zen and Ethereal
  • Practical
  • Meditative

…and goodness knows what other topics I’m missing.

Writing Cut-Up Method

David Bowie’s Cut-Up Method

Well, it isn’t quite David Bowie’s, but he famously used it.

I do not have one clue how I’ve missed this writing idea, but if I’ve missed it, others probably have, too, so here we are.

William S. Burroughs and painter Brion Gysin developed a variation on a collage, but for writing. Starting with pulling words out of a hat, it has now evolved to using random cut-up word generators online.

Pieces of Words

You can choose words from anywhere. Books, magazines, your own journals, thesauruses online, dictionaries, ads you see on the side of the road… anywhere you see words, write them down for your cut-up sessions.

Once you have them, literally cut them up. One word or thirty; random numbers of words would be my style.

Writing Cut-Up Method

Arrange Them… Randomly

Just pull the words out of a paper sack or a Crown Royal bag, put the words down in no particular order and voilà! You are writing!

Writing Cut-Up Method

Head Start for Writer’s Block

If you are having a hard time thinking of something to write, this is the method for you to try. It is fail-proof! You can throw a handful up in the air and let them fall down like confetti and go from there. The options are endless in how you can do this wonderfully random trick.

Let me know if you have done this before or might give it a try.

Freddie & Bri (Funkos) Move In

Freddie and Brian came today and already I am yacking with them about their new song Face It Alone (below) that came out today. Deacy (John), quiet as always, just listens. Roger needs to get here, but he is probably sleeping with some Funko Babe and running late.

Funko Freddie Mercury Brian May
Freddie Mercury and Brian May Queen Funkos

I’m the Village Crazy Lady

I really am hilariously nuts.

My Funkos Need Air

People are hollering about my taking the Queen Funkos out of their boxes, but I am not a collector. I want them where I can touch them, hold them, and yes, even talk to them.

I haven’t had a doll in far too long.

This is rather cool.

A Writer’s Lament: “Face It Alone”

Queen dropped a new song this morning. It’s so beautiful!

Queen is credited as the songwriters, but it’s clear Freddie Mercury had a large hand in this beauty. It was written as he was sick with AIDS, knowing he was destined to die. The poignancy is palpable.

As is usual with Queen’s music, and all music for that matter, the meaning of the song shifts depending on the listener. I hear it as a writer’s lament, the solitude of writing, and how the words burn inside, needing to escape.

A new song added to my Queen Meditation Playlist, I shall listen as Freddie, and Queen, sing to me as I write.

Queen: Face It Alone (Lyrics)
Video Below

When something so near and dear to life,
Explodes inside,
You feel your soul,
Is set on fire.

When something so deep and so far and wide,
Falls down beside,
Your cries can be heard,
So loud and clear.

Your life is your own,
You’re in charge of yourself,
Master of your home,
In the end,
In the end,
You have to face it all alone.

When something so dear to your life,
Explodes inside,
You feel your soul,
Is burned alive (burned alive).

When something so deep and so far and wide,
Falls down beside,
Your cries can be heard,
So loud and clear.

Your life is your own,
You’re in charge of yourself,
Master of your home,
In the end,
In the end,
You have to face it alone.

When the moon has lost its glow,
When the moon has lost its glow,
When the moon has, when the moon has lost its glow,
When the moon, when the moon has lost its glow,
You have to face it all alone.

PrepTober: Today’s NaNoWriMo Prep

NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, aka November… the month when many writers challenge themselves to write 1667 words a day for 30 days, or 50,000 words in a month.

50,000 words is the length of a typical novel.

What’s to Prepare?

Folks in my life chuckle when I say I’m going to “prepare” for NaNoWriMo.

“Don’t you just sit down and start typing?”

In theory, yes, but writing that many words in a month is daunting. 1667 words is about five and a half pages. Not book pages, but computer pages. 250 words a page.

No big deal, right? I sit at the computer all freakin’ day long typing anyway.

Diversions

Damn, the AC isn’t blowing out cool enough air. The path to get there is blocked by the Diet Cokes and the case of water. The large trash bag needs to go out and that’s in front of the computer table that has the water and Diet Cokes under it. It won’t move out of the way until I move all of the crap first. I need to get the vacuum cleaner thingie… the small one with just the right attachment so it will suck up the dirt in the weird AC filter area. And that’s in the back. I’ll have to turn the AC around, but make sure I don’t pull the hose out of the AC unit or the window or I will be seriously screwed trying to get them back where they are supposed to go. Every time I turn the AC, water pours out of the bottom, so I will need to make sure to have plenty of washcloths and towels near, but I’ll have to hang them on my shoulder because I will have moved the table out of the way to get to the AC. I have to unplug something on the plug tower to plug the vacuum thing in… what will I unplug? I guess the fan. Damn, it’s going to get hotter in here. I better get this done fast.

See my dilemma? If I was going to do this on a NaNoWriMo day, half my day would be taken up by scut work instead of writing.

Diversion Definition: Scut, aka Scut Work – work no one wants to do but that has to get done anyway. Often the least senior person on a team is relegated to scut work. This is a common term in the medical world and where I learned it first. Drawing blood, starting IVs, taking vitals, cleaning bedpans, cleaning instruments, making sterile packs, etc. are all considered scut work.

NaNoWriMo 2022

Stop Hopping Around

See how my mind can jump around? Probably like yours, but in different ways. So when I sit down to write during NaNoWriMo (and what I “should” do any time I sit down to write), I need to not wander the Internet, not search for definitions, not look for music to listen to, and certainly not watch YouTube videos.

Oh Yeah, Preptober

I needed a prep for Preptober, but am catching up now.

I’m looking around my space and getting things done that I can ahead of time.

  • Making a couple of playlists (Plenty of writers have a playlist for each character! I am not that particular.)
  • Filling my medication boxes
  • Making a menu so I don’t have to think, just toss something in the microwave
  • Keeping up with the laundry
  • Cleaning the room well and then keeping it clean
  • Etc.

<sarcasm> I’m sure this was the most fun blog post you’ve read in a long time. </sarcasm>

Off to see what else I can prep!

Oh, and I did get the AC filters cleaned, the trash out, and the Diet Cokes and water restacked and every surface cleaned and the floors vacuumed.

Too bad I can’t sleep or I’d take a nap.

Waking Myself Up – Write Already!

I am thinking about this book I’ve been working on for at least three years, three NaNoWriMos and then some.

The working title remains In the Bushes.

Here’s an unedited snippet from an early chapter:

Lisa heard Manny whispering, “Is that one over there?”

She looked and saw a tallish man wearing jeans and an AC/DC tee shirt slip behind the azalea bushes.

“Lake Eola is hopping tonight. Let me go talk to him,” Lisa said.

She stepped away from her friends to follow the older man, now in the shadows. When she was also hidden in the darkness, she softly asked, “Are you looking for someone?”

His answer was more a grunt than an assent.

She continued, “I think your friend might be over there.”

He looked towards her friends chatting out on the sidewalk. She knew they were deciding who would be the first “friend” tonight and who would be the decoys for the cops so the cocksucker would be safer with the guy in the bushes.

“Yeah, you know where my friend is? He got lost. Tell him where I am.”

She went back onto the moonlit sidewalk, pulling Manny by the hand, the hand that was sweaty and sticky before he even got near the stranger.

“Don’t be nervous. Once you get going, it’s easier.”

She yanked him back behind the azalea bush and dropped his hand before turning to go back to the other two guys waiting for her to find them a “friend,” too.

Lisa, Glenn, and Jason sat on a bench together, chatting. They acted as if nothing out of the ordinary was going on except they were out at Lake Eola at midnight, watching the space ship-shaped fountain changing colors. There was no indication that two men were just out of earshot – one sucking, one getting sucked – and that Lisa had facilitated that connection.

She had become their pimp.

Running Out of Chances

What if I died? Would anyone ever see what I’ve written? Or would it end up like the grand majority of unfinished manuscripts, tucked into a bottom drawer that’s dumped out when the writer dies?

I want people to read this. It’s a topic that is part of our history, gay history, and part of my real life. While it’s embellished with a bit of fiction to add depth to characters and scenery, much of it is right from my life.

What will it take for me to finish?

Bipolar Diary: The “Bicycle Race” Speaks

Something I heard yesterday, but was drown out by the other activities of my brain, surfaced again in the night and continues this morning.

You remember the sound of playing cards on bike spokes?

They are humming along in my room.

I have a huge AC and a tall fan on 24/7, so nothing has changed as far as equipment. I turned them both off, together and separately, and I still have the cards-in-the-spokes sound. It’s not as loud as the video above, but it is distinct and I can hear it over both the AC and fan. I have to turn the music up pretty loud to drown it out.

So I do.

Tired of This Reporting

There’s more, but I’m tired of telling y’all every detail of what my head is doing. I think I’m going to take the day off writing about my mental craziness and find something else to chat about.

In the meantime, enjoy Queen’s “Bicycle Race” video below.

There’s nudity.

Have fun!

Bipolar Diary: Rushing “Headlong”

Today got weird.

I am in a small room and it came to life, scaring the bejeezus out of me.

“Fallin'”

A can fell off the shelf (but didn’t really). The smoke alarm rang out twice (but didn’t really). Someone slammed their hand on my desk (but no one was here). A pane in the window cracked (but didn’t really).

I covered my head with my pillow until I could get control of the fear that I was the one cracking up, then I was able to sit and allow the hallucinations their performances.

Why do I think they are gone, and they are gone for days, then come back full-force for no apparent reason? Am I going to have several more days or these noisy, annoying visions and sounds? No scents, at least so far, just the visual and auditory hallucinations. When I was in bed, I thought I felt something crawling on me, but ignored it and it went away, so maybe some tactile will wander back to my skin.

I tried to sleep, but the random noises kept occurring so I got up to write. This way I have some control over validating if these things were real or not.

I have a lot of canvas pictures on the walls and they keep tilting, which is impossible since they are stuck on with Command Strips. I blink and they regain their correct positions.

The best way to describe it is like a not-too-serious earthquake shaking things up, but when I blink or close my eyes for a few moments, everything goes back to their proper place.

“Headlong”

I do wonder if I’m going headlong into mania. I thought I’d avoided it, but now things are picking up steam again. I still refuse to take the Risperdal, so if I fall over, it’s my own fault.

I have not slept since I woke up 23 hours ago despite the try when all the action abruptly started and I gave up an hour later.  I would love to sleep, but am not remotely tired. I do get a bit worried when I have not slept for 24 hours or more, but not much to do about it.

I guess I’ll just keep writing.

Bipolar Diary: Tormented by “Time”

I know y’all are tired of hearing about the clock… as tired as I am talking about it… but for fuck’s sake, it has a life of its own.

Mental Health

This morning, the numbers are dancing to Brian May’s “’39.”

I wonder if I am having hallucinations that I’m missing what with all the focus on the clock and time.

Time

Time is weird because I wake up and think it is the opposite am/pm than it really is. This has happened several times. Not sure why I am turned around, it isn’t like I go to sleep in the light and wake in the dark. 

I counted how long I slept last night because I’ve wondered if I might still be in hypomania. 2.5 hours. Hmmm… probably not so good.

I am kicking ass working, though, but am talking a tad too fast and loud and have to consciously slow down and lower my voice. I’m also writing like a banshee. Work blog posts are pouring out of my fingers. Not doing so bad here, either. I feel alive!

If someone told me what I just wrote up there, I would tell them they need to talk to their psych because 2.5 hours of sleep isn’t normal and needs to be more. But I justify it that it isn’t every night. Some nights I’m sleeping for four hours. That’s better, right?

Fuck, I love hypomania.

Happy it’s still here.

One of My Main Characters Died IRL

While my work-in-progress, In the Bushes, is a novel, it is an Autobiographical Novel and there are composites of real people that make up the characters.

Non-Composite George

One of my friends from my 1978 gay days, George -the name he chose for his character- is being written as his real self. He’d be easily distinguishable because he was widely known.

Was.

Can you see me wince?

My real life friend George died a few weeks ago. My heart aches missing him.

And now I’m at a place where I’m lost as to how to continue with his character. He is integral to the story and being gone doesn’t really move the plot along.

(This feels incredibly morbid even talking about him in this manner, but I have to imagine others have similar issues, yes?)

Real Life Mimics Novel Life -or is it the other way around?

It never occurred to me to ask George what he would prefer I do if he died. Talk about morbid! He was active in the theater community and loved being the main focus of attention, so I like to think he would tell me to just go for it. Make George anything I want or need him to be, just let him have fun.

We had a great deal of history with each other, starting when I was 17 years old and ran into him at the front door of the Parliament House’s sprawling complex. Immediately, we went from acquaintances to confidantes and eventually roommates in several locations. We knew each other well.

We lived for the drag shows. We befriended folks in the piano bar. We disco danced quite clumsily.

When I had my kids, he was a sweet friend who supported me through my foray into straight life.

And now he’s gone.

Where to Go From Here

This is the challenging part of the “autobiographical novel,” – how much is me and how much is creativity?

I’ve pondered how to move forward for these weeks and think I’ve decided to let George lead the way. He does yack with me, so I could ask him what he wants to do next. I could let him have control of my hand and just write it out. I could listen as he dictates his desires then wake up and write the notes quickly lest I forget his words.

I could do all of that.

I miss George.