Sunday Picture Press, Blog Update and a Book Launch

LET’S START WITH A BOOK LAUNCH

Now, I know, the title has you thinking it is my book launch but no, it is not, not yet anyway.  A regular participant of Sunday Picture Press, Dave Farmer, has written a book!  The release date is November 28, 2014 — yes, Black Friday to those of you shoppers.  The title is The Range and his site has all the details.  It is an apocalyptic tale about friendship and survival.  There are scary bits, funny bits, and it is only the first of what will be a trilogy! So, instead of becoming a zombie shopper on Black Friday, add Dave’s zombie story to your gift list (and one for yourself of course) and not only make your holiday shopping easy but support a new, self-published, up and coming author!

Hopefully I will have an author interview in future after the book launch.  Dave is a great writer who has always been a supporter of Sunday Picture Press and he deserves all the support and word-of-mouth marketing he can get.

SPEAKING OF SUNDAY PICTURE PRESS

I bet many of you thought it would be on hiatus forever — or another two years.  You are WRONG!

It is returning Sunday, November 30, 2014.

Now that Dave has a book launch I hope he won’t be too busy signing copies to take part *smiles*  Sunday Picture Press went on a short hiatus this time because of hosting issues.  Which brings me to….

BLOG UPDATE

Sunday Picture Press went on hiatus, as I said, because I developed issues with my hosting site.  I have self-hosted the site for a couple of years and recently a renewal issue caused some problems with lost posts, broken links, and other problems.  I know nothing, nothing I tell you, about web design, html, css, flash, and all those other letters related to hosting a site.  I have tried to learn.  Unsuccessfully.

I had grand plans but in the end trying to learn about creating, designing, updating and maintaining a site has been more of a chore with no payout.  Not only has SPP been derailed but regular posting has been intermittent at best.  I want to write, just write, simply have stream of consciousness and publish… well, maybe not that extreme, but I started the blog to have a place to express myself.  I want to post poems, stories, rants, raves and whatever else pops out of my weird mind any time I please and self-hosting took away a little of that desire.

Not only because of the learning curve but I think because it added something else to blogging.  I somehow became… afraid isn’t the word, but hesitant for whatever reason to post because there was this (in my mind only of course) idea hanging over my head that it had to be polished.  It had to be something that attracted millions.  It had to be professional.  It had to be perfect.  I don’t know, but it had to be more than just my blatherings on a blog.  I created this false ideal in my mind but it was enough to make me stop writing.

So, in the end, I decided to forget about self hosting and keep my little old blog here on WordPress.com.  I can not promise it will mean regular posts again (I am finding it hard to get back into the regular writing groove) but at least Sunday Picture Press will return.  It may mean I’m the only one writing but at least it means I’m posting twice a week, the update for SPP and the story.  That’s more than I am doing currently.

For anyone who has me on a blog roll please update the link to read: indigospider.wordpress.com 

Stones

The cab driver talks with a thick Haitian-French accent.  He says, we are supposed to procreate; according to God.

I watch the dark beads of his rosary and  silver cross hanging from the rear-view mirror swing in rhythm with the bounce from lousy shocks.  Thankfully from the backseat I can only hear every other word.  I keep a polite smile on my lips while I nod my head occasionally as if in agreement.  With each red light he stops talking and turns his head to stare out the driver’s side window.  I don’t know what he’s looking at but the gesture reminds me of Paul.  The rosary beads clink like pebbles on a seashore and I glance at the hospital armband still around my wrist.

Paul’s dark hair blows chaotically with the wind blowing in from the open car window.  There is silence at the red light, the wind isn’t blowing through the windows, and Paul stares out to his left at a point unknown to me.  I feel the stone in my throat; choking any discussion I wish to have.

There is a vague memory teased from the drums of a song playing on the cab’s radio, beneath the cab drivers chatter.  I hear the click of drumsticks along the metal rim of the drum which invoke memories of a dark night on a beach I can’t recall.  A fire is burning bright and the rhythmic waves clink pebbles together faintly.  Paul smiles momentarily before pulling a long draft from his cigarette.  I squint in the firelight trying to focus on his smile.  The cab driver pulls off the exit and I pull myself to the current moment and tell him to turn right at the end of the exit.  The sign reads, Welcome to Sandy Hook, and I think of all the dead children.

There was a dark blue tent set up in the woods in the back beyond my childhood home.  I remember Colleen crying, begging for forgiveness, while I lay semi-conscious from alcohol on top of the green sleeping bag.  Paul was peeing and Colleen was begging her boyfriend not to be angry.  I don’t remember what the argument was about but I remember in my drunken haze willing Paul back to our tent.  Moments before Paul returned I heard the clink of stones rolling around in someones hand.  As Paul ducked back into our tent I heard Colleen cry.

The cab driver kept drifting towards the right-hand shoulder as he spoke to me, insisting on eye-contact via the rear-view mirror.  My hand squeezing the hand-grip tighter unconsciously aware of the driver drifting off the road.  He asked why I was in hospital and I had no response.  I stare at the armband with my name and some random number circling my wrist.  I respond, turn left here please.

I sleep fitfully once home; plagued by strange dreams.  Vivid red blood pours like rain with an occasional thick clot sounding like a stone when it hits the dark wooden floors.  The floors weren’t always so dark, were they?  Perhaps it is from all the blood.  I hear a baby cry from somewhere beyond, not the room we are in, not even in the same universe yet somehow she is near.  I cry.  Maybe it was my own cry and not a baby.  After all the baby is dead, all the blood tells me, but I still hear a cry even if no one else in the room does.

I wake suddenly and think of Paul, his pale blue eyes and dark hair, wistfully.  I feel strange.  I can not describe the feeling.  In the morning I gather stones from the beach, smooth from years of rubbing together in salt water.  I remember the year my father was held up at SeaTac airport because of a stone he found on the shores of Deception Pass.  It was large, almost perfectly round, smooth and dense under the X-Ray of airport security.  They feared a bomb even though it was long before 9/11.  I inherited the stone after his death.

Paul laughed that day we dropped my father off at the airport and watched security detain him to a back room.  My father always loved stones, building walls and fences from the giant stones he unearthed in our yard over the years, so it was no surprise that he wanted to keep the one he found on the beach two days earlier.  My father, tall and proud, nonchalantly followed security to a windowed room while they unearthed the mysterious looking item.  In that moment, Paul said, he decided he loved my father.  He decided my father was not one to give a shit about such trivial things as smuggling stones that might look like incendiary devices through airports and that was admirable. 

I feel empty after waking; anesthesia leaving a faint trace of incoherence in my morning routine.  Faint traces of dreams and memory cross my vision like silk-screened movies.  I replay the same song over and over.  The click of drumsticks invoking memories of Paul and my father; feelings of hurt and anguish from my mother’s neglect, sorrow over my father’s death and Paul’s absence.  There is a movie I vaguely recall as I sip Sauvignon Blanc where the hero mourns the loss of his love as the hangman’s noose tightens around his neck.  All of the memories, the feelings, the stones clinking on a distant shore remind me that I have lost something important even if I can not give it a name.

Paul is gone.  The baby is dead.  My father died more than ten years earlier and the music continues to clink the drumsticks against the metal drum frame as I run my fingers along the smooth surface of the dark gray stone my father found on a beach more than two thousand miles away.  My mind grasps for meaning but all it can find is the smooth surface of a dark gray stone.

Misspent Youth

When I was young, around ten years old, a close friend’s mother was obsessed with Rod Stewart.  I was never a fan, per se, but when I hear the song “Maggie Mae”  by Rod Stewart I am instantly transported back to those summers spent with my friend.  It is a mix of happiness and sadness.

My youth was misspent to say the least.  I lived, technically, in New York city but my parents bought a weekend home in Connecticut when I was seven years old — 1976 for those inclined to know (now you can calculate just what a Methuselah I am).  About a two-hour car ride away.  The original house was a 1929 Sears and Roebuck catalog home.  This meant that the original owners ordered the home via catalog and received all the parts that they had to put together themselves.  Think IKEA for homes.  It did not have heating and was “insulated”, I put that in quotes for a reason, by newspapers that were stuffed between the walls.  There was no privacy in this home as the walls were, just shy of literal, paper-thin.

Since we spent every weekend and most summer vacations, even a few winter vacations, in this house I often forget that I was actually raised in an urban environment.  I went to school in New York city but the rest of my childhood is associated with the house in Connecticut and the nearby lake.  Oddly, the lake was actually in New York state.  Our road and, subsequently three homes, were the last within the Connecticut border.  In other words, the house next door where my best friend (and her Rod Stewart loving mother) lived was Connecticut but the house across the street where we scored our weed was New York.  The lake we skinny dipped on hot summer nights took less than a minute to walk to, was New York.  However, I always considered this all Connecticut.

My friend’s mother was a waitress, divorced, raising two daughters on her own.  When my family arrived on Friday evenings her house was the first place I went, not ours.  Usually her mother was blasting Rod Stewart, often Maggie Mae, which seemed… I’m not sure how to describe it…  my parents were German immigrants so their musical tastes leaned more towards old-fashioned German music.  Her mother’s musical choices seemed modern, exotic, intoxicating by comparison.

Her family life was not any happier than mine despite her mother’s exotic taste in music.  My friend was a few years older than me and her mother often worked the night shift.  In other words, even if Maggie Mae was playing when I arrived, it ended shortly after as her mother had to go to work.  This meant entire weekends where we were left all to ourselves to spend as we pleased.  My parents didn’t care what I was up to as long as I was sitting in the backseat of the car when they were ready to return home to New York on Sunday evenings.

My father whistled for me when it was time to leave.  His whistle was like a dog whistle, I heard it no matter how far away I was and scrambled to return before his patience was lost.

This is where the happiness and sadness live.  Many weekends were spent, as kids will do when left to their own devices, exploring everything from alcohol and drugs to sex.  We had fun.  We always had fun.  We may have had to walk for hours through the night to reach our destination of fun, but we had fun.  My friend, in her dysfunctional damaged way, always took care of me.  But, like the song, there is a twinge of sadness because sometimes a child taking care of a child does not yield positive results.

Rod Stewart sings of a relationship between an older woman and young man.  The older woman was lonely and took advantage of the young man, leaving him with years of heartache he’d rather live without.  At the time I never realized the lyrics would echo my life in a strange way.  I understand both the older woman’s and younger man’s perspective now, as a middle-aged woman myself.

My friend was older by a few years, as I said, so often things we did were typical for her age group but advanced for mine.  By the time I reached high school I was bored with things that my peers were just beginning to explore because I experienced them already years earlier.  I began smoking by the age of ten.  I began drinking and smoking weed by the age of eleven.  My first experience with a heroine user was at age twelve.

When I was twelve years old my friend met an older man, already in his seventies, who offered her rides when she needed.  He also provided alcohol, cigarettes, weed and I’m sure other things.  My friend was around seventeen at this point, driving age but too poor to own a car.  When I arrived on weekends I knew no better and accepted these rides as well since it meant we no longer needed to walk for hours to the local grocery store for cigarettes or alcohol.

This was also the first time I met a heroin addict.

This man drove us wherever we needed.  He bought alcohol and cigarettes, as I said, when we asked.  He also took us to his home so we could drink, without fear of parental discipline, when we needed someplace to hang-out.  That was when I met his daughter.  I have no idea how old she was.  I do know she was at least in her twenties if not thirties or older.  What I do remember is needing to find the bathroom and stumbling into her room instead.

When I first entered she was asleep, or so I assumed, on her bed in a darkened room.  When I stumbled in she roused, sitting up, and looked at me morosely.  I asked where the bathroom was and she pointed before leaning over to grab her works.  Even then, at twelve, I felt her sadness, her despair and realized something was very wrong in this situation.  I asked if she was alright.  She said yes as she reached for the syringe, after cooking her heroin, eventually bending over to find a vein between her toes.  I watched silently unable to grasp what was happening as she shot up.  She never spoke another word.  After her hit she collapsed back onto her bed.

I used the bathroom and felt leery about the situation I found myself in.  Sometimes I wonder if it actually happened, if it was a dream or my imagination, or if I actually watched a grown woman shoot up heroin on a summer afternoon.

The old man offered me a Margarita when I re-emerged.  All I remember is passing out in the tall grass behind his house.  Ironically, perhaps, his house was located just over the border in New York.  This, obviously, has lingered with me all these years later.  However, as I said, sadness mixes with happiness.  I remember arriving back at my friend’s house afterwards.  We watched videos, blasted music, and laughed the night away while her mother worked through the night.  Together we slept on the floor between the closet doors in the hallway.

It may seem odd, sleeping in a hallway closet, but the way it was set up was actually pretty amazing for us as kids.  There was the hallway that led from the dining room down to her mother’s bedroom.  It was a long hallway with three steps in the middle.  Just after the three steps there was her bedroom that she shared with her younger sister to the right and to the left was a small indentation where the closet resided.  It was actually two closets and when you opened the doors it made a small room unto itself, which is where we slept to avoid her little sister.  There was also a window.

If we climbed out this window we could stand on a small roof of sorts that was above the main entrance to the house.  From this small overhang we could easily climb to the roof of the house.  We did this often.  At night we climbed out to smoke weed and drink beer.  During the day we did it to sun bath.  Anytime of day was to hide from adults. On a side note — I am scared of heights but I still climbed to the roof.  Once there I was fine as long as I didn’t look over the edge.

I think my friend enabled me to overcome my fears.  I so wanted to be with her since she accepted me whenever, however, any age, any time, no matter what.  She truly was a rare friend who I miss dearly in many ways.  At the same time that she introduced me to situations that were beyond my scope of comprehension at my tender age, she also protected me as best she could, and held on to me because she was so damaged herself.

So, when I hear Maggie Mae, despite not being a fan of Rod Stewart, I remember the happy times.  I remember smoking pot just before going skinny dipping in the lake.  I remember the cool water on my bare skin on hot summer nights when I wasn’t even sure of my own body but she always made it all seem alright.  I remember sharing vinyl records on Friday nights, when she introduced me to classics like Yellow Brick Road by Elton John in exchange for Ant Music by Adam Ant.  I remember smoking, and choking, on my first Marlborough.  I remember sneaking a six-pack of Heineken from my father’s stash in the basement and drinking on the roof of her house while we watched the bats emerge from the attic at dusk.

I remember my friend who helped shaped, for good or bad, who I am today.  If she ever reads this I hope she understands, for all the bad there was so much good, and I miss her.

Dear Charlie

Dear Charlie
with the dark hair and blue eyes
who scribbled lyrics in a wire bound journal at 3 a.m.
after sex and a cigarette when the alcohol was ebbing

I am sorry for the missed opportunity
and wasted love mixed with drama
and a heady dose of cocaine
it was the eighties after all, everyone was doing it

Dear Adam
with the flamboyant outfits and soulful voice
who carved stories on my back with an oversized quill
in rooms filled with smoke and endless bottles of vodka

I am sorry for my lack of trust
and wasted love mixed with judgement
and a heady hit of weed
it was the age of grunge in Seattle, the culture dictated it

Dear Andrew
with the eloquent silk suits and liquid ink skin
who toiled away on a Mac book long after hours
before evenings of sushi and uncorked Beaujolais

I am sorry for my impatience
and wasted love mixed with annoyance
and a heady dose of whiskey
it is middle age after all, I no longer wish to compensate