Epiphanies at the Dentist (Krissie)

So I had a startling realization yesterday, an off-shoot of one a few years ago, and I haven’t been able to talk to anyone about it, so here goes. (Haven’t been able to talk about it because I had two back teeth taken out yesterday).

A few years ago things in my life were very very bad. I was in the depths of a depression, one grown child was nuts with no diagnosis and making our lives a living hell. Our money situation was ghastly (still is), our other child was a mess, everything felt horrible. I’d been down to visit Crusie, and I was driving back, weeping. Everything felt terrible, with no hope or joy in sight (remember, I was depressed) and I felt so empty, driving back to nothingness. And then I remembered the current story I was writing. And I thought of other things I wanted to write, and the book I was reading, and that was the one, undeniable hope I could hold on to and stop myself from crying . It always struck me that when I had nothing I still had the stories, wonderful books to read and write.

Of course, things got better, but I’ll never forget that when things were at their lowest, story saved me (as it’s been doing all my life – I would’t have survived my childhood without my incessant reading, and I know some of you are the same).

Fast forward to yesterday. I’ve been lucky enough never to have to have teeth removed as an adult. But on one side I had a root canal that had taken five or six visits and they’d never been able to finish it (shit-load of money thrown away on that). That was still bothering me. Then a few months ago I ended up with a huge abscess on the other side, in a tooth that was mostly filling and there was no chance of saving, and that had to go too. Fortunately both of them are at the back , I’ve had some difficulty chewing, so I was on board (though not happy). I got to the oral surgeon yesterday, a little edgy, but assuming I was going to have some kind of anesthesia. Uh, nope. Just novacaine. They could do other stuff but I’d need to come back for a consult and then have it done, and yes, it would cost more (we don’t have dental insurance). So, being a relatively tough cookie, I sighed and said “go ahead.”

It was freaking awful. The doctor was great, the aides were wonderful, but sitting in that fucking chair, having them yank and drill and yank and crack and pull was unbelievably difficult for me, and I started crying, which was really embarrassing. I told them I was very anxious and then closed my eyes, trying to keep the tears behind my eyelids, trying not to let it get worse which would involve hiccuping while they were drilling.

While I’d been waiting earlier (for the novacaine to take effect) I’d come up with a brilliant thing I could do with my revisions – where I could place my dreaded flashback scene. So as I was clutching the arms of the chair and trying to keep from sobbing (and it didn’t hurt that much it was just so … invasive) I cast around in my mind for anything to distract myself. Every time I thought that I shouldn’t cry it would get worse. So I thought about moving that scene, and suddenly I was calm. Like I’d had an instantaneous shot of something. I couldn’t really concentrate on anything, of course, and they’d yank, and I’d get weepy, and again I thought of the scene. Again, instant calm. It was amazing.

Unfortunately both teeth were difficult, in particular the one that had had the root canal, which apparently had fused to the tooth beside it, plus was a very large one, so they had to work exrtra long and hard on it, so I had plenty of time to keep observing the phenomenon. Each damn time it would work – tears would be sliding down my cheeks from my closed eyes (and of course any sign of sympathy, like Carol, the really nice nurse, putting a comforting hand on my arm, made it worse) and I ‘d think of my characters and the panic would just vanish for the moment. It really was extraordinary.

I remember when I was an adolescent I would leave the house in the middle of the night when my parents were raging and walk across town to our church, about two miles away. They didn’t lock it, and I’d hide in one of the back pews and recite the Lord’s Prayer or some of the psalms I’d memorized over and over again to soothe myself. I imagine it’s similar to that, and to Transcendental Meditation where you have a certain mantra that you can focus on to make things better.

Story is my mantra, my lord’s prayer, my escape from an awful childhood, the only hope when things are terrible. For me story is the only way I survive.

Having the physical proof of it, over and over again yesterday, was really enlightening.

Has anyone else gotten into a similar situation? And if things have been disastrous, what helped?

Mind you, I’m not comparing having a couple of impacted teeth out as the same as losing someone. When someone dies (or stuff on that level, like Richie’s heart-attack) you have to deal with it, work it through. But if you’re in the midst of a short-term, or even longer-term situation that’s unbearable, what do you turn to for calm, for relief, for succor?

Krissie’s Rant

Politics.  The state of the world.  Every now and then things just erupt inside of me, and I gotta rant.  I tend to keep things non-political, but today’s one of those days.

 

Have any of you been watching Agents of Shield?  After a wobbly few episodes it really hit its stride, and they’re all in a matrix of evil, except Grant Ward gets to be a hero.  I hope he and Daisy get to share a kiss before he disappears.  He breaks my heart, and he was so disgusting last year.

 

Anyway, each week we’ve been getting an anti-Trump Easter Egg in the dialogue.  A few weeks ago evil Fitz was torturing Daisy, explaining to evil Aida that he couldn’t break her, and he describes the torture and then says “Nevertheless, she persisted.”  The following week we had the smarmy on-air propaganda guy offer to take his pretty subordinate out to buy furniture (reference, the bus tape).  Last week we had Alternative Facts.  This week (mind you, I’m a week behind) we had Fake News in this alternative dystopian reality.

 

I take my pleasure where I can.  Also, Vive la France!!!!  Wouldn’t it be nice if the rapture came and it took all those Republican congressmen and sent them straight to hell?  I warned you. Politics.

(Speaking of which, I’m beginning to despise Whatshername even more, making money off Feminist bromides while she watches as they drag women off to the gas chamber, metaphorically speaking.  I told you – I’m in a mood.  I really really hate hypocrisy.)

 

Jenny Crusie’s enjoying politics as she watches the Evil Ones go down in flames.  I can enjoy it for a while, but then I get overwhelmed and hopeless.  I can’t bear to think that people can be so heartless and awful.  But they can, and they always have been, if you look at history.  I’m having to do a major shift in my view of the world.  I always believed that horrible, violent, selfish, evil things are done out of a sickness of the soul, not out of inherent badness.  Hey, I’m a liberal.

 

But I don’t understand evil in groups.  Lynch mobs.  Nazis.  What’s the noun form of complicit?  Probably complicity but that sounds too nice.  I always thought I could move anywhere, not have to worry about the political climate.  I’m open and accepting of everyone, I thought, and we just avoid those topics.  But that’s changed.  To me being around people who openly espouse the values of the current sick variant of the Republican Party is being complicit in evil, if you define evil as hurting other people and not caring that you do.   “The only thing evil men need to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”  It’s one thing to turn your head and ignore the consequences of the bad things you do – that’s moral bankruptcy and cowardice.  But many of the republicans did know.  And they didn’t care.

 

Ah, but France.  They’ve been tortured by terrorist attacks almost as badly as we have, and they chose decency.  From now on France’s superior attitude is well deserved, and Vive la France!

 

I’m learning Le Marseillaise.  It’s pretty blood-thirsty but stirring, and you can pretend you’re in a Humphrey Bogart movie.

 

Marchons, mes citoyennes (I keep singing Marchon les Citroens).

 

This was what I was afraid of back in the sixties when I was so angry and so clueless.  It’s so hard to be in the middle of it and not know what’s going to happen.  When Nixon sent the soldiers to Kent State and in NYC the police clubbed protestors until they were bloody we thought evil was going to take over.  It didn’t, things slowly got better.  We got out of Viet Nam, we even became friends with Cuba.  Women didn’t get the ERA, and recently a whole lot of people forgot that black lives matter.  I don’t know if more people of color are being murdered by the police than before, but at least now we take notice.  For years that kind of systematic violence was ignored.

 

I don’t know what’s going to happen to the world, particularly with such monstrous people running our country.  I can see the dystopian, Handmaid’s Tale world it could become.  But everywhere I can see good people saying no.  Or non as the case may be.

 

Marchons in your Toyotas and Subarus and Fords.  Marchons for a victory of goodness over evil.

 

I just gotta figure out how to love people anyway.

 

By the way, there were women protestors in France, topless, with a banner that said Marianne would be ashamed (or something like that) (anti-Le Pen, of course).  Marianne is the symbol of France, the woman on the battlefield, her gown to her waist, holding the tattered flag.  Of course they should have been topless.  But Marianne won the day, at least in France.

 

C’est merveilleux!

 

I did think that every time we descended into name-calling and rage and frustration we were, in effect, voting for Trump.  And then I thought, fuck it.  There are times when anger is a good thing, even for someone as open-hearted as I am.

 

Allons, Marchons!  We have work to do!

All About You (Krissie)

That’s me, all clean and shiny after a shower. That light on my face is electric. I’m wearing my Belle Books “Rise and Shine, Buttercup, no one else’s gonna write that book” and drinking mango peach seltzer (the best ever) and eating a Kashi peanut butter breakfast bar (my go to – 140 calories and I order them from Amazon). Weight’s still off – now I have to dip down lower, but summer is a good time for that.

It is raining. It rained every day last week. It rained every day the week before. It’s supposed to rain to at least Thursday. Maybe snow in the higher elevations tonight, and I’m in the higher elevations. So it’s cold, and dark, and wet. If I ever move to the Pacific Northwest it’s gonna feel like the tropics.

I’m in the midst of taking my 3/4 of a book and ripping it apart, tossing things right and left, twisting stuff like a pretzel, creating a new villain, turning the old one into a complicit but not evil person. (and that just sent me off into a political diatribe which I then cut, and putting it in another post so people can avoid it. I understand the need to avoid politics).

Jenny’s process and mine are so different I can’t imagine how we ever managed to collaborate on two books (and I love those books. Go figure). I assume all of you read Argh. The first time I met Jenny, face to face, she did a little talk about her process (she was writing Harlequin Temptations at the time) and my eyes bugged out and my mouth dropped open and I said “you do that for every book?” in tones of horror.

I’m a natural born writer. I know it, and Jenny says so too. Stories come to me, framework and worm (okay, what the hell is worm?  It’s auto-correct, but I have no idea what I had originally said.  I don’t think it was work)  are usually instinctive. Most of the time I just write it and it works. (That doesn’t mean it works for you – matters of taste are a different thing entirely. As Jo Beverley used to say, you can’t expect everyone to love your books. You just have to find the ones who will.)

But every now and then I get a book that just doesn’t get itself together, for whatever reasons. And then I have to pull a Jenny on it, ripping it apart, turning the damned thing into a (choke) outline, printing it up, slashing and cutting and killing all my darlings. Well, not all of them – then it wouldn’t be any fun.

So that’s what I’m doing – surgery on a book that be glorious in the end. In between stenciling doll furniture and making clothes and talking to my fabulous grandchildren via FaceTime and really enjoying my birthday and loving my husband and not worrying as much about my children cause I can’t fix them and ….

So, what’s on your agenda?

 

Update:  It’s 37 degrees at 2:11 pm.  I had to put on one of Jenny’s warm shawls.  Brrr.  In other news, I’m finally learning all of Le Marseillaise.

All About You (Krissie)

Godmorgen min børn. My dansk goes apace, though I’m running into software problems. My favorite software (Nemo) won’t reset on my new iPad Air, and with over a thousand words I’m not about to start from the begynnelse. However, it looks as if I was just about at the end of the programs – there were only a few words and phrases left – so it’s time to upgrade anyway. Man, I love learning the language. Because I mostly do it at night in bed, and because Richie and I are practically attached at the hip, he’s learning a lot too, so we’re always speaking to each other in dansk.
But I digress. I spent intensive time last week redoing BANISH MISFORTUNE, my first RITA-winning book, and, I discovered, one of my very best ones. I usually update the books – make it an unspecified present time though it would change things too much if I added computers and cell phones – but at the last minute I decided to keep this in the time it was written. It’s too perfect a microcosm of my life back then, filtered through fiction. It’s also painful and really really good.
The reason I’m so surprised about it is that it was part of a failed effort by Harlequin and it sold 5k books, a really tiny amount. No one read it, it was never reprinted, and I had only vague memories of it. It’s hit me like a sledgehammer, and I’m going to talk about it more over at my website blog. I’ll post a link here when I do.
In the meantime, I revised the book, wrote a little on Emma and Brandon (but Banish was due on the 10th). I did some sewing, bought some interesting stuff, including my new iPad (the old was ancient with a cracked screen and 12gb – the new one has 128 gb.) Hence the software problem.
And oh my God I saw Beauty and the Beast and I am aux anges! That’s a regency term for those who don’t know it, meaning I’m with the angels, i.e. in heaven. Have to see it again, preferably in 3d. Didn’t get swimming, mud season has arrived, we had another fucking snow storm, we closed on our refinancing. A crazy week.

But this week we get Goddess Time! Lani and her two daughters are meeting me down at Crusie’s (they’re all pagans, despite that fact that Crusie and I can both recite the Apostolic Creed from memory) so they don’t care if it’s Easter, and I’m flexible. I missed Palm Sunday (overslept) and apparently the Breitchsneiders brought their miniature donkeys to church!

Richie’s making me coffee (I like Sumatran) and I gotta get to work. So this week, I drive down to Jenny’s, listening to new books (the new Lisa Kleypas is phenomenal), we’ll go to the eye doctors and the vet, Lani will arrive, I’ll try to talk them into going to Beauty and the Beast and most likely fail, and we will have a lovely time.

So, what’s on your agenda, my children? Anything fabulous?

All About Sisterhood (Krissie)

Photo on 1-23-17 at 8.35 AM Hard to believe I’d be feeling good three days after … god, I don’t even want to say it. By now you must know Jenny’s and my politics, and nowadays it has a more immediate impact on our lives (I avoid using impact as a verb). So while this isn’t going to become a political platform, opinions are going to come up, and I’m afraid opinions on our current president are strong. So if you’re of a differing opinion just skip my opinions on the flaming orange cheet-0 president.
march1 Saturday was so good it made up for a lot of bad. I didn’t march, I rolled, which given the slush and the crowd was damned tricky. I was pushed by an award-winning fiber artist, Judy Dales. I’ll put one of her quilts at the bottom of this but the photo doesn’t do it justice. Her work is amazing.
Anyway, we all rode in a rented school bus driven by Sherral, Bobbi arranged it, I sat with BJ, Big Tim went and grabbed me a hat, Betsy looked out for me, Erika sat behind us. I gotta remember I do have friends here, even if I don’t often see them. I wish I could see them more, but their lives center around what’s called The Walking Women, we they all walk three times a week and then get together for muffins at each others’ houses. They’re a powerful force, and obviously I can’t participate.
Last time I did an actual, organized march through a downtown was all the way back after MLK was murdered. We walked through the center of downtown Newark, which was a pretty funky place. Since then I’ve been on demonstrations (tear gas in Washington), sit-ins (arrest in NYC for blocking a draft board – I even went to the Tombs!), vigils (the Iraq war) and I’m not that active politically (though I’ve been sending money this year). the times they are a-changing, though, and I gotta get vigilant. Problem is, I can’t very well write my congressmen. I mean, what would I accomplish by writing Bernie or Pat Leahy to tell them what I think of the president’s actions? They’re already on point.
Anyway, a glorious day, a reminder that we’re all bonded (on a personal level as well as a political level). It was glorious.
So, this week.
I actually wrote three days last week, and I’m half done on Brandon and Emma. I did some sewing, and I’m off to Jo-ann’s to buy doll clothes patterns for $1 a piece (for my transgender American Girl Boy doll (they have a Dr. Who pattern!). Gotta write, gotta clean, gotta sew. Gotta call an SSI lawyer for Tim, gotta check on Daniel, got a life to live.
The weight has plateaued 25 pounds lower than my last stable weight, and it’s effortless (sugar doesn’t call to me, nor do fried things) so I’ll keep on with that. I’m rolling up my sleeves and digging in.
So what’s on your agenda? Anyone else march? How are people doing with their vision for the new year?
judymarch 2

Sexual Assault (Krissie)

Photo on 10-11-16 at 10.24 AM Obviously the news is full of stories and op-ed pieces about the way men assault, demean and belittle women. I tend to avoid politics here because they can be so divisive. Wise, intelligent people can believe the most amazing things, support really unconsionable people. I assume that anyone who’s going to read here doesn’t have a conservative bent, giving how wildly anarchistic Jenny and I happen to be (I shouldn’t speak for her, but needless to say we have no patience for bullshit). But that’s not what I’m writing about.
I’m writing about sexual assault. Continue reading

All About You (Krissie)

Photo on 9-19-16 at 10.04 AM First off, you guys in the New York/NJ area – be safe.

2: You go, Rami Malek!

3. Did I mention I lost more weight? I’m at 227.2 which makes it a little more than 22.5 pounds. It’ll be 25 eventually – wahoo! I am losing weight slowly, but then, I’m not really trying. I’m just avoiding unhealthy stuff, pushing fiber and fruit, avoiding fats. I’ve lost my taste for a whole lot of stuff (sugar, crispy fried stuff) and when we get back from Tahoe I’ll start swimming again.

4. Sigh. Okay, we’re leaving for Tahoe tomorrow. My stomach is in a knot and I’m feeling worried and upset. I did go to an Al-Anon meeting Saturday, which was great. It’s tricky, because the issue is now more mental illness than substance abuse, but hey, I qualify at Al-Anon with my father and brother and sister. And Tim’s years as a druggy teen. I have to figure out balance. Good thoughts and prayers gratefully accepted.  And while I’m weepy, edgy and distressed I’m not depressed (gotta keep celebrating that fact).

We’re meeting with lots of people.  I’m feeling really pulled in a lot of directions, and I have to perform triage.  I think first I have to take care of me because, like the example of people on a plane needing oxygen, if I don’t get mine first I’ll pass out before I can help anyone else.  Second, I deal with the sickest.  Third, I deal with the troubled.

I didn’t cause it, I can’t change it, and I can’t cure it. Not for anyone.

I’m try to embed a video because it’s gorgeous, but I’m a Massive Fail, but here’s the link.  I’ve always had a weakness for scantily clad leaping male ballet dancers, so I leave you on a cheery note. Oooh, hey it looked like it worked after all.  Enjoy!

 

After that delicious treat, tell me what’s on your agenda?