Oh yeah, she’s still a beatin’ away in there

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Life has a lot of funny ways.

Like lulling you into a sense of routine and pattern and similarities. You start taking things for granted.

And then Fate yanks that rug out from under you just to remind that hey, better pay attention! The starting pitcher for the cosmic league might just be grooving one right at your earflap!

Had a moment like this today.

The day started out really good. Beautiful, calm.

Had a chance to spend the day up in San Francisco. Got to visit one neighborhood fairly unknown to me and another very familiar part of town.

And it was great. Hey, the sun was even out for a while. There is no city more beautiful than San Francisco on a sunny day.

The Good Man and I made our way through the day at a happy pace, had an amazing lunch, and worked through our chores.

So feeling pretty at peace with the world, we finished up and made our way home down the peninsula.

The ride was easy, we were ahead of traffic, and other than a plastic bag adhering itself to the underside of our car, then simmering on the exhaust pipe, it was the perfect ride.

We get to our town, we turn right, we turn left, and soon we arrive at our neighborhood…

To see two hook and ladder fire engines, two smaller fire engines, the fire supervisor, and several other fire vehicles blocking our street.

“Please tell me that’s not our house,” The Good Man said aloud.

It was then I could feel that ol’ heart deep in my chest start to rev up. The adrenaline gets to rolling into the veins, fight or flight sets in and all the blood goes to the core. Muscles tense. Eyes get a little sharper.

There was a fireman sitting behind the wheel of a parked truck, so I said to The Good Man, “I’ll find out” and jumped from our now stopped car.

I walked up to the man, got his attention, and said, “Um, sir, I live *right there*” emphasized with a point of my hand.

The fireman said, “You can get there as soon as I move the truck” he said.

“But, but…” I stumbled out. “Is that where the fire is?” I tried to keep the panic out of my voice. I’m pretty sure I didn’t succeed.

He smiled, “No, you’re fine. The fire is over there,” he said, with a point of his heavily gloved hand in the opposite direction of my home.

“Oh thank you thank you thank you!” I said while hopping on balls of my feet.

Today, the fire brigade did not come for my home.

My heart is settling back into its regular docile pattern.

And I got a strong reminder today to keep a sharp eye out, because the cosmic pitcher is wild, and fastball might getcha squarely in the back when you’re not looking.

Tapping Into My Personal Genius

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Boy, that’s a title, eh?

I’ll provide a guarantee right now, this post won’t live up to that title.

Maybe it’s aspirational. We’ll see.

There is a blog I read regularly that takes the form of an online journal. The author is really open and straight forward. It really is like reading her personal diary.

She suffers from quite a bit of writer’s block, and so when that happens, she’ll do a free association blog post where she asks herself questions and has her mind answer any which way it wants.

I find those posts fascinating as they always contain some nugget of something good that makes the whole exercise worthwhile.

I’m not saying my version of this is going to provide anything other than a nugget of “what the sam hell?” but I’m willing to try.

So. Here we go.

Chatting with myself…

Heeere we go!

Yup, let’s go!

We’re doin’ it!

Crimeny, I’m so blocked I can’t even write interviewer questions.

Ugh.

Ok, for real this time.

Hello, welcome to our self-chat. How are you feeling today?

Wait, that’s how a therapist likes to start a conversation. “How are you feeeeling?” How am I feeling? Bite me, that’s how I’m feeling!

I sense a little hostility.

Congratulations, your sensors are working fine. Can I go?

Yes, you can. But would you stay a minute more?

Why?

Because I asked you nicely.

Fair enough.

Why are you so cranky?

I get cranked up when I have writer’s block. It usually comes so easy to me, the words. In fact, I can write too many words. I was constantly admonished by a former boss, a numbers guy, that I wrote too many words.

He was a toad, though, so no need to let his opinions matter.

Isn’t writing a process? A flow? Sometimes a raging river, sometimes a trickle?

Thanks. Now I have to go pee.

Some of the greatest writers in the world had and have writer’s block.

Sure, sure. I know it’s all a part of the creative process but damn, I hate it!

Don’t you think railing against it only makes it worse?

Don’t you think being a smarty-pants is going to net you the backspace key, repeatedly?

Hey, this is your mental exercise, hot-shot, I’m just asking the questions here.

Oooh, touchy touchy! Fine, yes, I know that railing against writer’s block only makes it worse. But railing against [insert item here] is sort of how I make my way through life.

You know, “Hulk mad! Hulk smash!” or something like that.

Yeah. How’s that working out for you?

Today, not so well.

What do you think would help clear the block?

I don’t know. It usually passes in its own time.

So, if you can just wait it out, it will resolve itself.

Usually.

So, being patient with yourself and letting it pass by might actually be the quickest route?

Yeah, probably.

So why don’t you do that…be patient with yourself?

Damned if I know.

Well, maybe that’s something to work on today.

Yeah, you’re right. I’ll grudgingly admit you are right. Maybe even helpful, too.

Any closing thoughts?

I like pie.

Thank you, and good night….

It’s daytime, stupid brain. You good fer nothing piece of……

Thus concludes today’s conversation. I hope we’ve all learned something here. Though I’ve no idea what that would be.

Whoo hooo!

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Mama, I’m going to Disneyland!

Oh, ok, not really. I’m actually going to…uh, sleep.

But still, I pulled a rabbit out of my arse hat for the fifth time and completed a 50,000 word novel in less than thirty days!

Thanks to the amazing people at National Novel Writing Month for making it so much fun to rise to the challenge every year!

It’s getting to be that time of year

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This morning, I heard my talking combo smoke and carbon monoxide detector talking to me.

Which caused both me and the cat to jump a mile high.

And then I yelled at it, “WHAT DID YOU SAY!?!?”

The lady inside the detector was kind enough to repeat herself.

“Battery low!”

Ah, whew. Ok. Easily fixed.

But my talking smoke/carbon monoxide detector reminded me of a post from January of this year.

I believe it’s time for me to pull a rerun.

Here’s a link to the original post.

Here are the contents repeated in full. Thanks for (re)reading!

Near and Dear to my Heart

Sit back, I’m about to go on a bit of a rant, inspired by a story I read today in the SFGate.

About six or eight years ago, I was living in a small apartment in the South Bay, in a small eight unit building. The building dated back to at least the 1930’s, if not earlier, and featured this breathing dragon of a wall heater as its only source to take the chill of cold rainy evenings.

I had gone home to New Mexico for Christmas, and my mom, ever the practical one, had given me a carbon monoxide alarm as a gift.

Fine. Whatever. I took it back to California with me where it sat, unused, in the box for quite a while. A year or more, if truth be told.

One day, I was cleaning up the place when I found that thing and figured, “oh well”. I put in the batteries and hung it from my ceiling. Fine. Look at me. Miss Practical.

A couple months later, the damn thing started going off.

I was frustrated. Surely this was defective. Busted. Whatever.

I unscrewed it from the ceiling and moved it farther back.

And the damn thing kept going off.

Weird.

Fine. So after dealing with the piercing noise for, again, if I’m telling the truth here, several months, I finally called PG&E. I knew it would take them *forever* to fit me in, but whatever.

I told them that my carbon monoxide alarm kept going off and could I get an appointment for someone to come out check.

Anticipating at least 30 days before I got an appointment, I was surprised when, instead, the call dispatcher said, “someone will be there immediately” and further, “open all the doors and windows until someone arrives.”

Uh. Ok. Much ado about nothing, right? But at least I’d get quick attention.

Good for their word, a guy showed up within about ten minutes.

He took a reading in the center of the room and said, “I’m going to cap off your gas, you have fatal levels of carbon monoxide in here.”

Well blow me over.

Turns out there was a center tube of metal inside the heater that had slid down when the house settled or from age, and it left a crack about an inch wide that was venting the heater right into my apartment.

The next day, I absentmindedly told this story to a friend at work, and she started crying. One of her dearest friends had died from carbon monoxide poisoning. Her life could have been saved with the simple installation of a carbon monoxide alarm, but it was, instead, lost.

When The Good Man moved into our place, I told him this story and said I will never live in a place that does not have a working carbon monoxide alarm.

I refuse.

I was reminded about all of this today when I saw the headline in the local paper say:

Two Bay Area families survive carbon monoxide poisoning

“The mother said the family started feeling sick around midnight…When their symptoms failed to improve in the morning, they headed for the emergency room.”

That woman’s good thinking saved her family, her kids, her own life.

It scares the crap out of me. Apartments are required to have a smoke alarm, but not a carbon monoxide alarm. They even make dual alarms these days, both fire and carbon monoxide. Easy peasy!

So please, anyone who is reading this, don’t hesitate, don’t call it “some remote possibility”. Don’t put it off.

Get thee to a Wal-Mart or a Target or a Home Depot and BUY a carbon monoxide alarm and install it where you will spend most of your time.

Buy two, one for the living room and one for your bedroom. Just do it, okay?

Thanks. Your life matters to me.