My Muse has been busy

Hello, readers!

Just a little note. I have been updating my list of potential story ideas in a document I keep online, and now have upwards of 70. The majority of these are unwritten and unplotted. I plan on working on them as I have time, but honestly, even if I discard some as being a little redundant (there are several themes that pop up in this list) there still are too many for me to write by myself, especially at my current speed, which is extremely slow.

Today I have some responsibilities but once those are taken care of, I hope to spend time on October 6th, a story that’s dear to my heart and which I think is unusual enough that people will find it interesting.

The only solution to slow writing is to prioritize spending time trying to write and getting things written, and as one practices the craft of fiction, it becomes easier and more efficient to write things. I really believe I can get back to my former productivity of decades ago, but I have sustained some psychological damage (and I often wonder if I suffer from complex PTSD and not really bipolar disorder, after all). I have to balance my need to be productive with the requirements of peace and time for self-care so I can heal.

I hope you manage to have a good day and that whatever you are struggling with, you manage to make progress.

Nutbuster and the Helicopter Mom

I wrote this little piece for a friend, for Christmas. They requested a story about squirrels and helicopter moms.

Steve was a man of simple wants. He loved good food, fine wine, and spending time in the park with his squirrel. It was a matter of debate whether or not Steve was in control of the squirrel, or the squirrel was in control of him. Nutbuster wore a small pink sequined cape emblazoned with the letter N, and a tiny pink and white luchador mask when out at the park, fighting crime. Steve usually offered support, as a human a hundred times the size of Nutbuster could, by buying nuts, driving to and from the park, and generally staying out of Nutbuster’s way. At home Nutbuster was content to curl up in her window perch, safe from the dog below, or to sit on Steve’s shoulder reading classics and sampling whatever food he was eating. On occasion Nutbuster took a bath, and Steve was content to hold the blow dryer afterward while Nutbuster chittered show tunes and turned to and fro in front of the hot blowing air. 

The crimes Nutbuster hated most were crimes of poor parenting. Steve was relatively affluent and lived a life free of many wants, and the people Nutbuster and Steve encountered most often were fairly to extremely wealthy. Children were still subjected to poor parenting, though, and Nutbuster found herself attacking examples of overprotective or emotionally neglectful or abusive parents on a regular basis. Steve usually found it useful to carry a copy of the New York Times with him and pretend to read it, following Nutbuster’s antics through a small slit cut in the paper, so he could avoid vituperative parents. Once Nutbuster wreaked vengeance on the unsuspecting humans (and they were unsuspecting, as the only person able to understand Nutbuster was Steve), she would run to Steve and chitter away on his shoulder; he would keep the New York Times up until the other humans left, and that was the basis of many a fine afternoon spent in the park in all seasons. 

Steve did not like being outside much in the winter, but Nutbuster loved it, so Steve dutifully picked up Nutbuster’s travel case and carried her into his large black SUV. They parked at the entrance to a local park that offered skating and snacks in winter. Steve was not much for skating but like many New Yorkers he enjoyed roasted chestnuts and hot chocolate, so he decided he would content himself with these while Nutbuster, in her own way, fought crimes among the parents of the children at the skating rink. 

Nuts in one hand, hot chocolate in the other, Steve nodded toward Nutbuster, a pink and gray blur as she made her way through the crowds of people around the skating rink, listening for evidence of criminal activity. 

Nutbuster found one family, then another. Her superbly sharp senses were activated when she saw two children, much too old to be dressed by their mother, having their coats zipped together. 

“This is so you don’t get separated,” said the bossy, fairly plain-looking woman. She had a greying dark brown bob that was cut too short, so that her ears were visible. Nutbuster chittered irritably to herself. She disapproved of haircuts that reminded her of ones originating from bowls and grandparents with poor vision and do-it-yourself barbering kits. 

The children’s hair looked no better, and Nutbuster watched closely. She pressed a button on the side of her luchador mask and computerized goggles slid down over her face. She chittered instructions to her mask and inside her goggles, green symbols appeared, telling her the names and financial status of the family she was looking at. 

Absent father, Nutbuster read. Lucy McGee, overprotective mother. Germophobic. 

The mother was busy spraying Lysol on the bench she had cleared so that she and her children could use it. Nutbuster coughed. 

She was just about to turn away when Mrs. McGee tugged at the nearest child (Paul, Nutbuster noted) and the other child his coat had been zipped to (Maggie, Nutbuster noted) stumbled and fell. Both children fell face-first into the snow. 

Mrs. McGee grabbed Paul and Maggie, roughly dragged them upright, and started swabbing their faces and hands with Lysol wipes. The running commentary gave Nutbuster new resolve.

“Such clumsy children! You get that from your father. Stop it, Paul. Your hands are not clean, I have to wipe them again. Maggie, stop crying. You wouldn’t have fallen if you weren’t so clumsy. This is your fault. If you can’t stay clean I am going to have to take you home.”

Nutbuster quickly scanned the nearby area. There was a hot dog lying on the ground covered in gooey mustard. Nutbuster grabbed a large globule of mustard, then sprang into action. She grabbed the fabric of Mrs. McGee’s designer pants and clawed her way up, leaving traces of mustard; as Mrs. McGee screamed, Nutbuster sprang at her face and shoved the globule of mustard into Mrs. McGee’s large open mouth. 

Wiping her forepaws and arms in Evelyn’s hair to remove most of the mustard, Nutbuster then sprang toward the children. They cowered, but Nutbuster merely grabbed the zipper that joined them and unzipped the two coats. 

“Be free!” Nutbuster chittered, and made a “come on” motion with her left forepaw. The children followed her. 

Behind them, Mrs. McGee choked and gurgled. She fell backwards into the snow. 

Nutbuster ran slowly so the children could keep sight of her, and made a beeline for Steve. 

Sighing, Steve drained the last of his hot chocolate. 

“Hi, kids,” he said, when Maggie and Paul reached him. 

“Is that your mother?” 

He pointed at Mrs. McGee. There was a crowd gathering around her, and she was quickly obscured from view. 

“Sort of,” said Paul. 

“Can I have some chestnuts?” asked Maggie. 

Steve held out his packet of chestnuts. Maggie took two. 

“Can we play with your squirrel?” asked Paul. 

Steve looked at Nutbuster. 

Nutbuster chittered, and Steve said, “She’d like that. I’ll check on your mother.”

Nutbuster made the “come on” motion again and led Paul and Maggie toward the skate rental area. Steve watched as the kids obtained skates, put them on, and started wobbling around the skating rink. 
Sighing, Steve decided he had waited long enough and decided to go check on the mother. By the time he had reached where she was, he found her in the arms of an EMT, dramatically flourishing and asking for oxygen. 

“You don’t need oxygen, ma’am”, the EMT was saying. He looked pained. 

Mrs. McGee coughed and pretended to faint. The EMT awkwardly tried catch her and she slid to the ground, and screamed. 

“There’s nothing wrong with you, ma’am. I’m here to treat people who actually are in some sort of distress.”

On the ground, Mrs. McGee rolled and groaned. 

Steve wondered if he should mention that her children were safe. He checked over one shoulder- Paul and Maggie were fine, circling the skating rink while Nutbuster jumped from one’s shoulders to the other’s. He decided not to get involved. Let the kids enjoy their afternoon skating, he decided. 

He retreated to his bench with a new cup of hot chocolate and sat and watched the children skating. 

About an hour later, Mrs. McGee remembered her children and rose from her apparent deathbed to look for them. 

Steve whistled a warning, and Nutbuster signaled to the kids that they should get off the ice. She led them to Steve, bowed, and burrowed into Steve’s jacket pocket just in time to avoid being seen by Mrs. McGee, who came barreling down on them.

“What are you doing with my children?” she demanded. 

“Nothing at all, ma’am, these kids were just out skating and came over here, I had nothing to do with it,” said Steve. 

“We thought he was selling nuts,” said Paul, quickly. Maggie nodded.
 
“Come on, we are leaving,” said Mrs. McGee. “Both of you need baths. This park is filthy. The squirrels! I was attacked! I need to see a doctor!” 

She grabbed Maggie and Paul, but each child squirmed away. 

“What are you doing?”

“We can walk on our own.”

After a moment, Mrs. McGee said, “Fine,” and the children turned and waved at Nutbuster, who emerged from Steve’s pocket to gesture flamboyantly at them. 

Steve and Nutbuster watched the McGees leave the park, and Steve looked into his pocket. 

“This is a dry clean only jacket,” he said. “There’s mustard in here.”

Nutbuster chittered at him. 

Steve sighed. 

“As you wish,” he said. “All done for today?”

Nutbuster chittered. 

“All right then, we go home and then a bath for both of us.”

Nutbuster chittered. 

“Fine, you first,” said Steve, and the superhero squirrel and her human sidekick left the park.

Different lives

As I contemplate the ideas that my brain tosses out at me, it occurs to me that I have led (or have appeared to have led) a variety of lives. If you think about it, all of us do. How many people lie to others about their background or social status, or the importance of their job, where they got the money for that nice new car?

I don’t feel the need to do that but I have had nagging and fairly convincing ideas that I’ve been subjected to whisper campaigns: I’m this, I’m that, it might be very complimentary, it might be really bad. And then there’s the truth: do I even know the truth of my past, any more? My memories are peppered with interference. I have regained a number of memories from my childhood this week (nice ones, of summer where I enjoyed myself) and it’s made me wonder about how people change over time, and how their images of themselves and their environments change as well. My knowledge of my childhood reality now, looking back, is different than it was when I was a child.

Perceptions other people have of me might vary depending on what they’ve heard. Did this or that whispering paint me in one light, a false light, and has that inadvertently shaped my life? If asked, what might people say about me- I’m actually very interested in that.

Some time ago I wrote a “Hamlet’s play” post titled Mrs. Dempster. This is a character in a book, Fifth Business. I read it in grade nine. I actually have not acquired a copy to reread it, because I actually am a little afraid of what I might find. If you look at my post, I actually am worried that my stalker, who I am convinced exists and is actually stalking me off and on again, has used this book as the inspiration to portray me in a certain light, and force me to become one or many of the characters in the book.

I don’t want to go into all the details. I have reason to believe that this book was chosen based on an offhand comment I made, and I believe that I have been subjected to trauma-inducing situations based on ones from this book. I also believe that stones figure prominently in some of the attacks on not necessarily me (though I did wake up once with a stone in my mouth) but others. I have a memory of an attack by someone that I almost witnessed in Riverside, on the UCR campus. I saw a man go down some stairs after I had yelled at him to leave me alone. A woman approached me and pointed to a half cinder block and asked me to hand it to her.

“This is a stone,” she said, hefting it, and vanished down the stairs, behind the hedge lining the staircase. I went to my car, turned around as I had forgotten something, and found, at the bottom of the stairs, a man facedown in a pool of blood, the half cinder block nearby. I called 911. Other people came and did the same. I hope the man was okay. I was told to leave the scene by a woman that said she was a police officer, but I realize now that was probably unlikely.

So how many other times did mysterious women I can’t ever identify show up in my life- actresses, perhaps- and how many times were stones left at crime scenes?

I have been told I don’t have a stalker, it can’t be the person I think it is- and yes, I agree, on the surface it seems unlikely. But I met this person first in 1995 (or that is my first memory of meeting her), when I had moved away from home and lived in Vancouver, and she was neither wealthy nor famous then. She’s not famous now, honestly. I feel she has popped up in my life now and again- at weddings (I think she crashed a friend’s wedding in Toronto- I was not there), at funerals, I think she has popped up in my social circles or workplaces or at events, always claiming to be someone she isn’t, always painting a distorted, ugly, unrecognizable past for me with all the people she talks to. I think she has placed me in dangerous or ugly situations more than once. And I remember a lot more… a lot more.

See here for some more thoughts on this. I am calling all of these “Hamlet’s play” posts because I have no proof- no photos, no videos, no letters, no gifts, no witnesses I can call on to verify that I’ve met them; I never recognize my stalker and her husband until long after they have left my presence- usually about six months later- and I have never had any direct way to contact either one of them where I understood who they were or their relationship to me. I do not currently have a way to contact them.

So I understand that on the surface, this seems like celebrity stalking, or erotomania. I understand that. All I need is some proof that I have met this person in a non-trivial way, and I am not entirely sure how to go about acquiring that. I’m fairly sure my stalker has already spread stories about how I am stalking her, or her husband. I’m also fairly sure she has lied to people in her circles about how she knows me- and whether we are friends. Thing is, I can’t talk to anyone in her circles. But she can talk to many people in mine, and has, and probably has used a variety of names and personae as well. I don’t know how she has presented herself, how she looked, what names she used, what personae she portrayed. I am fairly sure she did not use her real name. Maybe in the beginning, but not now.

How many lives have I led, if one looks at the gossamer masquerades, the tissues of lies spread about me, by this person or others? How many versions of me exist, living in the hearts and minds of people I have met, or who have listened to stories of me from my stalker?

I plan on turning this concept into some kind of art someday- probably a short story. But I for one am waiting for some opening, some way to reach a wide audience (this blog does not, I have no illusions on that), some way to find out definitively, for certain, if my stalker has indeed been telling lies about me, what those lies are, and why she chose to do this. I can guess for how long it has gone on.

I hope very much that you all can find rest and peace tonight, wherever you are and whatever you are doing.

Update: I had some terrible dreams last night, but out of them I’m writing a story- once I get the ideas mostly down.

A Toast to Difficult Journeys

Dear readers- I’m not even sure how many of you there are as subscribers, but I want you to know I value all of you very much.

I’ve had a difficult month or so, and I’ve been focusing on important paperwork as well as self-care, now that my work for my science lab is done with (as far as I know). I did mean last weekend to work on a podcast for my series, this one about clinical trials. I just became overwhelmed with what felt a lot like traumatic memory and instead of shoving these aside to focus on something else, I decided to sit quietly with this information, and just listen to what sorts of ideas or memories would come surfacing.

I’ve gotten a lot of information. A LOT. And it was very useful. I have a ton of ideas all layered like an onion, and I can’t really give away the basic premise but it’s just brilliant and now I have a season finale for my possible series October 6th. I had one but this one might be better. I am just brimming with ideas for new slants to stories.

I also have come to terms with some personal growth, and I for one feel very much like the exercises I went through (focusing on what my psyche was trying to tell me, sitting quietly with my thoughts many times, and just paying attention to clues from my subconscious- images, impressions, phrases, just instead of imprinting meaning on them, trying on a variety of meanings and then letting them percolate; and also, musing over what seemed to me to be an ever-evolving storyline about my past and my family) were useful. I have realized a few things about my family, and my place in it.

I also have realized a few things about some of the cruelty I endured as a child, both real cruelty and other forms that seem unreal and occurred later in my life, but are not out of the realms of possibility. I have realized that there was always an unspoken message in much of it, an assumption of knowledge on my part about certain events that I lacked.

I’m making inquiries about that. I feel very much like the process of sitting with and listening to my thoughts, particularly the more traumatic ones, and following chains of thought and then analyzing logically what they may mean in terms of real world events, has paid off.

In the meantime, for fiction, I’ve been inspired by some of the writing advice of Stephen King, and also writing advice from Chuck Wendig. Both these guys have a lot of great things to say about the process of writing, and in particular, one major idea: get your butt in the chair and write. Just do it, write. Stop procrastinating.

I’ve got a lot of writing ahead of me. My stories will not write themselves. And I now have a new slant on an entry into what I am calling the Diamond Series, a set of quasi-autobiographical stories loosely based on my life, and it’s a doozy. Title TBA. I am tempted to call this one The Child from Omelas, an homage to Ursula LeGuin.