Tag: novel revisions

Unicorns

Unicorns

16 July 2017

Unicorns are mythical creatures.  They are majestic, full of strength, and have magical powers.  Even in legends, they were rare.

Over two years ago, I was on a mega cruise ship.  In search of my (then) husband and his friend, I entered the cigar lounge where they were playing Magic and backgammon.  I was introduced to two other men, and one said, “You do exist!  You are a unicorn.”  Then we began talking about football.  They were told I taught my husband the game of football; I did, but they were having a hard time believing it.  They heard I would always let him smoke cigars.  What they didn’t know was that I was always encouraging him to spend time with “the guys.”  I didn’t need to go on every single camping/hiking trip, because a) it was time alone, b) it was good male bonding time for him, and c) I didn’t need to be by his side 24/7/365, as it was the case far too often.  Don’t get me wrong.  I loved my husband-then-, but I have always been independent.  I always cherished the times we spent together, and once I began pursuing another degree, I would block in time on our shared calendar every night to let him know that spending the last few hours of the day with him was important (apparently it wasn’t enough for him though).  These men found it hard to believe such a woman existed…until they met me.

So, the unicorn label stuck.  There are many things about me that come up in discussions that becomes hard to explain the why.  Unicorn.  More recently, after a conversation involving movies from video games, I was told, “You are a legend, Ms. Hellinger.”

In some ways, we are all unicorns because we are so unique.  Some have special powers that makes them extra rare.

I am in my favorite spot.  The patio.  I am soaking in the solitude of a Sunday morning.  Well, afternoon.  And writing with my mega Mickey Mouse coffee mug full of the brown addicting liquid that helps motivate me every day.  I have spent another week on a self-discovery tour, and learned many things.

I was on a quick getaway to the West Coast, and to spend more time at Disneyland.  From this short trip, I learned that I was in the right place, but at the wrong time.  I am still in a wrong time.  I have not healed yet.

I am not vulnerable, but I do not want to let my situation define me.  I addressed this with my therapist (yes, I am not ashamed to say I am in therapy, nor am I ashamed to say I am still depressed).  It took me three months to be strong enough to say I was not going to let someone treat me disrespectfully and maliciously.  Taking a stand the way I did was how I gave myself permission to say I may be the victim, but I was not going to let it define me.  I couldn’t.  I’m stronger than that.

I do want things.  I do need things, but these needs and wants aren’t black and white, and I am still searching for an expression.  I want to be happy, and I am.  I need to be in a better job, where I’m paid what I’m worth and using my degrees.  I’ll get there.  I have a temporary plan.  Nothing is permanent, nor is it etched in stone at this point in my life.  My career is this ─writing─ and I can write anywhere in the world, as I have proven time and time again.  However, the reality is that I need a job to pay the bills, but I no longer have to search for a job to make it a career.  Those days are gone, and something I never had to begin with because I was stuck for far too many reasons.  I was being suffocated and drowned.

Suppressed and oppressed.  The perpetual thumb pressing down hard, on me, holding me underwater, nearly drowning me; only releasing pressure to let me resurface to catch my breath before being pressed back under water again.  This is no way to live.  This is not how people should treat each other.  This is not how a man should treat a woman, and vice-versa.  This is not how a husband and wife should live.  This is not a marriage; this is a prison.

It is said the tears of a unicorn has healing powers.  If this is true, then the tears that rushed, like the power behind any massive waterfall (Niagara and Horseshoe Falls comes to mind), on June 2 swept away anything remaining, only leaving room for healing to begin.  It’s going to be a long road though.

I have spent time traveling over the last 36 days.  It has been a liberating feeling, and interesting adventures have been occurring along the way.  Will I write about them?  Some.  Not all.  Some might end up in a poem, or my next novel, the next work in progress.  Some will remain a secret.  Regardless, I know there are more adventures along the way because my eyes are open.

I have also gone out a few times this week.  Girls night out on Thursday that turned into another drink at the bar right after we were done with dinner (and the restaurant was closing down).  Meeting friends out Saturday night.  It was weird.  Very weird.  I don’t know if it’s because of where I am, and people are starting to see me out more, or if it’s because I am beginning to feel like I don’t belong here (another post, in the new chapter).  Some of my dearest friends are here though, and I still need their support.  I try not to refuse any invitations to any quick weekend getaways.  I am returning to golf more.  I still meet for coffee, tea, lunch, dinner, drinks (wine/beer/bourbon), bbq’s, and other events.  I have other friends who look forward to me joining them in Abq.  I am going to the movies more often.  I am still working out and walking Duke every night.

I am waiting for the grass to dry after torrential downpours on Thursday and Saturday.  The lawn needs to be mowed. I almost bought a weed eater and chainsaw today; I wonder what my friends would think of me not only owning, but using, these power tools…  I need to do some house cleaning.  Yet, I chose to sit outside to write.  I am building new dreams as I write.  My moments of restlessness are a result of six months sitting still; not going anywhere, not doing much but the right thing to get to where I needed to be: this here and now.  However, this restlessness is also a sign that I need to move, get up and do something; go someplace.  Most of the time, it’s my way of wanting to escape again.  Of course, I would go back to Disneyland in a heartbeat, but I need to be in other places.  Interact, mingle, do something alone, do something with friends; meet new people. Explore.  Even Duke gets restless. He seems restless even now, torn between the cool shade, letting the sun warm him on the patio, burrowing into the tall green grass I still need to mow, or going back inside where it’s cool, but it’s not where I am.  He still follows me around the house as I move from room to room.

I have a summer reading list.  Football season is drawing closer, and I have BIG plans for this season.  Cannot wait.  I’m traveling.  Job hunting.  Socializing.  Networking.  I need to remind myself daily that I am still healing, but I want to have fun along the way. (Fun also means being safe.)  The final chapter is getting closer now.  I’m still waiting for my diploma.

I officially return to work on Monday.  Something I’m not really looking forward to, but it’s a job that I can leave when I choose to leave.  There is a bitterness that exists: staff isn’t treated well.  I’ve been treated very poorly during this tumultuous time in my life. I am still in a transition phase. I will be addressing various issues in the future.

I bought an Echo and Dot on Prime Day, in hopes it will help negate the absence of white noise that is still bothersome.  It’s not bad on the weekends because I’m home most of the time.  I have been leaving my iPad on, shuffling through all of the music, thinking that the music helps Duke, too.  We both went from busy noise, to a dull noise, to no noise in a short amount of time.

It’s July 16.  I have 25,000 more words to write by July 31 during Camp NaNoWriMo. I am surrounded by a large group of writers.  I stay in touch with my peers from SNHU, and we continue to support each other.  It’s a great circle to be part of.

Is Natalie a unicorn?  No, but she works very hard to be the successful woman that she is.  There is a backstory I’m writing.  I am also working on explanations after Natalie saves Chad because it does alter a few things, but not drastically.  Nick became Adam during my thesis revisions, and he’s still an asshole.  We learn a little more about Adam with this backstory because there wasn’t enough of his character in what I originally wrote.

I am still Wonder Woman, which is a likeness to a unicorn. With the exception of the house cleaning, I multi-task far too often.  I did scale back significantly this year, and will slowly rebuild.  Inner strength is sheer beauty.  And, since I am procrastinating house cleaning and yard work, I am switching over to write another 3-4,000 words (or more) for the day.  Writing, and being out on the patio.  Simple bliss for a Sunday.

 

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Empowerment

Empowerment

2 June 2017

It’s evening here. I have put on a sweater, and sitting outside (no fire) writing this.  The patio has become my favorite writing place.  Duke sits close by wondering what I’m doing outside, while watching for the ever-elusive bunny to invade our lawn again.  The bunny was just mere steps away from the front door yesterday morning and tonight when I finally got home.  His reaction to bunnies is that of the dogs in “The Life of Pets” as they are easily distracted when they see a squirrel.  Hilarious movie.

Several thoughts flit around my head, along with a gazillion topics to create new blog threads.   I remind myself to stay focused.

I was originally going to write about being fragile.  I had a small issue at the concession stand at the movie theatre.  I only wanted to grab a small snack and the smallest Diet Coke (no ice) they could give me, and watch the movie.  Emotions ran high, but I maintained my cool as I was humiliated in front of lines of people. What I was asking for was something simple.  What I got was disrespect as a customer.  I took my money back.  I was late for the previews (I love previews!) and found a seat.  Tears streamed down my face, and I was surrounded by strangers, unable to escape.  I pulled my sunglasses down as I silently cried. Sometimes some of the easiest things will ignite a fire of emotions for a woman in the middle of a divorce.  Especially for a woman who has been through hell and back, having an affair flaunted in front of her for six months, and I think it goes all the way back to Lausanne, Switzerland, before Thanksgiving now.  I resumed normal viewing, without my sunglasses, when I composed myself. Towards the end of the movie, I heard women around my crying, but my tears had run dry…for a bit.  (I swear, Kleenex and Puffs should have had me as their spokeswoman this year!)

I saw “Wonder Woman” today-opening day.  When I wrote my post about her, and superheroes, a few weeks ago I honestly didn’t know there was a movie!  I have been so out of the loop: I don’t know what’s going on in the world; I don’t know what’s going on in the state; I barely know what my friends and family are up to.  I have been in a shell, perhaps to protect myself, but to also keep my focus on me and my studies.  I have spent too many days these past two weeks hiding in the dark.  This morning was no exception.  I didn’t open the blinds, but they’re not room darkening, so Duke had some light; just not as much as I would like.  Poor little guy.

Wonder Woman.  Ever since I was very young I’ve identified with her.  Now I know why.  The cinematic rendering, along with the actress playing a very strong female role, demonstrated traits that I possess.  I question my strength.  Where did it come from?  How did I become so resilient?  Diana, Princess of Themyscira, was born with a power. I have used her bracers to deflect gaslighting.  I have used her shield to protect against waves of blame, agendas, words that were spoken to pierce through the skin.  I have been fighting a battle that some women could never begin. I am the voice that many wish they had. I continue to fight battles nobody sees, or realizes what I am going through. So many battles fought alone, and could only be done alone.  So many battles I dare not speak of.  So many battles and I’ve had to choose which ones to fight.

In the movie, Diana’s mother tells her, “the world of men don’t deserve you.”  This particular line resonated with me. It still runs through my head.  I know why.  I think I’ll keep it there for a while.

I knew Wonder Woman as Lynda Carter, and I watched the tv show.  Gal Gadot is only the second WW I’ve known, as I didn’t know there were others.  I’m looking forward to seeing her in “Justice League” and, hopefully, a sequel to her own movie.  I even bought the soundtrack, something I generally don’t do, and have it playing as I type.

This movie was an inspiration to women of all ages.  The special effects were really neat, but, as a writer and a fan of the character, I was looking beyond.  What she discovers in the end is what I’ve lost.  However, the resilience to keep pushing forward, to never give up, and do what you must are strong character traits that is part of my character make-up.

I don’t know how I’ve survived, or gotten this far, or how I even got here, but my therapist, attorney, friends and family tell me it’s because of a very powerful strength I possess.  I identify with Wonder Woman.  I know somewhere, out there, there is at least one other person who identifies with her, too, or wants/hopes to be as strong as I am.  Just as little Diana watched her aunt, and all the other Amazons, in training, aspiring to their level, I know there’s a certain niece out there who is astounded by all that I do, and aspiring to her own level.  If Wonder Woman was such/is a role model for me, I can be that same role model for my niece.  I can push beyond the disloyalty that is not a marriage, say “NO MORE” by taking a stand and voice for someone who has a hard time trying to find her (or his) own voice.

Those damn lemons are still waiting to be mixed; the boundaries keep growing bigger and longer.  All of my previous posts seem to be coming together, intertwined, as I look at finalizing week 9.  Thesis revisions.  Empowerment is also a theme in the novel I am writing.

I left the theatre feeling empowered.  Something I needed.  What I discovered, once I reached my vehicle after the movie, is for another thread…

 

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Memorial Day: On the Patio Because of Our Military

Memorial Day: On the Patio Because of Our Military

29 May 2017

Today is Memorial Day.  My family and friends have served in the military.  Some have been lost in combat.  For all those lost, we continue to remember their service to our country on this day.  We adorn their graves to help remember and honor.  We decorate our loved ones graves because plants and flowers begin to grow (and survive, as it stands in my NY hometown).

And THANK YOU to those who continue to serve.

During my travels, I see military personnel in airports a lot.  If they’re not pre-occupied, I will step out of the way, trail off from my path for a moment, to thank them for their service. I don’t do this for me, and I have arrived late at my gate when I stop for a few seconds, but the plane is still loading; I do not care.  I do this because they deserve recognition.  They deserve a standing ovation.  It’s respectful, and an act of good citizenship.  I appreciate what they’re doing for our country.

Because of them, we feel safe flying around the globe, driving across state borders, going to concerts, football games, and more.

Because of them, I can sit on my patio in the mornings with a mimosa.  I can sit on my patio in the afternoons with a glass of bourbon, strong-add ice; write, study, and feel safe in my home and backyard. I can sit on my patio in the evening with a steak- overcooked- potatoes not grilled up correctly, but, yet, I have my glass of wine…as I continue to write: this blog, tweet, revise my thesis, finish reading a novel, compile my poetry book, and have the freedom to take Duke for a walk any time I want.

THANK YOU AGAIN!

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I feel it’s important to remember those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. I feel it’s equally important to take one minute out of our lives (again, we have our freedom) to thank those who continue to serve. As a civilian, I may not understand what they go through, especially when called for duty, but to stand up and volunteer to keep the U.S. safe and protected is a massive burden to carry…while being an honor.

Which leads into a different type of discussion because my literature class this term has been focused on 20th Century American Literature.  It was not what I expected.  We have been examining how literature, from poetry to fiction, has changed since WWI.  Add in WWII, the Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Movement, the Beats Generation, and (now) Post 9/11.  That’s a ton of information to consume and filter…especially as I am waging my own personal war; some of this shit gets too heavy for me.  And I do not mean shit in a disrespectful way.  We just finished The Yellow Birds, a novel by Kevin Powers, about the Iraqi war.  Since I just finished a short paper on the unreliable narrator, I won’t go into my soapbox.  What I can say, however, is the books chosen for the course, and the contents contained within, brings forth a new perspective on literature and its evolution over wars and movements.  I was hoping for discussions about Gatsby; perhaps a tie-in from Victorian literature, but that was not the case.  Instead, I battened down the hatches (here goes the clichés), braced myself, and rode the torrential waves and storms that came at me for the past 8 weeks.

Yeah.  This is week 9.  This is the official thesis revision week. Something happened at 12:15am, the turned into paper writing a 2am, and giving up by 2:30am (I think).

I began Memorial Day with an 8am hour-long conference/Skype call, but it was okay because it was with new and old friends.  Any friends that enter my life these days are warmly welcomed.  We had a good discussion, and ended with laughter.  Although, I am curious to know how intimidated a male colleague, from another country, with zero understanding about American football felt as two women drove their own narrative about the game, fantasy football, the players we like, the teams we follow, and plans to attend an NFL game together…

Shall I put that into perspective for you again?

Females conversing about all aspects of the NFL.  Male from another country with zero knowledge-asking for a short version about the purpose of the game, etc. (perhaps something less than the Cliff Notes version).  Females talking about their favorite teams.  Male caught in between two females being enthusiastic about the NFL.  Male just shakes his head.

😊 This may be a long 5 months for him as we continue discussions leading up to a conference, and I begin to take over conversations at our committee meetings specifically involving football.  Yep, just counting the days until the NFL season returns!

I have spent many, many mornings on the patio.  Drinking coffee and writing in the morning.  Writing in the afternoons.  Reading mid-afternoons.  Drinking wine and writing in the evenings.  Reading/writing into the late evenings.  Simply enjoying the crap out of a home that consumed my inheritance.

I have returned to work, but it is now short-lived.  I will be taking a leave of absence again (my friend calls it a sabbatical! hah), through June.  However, because I am still waiting for the perfect lemonade cocktail to be whipped up, I am looking at longer.  For the first time in my life, I am only focused on taking care of myself; re-discovering who I am, who has been hiding behind glass walls, and who wants to break out. I may not necessarily have to decide on a set career at this point in my life, because I want to be the next mega-author, but I need a job that will help pay the bills, cover insurance, ensure extra biscuits, treats, and pay annual medical bills for Duke, and…make me happy.

This is my time, my year, my focus to get myself back into rebuilding a new system, and I dare anyone who wants to try to stop me!

We are free because our military protects us, keeps us safe.  The next time you see someone in a uniform, take a few seconds out of your schedule, even as you are rushing to your next gate, to stop and thank them.  Treat them to a cup of coffee if they’re behind you in the drive-thru of a coffee shop.  A random act of kindness goes a long way, and we can sure use a lot of kindness these days.  Lastly, keep remembering those who died sacrificing themselves for us to live in a world we have today.

Duke thanks our military, too!