Order of the Good Write

That Magic Feeling When the Words Flow. A Blog by Debi Rotmil

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Going Deep

My father and my cousin Michele. The Cloisters, 1961.

My father and my cousin Michele. The Cloisters, 1961.

What memories are you carrying inside your mind that can’t be captured by a photograph?

The way you felt when you kissed someone for the first time.

The memory of the day you first experienced the death of a loved one.

Your first day of school and how the butterflies danced inside as you broke in your fresh new pair of back to school jeans.

The sweet ache of a fall day in the rain when you were in love with a boy or girl, and the romantic daydreams that held you.

The time you visited the Cloisters in upper Manhattan with your nieces and your youngest niece needed a hug because she was sad her parents were divorcing.

We live on this earth such a brief time. When we die, and when the ones who come behind us go – all those memories, feelings, images, love, and romance – or just the boring dripping time of everyday life that unfolded and passed – go with you.

The moments that grabbed your heart in a way that made you feel heaven – will all go away.

Hudson Hotel, NYC May 2014

Hudson Hotel, NYC May 2014

There will be pictures left behind, videos and albums. But will there be words? Will words express the coffee you had in that dreamy cafe in London? Will those pictures breathe true life into how you were feeling when you took that selfie on the EuroStar to Paris? Or what happened on that camp trip in Arizona? Your iPhone captured the hilarity of catching your partner behind a tree with his pants down to his ankles – but what happened afterwards? What was the laughter or anger like?

Do you want to remember? Yes? Of course! Don’t let the content of the mind’s memory bank fade away.

No? Why? Was the pain of a memory so bad, the intensity placed a wall, blocked it forever? Okay. Perhaps we should forget the bad memories and the sticky stuff of life. However,  painting a faint stroke of the bad makes us explore the good. It  makes us realize the person we’ve become today.

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Citifield. Memorial Day Weekend. May 2014.

Photos are beautiful. As a visual person by nature, I’ve marveled at the power of a photo as it delves into the spiritual aspect of a moment, the stillness in time,  the thrust of a muscle on hold, the grin and laughter frozen in a millionth of a second.

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Baxter and Batman, Los Angeles 2014.

A photo can express words and thought with just a click. The churning feelings behind the images we will leave behind in digital folders and clouds on the internet universe are there forever, and will remain so until after we are gone.

Indeed, a picture can tell a whole story, but the words a human being writes expressing the moments before and after the “click” can provide the screenplay to the entire film. The question will always remain: what happened after you took that picture? What memories are you carrying that can’t be captured by a photograph – memories that will disappear the day you leave this earth?

Tell your story. Write your words.



The Miracle of Blogging: ‘Looking for Mr. Weiss’ Reprise

pianoserviceIn November of 2014, I wrote a blog piece about my childhood piano teacher entitled “Looking for Mr. Weiss”.

Mr. Weiss fell out of my life when I graduated high school back in the 80’s, only to return a few years after my college years when my father mentioned he had run into him in an auto body shop in the town next to ours. It seemed sad that he’d put his music aside for something that could possibly ruin the very hands he used to create beautiful  music, but it seems he was quite an enterprising and open minded human to transition to a new vocation.

It inspired me so much, I began writing some outlines for a book inspired by him (not about him) – a fictional tale about a memorable piano teacher, with a flair for listening and showing children how to understand the beauty of music rather than just learn how to play scales. It was going to be a mysterious, twisty and strange story about a renown concert pianist who settled into a suburban life and then suddenly disappeared off the face of the earth, until a former student of his- a journalist, decided to look for him. I’ve since put the project aside since I’m spending more time writing about writing and building up a coaching/writers website. But I do return to the work from time to time, keeping the fires stoked so I can accomplish another publishing goal. But something has caused me to re-think the whole project.

Last night, I was absolutely stunned to find out that his daughter, whom I remember as a very small child when I used to visit her father’s studio every week, has been trying to get in contact with me via email. Messages went by, and I never saw them, and if I did, I wasn’t aware of what they were.

While working on Facebook last night, gearing up for this wonderful program I’m involved in called B-School, I saw a pop up message flash by. It was his daughter, telling me she was trying to get in touch via aboutme.com – which is the widget I use for my bio on this very page. I don’t know how to use it, and never expect to receive messages, so I suppose I saw her emails but didn’t realize what I was receiving, nor from whom.

Yet, there it was in my gmail – the link to her string of beautiful remembrances of her father, Mr. Allen Weiss.

The cosmic thing is – she found my blog post about her father late one night when she couldn’t sleep because she was thinking of her dad – who did indeed passed away a few years ago. She went online to do a Google search and found my post.

And now I’m blown away. I’ve written back, absolutely devastated that I hadn’t known about these lovely messages. Hopefully, we can connect.

Maybe the real Mr. Weiss’ story really needs to be told?  Not a fantasized, fictional tale, but a true documentation of a gifted man who may have felt his best musical effort wasn’t good enough.  A musician who tried to find a passion beyond the keyboard. A man who may have departed this world with the music still inside him.

Perhaps I can find a way to honor this person who touched the lives of so many musically gifted and creatively inclined young humans who may have moved on to create music of their own. Mr. Weiss may have been the stone in the pond causing a ripple effect, positively changing the lives of the children of the children he taught. If he’d only known that he is so fondly remembered. How awesome to tell the world he existed? Something that would do his family proud? That would be an amazing feat.

I’ve found Mr. Weiss, but maybe my search has only just begun.

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A Little Inspiration From an Innovator

jobsStve“I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”  Steve Jobs

To quote another creative do-er, Richard Thompson – “It’s time to ring some changes.”

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A Beatle Thing – Happy Birthday George Harrison

   Beatle GeorgeWatch out now, take care
Beware of falling swingers
Dropping all around you
The pain that often mingles
In your fingertips, beware of darkness

Watch out now, take care
Beware of the thoughts that linger
Winding up inside your head
The hopelessness around you
In the dead of night

Beware of sadness
It can hit you, it can hurt you
Make you sore and what is more
That is not what you are here for

Watch out now, take care
Beware of soft shoe shufflers
Dancing down the sidewalks
As each unconscious sufferer
Wanders aimlessly, beware of Maya

Watch out now, take care
Beware of greedy leaders
They take you where you should not go
While weeping Atlas cedars
They just want to grow, grow and grow
Beware of darkness

“Beware of Darkness” words and music by George Harrison

atmpstandaloneumbHare Krishna, Hare Krishna, hare hare

Hare Rama, Hare Rama, rama rama

Hare hare….

Happy Birthday George Harrison, who would have been 72 earthly years today.

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Off-Day Writing for the Writer Who Writes

The-Beatles-1963-the-beatles-31890892-1600-1022I’m starting this wonderful program called B-School. It’s part of business school created by business coach Marie Forleo for self starting business people who want to make a difference in this world while delving into the world of entrepreneurship.  Yes, Orderlies, I’m starting my way, gathering the building blocks toward a writing coach business that I will morph into an interactive online world for writers to come and gain inspiration. Whether it be the student, the mother, the business person, the corporation – I’ll be unfolding this within the next year. I’m very excited. Although I’m grateful for the job I have now, it’s time to shed the corporate world and start moving away from the work force as I’ve known it. It’s not easy. It’s going to be a major challenge. But it will be done.

Yet, the thing about all this is – I’m finding it hard to write!  Yikes! The writer/writing coach who love to write is so busy, she can’t find the time to write the content she so wants to provide to the universe of writers!  But – it will get there. It will!  Despite not getting the work done today – it will get done. I’m still writing morning pages, business plans, dreams, throughts and connecting with a new community of creative people starting or revving up established businesses. And damn, I’m loving it!

So why do I have the Beatles up there? Well, I bet there were days during the height of Beatle-dom (before fame and growth made them grumpy with each other) when Paul or John were too busy doing something else beside being a Beatle. They may have had to travel for family – or tend to a problem with their mansion somewhere in the English countryside or London.  George woke up on a given morning in 1964, took a look at the girl gazing inside his bedroom window, and the blonde under his bed and thought,  “Yeah…I’m off to the Bahamas.”  There may have been a day that Ringo didn’t feel like playing the drums, or McCartney didn’t have it in him to write ‘Yesterday’ or ‘Eleanor Rigby’. Those songs would be written on another day.

So, we don’t have to focus on a writing project everyday if we can’t get to it. No need to beat yourself up, I convince myself.  ‘Revolver’ wasn’t recorded in a day. ‘Abbey Road’ wasn’t written in a moment. It will all get done – even if you can’t physically open up that document marked “AWESOME NOVEL I’M WRITING” (working title, of course) today.

But I do write morning pages. I show up somehow, even if the writing it just clearing the morning cobwebs.

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Everybody Rise for The Ladies


Photo borrowed from Eonline.

Joan Rivers and Elaine Stritch being omitted from the In Memoriam at last night’s  Oscars was the biggest snub of all.

After a rousing speech by Patricia Arquette about equal pay for women that received such a loud cheer, it aroused Meryl Streep out of her seat as she fist pumped the sky. Yes. Women in the work force should get equal pay.  They also deserve respect. Even if they’ve had to be total hard asses to get there. And yes – they both worked in film – especially Stritch.

Joan Rivers, with her outspoken views and screw you attitude never made friends with the right people. Johnny Carson excluded her from the mainstream of show business because she wanted to do her own show without asking him first. She never appeared on ‘The Tonight Show’ again – even when Jay Leno hosted – which by then – wasn’t even The Tonight Show anymore. It wasn’t until until Jimmy Fallon, the host with the heart, invited her back – breaking this stupid, ridiculous ban once and for all.

Joan passed away at the wrong time. Yes, she was over 80, but she wasn’t finished. Not by a long shot. She had dates arranged, projects to deliver, performances schedule, Fashion Police, Red Carpet kvetching – this woman was the epitome of talent, ambition and vibrancy. Then one day, she went in for some throat nodule surgery, and she’s gone.

Elaine Stritch, on the other hand, was in semi-retirement. Elaine was star of the Broadway stage and in films since the 1940’s, heading to New York to study at the Actor’s Studio while staying in a convent her favorite nun back home in a swanky suburb of Detroit Michigan had recommended.

Watch her famously renown Broadway and West End stage show “Elaine Stritch: Live at Liberty”. She talks about alcoholism, her difficulty getting roles.  She was up for the role of Dorothy Zbornak in ‘The Golden Girls’ but got iced out at the audition when she got snarky with the show runner. One time, she was in a stage performance of “The Women” with Joan Fontaine and Gloria Swanson where her bad behavior moved her fellow actresses to write a letter to the producer asking them to fire her. Only Gloria had her back. When she was about to co-star in Woody Allen’s film “September” – he wrote a letter to her stating that he knew her reputation, and hoped she’d be understanding of the way he does things – or else he would have to ask her to leave the project. She did the film. She also framed the letter.

In recent years, she guest starred on ’30 Rock’ as Jack’s hilariously racist, hard nosed mother Colleen. Off set, Elaine moved into the Carlyle Hotel on the upper east side and set up residency at their cafe where she did cabaret every night, decked out in her signature attire – a giant loose white shirt and black tights with suede low heeled shoes.

In time, she tired of her sixty plus years in New York and went back home to Detroit, where stomach cancer took her life at the age of 89. No one has commended her in end of year tributes.

Both women were as salty and demanding as Frank Sinatra. Both women were as talent ed and charismatic in their field as Milton Beryl (who was apparently horrible to his writers – and reflected in Joan’s Fashion Police WGA dispute a few years ago). Both women misbehaved like Marlon Brando, were cranky like Russell Crowe, Edward Norton and Bruce Willis rolled into one. But in the end, they struggle for perfection, for their talent to be heard. They demanded on sharing their gift – even if the boys club didn’t want it. They weren’t talentless divas. They weren’t difficult because of ego. They were hard because they had to be to survive. And they expected nothing less from those around them. Please,  if they were senselessly awful – I wouldn’t be writing this!  Yet, sadly, in the end, they are the ones Hollywood wants to forget.

So, when we talk about equal pay, lets also bring in respect. Respect for talent. Respect for tenacity. Respect for longevity. No matter what you thought of these ladies – too brash, nasty, ornery – or their gifts weren’t your cup of tea – it doesn’t matter. In their own way, and in many ways equal to their male counterparts, they paved a road with their own special bulldozer, allowing the young women behind them to follow suit.

The ladies left us this year. Everybody rise!

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The Thud of the House

Screenshot 2015-02-21 13.19.39I’ve come down from the tornado. The house has landed with a thud. Silence. Heart stopping nothingness. I’m getting ready to  open to another world, leaving behind blacks and greys to sparkling blues, reds, pinks, yellows, greens. The sky will be endless, the grass will wave in the wind. Black and white will turn to the silver white lining around the cloud that sunk me – sunk me for years. I will fold into a new dimension. Just you wait and see.

Behind the scenes, I’m working on building something in the writing community that will help others find the motivation to create. In order to do this, I’m being coached by some spectacular coaches who are helping me find my corner of Oz – or at least – a vivid world of understanding, confidence and know-how, in order to spread the word.

If you read this blog, and find my motivational writing to be preachy, please know that I’m just getting my feet into the earth. I’m churning out ideas and conjuring up feelings to share to the writer who thinks he/she can’t write. It’s coming along – behind the curtains – where I’m building the switches and levers to design my vision. It won’t be a fake. I won’t be a wizard. But I will be there, fully equipped and ready to help anyone in need of getting their writing on paper. Students, Moms, hobbyist, dreamers.

So, I’ve been spinning in my cyclone, waving at Auntie Emm as she whizzes by on a rocking chair, ducking the floating cows as I enroll in B-School, sit at the feet of marketing gurus, organize my goals and find people who need me to help them write. It’s crazy balls!  I am blissfully overwhelmed. I’m currently in that moment when the house in Oz lands with a thud, and that extreme silence hovers in black and white, waiting to open the front door to a Technicolor world.


Inspiration in the Bleak Mid-Winter: A Whiff of Spring in the Air?

mets spring training

Tradition Field, New York Mets training Camp, Port St. Lucie, FL

Okay east coast and mid-western readers. Don’t kill me.  Backs and muscles all around the country are sore and busted from a long winter of shoveling snow and scrapping windshields, and here I am talking about Spring.

Meanwhile, Spring seems like a distant memory, something that happened before the earth fell into another notch in space, making winters endless. It’s almost like this is your new life now – Winter. Forever. What’s this odd thing called “Spring”?  “Summer”? Didn’t I smoke pot with her at that Phish concert? Not sure I’ve heard of her. Winter is where I live now.

Your fingers are numb. The temps are so fiercely, horribly cold – it’s not even cold anymore. It’s not even bitter or frigid cold. It’s gone from frigid to just…..”PAIN”.  You step outside = Instant pain. Even the NYTimes weather symbol shows a red horrible thermometer to illustrate that this is the weather – “Painful”. It almost looks like an exclamation point, shouting at you. It’s not cloudy or sunny. IT’S PAINFUL outside!!!

There is nothing brisk or fun about it. Your feet hurt from the frost bite. You let your dog outside without even letting your toe meet the door’s threshold, letting him poop on the same growing mound of plowed snow along the road until it hits you how embarrassing it is for your neighbors to see a little Mt. Poop developing near your mailbox. (I speak from experience. I mean – who else can relate?  Only me? I guess the 12 blizzards of 1996 was my downfall in dog owner etiquette.)

So, why do I hint at the concept of spring? This west coast dweller. Me, this Los Angeles sun bunny. Don’t be so sure about that. I left the badness of winter for LA precisely due to this weather. In fact, I’ll probably return east in the next few years to live out the last half of my life preserving myself like Rhoda Morgenstern who proclaimed, “I moved from New York to Minneapolis, where it’s cold…because I figured I’d keep better.” I’m planning on doing the same in verse. I miss New York, despite the bleak winter months.

Yet, ol’ winter weary bloggers (those who love baseball anyway) – cheer up!  This week was the week we’ve been waiting for! Pitchers and Catchers reported to spring training!  Yes! The battery mates of MLB’s green, expensive and vast green fields. The crack of ball against bat. The thud of a pitch against a leather mitt.  The smell of hot dogs and beer. The vision of The Wave making  its way across the stadium by a group of fans one side,  only to end when the other side near Shake Shack is totally OVER IT.

Oh yes. And the hope of a world series. I’m a New York Mets fan. I have no hope for any post season baseball. But –  you never know. The only thing I hope for is the promise of Mets Opening Day, and baseball to be had every night on my Apple TV.  Not to mention – a hopeful visit this summer to Citifield in Flushing, where I can smell it all in.

Which reminds me. I better get my MLB subscription going!

Happy Friday!

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Let It Be: Redux

As a big time Beatles fan, I applaud this terrific blog post. Great song selections from a fellow fan.

Bob Dylan Wrote Propaganda Songs

let-it-be-album-cover copy

Author’s Note: In the Oscar nominated film Boyhood, Mason Senior, played by Ethan Hawke, gives his son a mix CD entitled The Black Album. On it, he explains, is a mix of all the best songs recorded by Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr in the decades that followed the band’s break-up. Hearing this explanation frustrated me because for over a year I’ve been planning to create a similar list (although much more specific), and I realized that my idea wasn’t quite as original as I had once thought. I decided I’d better write this post before Boyhood takes the “Best Film” award this weekend and everyone and their mother goes and sees the film.

Let’s make something clear form the outset – Let It Be is not a classic album. Heck, it’s not even a great album. Songs like “Across the Universe,” “Get Back,”…

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A Little Patch of Heaven

Beechwood Canyon, Los Angeles, CA.

Beechwood Canyon, Los Angeles, CA.

Yesterday’s holiday gave me pause. Off the merry go round of everyday routine, I  took the hound and headed for the hiking trails of Beechwood Canyon. It’s our usual familiar stomping ground. Part of the expanse of Griffith Park, its trails snake up the steep slopes of the Hollywood Hills that reach close to the Hollywood sign. You often run into tourists asking how they can get to the sign. It’s unclear what people expect when they get here. Various photographs rife with photo shop imagery  allowed the world to believe the Hollywood sign is a place were you can go and have brunch under the “L”, or lean against the “W” while looking out at the LA vista stretching toward the sparking ocean on the horizon.  When I come upon these hopeful travelers longing to be near this famous iconic landmark, I have to break the news. You really can’t get to the sign unless you are met head on with angry locals who want you to stop clogging their streets with your car rentals.

Hollywood has molded the image of itself and its very essence is in the letters of that iconic sign. I can see it from my street. It’s the new Empire State Building in my makeshift Los Angeles world. When one comes here, they believe touching the Hollywood sign is like touching fame and fortune. Yet, fame comes at a cost. Whether you sell your soul to live by the Hollywood dream, or whether your car veered off a sharp turn and tumbled into a ravine – it comes at a cost.

While on our hike, we continued up our trail, now filled with chatty hikers and skateboarders heading for the concrete hills where they congregate, I saw a big dip in the ground, likely the hard worn pathway of a dried up stream. It was steep, dug in rocky and dangerous gaps between the trail and this lush beautiful area across the way. The green hill was filled with peace and quiet, with a yellow butterfly dancing from blade of grass to tree branch. It looked like heaven.

The big dip was a bit perilous, yet as we moved along, it took different heights. When I found a part of the dip that seemed okay to walk down and over – we crossed over to this quiet patch of thick, naturally growing grass. It was pristine.  Well almost. There were lonely sprawls of beaten walkways worn down to dirt, snaking up into the dark shadows of incline that went to nowhere. They were remnants of footsteps lead by hikers who “took the road less traveled.” The grass itself had been trodden into flat walkways leading up hill to a few boulders, marked with graffiti on their surface, flat enough to sit on. They were likely used for nighttime bullshit by some really crappy graffiti artists. (As opposed to good graffiti artists.)

We made our way up this grassy hill to a zen like garden of small trees. And there we sat. Away from the fray. Situated in a lush zen. Baxter was munching long strands of grass as if he were a cow. Me, feeling like I found a little piece of something I left behind before I came into this world.

Going off the beaten path, separating yourself from the chatty fray of hikers – you take the chance on a greener patch of grass. And you do find a bit of heaven.