Order of the Good Write

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


Shouting to the Void: The Matter of Blogging

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Photo By Caleb Morris. http://caleb-morris.com/

If a blog is on the internet, does it exist if no one reads it?

I’ll answer this now.


We, as bloggers and writers who are not frequently read, exist. We work on thoughts, ideas and distill concepts into digital reading despite not being seen. So there.

The blogosphere is a flea market of ideas, a Bazaar filled with barkers promoting thoughts and business. A blog exists if people know about it. If a blog is not on the minds or interest of wandering readers, then in essence – it doesn’t exist despite its existence.

The web is also a virtual city filled with thriving sites where people park their browsers in front of bright, shiny buildings like NYTimes.com, Reddit, YouTube, Gawker, Vulture –  sites and blogs alive with fertile content, updated visions and passionate comments.

But on the route to a destination, we navigate along sites left abandoned on the side of the road, rusting in the darkness of no clicks or views, flashing old HTLM code, “404 File Not Found” signs, or final notes from webmasters dated 2002 or 2004 that say, “I’m not able to keep up with TonySopranoIsAPsycho.com because my personal life is so busy”.

Blogs by the writers,  artists, and people is the digital megaphone used to shout into the void, hoping someone will hear them through the white noise of online society.  We write hoping that someone out there will listen. Someone out there will share our feelings, and share our link to others so our voices will grow louder and louder with each click.

And in doing so, we pay it forward by doing the same for other writers out there – who feel just as useless as I do right now – shouting into the hum of internet clicks and chitter chatter of commentary boards filled with trolls who have nothing in their lives but a keyboard and anonymity.

The pretty girls who need to know they exist by posting constant selfies of themselves in their bathroom mirror, their lips purse like a sucking fish, gasping for air.

Or the pediatric nurse who doesn’t get any attention at home, flooding her Facebook account with selfies to show her former classmates from 30 years ago how young she still looks.  She wants to matter, yet is clueless from knowing that everyday she goes to work and holds a newborn child – she matters more than the entire internet.

Does a blog exist if it’s not read?  Yes. It matters to us – the writer, the blogger. We write into the void hoping a browser, like a digital vehicle, will stop by and connect with our words. Someone out there will find us within this web of satellite connection, wireless networks, and various WW3 links verified into the electronic universe.

Writers and bloggers found the electronic soap box to stand upon and shout to world, “I matter!”

Yet, in the end, despite all the mutter and white noise of voices and written words, we are alone – writing into a vast nothingness, hoping for more than just one person to go – “I understand.”

Happy Sunday.


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“What Will Your Verse Be?”

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O Me! O Life!

By Walt Whitman

Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.
Source: Leaves of Grass (1892)

I’ve been taking some down time lately. It’s been super busy at the day job, and a trip to New York to rejuvenate my creative flow has left me feeling wistful for home (NY) and slightly jet lagged; yet, I’m happy to have this moment, this early summer Friday where my little vacation continues in my apartment in Los Angeles as I plot the future, make goals, and wait for Mercury to stop being in retrograde. Apparently, it’s the cause of many creative people feeling stuck and drawn lately.
Hands up if that’s what you’re feeling.

Hands down if you think it’s just an excuse for resistance.
I don’t. I think if we know resistance, and play with it, we can live nicely with extraneous forces that pull our minds away from getting down to business.

This universe is made of mass and energy. We are part of the bang, the energy flow that comes and goes with the tide forced by the moon’s pull. What planets design our emotion allows us to only speculate, but it’s worth knowing that we are in the middle of a force, an open plane we cannot understand. So if a planet performing a retrograde dance is halting our feelings and work flow – who are we to question it?

I often wonder if we as humans use that story as an excuse to not do the work. Then, when I think this way, I send my thoughts back to what I’ve just written in the paragraph above and realize – we are all stars. And there’s nothing any pragmatic  scientist  can really do to change that feeling. We exist. We are here. Our lives are worth something, yet we are pieces of a grand universal puzzle we cannot control. So, let’s contribute our verse, our story, while we are here.

As I build my verse to the world, bit by bit in the background, I turn to the wondrous Mr. Robin, whose portrayal of John Keating in ‘Dead Poets Society’ rings forth the truth from Whitman, and continues the flow by asking his young students…

“What will your verse be?”

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Draper Goes Zen? No Way

dongoeszenI’m going to fan girl for a moment. This past Friday, I was at a company dinner at a legendary restaurant in West Hollywood. Our group took up a long table against a wall in the back room of the establishment. About forty five minutes into the dinner, I looked straight ahead and noticed a man at the next table who looked remarkably like Jon Hamm.

Then I realized…it WAS Jon Hamm, sitting next to a handsome silver haired fox. Hot damn, it was John Slattery. There they were – Sterling and Draper sharing an antipasto salad and laughing it up – two days before the airing of their series finale.

So, it set the stage for a Mad Men weekend. I’m not usually star struck, but I’ll admit, I was beyond struck. You have to understand – I love Mad Men. I adore Jon Hamm and John Slattery. I’ve been putting off canceling cable until Mad Men ended its run.

Yes, to pun it up – I got to see “The Real Thing”.

As for the finale, I can get into every aspect of each character, but honestly I’m a little burned out these days to get into Peggy and Stan, or Pete and Trudy – or even Betty and Sally. I’d rather stick with Don – the man on the top of the hill with the blissful grin. Ha!

No way he’s really a changed, zen man. He’s the same old Don. He momentarily ditched the Bryl cream and went all loose and fancy free when he was testing cars on the Salt Flats (the ad man testing out the product for a possible future campaign?). But when it came right down to the meditation on the hill – the other side of the cathartic explosion – that hair was as slicked back as (and I quote Liz Lemon) a cartoon airplane pilot.

If he really shed the old Don, that man’s hair would be the epitome of “the dry look”, flying in the wind – his face unshaven. He’d have removed all Draper grooming from the equation. He may have been in a white shirt and khaki’s, cleansed and angelic, but Janie and the hair stylists knew what’s up. That’s the same old Don under all that Nag Champa.

The man who made that sad speech in the circle group was Don’s angel of hope. His dream of being on the shelf in a fridge was akin to being a bottle of Coke chilling, waiting for someone to open the door and drink him in. This was a metaphorical dinner for Don Draper’s ad man stomach. Don felt like a has been, left with nothing in his life – not even a creative idea. He was a caged animal, caught like game to mount over Hobart’s wall. He needed to shed himself of the old Draper to come back better than ever. He usually does this disappearance stuff. It just took him a lot longer, with many harsh, harrowing steps along the way, to get him back.

When he heard Mr. Cellophane man speak of his sadness over love and his inability to feel connected, Don not only responded due to being on common ground, but also due to the fact the guy was the harbinger for giving him a remarkable idea for Coke.

Yeah, Ommmm indeed, Draper. You were blissed out because you know you had your mojo back. That grease in your hair shows you’re still the same old Don.


Keep A Fire For the Open Sky

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It’s a fascinating thing, to  look back into one’s psyche and try to remember the first moments of life on earth. Some people remember coming out of the womb, or being in it, swimming in the warm, embryonic fluid. Others remember their moments before creation when some other worldly spirit guide gave them a choice on how they want to live their lives, and with whom they wish to be born.

Me – I don’t remember anything before that time of birth. But if I think very hard, I may remember being in my mothers belly, warm and safe. I don’t remember any spirit guides showing me a picture of where I want to be born. I can’t believe that even exists. If it does, then why is there such horror in this world? What spirit would offering a palate of a life suffering in bombed out Afghanistan or Syria seeing their loved ones die from chemical warfare, or be physically and mentally ravished by rape, oppression, torture and murder – and say – okay – I’ll take that life?

What souls would actually feel they could endure such suffering? Is there a true club of martyrdom in heaven? Do these people have one more phase of earthly hell to go through before they’re promised a seat beyond the true pearly gates and never have to come back earth to live it all over again?

Is Bob Barker up there giving them some eternal prize behind a door?

Bob Barker:

Okay, soul about to be born – do you chose what’s behind door one (a life of wealth and glory) or the living freaking putrid hell of what’s behind door two!

New Soul:

Oh dear… oh…I can’t decide (Audience screams, Door two!! Door two!)  Oh, well, I guess I’ll have to go with door 2 Bob!!

Door two opens and the bats of hell swoop the confused contestant within their sharp talons and thrust him through the vagina of a woman giving birth in a bombed out building in Somalia during a mass human extermination.

Yeah – don’t think so. I don’t believe there is a panel of big spirits above doing that sort of thing to newbie babies about to be born. I doubt the little indentation above everyone’s lip is an angel’s finger tip placed there as a reminder to hush up about what you remember before birth.

I believe life is random. I believe life is energy. We are all energy forces with physical movement intent and potential – just like a ball being rolled up a hill, or a silver sphere being pulled and released as an example of scientific potential learned on the counter tops of your science classroom.

What we feel, what we think and desire as we work toward a goal – will stir energy in the universe – energy we are all tapped into – energy we can create and manifest various events that will lead us on paths linear or unconventional.

Some people have the manifestations sooner because they were born into a family or life where the energy was already created and prepared for their own advancement.

Others have to work at it, and work at it we do! And with happiness in knowing that we are in control of our destiny, and God’s fate really rests in our own hands. Yes, I do believe in God. I believe God is the energy inside us that propels our downfalls if we let it get there – and allows us to ascend to great heights if we so wish.

That’s my little sermon for this Sunday.  Take it from here, Jackson.

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She’s Not There (**Spoiler Alert**)

mmbettydocIf you haven’t seen last night’s “Mad Men”, and don’t want to be spoiled (as if the news media hasn’t gone on about it already) then stop right here. You’ve been warned!


In last night’s ‘Mad Men’ (the second to last in the series) Betty finds out she has terminal lung cancer.  Or her husband found out for her since it seems bad news could not be given to a woman back in the early 70’s without her husband being there.

It reminds me of a 30 Rock send up (and yes – it’s ironic – Jon Hamm happens to be in this):

Was it always this way back in those post cultural revolution, polyester clad days? A woman was meant to be coddled, and bad news about her own health was to be placed on hold until her husband came to bear the brunt?

At least Betty stood her ground and decided treatment would only create and prolong the agony.

So sad, that such beauty, a lovely woman treated like a doll, who finally found her own footing, has to see it all end before she can fly. At least her decision, however difficult it is for her husband and kids – was hers and hers alone.


‘Mad Men’ Monday


“What’s at home? I had a family once: a wife, a job, a mortgage. I couldn’t sleep at night tied to all those things. Then death came to find me. So one morning, I freed myself with the clothes on my back. Good-bye. Now I sleep like a stone: sometimes under the stars, the rain, the roof of a barn. … Tomorrow I’ll be leaving this place, that’s for certain. If death was coming anyplace, it’s here, kid, creeping around every corner.”

….The Hobo Code

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Happy Mother’s Day

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My mother as a young woman, Ana Srebrenic Rotmil.

It’s been five Mother’s Days since the last one I celebrated with my mom.  Each Mother’s Day passes, and I feel the loss even more.  Not a day goes by when I don’t think of her in some way. After a mom dies, everyday is a kind of a Mother’s Day of remembrance.

Mom never seemed to care much about mothers day until the day it arrived.

“Tell your father I don’t want anything for Mother’s Day!”

A beat. Then…

“Oh, tell him I need some dish towels!” she would shout from the kitchen as the faucet was running.

We’d always get her the usual.

1) Whatever household product she realized she needed two minutes after she said she didn’t need anything.

2) Flowers

3) Russell Stovers Ambassador Chocolate Assortments, followed by  a brunch at Restaurant X – Also known as the Bully Boy in Congers, NY.

As a young Jewish first generation Cuban female in a household of east European and Russia Jews who were of the old world of religion and social mores, it was likely marriage and children were a must. Add that to the times the whole world was living in, and it was a done deal – you got married, you had kids. If you didn’t -you were a spinster without a home.

I wonder if my mom really wanted to be a mother.  With all the Jewish yentas and the 1950’s breathing down her neck, my mother’s desires seemed to lean more toward a career. She was an enterprising woman with her own store in a hotel yet found suddenly married, a mother to a baby son and divorced – by the age of 20. The reasons behind such a quick decision so young in her life was never made clear to me. She wouldn’t talk about her marriage, but to the anger of my now 64 year old older half brother.

She threw herself into her work and the freedom is seemed to give her, at the expense of her growing boy – who was raised by a grandmother. Years between mother and son would grow cold. Sfter Castro kicked out the capitalists in Cuba, my mother went to New York and opened a dress boutique. She met and married my father – then had me. When a Sears moved in across the street, the writing was on the wall: Her business was doomed, and indeed, she lost customers. So, she closed up shop and ended her business life. Then, she made up for all her lost time with her son on me. She was very loving. But, after a succession of changes and life’s left hand turns, she was also handling mental illness.

Instead of the mom on the go with the career and the friends, I got the mom who was scared and isolated. Although I got the attentive loving mother my brother didn’t get –  I also got the mom with the nervous breakdown and in constant state of crisis.

But, I also had a mother who had long periods of lucidity. I got the mom who encouraged me to be successful, to never depend on a man (despite she now had to), and to be free to be a business owner who lives like on her own terms.  She never poured on the old jewish guilt she got from the old world family expectations. Never once did she push me to find a man and get married. Never once felt disappointment because I could never find a guy and settle down. Never really cared that I didn’t give her grandchildren. And thought it’s wonderful to want these things for a daughter – she just wanted me to be what she couldn’t find herself to be: Free.

I understand this now.  Every since my mother passed in November 2010, I seem to understand her – as if her emotions, now floating in the ether – are speaking in my subconscious.

Mom – I will change the pattern. I will be successful and be live life asleep at the wheel as I go to a job I no longer love, and rage with anger over being stuck in a 9 to 6 world.  I will be what you had hoped you could have been because I know I want it too. I will be what you once were before life took you in a direction, before your traded your freedom for security.  Even though you’ve alienated certain people, I see it was due to them making you feel less than your true worth. You didn’t have to say anything. I saw it myself.

I love you mom. Happy mother’s day.

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Why We Shoud Write Like MotherF**kers

floc on writingA few weeks ago, I finally saw the film “Wild”, based on the book by Cheryl Strayed starring Reese Witherspoon. The work is an account of Strayed’s solo hike along the Pacific Crest Trial after the death of her mother. The film, as well as her own story, was raw, disturbing, heart wrenching, scary and brave. Despite her struggles, both emotionally and (due to the hardships of the hike) physically, she wrote her story.

On a day like today – MONDAY – the writing demons like to prod me with their weekend talons.  Although I love to write, I struggle finding words on the first day of the week with Sunday cobwebs on my mind.

Much like Flannery O’Connor’s quote above, I do not always know what I’m thinking until I focus into the zone of creative flow, where words come from a subconscious portal in my brain.  I never really understand the impact of the work until I come back a few hours later and realize what I was trying to express.

It’s a condition I strive to find myself in everyday – despite the self doubt, the negative whispers and the tempting feeling of laziness. That trance-like place. In fact, I’m feeling it now as I write this.

In order to gain that flow, I have to show up to the desk and do the damn deed. Write like, as Cheryl Stayed has said, like a motherfucker.

Strayed wrote for a blog called The Rumpus under the nom de plume  “Sugar” where she provided advice to writers. Back in 2010, a very frustrated lady writer named Elissa wrote about how she constantly compared herself to published writers. She lamented on how difficult it was to measure up to a David Foster Wallace or anyone who published before the age of 30. She was 26 and thought she was “pathetic”, “confused”, and “scared”. So self defeating. So unnecessary.  She claimed she wrote like a girl – about lady things with no experience on life.

Pisses me off just thinking about it.

It pisses me off because I was just like Elissa, thinking you’re being so open and honest about how you think you’re a loser – when the only thing you’re doing is self fulfilling some dumb ass useless proficy.

Cheryl Strayed went straight and to the point with her reply.

Cheryl Strayed:

How many women wrote beautiful novels and stories and poems and essays and plays and scripts and songs in spite of all the crap they endured. How many of them didn’t collapse in a heap of “I could have been better than this” and instead went right ahead and became better than anyone would have predicted or allowed them to be. The unifying theme is resilience and faith. The unifying theme is being a warrior and a motherfucker. It is not fragility. It’s strength. It’s nerve. And “if your Nerve, deny you –,” as Emily Dickinson wrote, “go above your Nerve.” Writing is hard for every last one of us—straight white men included. Coal mining is harder. Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They do not. They simply dig.

You need to do the same, dear sweet arrogant beautiful crazy talented tortured rising star glowbug. That you’re so bound up about writing tells me that writing is what you’re here to do. And when people are here to do that they almost always tell us something we need to hear. I want to know what you have inside you. I want to see the contours of your second beating heart.

So write, Elissa Bassist. Not like a girl. Not like a boy. Write like a motherfucker.


Writing isn’t pretty. I hate to get all pretentious, because the following can be construed as such – – but writing is guts and toil. Writing is getting thoughts on paper even if you have nothing on your brain because life is getting in your way. Writing is putting ideas and creation down on paper or  the computer screen despite what silly comparisons you’ve made to others.

I’m not Flannery O’Connor. I’m not Cheryl Strayed. I am me.

Writing is a constant struggle of self discipline and the fight against “resistant”. Writing is war.

Show up to the fight everyday. Be a motherfucker.

The main text of Cheryl Stayed’s “Sugar” column is here.