Order of the Good Write

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


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The Day the Hare Krishna Disciple Came to School

GHharekrishna

When I entered the world of college academia many a decade ago, I found myself taking a class called “Pop Culture and the World Around Us” to round out my credit requirements. Maybe it wasn’t EXACTLY called that – but it was indeed a class about popular culture and various world views. A studious, young professor taught the course, and the curriculum was a fun mix of art films, news reels, and books. We’d read essays on how popular culture effects the way we live, what we buy, and how it motivates us through the course of our lives. The films of John Waters and Andy Warhol were dissected. We field tripped it to museums and various galleries, discussing the role that art played in various cultures throughout the world.

Spirituality was also touched upon in this class. One afternoon our professor invited a member of the Hare Krishna temple in town to speak to our group about his life as a devotee. He was about twenty five years old. His head was shaven, leaving a plume of hair atop his head to sweep into a singular ponytail that trounced around whenever he moved. He was swathed in a robe and wore sandals. The third eye mark was flecked on his forehead – the point where meditation is focused  – and henna markings surrounded his eyes.

Although I remember the visuals, little details escape me, like his name and specific stories he may have shared. I do recall a bit of his discussion about his life before Krishna. He wasn’t a lost soul. He was never involved with drugs. His life was good. He came from a happy, stable family. The course of his spiritual life unfolded when he sensed a deeper purpose in his life.  The emptiness that the secular world provided was not enough to fill a hole within. He read books on religion and spirituality, and came upon – Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda. It moved him, inspired him to envelope his life with teachings of Krishna.

I remember this man being intensely gentle. His skin seemed soft. The faint aroma of incense floated around him. A glow of spiritual peace and joy radiated from his being. There was something so delicate about him, like soft powdered sugar or light fluffy bread dough – as if he was above human flesh having immersed himself in clean living and daily meditation. It was humbling.

As I sat there, taking in as much as I could, I remembered back to my pre-teen days when I’d listen to the sitar strings and eastern tonal beauty of the Beatles songs George Harrison had inspired from his studies in India and with the Maestro, Pandit Ravi Shankar.   As a child discovering Harrison and his other Beatle colleagues, I looked over photos of him with crowds of Krishna devotees, looking happy and calm. His later songs were always about God in some way or another. His work with a prominent Krishna temple in London was intense, having produced one album called “Chant and Be Happy”, which I’m sure made some Beatle fans think he was hanging with a very strange crowd. Not me.  Gazing upon these photos taken so long before I found them, it was lovely to see George find this life. Plus, I thought these lovely bald, laughing, singing people were lovely. And a little amusing.

Yet, as this young man answered questions about his daily routine, his connection with family (he was still very connected to his family) and his future, I remember doing a very naughty thing. I was seated next to a friend during this lecture, and my professor took a seat behind me. Curious about stupid stuff, and filled with the effects of being a comedy nerd, I turned to my friend and very quiet, very discretely (or so I thought), whispered to my friend the following words:

“Do you think he’s wearing underwear under that robe?”

My friend chuckled. I leaned back in my seat and continued to listen to our guest. A few moments of his answer died down until it was clear he was ready for another question.

I heard my professor’s voice behind me.

“I have a question. The young lady in front of me wanted to know if you are wearing any BVDs”, he said with a smile on his face.

The whole class roared with laughter. Some classmates around me knew he was referring to me because they heard me whisper this question to my friend. I was delightfully embarrassed. It was a riot to hear my teacher bring this truth – the truth that I had this odd question – to his friend in the front of the class.

It also delighted our Krishna devotee, whose face lit up as he stepped back to give out a great, big, amazing laugh. It was like he was crossing over to Buddha, laughing hard with his head thrown back. The joy was contagious. God was in the room.

Then, when the laughter died down, there was a brief pause of silence where we all looked at him as he relished the moment.

“Well?” asked our professor.

Another pause, as if the ticking hand on the clock stopped for a few seconds.

“No…no, I’m not wearing anything under here, ” he said with a beauteous smile before another wave of laughter crashed through the room.

It was a gorgeous moment, a moment in time I do remember as details of that afternoon fade. The innocence of the question posed by an air headed student like me – that turned into a wonderful moment of laughter and honesty.

I think George Harrison would have been pleased.

Hare Krishna!


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Post Baseball Season Blues

nymets

A certain kind of melancholy hits this time of year. Summer is done. The days are getting shorter. Halloween candy is available in barrels at your local supermarket. Even Jack-o-lanterns and skeletons are beginning to show up on the front doors of houses as the leaves turn from green to orange to yellow to red to brown. (Here in L.A., it’s mostly just brown.)

Don’t get me wrong. I love autumn. In fact, it’s probably my favorite time of year. Yet, baseball is one of the many symbols of summer, along with beach balls, picnics and pool wear that disappears along with those lazy hazy days.  So, the one thing that puts the cherry on top of the autumnal blues before I forge ahead to the doldrums of winter – is the end of baseball.  Not the post season play, where all the hot shot winners of spring and summer win enough games to get into October ball. No. I’m speaking of the actual official baseball season.

You see, the post season doesn’t matter much to me.  I’m a New York Mets fan. We don’t see the post season very much. In my world of orange and blue (Giants orange and Dodger blue – colors that commemorate those teams when they were in New York), baseball usually ends when the schedule closes in on game 162.

Last weekend marked the end of the Mets 2014 season. It completed on a high note. They ended up tied for second place in the National League East alongside their rivals the Atlanta Braves. But who’s a rival to them in that division anyway?  The entire NL East was as limp as a noodle average-wise. The only team that went above .500 was the Washington Nationals and they turned out to be the best team in the National League with a .593 winning average, thus clinching the NL East Title and entry to the post game party.  They helped get there on the sagging backs of the Mets, who lost time and time again to those gnatty Gnats and their DC energy.

But my Mets quietly folded up their tent and headed into the off season on Sunday by completing a sweep of the Houston Astros and bidding adieu to Bobby Abreu, a player who has likely been on every team I’ve ever hated.

We can take away some nice memories of some solid performances by Jakob DeGrom, Lucas Duda, Bartolo Colon, Travis D’arnaud, Daniel Murphy. Oh, and holy cow, with Matt Harvey coming back next year, perhaps we can build on the momentum of the team’s late season play and be a contender in 2015? Maybe be an elite team that all the current elites shutter to face?

Once again – I’m exercising my right as a Mets fan – by going into the hot stove season with “wait until next year” on the brain.

As the sun sets earlier with those warm, low lights and as the nights get cooler, I bid goodnight to my Mets until they fire up the lights of Citifield again in April.


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My First Time: How This Newbie is Getting Her Book “Hitting the Water” Self Published

I’ve written a book. Yes, readers of WordPress! Yes people of the internet universe! This administrative assistant who has hidden behind the coat tails of executives in the media industry all in the name of a paycheck, this retiring cubicle dweller who has been a prisoner of the nine to five (make that nine to six) – has decided to finally – publish a book. To be specific – self publish a book.  It’s a collection of short stories entitled Hitting the Water. I’ll be discussing it and providing excerpts in the weeks to come.

Why am I self publishing? I have to. It’s time to start charting a course that will get me out of the day to day grind of the corporate world. It’s been over two decades of being tied to a desk, being responsible for work I barely care about, and stop being an assistant to someone elses’ career. I can’t wait for a publisher to pass my work along while my life span is ticking away.

Of course, I’d love the financial backing and marketing team of a legit publisher, where my work can be formatted correctly for press, where a cover will be designed hitting the reader’s eye on the shelf of the only Barnes and Noble that still lives in a mall somewhere, and where marketing will be handled by pros. But having dealt with the rejection of many publishers, magazine and websites before – I’ve decided to pack up my pencils and laptop, and go it alone. If a publisher notices my work online – fine. But I’m ready to write everyday and parlay it as an entrepreneurial venture. As Johnny, Dave and Sean say in their Self-Publishing Podcast: “If you can’t get it done right, you do it yourself.”

So, after a year of writing dozens and dozens of stories and setting the groundwork for various novels (one a trilogy), I’m ready to forge ahead on the self publication of my book for paperback and digital download on Amazon. I have my manuscript, and will be sending into my editor for final edits. A friend of mine will design the cover – a tricky project considering there are requirements and templates we need. There’s the ISBN, LCCN assignment, copyrights , marketing and a whole mixture of technical stuff I need to handle via Createspace,   

For those just learning (like me!), Createspace is the platform self publishers use to get their books physically ready and available for distribution when readers click to purchase your work. They also do digital uploads so your book can be purchased and downloaded to Kindle. What’s interesting is that Createspace provides a whole list of offers to help the self publisher get their books done without the toil of dealing with various venders. Kind of a one-stop-shopping for the publisher on the go. All great! However, with services like formatting at $349 and book design at $599, you know what I’m finding? That’s hella expensive! Will I recoup this money once the book is released?  Likely not. Yes, I have faith in this book, but I’m aware that this is just the first seed I’m planting as part of a garden of books I hope will sell. I’m not going to recoup this amount at this stage.

So here I go, making the passive act of writing and living in my head, into an active action by laying the actual business groundwork to make this book a tangible thing.  Of course, it’s just the first book I’m getting out there. I don’t expect it to change the world. But, in publishing it, I’m changing mine.

Anyone out there going through this self publishing process? Anyone ever think of self publishing that novel or article you have on a self somewhere? Please share your thoughts. I’ve been on various forums, but I’d love to get a conversation started here.

And you don’t just have to be a writer. Are you living a life that you don’t want?  What is your passion?