Order of the Good Write

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


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Writing About Synchronicity

morganlibraryceiling

The Morgan Library Ceiling

I was listening to an audio recording about signs from the universe and divine timing.

You know, those moments when you’ve just thought of a person and then you run into them.

You get an old, obscure song stuck in your head and you then you hear it on the radio.

You get behind a car with a license plate that says Jodie245, and you had just throught of your old friend Jodie about ten minutes before when you haven’t though of her in years?

In other words – synchronicity.

It’s been my experience that these incredible moments are meaningful signs of spiritual connection. Sometimes, my writing comes from these wonderful moments. That’s where the creative flow comes from.

So, the audio clip ended and I smiled to myself because I’ve been feeling in the flow. I clicked over to Instagram and randomly found a photo posted by Julian Lennon of his newly cleaned out garage. I loved the stonework on the floor and the artwork on the wall. He obviously has a lovely house.

And I thought – he made it alright after all, you know, despite his difficult childhood in the limelight, with a moody, distracted genius father and the acrimonious breakup of his parent’s marriage. Of course he became a successful songwriter and performer himself; yet, you know the ways of kids of the famous. Life can be difficult considering all the rumors about money or familial breakups.

Then a few minutes later, I got up and went downstairs to buy gum in our shop downstairs and “Hey Jude” was playing on the radio.

So, yeah – I believe in this divine timing stuff. I’ve had it many times in my life. How about you?

Writing Prompt: What fun moments of great timing have you’ve experienced? What amazing moments of synchronicity has crossed your path? This is good material. Write away!

 


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Autumn Writing Music Monday: All the Trees

“You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands!”  Isiah 55:12

With the last few days of official summer drifting closer to the autumnal equinox, I think of fall and all its “mellow fruitfulness”*  I’m not religious, nor am I a bible reader. Yet, I do believe there are written passages in the ‘Good Book’ that reflect a lovely soulful connection to the earth and all its godly goodness.

(Writing Prompt: What does Autumn mean to you in your part of the world? Write about it!)

After the barefoot freedom and long days of summer, when green leaves so hard earned after a cold brutal winter begin their cycle of goodbyes in a glory of golds and color, soft lights, smokey rotten aromas and crisp chilly air….we drift into soulful introspection following the season of fun in the sun.

Trees are life. They are compelling. Not only am I taken by them being a metaphor for family and various generations and cycles of life, I’m mainly fascinated by their growth, their size, their variety and their majesty.

I feel safe under their branches, yet frightened by their towering height. In their bare state in winter, their trunks, branches and twigs look like human arteries, veins and vessels clustered like an x-ray of the human cardiovascular system. They are the living, breathing nervous system of this planet, allowing oxygen and soil to work cohesively to sustain life and to filter out impurities.

I love trees so much, I often wonder why I never studied Dendrology.

The trees of Autumn invite us outside for a celebration of color before bidding farewell for the winter.  The colors bring about new wardrobe, holiday preparations kicked off by the first sign of pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns before we see turkeys, pilgrims and Santa Claus.

It’s the parade of trees. This beautiful fall foliage reminds me of the woods behind the condo where my parents used to live. Forty years before they lived there, that backyard area of woodland used to be a small house-less street,  disused and left to the overgrowth of nature.

The wide path, once road, was no longer concrete, but packed with years of fallen leaves mulched into wide and winding beaten path. Various old telephone poles that had old rusted metal badges marked ‘Bell Telephone’ were still hanging on the dark, rotten wood, old electric cables were still strung from pole to pole leading to the active street beyond the stretch of woods.  A small forgotten fire hydrant sat there, ready in case of danger.

Far off, you could hear the babbling brook that turned rainwater from the hills into a splashing falls near the edges of the land that bordered the parking lot of the condos nearby. There was an old rusted plow with wagon wheels disintegrating into the dead, dry branches. A relic of another time.

Photos like the one above take me back to this memory. Back to when I walked our hound Baldrick under a canopy of yellow and red trees in November. The chill hitting my nose, the smell of hickory smoke from chimney bringing in a feeling of warmth and peace.  We’d walk down that old forgotten wide beaten path and jump over fallen trees – both thin and thick, while Baldrick sniffed and shuffled to bring up scent on an animal that danced by earlier

I’m aiming to return for good. If not this season, then in time to be back and settled by next Fall with my hound Baxter. We will take the train up north, back to those woods, where he can waddle and sniff in the footpath of his predecessor – his late brother Baldrick. Back to that part of the east coast where I felt nature, with cool earth, wet leaves and mellow fruitfulness.

“All the Trees in the Field Will Clap Their Hands”

If I am alive this time next year,
Will I have arrived in time to share?
Mine is about as good this far.
I’m still applied to what you are.
And I am joining all my thoughts to you.
And I’m preparing every part for you.
I heard from the trees a great parade.
And I heard from the hills a band was made.
Will I be invited to the sound?
Will I be a part of what you’ve made?
And I am throwing all my thoughts away.
And I’m destroying every bet I’ve made.
And I am joining all my thoughts to you.
And I’m preparing every part for you.
Words and Lyrics: Sufjan Stevens

 

 

*From ‘Jeeves & Wooster’ by PG Wodehouse

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Monday Writing Motivation: Spring Sprung

purpletulips

Happy day two of Spring!

To those tulips and flowers thinking they had the all-clear in New York and woke up to a layer of snow this morning – I’ve heard the snow has melted and things are looking up!

Such is the advent of Spring. Although the calendar proclaims it the first day of this new season, for most areas of this country, winter will not pry its grubby, cold hands from the necks of winter weary humans and optimistic little flower buds.

In Los Angeles, it’s spring and summer all year round so the transition has less contrast.  The climate is temperate and things are pretty green around here most of the time. Yet, Spring comes along in February when the blooming Jasmine hatch open and the Pittosporum grows its incredibly fragrant white blooms that make you want to climb its branches and bury your face in a bushel flowery sunshine. (That is – if there weren’t bees everywhere, which is a blessing).  That’s the only way you know there’s a season change – when things start smelling like a perfume laboratory.

And then the Jacaranda trees start showing their purpleness a little later in April and May, adding their fragrance to the splendor and raining down purple petals on the street and cars. It’s ‘Purple Rain’ the way Prince meant it to be.

But enough of all this garden variety metaphorical waxing.  Spring does something more to our brain than we realize. Our goals and our intention to complete them flourish. The synapses in our brains fire off endorphins and fun chemicals that make us break out in spring fever.

And then some of us are still trying to catch up on that hour of sleep we lost last weekend.

Whatever the case of spring may bring on your doorstep or out your window, there’s plenty of fodder for writing.  So…

What does Spring mean to you?  What memories do you have of Spring? What hope do you have for this season? What do you smell, taste, feel and see this year that’s different from other seasons?  Are you exhausted? Happy? Wistful? Sad? Hopeful?

Write it down today. Tell Monday to take a hike. Break through the first day of the week resistance blues. 

 


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Wednesday Writing Prompt: Dreams Deferred

green dangling beaded dress

‘Ana La Habana’ Fashion

My mother came from Havana Cuba after a member of Castro’s staff told her to take her son and leave the country. This was 1959.

Ana Srebrenik was a single mother and shop owner. She ran a little lingerie store in the lobby of, what was then, the Havana Hilton. Castro and his team had their offices in the building, and every day (as I remember her telling me), she’d see he and his minions walk through the hotel after their day in the mountains.

She got to know his side men casually. One of them gave her the heads up about the revolution and how her capitalist ways were no longer going to cut it in post Revolution Cuba.

My mother immigrated to the US and settled in New York and built another business. This time it was a dress shop in White Plains. This time she designed some of the clothes and hired a tailor to run them up for her store. I believe she had a partner in this venture because I used to hear about a couple with whom she had to settle  when the store closed. Their names are forgotten.

Ana placed her career on a shelf, met my father, got married and had me. Maybe it wasn’t all in that order. I’m never sure. Details got fuzzy. When she was alive, she wouldn’t go into detail. I only knew she always thought she’d get back into her own store again. But she never did.

When she passed away unexpectedly in November of 2009, I had to do what we all have to do once in our lives: clean out the family home, send things to donation, organize estate sales, sell off property.

Among her things, I came upon a portfolio of her fashion sketchings.  They were likely done after she gave up her store. She always loved clothes and good fashion although she never allowed herself to buy many things. Mom would re-purpose old clothes, re-design a skirt, or use a scarf as a belt. Like Little Edie Beale of ‘Grey Gardens’, she’d find a perfect outfit for the day.

fitted orange dress

Smart business attire for the day. ‘Ana La Habana’

While going through these drawings, I see a creative side to my mother I had never explored. To me, she was the mom in the kitchen, the mom in the car driving me to school or to the store, the mom in the dark room. Her dreams stunted by responsibility placed upon her as a woman of a certain generation.

bluedrapeddress

Cocktails? ‘Ana La Habana’

Each dressed devised by her hand evoked glamour and chance situations. There was a bit of glory and opportunity with each sash and button. The lines and shading promoted a dream world she wish she could step into, or to allow a potential customer to live empowered through a frock devised by her own vision.

Yet, those ideas were left frozen on a page, hidden in a binder sitting at the bottom of a trunk. So many years ago, measured by the passage of time where she wouldn’t allow her true creative self to flourish. That it was her duty as a wife and mother at the time. That her way of handling a career and motherhood as a young single mother in Cuba caused a riff between her and her son.

Not this time, she likely thought when she had me. So she shut the dream down.

She encouraged me to be successful.

She was proud of my athleticism and independence.

I think back at the times she never brought up marriage and grandchildren. Never guilted me about it.

She once even told me I should run my own business.  But the everyday corporate life seemed like a societal obligation, having seen my father find security at IBM for entire career.

How wrong I was. The world isn’t the same.

I think of the song *”Days and Days” from the musical “Fun Home”.  It’s sung by Helen Bechdel to her daughter Alison after dealing with her husband Bruce’s closeted life for so many years. She had just asked him for a divorce.

Although the family circumstances are not the same as mine, the feeling of wasted days due to what was expected of her comes to light.

She sings of the ordinary, mundane things, “…lunches and car rides and shirts and socks. And grades and piano…and no one clocks the day you disappear,” and “bargains I made because as a wife I was meant to, and now my life is shattered and made bare.”

Days and days and days. Just like my  mother, married to a very nice, sweet, adorable man whom I worshiped, but held her to what was expected of her. He was likely resentful of her depression, not understanding what she needed.

There is no one to blame really. But lessons are learned. Parents strive for their children to have a better life than the one they leave behind.

I can hear my own mother say it in my ear.

“Don’t you come back here. I didn’t raise you to give away your days…like me.”

Writing Prompt:

What are your dreams? What have you sacrificed in order to live a certain way? What creative activity have you allowed to sit on the shelf?  And if you brought it out of the darkness to make it a part of your livelihood or your hobby, how will you continue to use that talent and never give up?

 

‘Days and Days’, from the musical ‘Fun Home’. Music by Jeanine Tesori. Words by Lisa Kron.

 

 


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Autobiography of a Resume

resumejumble

When you think of it, your resume is the outline of your autobiography. Each job you’ve held over the years contains a story of where you’ve been, what you did and where you were going.

Think of where you were living during a particular job. Who did you know? Whom were your dating? Did you get married and have children during that particular stint?  Who were the people you encountered every day? What were the mistakes made and the lessons earned? What personalities did you encounter? Were they toxic? Inspirational? Life changing?

Years of experience listed on a piece of paper used to define who you are to a perspective employer packs a bunch of stories between margins. It’s the outline of life that shows them if you’re made for the job, perfect for the role, and will lend all that wonderful experience, skill and story into their culture to nourish a whole new outlook on their world.

This applies to any life path, whether writer, artist or office worker – we all have accomplishments we list on paper to share, to prove to others we have what it takes. It’s our calling card.

So, next time you’re scouring your brain for a writing prompt about your life, take a look at your resume. You’re life story is laid out before you.


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Bug Day Horror

My fellow WordPress person, “Writer with a Goal” initiated a blog prompt for the day: Write one or two paragraphs about  – “Feeling Like a Bug”.

Bug in my closet...I WILL CRUSH YOU, figuratively speaking.

Bug in my closet…I WILL CRUSH YOU, figuratively speaking.

I’ve never felt like a bug in my life. Bugs creep me out. Once in a while, these giant water bugs find their way into my bathroom through the drains. Their dark black and the size of your thumb – if you had a really big, long thumb.

Last week, just as I was leaving the bathroom, I caught a quick glimpse of one of these monster scurry under the door to my hallway closet like the lousy little wimp that it is. Ha! It thought I didn’t see him hide like a little fool into the dark hole that is closet of laundry and luggage! Bwhahaha!  He will never find his way home again.

I immediately ran to my other closet and grabbed my Dyson vacuum, went back to the other closet and looked for that son of a bitch. (Pardon the language – I really hate these things.)

Never found the guy. He’s buried in there somewhere.And I never put away the vacuum. It’s still standing in there, in front of the closet door, waiting, hopin g to nab this little sucker into his suck hose. It stands –  taunting, a reminder that if that SOB leaves and even THINKS of climbing on to me or my hound – it will be sucked quickly into the bowels canister of hell, left to wallow in filth and carpet residue, dog hair and the mighty horrors of under-bed dust bunnies – that is – if it doesn’t die from being mangled by the spiky churning floor brush first!

Just you wait oh, water bug. Don’t even think of touching my barefeet while I brush my teeth or step out of the shower. If there is a little space around the towel I jammed at the bottom of the door to prevent you from sneaking out – that you find as an escape – forget it.  I will crush you. Not really crush you – that would be gross because you are like a mini truck…but I will use my vacuum’s hellacious wind tunnel and make your eat dirt!