Thursday, July 21, 2016

LONELY LANDSCAPE - REDUX


[This was a post I did right after some research on a key crime scene in the manuscript I just completed. There is now a lot of water in all these dry spots in the photos below, but our years-long drought played perfectly into the plot of the story I was telling.]

The other day I took a trip out to one of the "crime scenes" from the manuscript on which I'm currently working. There was a surprise in the trip for me in that I did not expect to see so much lonely landscape still in existence so close to where I live.

First I think I should clarify to all the non-Texans reading this:  Texas is not all flat terrain with tumbleweeds rolling across the road. In fact, I was an adult before I ever saw such a landscape in this State and I was born here.

Texas is a big place with a "transitional" geography:  plains, desert, mountains, piney woods, hill country and coastal plains all exist within this State, and all of those areas abut our Central Texas hill country. Texas is roughly 830 miles west to east and roughly 850 miles north to south. Big place. Lots of different terrain here.

To the west are very flat lands with the tumbleweed you would expect. That moves on further west into the southernmost part of the Rocky Mountains.

To our east are piney woods - thick (think Louisiana). To our south are the coastal plains and sub-tropical areas along the Gulf of Mexico. To our north are the tail end of the Great Plains, but these are not completely flat and they are cut by rivers and covered with grasses and trees - no desert or tumbleweeds in any of these places.

Austin and the surrounding Central Texas area is a beautiful landscape of rolling tree-covered hills, rivers, lakes and generally breathtaking views. There are limestone washes along some of the rivers and steep limestone cliffs that speak of a time when this area was a shallow sea bed (Cretaceous period). It's reminiscent of certain landscapes along the Med in Italy and Greece. My paternal grandfather (a Greek from the old country) said that was why he settled here. It reminded him of home.

I had lamented for some time (including on this blog) that there was so much development here in Central Texas "they" were destroying all of our natural spaces. I'm happy to report I was wrong.

My journey was to the north shore of Lake Travis.


I had resisted going back out there and exploring because I knew there had been a development that sprang up in this one location and I was afraid I was going to see high-end houses all along the lake front and none of the beautiful natural space I so loved.

That's not what I found. Thank God.

There were miles of lonely space - natural landscape. The housing development I knew of hadn't progressed beyond what I had seen several years ago - and not just because of the economy. Along the north shore of Lake Travis, there is also a limit to the types of utilities we have in town and near town. Most people who live out there depend on propane for gas, electricity is sparse in some locations, and water is frequently provided by drilling wells, waste water is disposed of in septic tanks. With a drought on, the water table is down and many wells have run dry. This probably curtailed some of the development out there. Also, the sheer near empty appearance of our lake is probably also part of the deterrent to development.

Through a navigation mistake of mine - well, not really a "mistake" - I admit I like to "wander" with the car while driving through the hill country - anyway, I found this certain lakeside park, a certain Travis County park. I didn't know it was there.

Along the road on my way down to this park and in the park itself, it was utterly deserted. There was no park ranger there because the boat ramp had been closed - again, a result of our drought. It's not possible to launch a boat onto a limestone wash. You really need water for that. :)

There is a beauty to this kind of lonely space to me. I've included some photos below to give you an idea of the desolation of the place.

It's cold here right now, and this weekend with the front that came through it was also quite breezy. The wintry cold added to the feeling of isolation.

I walked along deeply rutted and graveled roads in the park and along the cove that cut from the lake alongside the park itself. Limestone washes ran up to the water's edge - washes that had been covered by water in a better time a few years ago. Wheat-colored grasses covered the damp earth from the rain we just had last week. Cedars and live oaks made a dense cover between the gravel roads.  It was silent as the grave out there. The only sound was the bitter breeze that blew off the water that day.

All of sudden, the roaring of a large pickup echoed up the now-closed boat ramp. It blasted, with heavy-duty shocks and mud tires, up over the lip of the ramp and into the parking lot of the park. A man inside "whooped" through his open window. He was followed by another truck, just as large and outfitted the same way - this one driven by a girl with a large black Lab hanging out of the window of her double cab. She laughed and waved as she passed and they sped across the parking lot and then off deeper into the park. I saw them later, parked way down on the wash nearest the lake itself.

Other than that one sign of human life, the place was utterly deserted. I thought if those had been "bad" people I would have been in some deep trouble. There was no "civilization" for miles. No park ranger on duty. I had my cell phone, but who would reach me in time if I needed help from someone dangerous?

Then I knew - what a great location for a crime scene!!! Woo-hoo! :) It was perfect - complete with dumpster for a convenient body dump. Yes, people, I write crime novels and this was a crime novelist's dream.

In my book I will locate the park in a slightly different spot on the river/lake, and I'll give it another name; but, it will essentially "be" that place I visited this past weekend. I will go back again soon for more notes and photos.

There is a paradox between beautiful desolation and dangerous isolation, and I love to study that and write in that place. I hope to transport you there so you can enjoy it and be thrilled by it as much as I am.

Writing is, for me, all about sharing the experience - whatever that experience may be.

Polla filia,
J.F.


The Parking Lot


The now closed boat ramp-treeline is where the water used to be


One of the roads in the park

Another park road

The "woods" around and in the park
  

A deserted picnic area


The "dump site"
 

HANGING A WRITER'S TEN, OR RIDING THE DREAMWORLD WAVE - REDUX


[Note: I originally wrote this shortly before one of my awesome pilgrimages to San Francisco]

"There are some people who live in a dream world, and there are some who face reality. Then there are those who turn one into the other."

-- Douglas Everett


It is now t-minus 19 days and counting until The Big San Francisco Vacation.

Been in full writer mode lately. It’s hard to explain what that is and how that differs from my regular writer mode. Stories play in my head all the time; but, there is a level at which they begin to really take shape - where I’m on a roll - where I *crave* writing more than usual. It’s a writing euphoria. I like to hit the crest of that wave and ride it as far as it will take me. I’m hangin’ a writer’s ten.

My next book in a series I'm working on is in my head for sure; but, I also have another series in my brain, and a standalone novel (or novella) that has nothing to do with my crime writing. So, I’m juggling three great story ideas, and they are all *active*!

I get caught up in my characters, and their stories. They live for real in my head. Later when I re-read my stuff, I’ll think “where did that come from?” I use my brain to hone all the writing and make it as good as I can, as readable, as interesting, without losing that magical part that just makes itself happen.

Hell, I’ve been makin’ stuff up since as early as I can remember - and writing it down into little stories when I was a kid. I used to lie out in the front yard in the early evening and scribble those little stories into a notebook. As it got dark, all I had was the light of the street lamp overhead. I had that euphoric feeling about writing even then.

I couldn’t stop then, and I still can’t. Someone asked me recently “What made you decide to start writing?” I thought, “Decide?” There was a decision in there somewhere? Hah! Like I had a choice - well, I had a choice, but not writing would not be a pretty choice for me.

I can feel something good coming in my writing world. Something is about to break open in my next story for this series. I think there will be a big “aha” writing moment for me on this San Francisco trip.

I chose San Francisco for my next vacation trip (in lieu of my beloved New York City), in part because I do love San Fran, but also I had this idea that would not let me go, and it was all set in San Francisco.

I call it a “vacation”, but to this writer there is No. Such. Thing. My writing brain is on and working damn near 24/7. There are nights when I have a hard time turning off the stuff so I can sleep! The only way in which this trip *is* a vacation, is that I’ll be away from my damn day job, so I can do what I *really* love for two whole, beautiful weeks. I can write whenever and wherever I want. Yeah!!

I’ll be prowling around San Francisco and thereabouts in daylight and dark. There will be some of the next story in the North Beach area, and something I’ll be putting in there that’s set in Berkley/Oakland, and there might even be a little this and that from Monterey/Salinas and San Jose. I’m sure there will be parts of the place I haven’t even thought of yet that wind up in the story. That’s just the way the process goes for me - it’s part very strategic planning and hard work, and part unbelievable surprise.

The surprise - the discovery - the *adventure* - will be how that whole beautiful, mystical landscape of the San Francisco area will play out in this book. That’s a big piece of the euphoria for me - the way the stuff I think up blends in with the stuff that just brings itself to me. It’s a fantastic journey between reality and the way reality influences the fiction in my head. When that dream world wave hits its crest, I hop on and see where it takes me.

There are 19 more days before I get to San Fran. I’ll ride this small wave until I get there, and then I’ll be paddling out again looking for a Big Dream Wave to bring me some *new* surprise!

Polla Filia,

J.F.

INSPIRATION, AN UPDATE

In every artist's and writer's life there are moments when the inspiration fails, and it fails absolutely. For me, this is abject misery.
                                   
Creativity is made up of four main parts in my opinion:  i) talent (we all have some talent), ii) craft and skill (taught), iii) experience (learned over time);  and iv) inspiration. Talent is the foundation - you build your creative efforts on this. Craft and skill is the part you put on the foundation first - you go out and pursue this yourself, and it includes *practice*. Experience comes to the open mind and heart as it travels along its way. That last bit - inspiration - is pure mystery. What is it? From whence does it come?

Inspired moments are not the largest part of my (or anyone's) creative efforts, but for me they are the transformational part of it. This is the part of your efforts that take your solid craft up to another level (or two).

For me, it is also the exhilarating part of creativity. It's connecting with something outside of yourself that is completely mystical. See "Riding the Dream World Wave" above.

It comes when it will, but there are also things I can do to jump start it a bit.

One of those things is reading Steinbeck's journals and letters - especially the letters. On display there are all of his doubts and fears and difficulties. To read his thoughts about his great works and see his uncertainty helps me to understand that even the great ones go through these feelings and struggles.

One of the other things I do is read and re-read parts of certain books I have on the writing life, or on writing technique. One of my favorites in that regard is a book called "Fiction Writer's Workshop" by Josip Novakovich. I do not even remember how I found out about this book, but I have had it a long time. You can still get this book online.

Here are two of my fave quotes from the Introduction:

"To be a good writer, you must have the paradoxical trait of being a gregarious loner."

Ahhhh...

"As a writer you need a strong sense of independence, of being and thinking on your own...I will give you a lot of advice, but you need not take it."

Yes...

That first line struck me from the moment I read it. It describes my particular personality so well, I couldn't believe it. A gregarious loner.

First of all, I am a people watcher, an observer of situations and behavior, which I catalogue into my brain and utilize when I write. I do this alone - sitting in a bar in a restaurant while making notes for a novel, or in the coffee house while working I look up and watch the interactions of people around me. I often have conversations with total strangers while I am doing this. It is nothing for me to strike up conversations like this. It's fun - and then I put my head down and go back to note taking.

Second, I love to be with people - family and friends - for limited periods of time. Yes, "limited periods of time", because one cannot write a book when one is surrounded by friends and family all the time. I do love to be with people, though, and I am fully in that moment while the moment is there. I drink in all of it - every drop - sight, sound, smell, feeling - and at full intensity.

Then I go into my solitude and write. I make stuff up, and I insert into that all the observations I have from my people-watching and my social life. It is all there, mixed together, melded into scenes and people who have never existed except in my mind.

That second quote of Novakovich leap-frogs off of the first one, and I do have a strong sense of independence. It comes at a price often, but it is worth the price for me.

Then there is his advice about advice. I could not say it better. It is good to be inspired by books on writing life and technique, but a writer must learn when to take advice and when to ignore it. Just because someone has written a thing does not mean that thing is good for you. You must go with your gut and trust that. In fact, I think that is a good idea in life in general. You need a "strong sense of independence and thinking on your own". You must have that to write.

Then you let all of it flow in, inspire you as it will, release the parts that are of no consequence to you, and move on with your writing, your dream, the world you will create.

If you are lucky, the inspiration will come and envelop all your craft, and skill, and experience, and talent, and transport you to that new place you needed to go to give your dream life on the page.

It is the way of writing. It is the way of this writer.

Polla filia,
J.F.

MY TWENTY-TWO THINGS - REDUX

I wrote this a couple of years ago, but it is apparently a favorite, so here it is again. :)

************

These are things I've learned the hard way; and I have lots of personal experience with hard times  - either those that came upon me beyond my control, or those I thrust upon myself. Some of these are things I learned to avoid the latter situation. The rest of them help me cope with the former.

I write these as a reminder to MYSELF! Here we go.

1.    You cannot change people. You can give advice when asked, and/or lend a hand; but, only they can change themselves or their circumstances - OR, as my grandmother used to say "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."

2.    Who cares what other people think? This includes relatives and friends (who may or may not be actual friends). What matters is that you are real, true to yourself, that you respect others, and that you have ethics, honor and integrity. Everything else is strictly your own business and not subject to the transitory and subjective opinions of others. Be your own person. March to the beat of your own drummer. Believe in yourself.

3.    Labels are BS - and damaging. This is nothing more than laziness in place of getting to know people, and/or working to truly understand them. Don't label people, or allow them to label you. We are all far more complex than *any* label. This includes name-calling - see #'s 2, 7, 9 and 17 in this list.

4.    Age is a label - get over it. Saying "I'm old" is a useless, negative, self-limiting, complete waste of the time you have here (this includes people in their twenties who I hear saying this). Stop it, already! How many times you've ridden this water-logged rock around the homestar is irrelevant, since everyone's ride is different. Some people make the most of their ride, while others just piss and moan about how many orbits they've made and how "old" they are. In other words, your mileage may vary - and it may vary according to your ATTITUDE!

5.    You were sent here to do something in particular. Whatever it is, it's important - *whatever it is*! Do it. Don't waste the gifts the Big Guy gave you and don't let others judge how you use them; just make yourself useful.

6.    Find the positive perspective in everything. It's there - find it! Sometimes this is difficult; but, it is always beneficial - and the benefit inures mostly to YOU.

7.    Be courteous - especially in dicey situations where you want to tell someone off; or as Mama used to say "never sink to the level of your adversary", or "don't dignify an insult or bad behavior with a response"; or "consider the source." This doesn't mean you have to suck up to someone nasty. It means keep your dignity. Take the high road. Obviously, courtesy in other situations is easy - do that, too.

8.    When dealing with a negative, difficult, unpleasant, or just downright bad person, remember this:  they were an innocent, defenseless baby once. Somebody screwed that up for them. Try to keep that in mind. It doesn't mean they aren't responsible for themselves or their actions. They are. Keep it in mind anyway - for YOUR sake.

9.    Harsh words galvanize others against you, and your objectives. You will not convince others of the error of their ways with haranguing and criticism. I don't care how great the cause, being obnoxious is not the way to champion it. Intelligent, carefully chosen words make it easier for them to change their course as you wish; or, as Grandma used to say: "you can draw more flies with honey than you can with vinegar."

10.    Trends are BS. Instead do what works best for you and if it happens to coincide with a trend, then so be it. Be classy, tasteful, and courteous. First impressions *do* count no matter what trends may dictate. Be a trend setter, not a follower.

11.    All publicity is *not* good publicity, unless you care nothing for your dignity, honor and integrity - in which case you are a prostitute of some kind or another (yes, it's harsh - but, if you are selling your honor cheaply, then I rest my case). The means to an end *does* matter as much as the end itself. There will come a day when your dignity, honor and integrity will matter absolutely. Make sure you still have all of them when that day arrives. It may be they are the only things that will save you in that moment.

12.    Some people are not your friends. Period. Each of us probably has only a small set of people who are true friends. All the others are mere friendly acquaintances. Your true friends will show their mettle by being with you in your struggles and adversity, and not just in your successes. That is the crucible. Heed it!

13.    If you want to keep a confidence, then don't tell *anyone* - not even someone you trust. They also trust someone else, who trusts someone else. Before you know it, 42 people know the confidence you promised to keep. Your word is your bond. Learn to keep your lips ZIPPED. Anything else is ego and foolishness - an attempt to show off what you know. Honor and integrity show better.

14.    Be the friend you want to have, the person you would admire, the hero to whom you would look. Be that person, and you will find yourself in the company of like people.

15.    Life isn't fair and no one owes you a living. Get over it and get busy.

16.    The past is done. Get over that, too. Use what you learned from it, but don't drag it around behind you like worn out luggage. It's heavy and it looks bad.

17.    If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all (Grandma hammered this one home!). When you do open your mouth, be honest - not cruel, rude, or tactless - just honest. Sometimes saying nothing is the only way to be honest without cruelty or rudeness - take heed of that. BTW, this means no lies and/or gossip. Got it?

18.    Don't procrastinate. Get off your rear parts and do it now! Here's Grandma again: "make hay while the sun shines." In other words, later might be too late. It could be raining - you can't make hay then. Do it NOW!
                       
19.    Life is short - remember that in dealing with family, friends - everybody and everything.

20.    Life is long - remember that in dealing with family friends - everybody and everything.

21.    Smile whether you feel like it or not. After a few seconds, you begin to feel it more, and then you ARE smiling - and other people will be, too. You have now started a chain reaction of epic positive proportions; and you have turned your OWN day around.

22.    Everyone has crap days. It will pass. Gut up. Get through it. See #21 above. The only difference between winners and losers is that winners get up when they fall down - and they keep getting up. Every time. Without fail. So, get up already!

I need to tattoo most of these on my forehead, except I don't think I have room. :) So, I'll just read it here and keep reminding myself.

It isn't easy (on the front end) to live this way. It's easier to lie down, wallow in things, give into base behavior, and go nowhere and achieve nothing. Unfortunately, the back end of that is - well, it's the back end of *something*!

It's also lonely, miserable and ultimately the most difficult path a person can choose.

So, I plan to do my best to remember these things, because hard work on the front end brings great rewards down the road.

Polla filia,
J.F.

Friday, July 8, 2016

CHOOSE LOVE

"Choose well. Your choice is brief, and yet endless."
 - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don't know each other; they don't know each other because they cannot communicate; they cannot communicate because they are separated."
 - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“...You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
 - Jesus Christ, New Testament, Matthew 22: 37-40


I lived in Dallas for many years, and I loved it. I still love that great city. I have many, many, good friends there all of whom I love. I am deeply saddened by what has happened there last night. I am also deeply saddened by the murders of the two men in Louisiana and Minnesota. These murders are troubling my spirit without relent.

I pray for all those who were shot in Dallas last night, and especially for the 5 police officers who were murdered. May their memory be eternal.

I pray for the families and friends of the murdered Dallas officers as well.

I also pray for the two men who were murdered in Louisiana and Minnesota. May their memory be eternal.

I pray for their families and friends.

This paranoid violence has to stop. The paranoia itself has to stop. I see it everywhere. It is in these problems of bigotry - on account of color and religion and gender and so many things. I see the paranoia in our campaigns this year. It is rampant.

We cannot make decisions based on paranoid ideas.

Take a breath. Calm your mind. Get off this internet and just “be” for a very long moment.

If you are Christian, then meditate on what Jesus actually said and did. That quote above from scripture leaves no doubt as to what He expected. It is crystal clear.

Be truthful with yourself about your own hate and paranoia. Be truthful about what He would expect from you.

It is a hard thing to do, but it must be done if you really believe. It must be done and you must do it daily. This internal reflection and questioning is not a luxury. It is a requirement of faith.

If you are of another faith, then try doing the same type of thing within your beliefs and be truthful with yourself.

We must all be truthful with ourselves about ourselves.

We cannot solve the problems of this great country and preserve this union if we are hating on one another, dividing ourselves into camps of “them” and “us”. Whether those divisions are because of color, or religion, or occupation, or political parties, or whatever those divisions are.

These are human-created divisions. They do not exist in the reality of life, because the reality of life is that we are all part of God’s creation. God’s creation does not have divisions.

He loves us all, no matter what.

He loves the two men murdered in Louisiana and Minnesota. He loves their families and friends.

He loves the police officers murdered in Dallas last night. He loves their families and friends.

There is a lot of hate going around in this country and on the internet. The immediacy of the internet fuels it because people can fire off words and thoughts without any consideration - without any hesitation.

We have a great responsibility here.

Today.

Now.

That great responsibility is two-fold.

To consider our words and thoughts with greater care.

To love.

It does work. It will help. It does matter.

Stop.            

Think.

Choose love.

Spread love.

Polla filia,
J. F.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

MERCY TO LIGHT THE DARKNESS

I wept out loud when I read this (see the link at "Final Chapter" below).

I have been following this case several years - since before the killer died (earlier this week). It was a notorious and tragic story, and being a crime fiction writer I had read about it and kept certain articles from NYT because things like this inform my work.

Then this week the obit came for the killer of the poor girl.

Now, today, the open letter from her brother on the death of her killer.

We should all be this good, this compassionate, this wise.

I pray for such a man who lost so much, and somehow manages to maintain his integrity and sense of mercy. Now I also pray for the soul of Kitty’s killer, Winston, and for his family.

Truly William Genovese’s mother was good. May her memory, Kitty’s and Winston’s be eternal, and may her good brother have many, many years. God bless him.


The Final Chapter

 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

THE NORTH STAR

Today is the anniversary of the day I lost my North Star -
My Daddy, who was my bright light;
In whose footsteps I have endeavored to follow;
To whom I looked for guidance.

So many years ago today he went to the other side of life.
The Angels would not wait any longer for him to be there.

Now I can only trace the path of that North Star -
Looking upward and seeing the trail it left for me to follow.

I love you, Daddy!

May his memory be eternal!

Polla Filia,
J. F.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

GRATITUDE - REDUX

A re-post from March to fit the day. It's amazing all the great gifts I have received just since this post! I am grateful for everything I have been given and everything He will continue to give. Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

Every day I remind myself of all that I have been given.
    - - Luciano Pavarotti

This is something I scribbled on a note pad one cold morning at the beginning of March, when Winter's persistence was wearing on me, and I was aching for Spring.


Just some girl struggling with her dreams on a cold, early morning - tired from the struggle.

Then thanking God for everything as she makes her coffee, stretches to wake up, and pats the kitty on his head.

Thanking God for that kitty, the house, the yard, the birds, the trees. Thanking God for every little thing, even if it might seem insignificant - the list expanding to smaller and smaller things - a litany of thanks.

Then thanking God for the old heater that still runs and is warming her house and herself - and thanking Henry and Luke for fixing the heater and keeping it going - not realizing they were supporting some girl struggling with too many cold mornings - and her dreams.

Then thanking God for the dreams, and the struggle, because it makes it all better, stronger, more worthwhile - and because it makes her grateful.

Polla Filia,
J.F.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

DAVE GROHL, THE FOO FIGHTERS, SONIC HIGHWAYS AND THE DREAMWORLD WAVE

"What lies behind us, and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."
     - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Dare to dream big dreams. You're worthy of greatness. You're capable of greatness."
     - Ralph Marston
                   
"Save some time to dream, 'cause your dream might save us all."
     - John Mellencamp


A few facts before we "paddle out" to our wave.

First, the great songwriters and performers Dave Grohl and the other members of the Foo Fighters, have a special series on HBO that has been fantastic. If you aren't watching it, then I encourage you to find it and start watching. It's  a great exploration of the American Musical Landscape. It's called "Sonic Highways".

Each episode is a journey by Dave and the Foo Fighters in a great American musical city. A few weeks ago they did an episode on my home town of Austin, Texas. I was a bit afraid the true spirit of the City might not come through, but I think they did an amazing job. I loved it.

The thing is, it was the episode on Nashville that most surprised me. I honestly expected to be lukewarm about it. My expectations couldn't have been further from the experience I had with them there. We'll get to more on that in a moment.

The next bit of information you need to understand is that I do not drink much or often (in spite of all my talk about wine, beer and scotch). My talk is largely jest. I am also the anti-drug and always have been - lest anyone think I was drunk, or otherwise intoxicated during this, or any similar experience.

Yet, I have a euphoric creative experience from time to time that feels as if I'm under the influence of something - it's a real high, a strong euphoria. I can stoke it myself, or it can come to me unbidden, and unexpected.

My metaphor for that experience is the title of this blog - the Dreamworld Wave. What is paradoxical about this metaphor is that I have a severe phobia of deep water. It takes all I have, and a lot of specific prep, for me to get on a boat and go out on an enclosed, or semi-enclosed body of water - like Lake Travis near where I live, or San Francisco Bay. I do not go swimming (I can swim, and swim well in water where I can stand, but why bother?). I would never go out on a boat on the ocean.

Yeah.

It's that bad - and I've had help with it or I couldn't get on a ferry in San Francisco or a boat in our own Lake Travis.

Yet, my metaphor for my euphoric creative experience is surfing a big wave. Even the psycho-analysis of that paradox leads to a Dreamworld Wave. :)

We're about to paddle out and hop on another wave. Hang on and hang a Writer's Ten with me.

I enjoyed Mr. Grohl and the Foo Fighters before this "Sonic Highways" series, but the series really woke me up to just how talented they all are, and expanded my admiration of them as wonderful songwriters.

In each city on the series, they explore its musical history and some of its most notable musicians - living and departed. The living are interviewed and contribute various stories during the episode, which also includes archival photos and wonderful clips of performances by many great musicians who perform in the genre of the subject city. During this week-long stay in each location, Dave is collecting bits of information which will inform the lyrics he will write for the song in that city. The song is performed at the end of the episode.

I found myself spellbound during the Nashville episode, as I did not expect to be. Then at the end the Foo Fighters queued up the song they had written - a song called "Congregation". As lyrics from the song flashed across the screen in white hand lettering, the culmination of the episode was clear. Mr. Grohl, in his brilliance as a lyricist, had created with the other members of the Foo Fighters a cohesive musical work that encapsulated all of the crucial bits of the interviews, performances, occurrences and other input from their week in Nashville. Their discovery.

I found myself mesmerized and then more. Immersed in the creative inspiration from all those great musicians, and letting it wash over me, I began to open my mind.

Paddling out as all of this unfolded I am unaware of any building wave. I'm not even thinking of my paddling, much less of a Dreamworld Wave. The song ends and as the last chord fades, cut to:

black screen with white titles.

The episode is over.

Wow.

I say it out loud and freeze the DVR.

Sitting there in silence a moment, and then...

I realize the wave is building behind me and I jump on as it crests. The wave curls and I ride the tube as long as I can until the wave crashes and me with it. I tumble under the water of all the ideas in my mind and right myself, to come to the surface with my head full of solutions to a story I had been working on for a future book.

I grab a piece of paper and begin making notes furiously - the euphoria hanging on as I solve one of the major problems with that work. It is a game changer.

Break. Through.

Fear-facing Wave Beauty.

Metaphorical, yet real Euphoria.

You can ride a Dreamworld Wave. All you have to do is paddle out and hop on. It's about letting go of all the stuff on your mind, immersing yourself in something brilliant and creative - like the music of the Foo Fighters on their Sonic Highways journey. Then as you drift along with that incredible music - or whatever great creative thing you choose, you can catch that wave - the "wave" of something that you love, something for which you have a true passion. Let it take you to a place where your mind leaves the stresses of everyday life and embraces the joy of the moment - the joy of something that has real meaning for you.

Embrace your dreams and go with them. Ride the Dreamworld Wave!

Polla Filia,
J.F.

P.S. - I highly recommend the Foo Fighters new album "Sonic Highways" which you can download or buy in CD or vinyl from your favorite retailer. In any event, you need to hear the song "Congregation".

Monday, August 11, 2014

HOMAGE TO ROBIN WILLIAMS





"What is life? It is the flash of the firefly in the night. It is the breath of the buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset."
-- Crowfoot 


I'm gutted. The funniest man ever is gone.

Some years ago when Mom was dying from something really awful, I came home after a particularly crap day - the kind where you sit down & cry because you can’t do anything but that.

You wonder how you're going to sleep, or anything else.

A while later I turned on TV and there was Bravo's "Inside the Actor's Studio", and you know who was on?

Robin Williams - that's who.

He proceeded to save my day and night with hilarity. It was one of his funniest and most amazing comedy performances I had ever seen, which is saying a lot, because the man was genius-level funny.

He did more than turn that one day around for me. He lifted me up to a brighter place than I had been in months. My mother didn’t have many weeks left at that point. He rescued me in a really bad time.

Luckily, the DVR was recording that episode and I saved it. From then on, I knew if I was in a real pit of a dark day, I only needed to turn on that episode of “Inside the Actor’s Studio” and it would be as fresh and funny as it was the first time I saw it.

I am stunned with disbelief that he is gone.

My prayers go out for all his family and friends.

He was brilliant and he did so much good for so many.
Thank you, Mr. Williams! We will miss you forever. We loved you so much!

Robin Williams has gone to the other side of life. May his memory be eternal.

Polla Filia,
J.F.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

GRATITUDE

Every day I remind myself of all that I have been given.
    - - Luciano Pavarotti

This is something I scribbled on a note pad one cold morning at the beginning of March, when Winter's persistence was wearing on me, and I was aching for Spring.


Just some girl struggling with her dreams on a cold, early morning - tired from the struggle.

Then thanking God for everything as she makes her coffee, stretches to wake up, and pats the kitty on his head.

Thanking God for that kitty, the house, the yard, the birds, the trees. Thanking God for every little thing, even if it might seem insignificant - the list expanding to smaller and smaller things - a litany of thanks.

Then thanking God for the old heater that still runs and is warming her house and herself - and thanking Henry and Luke for fixing the heater and keeping it going - not realizing they were supporting some girl struggling with too many cold mornings - and her dreams.

Then thanking God for the dreams, and the struggle, because it makes it all better, stronger, more worthwhile - and because it makes her grateful.

Polla Filia,
J.F.