Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Awakenings, aka Inconsiderate People

Why is it that I get so angry when people are inconsiderate?


Courtesy granitegrok.com
It happened today. Just a while ago. I was waiting for the line of cars to pass so that I could pull out on Maple Street. My chance came when the light changed, stopping traffic. But nooo. Rather than stopping short so I could pull out, some guy stopped in front of me, blocking my exit. FLASH went my temper as a surge of adrenaline and other unhealthy hormones rushed through my system.

Luckily the guy behind him was nicer and allowed me to zigzag out from behind the inconsiderate arse, praying nothing was now coming from the other direction, then pondering the anger as I checked my rearview mirror.

The other day I was in Marshalls when a woman and I, both pushing those tiny carts, arrived at the same small intersection in the clothing department. I let her go first and she proceeded to park right in the middle to browse clothes. Whaaat? Idiota! She never even acknowledged her lack of consideration. Not on your life. Clueless I tell ya, clueless.

Really people? If you’re so damned wrapped up in your own personal kingdom of SELF that you can’t be bothered to give a little common courtesy, STAY HOME!! In fact, stay in bed. Don’t get up in the morning and foist your enormous ego on the rest of the world. Stay swaddled in your own little Self cocoon.

Now, back to my original question. Why is it that I get so angry when people are inconsiderate? Because I can’t be? Because I am and don’t know it? Or is it merely that people ought to know better? To do better? Or maybe it's because I was taught as a young child to be considerate, or because it's second nature for me to look out for others, or that I simply do not understand any other way of being.
Whatever the answer, it's a good reminder for me to be vigilant, to look for opportunities to make life easier for others. Because life is to be found in the little things, not so much in the grand gestures.

Though I sure am glad the Red Baron spared Snoopy. Life wouldn’t be the same without him. Enjoy one of my favorite holiday classics, "Snoopy's Christmas".


 

Merry Early Christmas, Olivia J. Herrell

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Ten Things I Learned from NaNoWriMo

The first and foremost thing I learned from my participation in National Novel Writing Month 2014 is that incredible things happen when I am determined.

I learned that, in spite of my misgivings, my past record or history, in spite of having a full-time (and still growing) business, in spite of all the resistance that presents its ugly head in a million different ways, I CAN!

1.      I can write 50,000 words (half a novel or a whole novella) in thirty days; (My last NaNo effort in 2012 netted 19,000 – and I still think that’s a.w.e.s.o.m.e.!)

2.      I can write 10,000 words in two days; (I won’t mention that the last few hours of the second day was agony, oh wait, I just did.)

3.      I can write 5700 words in one day; (Before NaNo my record hung somewhere around 3000, and that, my friend, was a red-letter writing day!)

4.      I can be disciplined when I set my mind to it; (This is enormous for me!)

5.      I can be so focused that the world piles up around me and I don’t really see it, much less care; (I detest a messy house/car/life. I mean, if it’s yours, fine, but I prefer order.)

6.      I can forego running errands for days, even weeks without my world falling apart; (I went ten days with no ink for my work printer. I don’t suggest you do the same.)

7.      I can be not only productive, but super productive, as part of a writing group/community; (Because I’m Stephen King, ya-know and must work alone. Don’t laugh. I’m baring my writer soul here.)

8.      I can be successful at writing for a living when the opportunity comes along; (Which brings us back to that discipline thing again.)

9.      I can write without performing mass edits as I go along; (Another Huge issue for me.)

10.  I can rock NANOWRIMO!!! (And I am soooo proud of myself for it.)

~ Olivia J. Herrell

P.S. Thank you to my family and friends for your kind support and understanding during the month of November.
P.P.S. To all the members of NaNoWriMo2014 - Thank you for your support, encouragement, motivation, laughter and hand-holding. WE DID IT!! Margaret Bail, Andrew Post, Alex Ong, Charlotte Gruber, Anna Davis, Anna Pippin, Janet Riberdy Wrenn, Jessica Harvey, Marissa Campbell, Liv Rancourt, Janice Wilson, Mary Moore, Niki Cluff, Patti Kurtz, Sillysilly Silver and So Schlie.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Anticipating NaNoWriMo


Ever get so caught up in the excitement and anticipation of doing something that you can’t contain yourself long enough to take the steps necessary for it to succeed?

Yeah. Me too.
Today that thing is National Novel Writing Month, affectionately known as NaNoWriMo.

I did my first one in 2012. No, I did not “win” by reaching the goal of 50,000 words, but I did write way more than I otherwise would've in that time. 2013 was a passing blur and I don’t remember why I missed the fun, but I’m all in for 2014.

So…

v  Wish me luck. If I remember correctly, that works out to 1666 words a day.

v  Hold those tea, lunch, dinner, movie, play, ballgame, dance, etcetera invites until December 1st. Starting Saturday, and for the following twenty-nine days, other than time spent working, I will be writing.

v  Be my cheerleader. All positive reinforcement is welcome and needed, including, but not limited to: attagirls, balloon bouquets, singing telegrams, social media plugs, prayers, flowers, good thoughts, inspirational texts, celebration parties, chocolate, green tea, flannel pajamas and fuzzy socks.

v  Follow me (or friend me) on Facebook. I’ll post occasional updates there, as well as here at That Rebel.

v  If you’re a writer and are interested in writing a novel in thirty days, join us for NaNoWriMo.

v  If you are doing NaNo, consider joining us on Facebook. It is a private group, so if interested, leave a message in the comments below or tag me on Facebook and I’ll add you.

There. With any luck at all, I can focus now. I have a few scenes to finish for Book One before I push on to Book Two, which means finishing by Friday. (Of course, if not, it will wait until December.)
Huzzah!

~ Olivia J. Herrell, October 28, 2014

Monday, October 20, 2014

Connections and Coincidence

Courtesy PDPhoto.org
Don’t you just love life and all its twists and turns? Today I find myself seated at a familiar booth in Johnny’s, munching a slice of pizza and indulging a Coke addiction that, when I take it out to look, has its roots in this town, the town that Asa Candler was born in and left: thirty-five miles and aeons west of Atlanta, in the rolling hills of northwest Georgia.

It molded him, this place, nurtured him until he could strike out for the big city to meet Pemberton and build an empire that still dominates the world. When I think about Peace Makers (a novel that’s been in-process for the last four years) in this context, I get goose bumps. Much of it has been written just blocks from where he would've lived. Will I, like Asa, have to leave to find my happy ending?

Oddly enough, there are other connections. By happenstance, the novel is set in Druid Hills, an Atlanta community that Candler helped build, featuring tree-lined streets and delightful linear parks designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. Emory University, to which the Coke magnate donated land and monies is the backdrop for at least one chapter and rates mention in several others. The Candler Building, a marvel of fantastical design, appears as the locale for another scene in downtown Atlanta.

Mere coincidence? A twist of fate? Maybe. But maybe not. Whatever the answer, it's something to ponder on a fine day in October in these red-clay hills of Georgia.
October 18, 2014
~ Olivia J. Herrell

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Writing Update and a New Format

Hip, hip, hooray!

View from atop Cape Perpetua, Oregon Coast
I have (finally) updated the format of THAT REBEL WITH A BLOG and, yes, you can expect more changes along the way. As before, I will write about things that matter. Life. Writing. Living. Travel. Growing. Loving. Laughing. Crying. Whining. And, yes, some dying.

Each day brings me closer to the completion of Book One of Blessed Are The Peace Makers. It is written, but continues to transform as more layers and depth reveal themselves. Teetering at around 99,000 words, it's fatter than I meant it to be and will likely end up closer to 105-110,000. That's a lot of words for a new novelist, but for the genre, not out-of-line.

So here's to That Rebel and to Peace Makers. May they both live long and prosper.

~ Olivia J. Herrell

Friday, July 25, 2014

White Space

Wow. It's weird in here. All this white space. It's freaky. Where are all the words? All the sentences? All the paragraphs?

Who the hell took my words?!?!?

Oh. Wait. There they are. The more I type. Hmm. Seems the more I type, the more there are. Ohhhhh. Yeaaaahhh. Thaaaat's where they are.

Those wascally words. Seems they just don't appear on their own, now do they.

Wats.

Here's to having an awe-inspired weekend doing whatever you do to fill in your own white space. Figuratively speaking. Or in my case, literally speaking.

Namaste.

~ Olivia J. Herrell

 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Internal Dialogue 101

Go ahead. Do it. Write something. Write a blog post.

Nope. Can't.

Why not?

Hmm. Not sure, really. Just can't. Don't want to. Can't make me, either.

Really?

Really. Not doing it. Not until I finish that book I'm writing. Not until then, I tell you.

Really? That doesn't make much sense.

Um. Sense? It's not about sense. It's about. Crap. What is it about?

Hahahaha. See. You're bonkers.

Me? YOU'RE bonkers. I'M fine. I can't. Don't want to. Can't make me. And that's all there is to it.

Huh. Alrighty then. Have it your way. But you will. I know you. Sooner or later, you will.

~ Olivia J. Herrell

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Coincidence? I Don't Think So.

I started the day with vigor and verve, newly-repaired Activator in hand. Somewhere around midday I realized. My finger is hurting. Inspecting the site of pain, I find a blister forming at the bend of my middle finger. No small feat considering it's right smack-dab on top of a callous. A fifteen year-old callous.

Really? So you mean the scratchy duct tape the dude (um, professional) used to repair the cracked shaft rubbed against my finger and gave me a blister? Grrrrr.

So I put it aside and used my other one. Now mind you, this Activator is cracking too, and on the brink of the same repair. But I've been careful, you see. Been nursing her along. Not five minutes later, BLAM!!! I turn around and she's lying on the floor busted, the handle in two pieces beside her.

🎝Dunt-dunt-da-da, dunt-da-da, da-da, da-da.♫

SCREEEEEEECH!

I know you can't hear me. But that was a high-pitched scream. Because, don'tcha know, it goes with the rest of my day. Week. Since getting home from Casper, Wyoming, actually.

GAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

After everyone left and I had time to stew, it hit me. Crap. Now it's obvious. Is it to you? One instrument hurts my hand, the other one breaks outright? BLAM, POW, KAPOOEE.

I interpret this as one of two things, both of which are signs. And yes, if you're wondering, I believe in signs. One, I was hating on my day job and indirectly destroyed the object of my hate, or two, the Universe, God, my angels, whoever's up there whispering in my ear, yelled "hang it up".

Get rid of my day job?

Did I just say that out loud? Because I have lots of reasons to keep it. And only a few to let it go.

"The heart is the hub of all sacred spaces.
Go there and roam." ~ Bhagawan Nityananda
But look at the signs. At my heart. The heart that calmed the moment I sat down to write about it, the instant I laid hands on my keyboard. Listen to her. She is the song of the sea, of wind-tossed waves sluicing against a sandy beach, the roar of quiet abandon to what is and what shall be.

Yes. I will. I will look. And I will see. Thank you, Universe, thank you very much. I will.

Is something trying to get YOUR attention? Will you look? Pay attention? Will you see?

~ Olivia J. Herrell


Friday, January 31, 2014

Agita aka A Bad Case of the Grrr's

ag•i•ta (ˈædʒ ɪ tə)
n.
1. heartburn; indigestion.
2. agitation; anxiety.
[1980–85, Amer.; < Italian, <agitare < Latin agitāre agitate], courtesy http://www.thefreedictionary.com/agita

Agita. I'd never heard the word until a few years ago, when my friend from Long Island introduced me. It perfectly describes what I'm feeling today, a deep level of unease. Dis-ease. A teeth-gritting, muscle-clenching day when everything and everyone gets on your last nerve. Of course, I know it's not them. It's me.

Agita. I found this excerpt from an article by David Giacalone upon googling the word. The highlights were supplied by me.
"...I discovered a fuller and fun discussion of agita at The Word Detective, which includes: You won’t find “agita” in most dictionaries, although it is a quintessential Italian-American slang word. Strictly speaking, “agita” is a stomach upset or heartburn. But “agita” can also mean that special kind of existential dyspepsia of the soul you get when absolutely everything goes wrong. Comedian Jackie Mason has explained “agita” as “when you have been aggravated to the point where it feels like you have a serious migraine headache throughout your whole body.” “Agita” is thus more or less the Italian-American equivalent of the Yiddish “tsuris” (”misery”), an equation not lost on Woody Allen, who made a song about “agita” the center-piece of his 1984 film “Broadway Danny Rose.” ~ David Giacalone 
Strange word, agita. One you don't hear growing up in the south. But it's one of Those Words. Once you know it and experience the feeling, you think, "Yeah. Exactly. Agita."

So like it or not, I've got the grrr's. Could it be the fallout from Flurryopollis or whatever Jon Stewart called it? Seeing nothing but white for three days running? Being on high alert for thirty hours, watching Facebook's newsfeed, helping pray family, friends, clients and other's loved ones home safely?

Or maybe it's the inner manifestation of an itchy rash I've developed from a new sensitivity to latex and spandex. Which, by the way, is in every bra ever manufactured, including the camisoles to which I'd resorted.

Whatever the cause, the best thing to do with a person afflicted with agita is: RUN. Or duck. But for heaven's sake, don't try to fix, or understand it. Just go away. Leave us alone. Hope tomorrow's better.

Of course, if you, like me, are the one suffering from agita, you're screwed. I can't run. I can't hide. I can't duck. I'm stuck. With an anxious, irritable me.

So here's hoping for a better tomorrow.

~ Olivia J. Herrell

Friday, January 24, 2014

From Awful to Blessings to Healing

Three days ago I returned from my ex’s funeral. Stepping out of the Atlanta Airport, I was greeted with plunging temperatures, body-slapped by twenty mile-an-hour winds shrieking down from the north.

Santa Monica Mountains Looking South from Pt Mugu
At home, the reception was warmer. Bugsy’s loud, long meowls lasted a good five minutes as we bumped and rubbed faces until he decided I was really home. Bedtime came late. My body and spirit linger in Southern California, where the temperatures are balmy and the time still early.

The trip was fraught with both blessings and healings, as is wont to happen at such times. I experienced the safety and shelter of being in the hollow of God’s hands, as doors and hearts opened and festering wounds healed. Gone are the chains that shackled my heart. Gone is the man at the other end.

Author Unknown
Buoyed as I am by this new state of being, grief weighs heavy, disguised as depression. My suitcase is yet unpacked and clothes pile high in the bedroom. Work has been difficult and any nonessential task, unbearable. Suffice it to say I've put it aside until later. That’s me being gentle with me. Tomorrow is Saturday. Color me grateful. I plan to do some writing, sticking close to home.

Monkey Paws on Seaward in Ventura, CA
Yesterday I received an allegorical short story while sitting in the sun watching the birds near the feeder. A love story which may or may not have a happy ending, its title is “Meadow Lark and Mocking Bird”. The writing will be cathartic. More healing.

Then, during quiet time this morning, a Book Two character appeared, along with an electrifying (literally) scene to introduce him. Key to the main character’s development, 'Taranis' will help move the story from local to international and be the first ‘god’ to enter the fray. Seems the second book of my "Peace Makers" trilogy is taking shape, in spite of the fact that Book One is incomplete.

Time now to relax. Maybe a movie. Netflix. Hulu. Something with worlds and characters someone else created. Here's to an early bedtime and a body clock (please, please) back on Eastern time.

~ Olivia J. Herrell

Saturday, January 18, 2014

And When I Die

I’m headed to Los Angeles to attend the funeral service of a friend. At age fifty-six, he had always been healthy. Yet that night his heart gave up and stopped beating. Did he know? Or did he just keep on flying, higher and higher, in some beautiful dream, determined not to come back to a cold, cruel world?

Did blocked arteries really end such a vital life? Or were there emotional scars, wounds that couldn’t heal, a heart broken one too many times? Was he tired of this rat race, the struggle for survival in a world that cares little for our dreams? What mental state propels one to leave for the other side?

Regardless, he is gone, this man who showed me the time of my life.

Still in shock, I wrestle with the finality of death. Before that text on Wednesday, I could never have imagined a world without Harold. He was out there, somewhere, creating music and being Him. We were on opposite ends of the country and no longer an item, but we stayed in touch. And in my heart I held out hope that one day we’d be together. Now he’s gone.

Thank God for shock, the blessed fugue-state that protects the remaining from the pain of separation. Sunday we say goodbye in the Hollywood Hills at Forest Lawn.

~ Olivia J. Herrell

***

It’s now the next day and the obituary is up. The shock is wearing off, replaced by an enormous sense of finality. A song plays through my head this morning, as if Harold is telling me to let him go. “I’m not scared of dying/And I don’t really care./If it’s peace you find in dying,/Well then let the time be near.” One line in particular plays over and over: “Just let me go naturally.”

So Harold, here’s to you. I love you. And always will.


                                              
Blood Sweat and Tears performing "And When I Die"

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Library Deja Vu

I settled at a table in Neva Lomason Library with the hopes of gathering scattered thoughts. Book One of Peace Makers is writtten, but it's disjointed, fat and clumsy.

As I began jotting notes about arcs and plot points, set up and denouement, I became aware of mothers passing by with young children. Their arms were laden with books, their faces reflected inner contentment and the joy that comes from having one's arms wrapped around the written word.

Neva Lomason Library, Carrollton, GA
Suddenly recognition dawned. These are the same racks, rows and shelves that I drew from as a girl, almost half a century ago. One particularly special rite of passage that came to mind was graduating from the children's section and getting to check out and read books from the adult's.

But I digress. Back to deja vu. Mama with me, my older sister and my younger brother in tow in this same library. You've heard my story about the Villa Rica library. I'd forgotten my experience in this one.

The common denominator was Mama. Every week she would pile us in the car, drive us to the library and let us check out the maximum number of books each. Then the following Saturday, we'd do it all again, returning those five and checking out five more.

I have tears in my eyes and throat now as the realization sinks in. My daddy might've been a genius, and professor-like in his knowledge and common sense, but it was Mama who did the real work, Mama who made sure that our fertile minds had plenty of fodder, Mama who had a deep love for books and passed it on to us.

I don't remember her reading back then, maybe because I was so caught up in me. But later in life, after retirement, she was voracious, poring over the racks at the Madison library, then later, the shelves of the lending library at the retirement village.

Mama, thank you. Thank you. THANK YOU!

And I'm sorry. I'm sorry I'm just now realizing this about you. And I'm sorry I never told you in person.

*stops to blow nose and wipe away tears*

Closing time approaches, as does the end of my battery life. As I wind this down, it occurs to me that I likely didn't come here to gather Peace Maker thoughts at all, though I did accomplish that end.

What I'm really here for is remembrance. And appreciation. And some sort of redemption I don't yet understand.

~ Olivia J. Herrell

Monday, January 6, 2014

Snow Flurries and Cat Sighs Redux

We have snow flurries today in the deep South, along with bone-chilling temperatures. It reminded of another flurry and this post I'd done a few years ago:

This morning I woke up to 20 degree temperatures and snow flurries. Sitting here with Bugsy in the ancient, oversized armchair, I look out at the snowflakes fluttering against the sunrise, and wonder why we call them flurries.

When I think of a flurry, I think of a quick burst of frenetic activity. These flakes, on the other hand, are very casual as they drift with no apparent aim. Most follow some mysterious, circuitous route, floating up, down and all around. Many chase each other and do aerobic acrobats before continuing on their individual journeys to the ground.

Hardly any of the snowflakes seem to be in a hurry, but rather float randomly, and lazily, around. In fact, it seems their goal is to stay in the air as long as they possibly can. They play on the wind, merry and unrestrained. Very few of them fall straight down.

So why the name ‘snow flurries’?

It has more to do with the volume, I think. There aren’t enough flakes to classify as a snow shower. And when a good, stiff breeze blows, they actually do hurry. Mostly in one direction, sideways, toward the ground.

Bugsy watches with interest, as do I. What does my cat ponder? Knowing Bugsy, he’s thinking of being outside, chasing those fluttering flakes.

Unable to do so, he takes a big, deep breath. And sighs.

Curling up on the back of the chair, he presses his cheek close to the window and naps, dreaming in his sleep, of the chase.

Me? I can’t help but think how like these snowflakes we humans are. And I long to be more like the playful, capricious flakes. And less like the ones that hurry to the ground.


~ Olivia J. Herrell

Flurry: definition according to The Free Dictionary: flurry n pl -ries
1. a sudden commotion or burst of activity
2. a light gust of wind or rain or fall of snow
3. (Economics, Accounting & Finance / Stock Exchange) Stock Exchange a sudden brief increase in trading or fluctuation in stock prices
4. (Life Sciences & Allied Applications / Fishing) the death spasms of a harpooned whale
vb -ries, -rying, -ried
5.to confuse or bewilder or be confused or bewildered [from obsolete flurr to scatter, perhaps formed on analogy with hurry]

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

What're You Doing New Year?

Belize. Adventure. The jungle. A pyramid. Smugglers.

That's how I spent the last bit of 2013 watching Caribe. Then, a millisecond before the fireworks erupted three blocks from my house, the good guys blew up the barge full of contraband. Happy New Year!

I hit pause, kissed the cat (because you gotta kiss somebody, right?), then ran out back to watch the fireworks. 

And captured these through the trees with my iPhone:




The blur makes them rather impressionistic, don't you think?

Circling back to Caribe, it's auspicious that I transitted the gate from 2013 to 2014 while soaking in the sights and sounds of Belize. Why?

Because, my friends, the blue water calleth. The Bahamas. The Caribbean. Belize. Like a siren song, the blue water calls.

And I mean to answer.

I always do.

How did you ring in 2014?

~ Olivia J. Herrell


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