Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Foghorn in the Night

Quote of the Day:
There are two mistakes one can make 
along the road to truth....
not going all the way and not starting.
~Buddha~

Current Local Weather:
Just warm enough to forget the coldness of 
my life and start over.

Currently on my iTunes:
"Into the Mystic"
Van Morrison

Dear Friends, Family and my Family of Friends, 


      A bit of news. 
       I recently kicked some ass. 
      The ass I speak of is Acute Myeloid Leukemia. I'm in remission. If I'm being honest with you, I have to say I didn't, at least at first, expect to make it to the other side of cancer. But I did. I did it with a massive outpouring of love, medicine, poisonous chemotherapy and prayers/healing energy. I am still writing thank you notes...I've been writing them for months now. 



      So....now what? 
      I have this thing called recovery that I have to tend to everyday. It's a bitch, too. I want to go outside and play but my body is still very slow to start...it's like a car out of gas in the middle of winter. I sleep a lot, text a lot with my lovely BFF Lisa and occasionally get up and out to see a doctor.

      Then what? Work. I'm continuing to read manuscripts and edit. But there is something else I want to do. I want to live more purposefully. I want to live with more truth and honesty than not. I want to LIVE. I want to finish this life game with glitter guns shooting in the air not because I had the most friends or money (although some would be nice...) but because I did everything with love and purpose. I want to sail into the Mystic, just as Van Morrison is singing in my ears, with the foghorn blowing as I come home. But this isn't just a home, it's heaven. 

                           

I have no more fears as everything I've ever feared, other than the occasional spider, has dissipated. I am going to rock more days than not and face life with a renewed spirit and greater love for those in my life. 



If you were one of the people that supported me during my year of hell, bless you for walking into the unknown with your head held high, even if mine wasn't. If you were there holding my hand, especially those that traveled far to be there or physically carried me around, my hand is forever yours and my heart will have your name carved into it. Thank you ALL for giving me a life in which I will live with more purpose and love for everyone that comes into it.

Thanks especially to the following folks: My folks, Wayne, for giving me a sense of normalcy and checking on me more than anyone else; Seamus and Bill, I'll never forget your love and friendship; Tim, I still can't say thank you enough;  Jason and Jen....there are no words sufficient enough; Jessica, you are an angel; Karen...thank you for every second you spent on me;  Lisa...forever your sister and Niki, for traveling for a thousand or so miles to hold my hand for a day or two; Matt for keeping me distracted; Keith &Amy for bringing me a dose of real food and smiles; Heather for knowing and understanding; Shannon for sending love via packages and facetime; My children for being brave and loving me through it all;  Tina, for coming to visit and bringing me fun things to do; CBCI, without you I wouldn't be here.

I'm home to stay for now. I've heard that foghorn and the road is now clear. I can say with great certainty that the sun is shining on us all. 

Yours in Kicking Ass, Living on the other side of a cure and feeling blessed beyond words,

Cicily




Thursday, October 8, 2015

Presently Dismissed

Quote of the Day: 
Better to be Strong
Than Pretty and Useless.
~Lilith Saintcrow~

Current Local Weather: 
Freezing Heat in the Chicken Coop.

Currently on my iTunes:
Cough Syrup
Young the Giant

Currently Reading: 
Side Effects off of a Chemo Label. Scary. 

Dear Friends and Family and My Family of Friends, 

Has it really been a year and a half or more since my last blog? I guess it has. A lot has happened. A lot. If you want the Reader's Digest version, call me. But this blog, this is in the present moment. This is the first day I've had clarity in a very long time and I'm so very thankful for it. I start my last treatment in this month's round of Chemotherapy. 

So in case you aren't sure how to read that, here's a hint...

I've been diagnosed with CANCER. 

To clarify: It sucks. I have Acute Myeloblastic Leukemia. It's not an easy one. Not that any cancer is easy. But this one particularly sucks. Hard to get rid of. The kind of cancer that likes to park itself all inside your body and doesn't even buy you a drink or dinner before hand.



I have Young the Giant playing in my ears. I love their tune, "Cough Syrup." If you replace the words, Cough Syrup with Cancer, it fits my life, in this moment, perfectly. 
I'm just waiting for this Cancer to come down. I was diagnosed on June 19th. It has turned everything in my world into a swirling sink of cough syrup tinged puke. But I'm ok. Ok with it. Ok with Cancer because it's only a June 19th kinda thing. It's only here for now. Not later. At least I hope so. 


Yesterday, a pastor came to visit me. She was telling me all about her daughter's adventures with St. Baldricks when a friend of hers had cancer in high School and it took a solid two years to grow back her hair to the point where she could push her hair behind her ears. 

I could feel the blood rushing up my very bald head. Ears were hot and tears flowed. I lose my mind easily these days. I started to lose it. Albeit I had thought about the idea of not having hair for a few months, the thought of not having it for several years blew me into a smothering afternoon full of anxiety. It's just hair. I had to ask the question, why did I rely so much on my hair and still rely so much on my hair as part of my identity? Why did I care what others think of me with or without my hair? It's only hair. I fear ugliness. I fear never being kissed again because I'm the weird, pale, funny looking bald chick. I fear not knowing if my fears will come true. I fear dying alone. I fear it all. 

Really. 
Hair. No hair = Fear. 
What the hell is wrong with me? 

Oh yeah. Cancer. That's what's wrong. 

I hear I look good without it. For all those beautiful people with hair...go suck an egg. 


I beg to differ. 

I'm naked without it. 

My health is next to impossible to survive unless you're me. I was told things, after I burst into tears at the thought of never being me with hair like I used to  have, like...stay in the present. This is temporary. This is only temporary. It's not temporary when it feels like forever. I've been in this bed since August 20th. It's not October. I was in the last bed for two weeks. The one before that for 6 weeks. I've missed Spring, Summer and now, the Fall. 

And I have no hair. 
No job to speak of. 
And a billion friends that love me to pieces on Facebook and in real life. 

So what's the big deal? 

I'm waiting on the Cough Syrup to come down. This is no way to live life. So I try to think of the future. The future where I'm off this Cancer high and down into the reality I want so very badly. But living in anything other than the room that contains the poison for my veins and mind, is a very bad idea. There are no plans for the future. There are no plans for the past that have worked out and currently, I have lost my ability to dream. So I'm living with the short end of the stick in my hand and praying daily for mercy, grace and a cure. 

I fully believe that now, living in the now, is the only way to go. All of my worries put in the actions and reactions of the past serve no one but my nerves and living in a future I can no longer see is blinding. 

Today. This is all I have to give and all I need. Today. If breathing is the only thing I accomplish in a day and that's ok. My fortune is in my friends and family that hold me solidly in their web of love. 

I have about two to three more chemo rounds to go until I'm "done." And that's if this persistence of molecular level leukemia cells vacates this crack house of a body in the very near future. If not...well, again, that's in the future and I have no desire to plan for it. Only for today. 

If you have any desire to help me and others, I ask that you give what you can to the following: 








The first two are beneficial and come with perks for music lovers. The last one helps me directly to pay the bills that are very in the present tense in my life. Cancer Sucks in that way, too. 

Thank you all for living in the present with me. I love you all and will update you as I can. Never dismiss your present for anything other than the greatness it is, for better or worse, because you never know when you'll have to deal with a June 19th. 

Love in Light, Laughs and Losing your Mind/Hair..., 


Cicily


Friday, June 27, 2014

#MyWritingProcess Blog Tour: Everyday Demons

Quote of the Day:
Most folks are as happy 
as they make up their minds to be.
~Abraham Lincoln~

Current Local Weather:
Damp heat, dank thoughts 
and a strong potential for the thunderous roar of
forgetfulness to cleanse the palate before
night falls...

Currently on my iTunes:
"Hero"
Loma Vista
Family of the Year
**I can't stop listening to this...**



Currently Reading:


Michael Pollan


Dear Friends, Family and My Family of Friends, 

My client, Allison Gruber, tagged me in the #MyWritingProcess blog tour. This wonderful idea stemmed from other writers, readers and envious folks of the bookish ones in society to get the backstory to the story. 


Let me give you the backstory on Allison, first. 


Allison is one of my most favoritest clients. Not because of all the money she garnered both of us as a first-time autobiographical essayist...(hey, don't judge. She really did get paid..) but because of her creative beauty. She's truly a light in the world. And just as I tend to do with my writerly-type clients, I fell in love with her from sentence one and will be so from infinity and beyond. 

Who needs marriage when you have clients that don't dirty up the bathtub, throw wet towels on the floor and cause a mess...instead they cleanse the mind...

Clients who never leave your head too early and always stay for as long as you need, just when you need them most? Who needs romance when every time they send you a book you get the privilege of falling deep head-over-bookmark in that lusty bibliophilish phase of love that only a true book lover can know? 

This is why I do what I do.

Her first book, "You're Not Edith," started out as nothing but Trouble. (Sorry Allison, couldn't help myself) PLEASE ORDER YOURS NOW! Click the link on the title!


She has a unique and insightful take on the #Writing process. I hope you'll take a moment to go read her "audio" blog for this series. Thank you, Allison, for giving me this opportunity to talk about #MyWritingProcess. 

This concept consists of writers answering four questions about their process. Who am I to debunk the system? So here's mine: 

1) What are you working on now? 

"Deprivation" It's about a narcoleptic pilot that figured out a way to get by the FFA with his disease only to have it come back to bite him after having an affair with a "sky waitress." 


It's a comedic look at the hazards of chronic traveling and high-altitude scheming. Deprivation combines the wit of "Airplane," the absurdity of "Fight Club" and rounds it off with a bit of "Fatal Attraction."

This is absolutely a "fun" project amidst all of my "serious" ones. Not that all of them aren't fun, but this one just suits the mood I'm in more than not. 

I'm also working on a new oral history titled, "Lost and Found: The American Dream and its Greatest Faults." That one is still taking subjects. If you've lost your way and found your dreams in the process of finding yourself, call me, ASAP. 

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre? 

This is a hard question to answer, even when coming from an agent that has to lecture clients about comp titles...

I believe each work has a lifeline of its own. But all of what I do differs from others in that it doesn't stoop to or rise against any expectations or boundaries. It's offensive and deep and deeply defensive as to the faults that seep out of yours, mine and our skin on a daily basis. 


3) Why do I write what I write?  

 I always write with the theme of humanity.  Just like you, I'm trying to figure out the meaning of our commonness, our existence and our demise. Writing about it just helps, it's the only thing that helps me as a matter-of-fact. It's the cheapest and most invaluable therapy there is to get rid of my everyday demons...

Those demons can be muses in disguise. I would recommend that if you're thinking about writing, entertain and host your demons to the party on the page. Blank pages are as good as the infamous "Proton Packs" used on Ghostbusters for exhausting the "Stay-Puff Man" in your life that's haunting you. 



4) What does my writing process look like? 

I should correct this question to read, "What does it sound like?" 



I'm completely lopsided when it comes to my sensory experiences. Sound, the making of and the listening to, inspires me. So the first thing I do when I write is to listen to the character's voice. Then I find their playlist and create it to sing to me when I write. I then take off with whatever they want me to do. I'm their pawn. Always. Whether it be in the oral-history format or my favorite fictional asshole pilot in Deprivation...I'm their only chance to have a voice. 

John, the pilot, he listens to Dead Milkmen when no one is around and Miles Davis when a woman asks and flies...soars to Johnny Cash. He's a lot like me in that respect...Eclectic. So when I write in his voice, I have to have him in his full form to write him down. 

When I was working on my book, "The New Face of Jazz," I listened to a lot of...you guessed it...jazz. But while doing edits for the book I listened to a lot of R&B, Gospel and even, dare I say...classical. 



As far as the tangible process: I'm a quiet writer. I can't be around chaos, I can't be too hot but I can be cold and I definitely can't be in any kind of pain. Pain of any kind is the nemesis of writing. Whether it be emotional, physical or intellectual (as in...the research for this novel/article/living will could potentially kill me!)....it has to be in balance and in somewhat dissonant harmony with the project I'm working on. 

Thanks again to Allison for tagging me in this! 

Next up in the #MyWritingProcess Blog tour is one of my favorite storytellers. Yes, he's Natty-poo's Papa, but before I knew him as a Papa-type dude, I knew him as a full-blown Texan Storyteller. You can find him on Twitter. 


And, for the record: He's the one that did this to Natty: 


Regardless of his role and its proverbial coat of many colors through the last four plus years I've known Jimmy, I've never grown tired of his stories, his writing or his love for his family. Here's to you, Papa! And thanks for giving a great set of genes to Natty's Daddy and Natty. Sometimes the best storytellers are sitting right in front of you. Time to listen to what they have to say. 

Yours in Writing, Wordsmithing and Wondering About it All, 

Cicily



















Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Negative Assets

Quote of the Day: 
No one is useless in this world that 
lightens the burden of another.
~Charles Dickens~

Current Local Weather: 
Muddied waters are a-comin' due to 
the endless supply of the spring tears.

Currently on my iTunes:
"Waltz of the Nuke Workers"

Currently Reading:
"Big Spoon, Little Spoon"
*haha, I get to read this before anyone else!*

Dear Friends, Family and My Family of Friends, 

To See the World...

This blog is for the writers and artists in my life... and I'm writing this as your mentor, your boss, your agent, your lover, your hopeful liaison to everything you see when you close your eyes.

I just went to see the movie, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. 



As an unabashed fan of the original short story, I was curious to see how Ben Stiller was going to treat it and more importantly, stretch it into a feature length movie. I ignored and refused to read any criticism or reports on the movie and patiently waited for it to deport from the big guns into the dollar theater. I didn't even sneak a peak and watch the "old" version of the movie or even entertain the idea of bootlegging it. I read it to my girls one night in preparation for going to see it. Their response to the story was...that's it?!?!  But...what happened to this...to that? Was it a dream? Was it real? 

Things Dangerous to Come....

As a budding literary snob, I had those same questions when I read it the first time. I am an American. I WANT EXCESSIVE DETAIL AND SWAG IN EVERYTHING I CONSUME! Dammit. I should have been a Gatsby.


I digress.

I could hardly contain myself during the movie. Ok, that's a partial lie. I couldn't contain myself. I had to get out my cell phone to light up my purse so I could pull out business cards, scraps of paper and gum wrappers to write down my thoughts while I watched. This kind of inspiration doesn't come easy to me. But G*d Dammit....that movie was the very best I've seen in...well, let's just say I feel a bit on this side of greatness having been one of the privileged ones to see it. 

To See Behind the Walls...

To treat this itty bitty significant story....so grand... with so much techni-f'in-color wonderfulness was far beyond any expectations I may have had. It's as if Jon Bon Jovi decided to put out his next hard rock album consisting of all Phillip Glass music. 



Draw Closer...

But through all the master cinematography and visual imagery, the AHA moment I walked away with lied simply in Mitty's job. He was the head of Negative Assets. 

Walter Mitty had everything in the world in his dreams and nothing, at least that he could think of, in his waking life. Sure...he has a great mom (Shirley McClaine is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. as a momma) and a quirky but lovable sister. 

To Find Each Other...

However, every great man deserves a woman. But where, as the E-harmony guy (Paton Oswald...another favorite) points out were his "Been there, done thats?" Surely he had to have ONE....



Alas, Walter Mitty had many in his dreams. Until one man left a message thanking him for his work...

And to feel...

I recently had to conquer a negative asset and figure out how to create assets that ooze positives. So, in my fashion, I started my own company. Janus Artistic Services. 



In an extensive meeting last night all four of us in the company worked out the verbage for the "why..."of the company. 

In very non-eloquent terms, I said that we basically exist to deal with all of the bullshit that no one else wants to do. We are here to serve artists in their every need and want. 



Our company slogan is, We Don't Sleep, So Artists Can Eat. 

The impetus, a.k.a. WHY...behind the company is the wanton need to take care of those that need us most so they can fulfill their dreams. We are here to serve those that are in the fight of their lives to find their true purpose and value. 

And I believe, having worked in this industry for...well, for a long time, that the journey must be done without the awareness of others but with the knowledge that often it's what we want most whether it's to be that star, to be the success we see when we close our eyes, is absolutely not something that needs the "like" button on Facebook. It's something that must be an asset to your character. It has to be DEEP inside of you to reach past the skin on your teeth. 



This life of yours needs to take place for yourself before seeking any kind of approval. You need to be the office, space cadet. You HAVE to be the Walter Mitty in your mind and dream a thousand dreams before you employee someone to listen to you talk about it. Hearing that it CAN'T be done your way or that YOU can't do what you want to do can kill your spirit, your heart and more importantly the invincible will when facing the impossible. 

Shooting down your dreams is like acquiring a manager to those negative assets in your life. 


It's dictionary time, kids! 

Asset (n) is defined as a useful or valuable thing, person, or quality. 

Negative (adj.) is defined as the absence of distinguishing, marked qualities or features, lacking positive attributes (opposite of positive). 

The words or job of someone that is a negative asset manager is a double negative in of itself. 

Whether you're an artist, a budding novelist, or musician with 40 yrs of gigs behind you and only 20 left ahead, your greatest asset is that you're POSITIVE that you've got your dreams in the palm of your hand and your head on your shoulders...and you should be able to rest knowing that what you have to offer the world, even if at the time it's only in your head, it will surely be of great use to others in the human race. Why would anyone with a dream take it...a noun with an adjective that's the most POSITIVE attribute of your core and turn it into a very dark, smellly, damning horse? 

You wouldn't. Never Compromise. Always Realize.

And in the end, Walter Mitty, the most selfless man in the story, had to realize that the hardest work is often done without the intent of recognition. Sometimes the pay you receive is only in knowing that you helped somebody else recognize their positive effects, assets and hidden life in their daydreams. 

The truth, even if only in your head, is tough. You must learn that in order to get the girl, realize your dreams, ignore the "Major Tom Weird Beard Guy" in your office and rid yourself of that negative asset taking up your hard-wired drive, that the truth lies in knowing what it means to be yourself.



And that is exactly what Walter Mitty did. 

He was no longer a dreamer, he was a doer.

And yes, SPOILER ALERT, he got the girl. 



And...he found the cover shot negative that seemingly spoiled his whole world.

Which, ironically, turned out to be a positive. 



I hope that all of you will be true to who you are regardless of your job. 

That you'll realize the "WHY" behind the "WHAT" you do every day and turn your assets away from the negative...

That is the purpose of life...

Yours in Assets, Office Assholes and Acclimating to the Truth, 

Cicily 









Friday, January 10, 2014

Wake Me Up

Quote of the Day: 
It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, 
they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.
~Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Current Local Weather: 
Stagnation of cold weather. Mother nature swooping in 
at alarming rates to make us all remember why seasons exist.

Currently on my iTunes: 
"Wake Me Up" 
(Acoustic)
Aloe Blacc

Currently Reading:

Dear Friends, Family and My Family of Friends,

I've got this catchy tune stuck in my head...so much so, the blog is themed over and above its lyrics. The tune, as above, "Wake Me Up" by Aloe Blacc. It makes me want to dance and cry all at once. Strange, wonderful feelings are evoked by his "carry-on" thematics and strong vocals. Mr. Aloe, you're brilliant.

Favorite lines: 
So, Wake me up when it's all over. 
When I'm wiser and I'm older...
all this time I was finding myself and 
I didn't know I was lost. 

I tried to carry the weight of the world
but I only have two hands....
Life's a game for everyone 
and love is the prize. 

I haven't showered in two days. Haven't bothered to brush my hair. Haven't even removed the yoga clothes, of which yoga was not practiced in during said past days. I keep thinking that the time to clean up will come. (and I assure you that as soon as I get the demons out of my head this morning, it will happen...no worries!) But as of the last 48 hours, the time has escaped me. I've been working. Kinda. Well, it's not actually work. It's been a journey and one, quite frankly, that I'm still on and hope to be on for life. 


I'm one of the fortunate few in this world that gets to do what I love. What is it? Cleaning up the world and spreading love one musician/writer at a time. I was talking to my friend Bibi Green the other day and she said, upon hearing my complaints about scheduling a mega-jazz festival..."you've finally got a real job...you're creating another venue for jazz musicians." 

She wasn't being condescending or placating or anything negative at all...She was being herself...and as usual, she was right. I finally have a "real" job. She says this on the heels of me being unemployed for many many months due to illness. She says this on the heels of knowing how dark and deep my waters ran when I didn't feel as though my purpose mattered to anyone anymore. Trust me, Bibi had to hear it all from me. As the song says, and for too long, "I tried carrying the weight of the world, but I only have two hands." I no longer subscribe to that motto. Delegation is the key to happiness. So says the girl with control issues. 



But now, I'm finally waking up. Although there is no man that is sitting by my side, Mr. Coffee has been consistently wonderful in waking me up each and every morning with his odiferous roar for the past few months. 


Purpose is a very liberating stone to throw. Creating, fielding and stuffing your purpose down your own throat until you pop is a good thing no matter how you slice it. We all have purpose, we all have a reason to be here. Some, like Mr. Aloe, has the purpose of writing music that wakes some of us up. 


Most of us don't know we're lost until we're found. After lamenting to a friend that I was down about potentially"losing" a man I don't ever want to lose whether it be as friends or more or acquaintances (the worst of all possibilities), one I don't really even know but desperately want to, I wrote the following post on my FB wall: Sometimes being lost is the only way to find yourself. I have talked many times with this said "person" about finding purpose and living for something that really drives you. He is someone that you only meet once. If you're lucky. A connection past the normal threads in the fabric of life. But we often talk about drive...And no, not the Driving Miss Daisy kind of drive...Driving as in if you don't do what is driving you, you might actually fall apart and die. I'm so blessed to know what it is in my life that drives me. Love, Music and everything else is just...buttah! 


Once again, I woke up. I had to realize that by lamenting for "what isn't in existence" isn't a good thing. I can want all of the things in the world but that doesn't mean that I'll ever get them. It doesn't mean that they were ever mine for the taking in the first place. I guess I'm just as human as the next redhead is. (Yes, we're human) Himming and hawing over anything is an anesthetic for the mind. It will soon knock your bright shiny lights right out of the park. Your purpose cannot be a thing of the past. It begs to be the only thing you do in the everyday here and now; the one thing that builds toward that greater picture known as your reason for breathing. Ahhhh....Life. As Aloe sings, "Life's a game for everyone and love is the prize..." 


Love has to stretch over into all you do. It has to be the all-purpose flour that glues your feet to the ground and stretches your personal rue into the gravy of your dreams. (Yes, sometimes I dream about gravy...) 

The bigger part of what drives me, however, is to see others find their driving dreams; to find their purpose. Whether it's the man I think of when I fall asleep and the conversation we had about losing your way or whether it's a young (even those that are just "young" at heart) jazz musician trying to find a way to reach an audience more effectively or a writer that has words that scream out PUBLISH ME!...this is my purpose. My purpose lies in others. And this purpose, the one where love is truly the prize, mostly, wholly and totally, includes my daughters. The three of them are so innocent, sweet and loving. 



The only thing I can truly think to do for any one of them is to keep loving them until they pop open like a can of All-Purpose flour Pillsbury GMO soaked biscuits. Loving them in such a way that they always know I love them even when they get to the age where they're dreaming of a man, a way of life and their greater purpose on this earth. I'm glad they're too young to understand where they are now and have that very-cool dream of a different life than their parents still lies ahead. I hope they get the chance to roam the earth until they're ready to settle for a bigger picture. They continuously provide a way to wake me up...and I'm glad they waited until, as the tune says, I was wiser and older. 


Purpose is sometimes the elephant in the room. It's not scared of you if you're not scared of it. 

Yours in Waking up, Wishing the Best for Him/You/Us, Wanting More Purpose & Less Fluff 'n' Stuff, 

Cicily