A COUPLE OF DAYS BREAK – Marilyn Armstrong

Owen will be here with the dogs while the beasties will be doing their usual fine job of protecting the place from any dogs who might show up.

We’ll be down at the Curley’s place for a few days and back home Friday. I worked very hard to schedule posts for the next few days and I will answer comments when I can, but I need a break. When I get back, I’m going to see what I can do to deal with the email deluge on my computer.

I didn’t read almost anyone’s stuff today. I was working so hard at trying to create three days of posts, I’ve had little time for anything else. But, as I keep saying, I really need a break and it has to start sometime. This seems a good time.

I’ll pop in from time to time when I can, but meanwhile, I’ll just bet the world will continue to have one catastrophe after another, even if I’m not online.

#writephoto regulars ~ Meet Marilyn Armstrong – SUE VINCENT’S DAILY ECHO (Reblog)

I always feel a bit odd writing about myself (again) since basically, that what I do every day. Thank you, Sue. You are one of the good ones who brings joy to everyone who knows you, personally or virtually!


#writephoto regulars ~ Meet Marilyn Armstrong

I asked the writephoto challenge regulars if they would like to come over and introduce themselves. Today we meet Marilyn Armstrong, who blogs at Serendipity.

Without those of you who write and read the pieces inspired by the weekly photos, the writephoto prompt would not exist. So, if you follow or take part in the weekly challenge, why come over and introduce yourself too?

Being a regular does not mean taking part every week… so why not drop me a line?


I know where I began and I know where I am, but how did I get here?

I think a lot has to do with — you guessed it — my mother. Born in 1910, she lived through World War I and II, then Korea and Vietnam and anything other war until she died in November 1982. She was politically active from a young age. She remembered how the government poured poison over excess food during the depression so starving people couldn’t eat it.

I thought she was making it up, but it turned out to be true. She was an avowed atheist, though I think in reality, she was angry with God. She felt that if there was one, he had failed us.

She was a bona fide liberal. She hated racism and wasn’t thrilled with any government. She believed all politicians were corrupt, regardless of party. She hated religious dogma and neglected to tell me I was Jewish until I was in second grade. The subject came up in school. One day, I came home and asked my mother: ” What’s a Jew?”

She looked at my father and spoke the immortal words: “We have to do something about this.”

When the Vietnam War (which wasn’t a war, but a “police action”) was in progress, I was part of the college anti-war group. I pointed out to my mother that all that money we used for the war could be used to fix problems at home.

She looked at me and said: “There is always money for war, but there will never be money for domestic problems.”

I thought she was just being cynical.

I had a lot to learn.

My mother was so against doing things the usual way, I didn’t do things the usual way. The only thing I wanted to do was write, so I became a music major. I never took a writing course. I was sure it would ruin my style. Like, at 17, I really had a style?

Mom

I thought she was making it up, but it turned out to be true. She was an avowed atheist, though I think in reality, she was angry with God. She felt that if there was one, he had failed us.

She was a bona fide liberal. She hated racism and wasn’t thrilled with any government. She believed all politicians were corrupt, regardless of party. She hated religious dogma and neglected to tell me I was Jewish until I was in second grade. The subject came up in school. One day, I came home and asked my mother: ” What’s a Jew?”

She looked at my father and spoke the immortal words: “We have to do something about this.”

When the Vietnam War (which wasn’t a war, but a “police action”) was in progress, I was part of the college anti-war group. I pointed out to my mother that all that money we used for the war could be used to fix problems at home.

She looked at me and said: “There is always money for war, but there will never be money for domestic problems.”

I thought she was just being cynical.

I had a lot to learn.

My mother was so against doing things the usual way, I didn’t do things the usual way either. The only thing I wanted to do was write, so I became a music major. I never took a writing course. I was sure it would ruin my style. Like, at 17, I really had a style?

Marilyn and the kiddo

I did write for a living, but I wasn’t a lonely novelist in a house on a cliff. Instead, I wrote advertising, promotional material, book flaps, and news. The “who, what, when, where, and how” of news writing turned out to be a good set up for any subject. After that, 25 years of technical documents taught me to say it simply and skip the adjectives.

I feel like a bit of a sham since unlike most of the other people who have written for Sue, I only wrote one book. Hardly anyone bought it, though someone offered to make it into a movie — except he couldn’t find a backer. I never really expected it to happen, but it was cool that he offered.

For me, blogging is the most natural way to write. I’ve spent a lifetime writing professionally with a boss looking over my shoulder. News and features. Always, there was specific material that needed to be conveyed, a character count, and a boss.

Marilyn in the teepee

The only things I ever wrote for fun were personal letters. I used to write great letters home when I lived overseas. In fact, I’m pretty sure most of my romance with Garry took place via letter.

He wrote. I wrote. He wrote. I wrote. For almost 10 years, we never stopped writing. Once I came back to the U.S., neither of us wrote another letter.

But I remember thinking “I wish there was something I could do which was just like writing letters.” Along came blogging.

Voila!

Blogging is exactly like writing letters to everyone at the same time. It’s what I always wanted to do and I don’t have a boss at my back. The only thing I miss is having an editor to fix typos and warn me to rewrite awkward language. And a paycheck.


About the Author

Marilyn as writer (matching shirt)

Marilyn Armstrong is a writer, blogger, and photographer. She started writing as soon as she could form letters and has never heard a single good reason why she should stop.

Marilyn and her husband Garry — and various intrepid canines live in a setting of rare natural beauty and gigantic rocks in rural Massachusetts.

Marilyn blogs at Serendipity – Seeking Intelligent Life On Earth  where she offers “memories via anecdotes, observations, occasional fiction, and photographs.”


Find and follow Marilyn

Serendipity blog     Twitter    Facebook

Amazon     Goodreads     Google+


The Twelve Foot Teepee

Fighting the of demons of an abusive childhood and having given up on traditional paths to personal salvation, Maggie decides to find her own path … by building a teepee in her backyard. It’s a peculiar route, but her goal is simple: offload the cargo of her past and move into a future, sans luggage. Armed with a draw knife and a sense of humor, she peels poles and paints canvas until winter passes and she is free.


Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo

QUESTIONS? ANSWERS! – Marilyn Armstrong

I stole these from Fandango, though they originally came from Sadje, at Keep It Alive.

Sadje posed 11 new questions that he thought were good and so did I. So I stole them. Though, to be fair, I was invited to steal them.

1. How long have you been blogging?

Six and a half years.

2. Do your friends and family support you in this?

Yes, actually. More than that, they participate and actually read my stuff! How rare is that?

3. Which is your favorite time of the day?

Sunset and the middle of the evening.

4. What would be your dream vacation?

A few relaxing weeks at a cabin in the mountains. Or winning the lottery. Either, both will do nicely.

5. What genre of movies you like best?

Usually comedy, but by no means always. I kind of like a lot of different things. If it’s well done, I’ll watch it. On TV. The movies don’t have a “pause” for bathroom breaks.

6. What do you wake up to?

Barking dogs. Three barking dogs. When that doesn’t do it, body slams against the bedroom door usually get me moving.

7. Are you a morning person?

Used to be. But since Garry is a night guy, I’ve shifted around so we’re on the same schedule.

8. What motivates you?

Like — to go to the doctor? My Google calendar. To take my medications? A desire to remain alive. Cook dinner? Garry looks hungry. Write? Anything and everything. Pictures? Something that catches my eye.

I could go on and on, but I think I’ll stop now.

9. How do you think your friends see you?

One tough old bird with a serious OCD problem.

10. What would be your idea for saving the environment from pollution?

Get rid of the GOP and get serious about fixing it. Like right now would be good, though a dozen years ago would have been better.

11. Happy or peaceful, what’s more important?

I think they come together, kind of like a horse and carriage.

Having brazenly plagiarized Fandango’s plagiarization of Sadje’s questions, feel free to copy the questions and answer them on your own blog. Be sure to link back to Sadje’s originating post here so that she gets the credit she deserves.

SHARE YOUR WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World -10-22-18

QUESTIONS FOR THIS WEEK

Credit for this first question goes to Teresa of The Haunted Wordsmith.   She asked for TEN books, in her challenge, so the SYW folks got off a bit easy..)

Name two books that have influenced you and share how.  
O Jerusalem: Day by Day and Minute by Minute, the Historic Struggle for Jerusalem and the Birth of Israel by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre

I first read the book when I lived in New York. It’s a great book for anyone who likes history. But later I read the same book when I was actually living in Jerusalem. When they wrote “… and then they charged up the hill …” and I looked out my living room window and realized — that WAS the hill. Suddenly, I realized there’s a no comparison between wars fought thousands of miles away and a war fought in your backyard.


Angelique, by Ann Golan.

I was 13 when I first read the book and in my fifties when I read the last one that had been translated into English.

With all the power of Crown and Church arrayed against her, Angélique finds a way through every imaginable personal tragedy and emerges victorious. Bowed, but never beaten, her defeats are temporary setbacks. Her triumphs change the world.

She is deathlessly beautiful, but Angélique doesn’t win the day using sex.

When she leads, she carries a gun and a sword. She will kill in defense of her own and does. She fights for her family, her home, her beliefs, her rights.

She became much more than a fictional character to me. At a time when female role models were few and far between, Angélique was fearless. Unstoppable. No simpering lady of fashion, she was tough. Smart. She suffered the worst life could dish out. She faced down unspeakable challenges. And there were casualties. She became a kind of mystical image of perfection for me. A dream woman whose feet were firmly planted on the earth.

In your opinion, where is the line between art and not art? 

I don’t think there is a line. Each person has their own version of “the line” between what is and isn’t art, but it’s not a real thing. It’s just where each individual puts it.

This doesn’t mean that I like everything. I don’t. There are many things deemed artistic that I find repulsive, even ugly … but I don’t define art.

Two Acoma seed pots

But on the other hand, if someone gives me a museum, I know what I wouldn’t put in it!

Trivia for Halloween:   What item is banned only during Halloween from 12am October 31st to 12pm November 1st in Hollywood California?   

Silly String. And I don’t know why either.

What is something that really annoys you but doesn’t bother most people? 

Stupid people. But that bothers a lot of people. People who use bad grammar — but that hardly makes me unique. Actually, I don’t think I have an answer for this one. I think I get annoyed by the same stuff that annoys most people. The only difference is that I write about it.

Instead of our usual gratitude question, I’m posing this one for this week: What or who in your life brings you the most joy?

Garry. Maybe it has always been Garry. He aggravates me, annoys me, frustrates me. He’s the soul of my soul and heart of my heart.

FORTY QUESTIONS UPON WHICH THE WORLD’S FATE DOES NOT HANG! – Marilyn Armstrong


Cheryl (aka, The Bag Lady) published a list of 40 questions labeled “odd things about me” that she received from her sister. Although 40 seems like a lot of questions, they’re short and don’t require a lot of thought. The idea of making a post I don’t have to really think about was deeply appealing.


1. Do you like blue cheese? Yum. 

2. Coke or Pepsi? Coke.

3. Do you own a gun? I used to have a b-b gun, but I gave it to my son.

4. What flavor of Kool-aid? Bug juice? Seriously?

5. Hot dogs? I like the new Nathan’s unprocessed ones. They actually taste good.

6. A favorite TV show? Currently “Rake” but it depends on the day you ask.

7. Do you believe in ghosts? Only when I meet them in the hallway.

8. What do you drink in the morning? Coffee.

9. Can you do a push-up? Maybe one half.

10. Favorite Jewelry? Anything Native American. It’s all about the stones.

11. Favorite Hobby? Blogging.

12. Do you have ADD? More like OCD.

13. Do you wear glasses? Only if I need to see 

14. Favorite cartoon character? George of the Jungle

15. Three things you did today? Wrote, wrote, took some pictures, processed pictures, wrote, wrote, still writing and deleted several hundred emails. Not done yet. 

16. Three drinks you drink regularly? Coffee, some kind of sports drink, and whatever fruit juice looked good this week.

17. Current movies? What’s current?

18. Do you believe in magic? I would really LIKE to believe. But really, no. 

19. Favorite place to be? Home.

20. How did you ring in the New Year? Watching old movies. We do kiss at midnight. 

21. Travel? Where would you go? Australia, New Zealand, and Tahiti.

22. Name five people who will most likely read this? I assume five of the people who follow my blog and comment on most of my posts. I have more than 14,000 other followers, but they don’t talk to me.

23. Favorite movie? The Lion In Winter.

24. Favorite color? Black.

25. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? No. They are slippery. I fell out of bed.

26. Can you whistle? No.

27. Where are you now? Home.

29. Favorite food? Japanese. Almost anything.

30. Least favorite chore? Cleaning mold from between the bathroom tiles. Second least favorite? Weeding the garden. 

31. Best job you can think of? Managing editor, feature newspaper. It was just SWELL. 

32. What’s in your pockets? Nothing. I’m wearing a nightgown and bathrobe.

33. Last thing that made you laugh? When they fired another one of Charlie Baker’s appointed city managers. Hah!

34. Favorite animal? Dogs.

35. What’s your most recent injury? You mean like when my heart stopped and they had to replace two valves, do a bypass and install a pacemaker? Does that count?

36. How many TV’s are in your house? Two. Garry is the only one who uses the one in the bedroom. He watches old black & white movies and I read books.

37. Worst pain ever? Coming out of heart surgery. I tried to beat up the duty nurse. They put me back under for two more days. I was seriously pissed off. Or maybe it was when I had spine surgery and it infected. Hard to remember. I was not a happy camper.

38. Do you like to dance? Not any more.

39. Are your parents still alive? No.

40. Do you enjoy camping? No.


Now you copy and paste the questions to your blog, but replace my answers with yours. One easy-peasy post!

SHARING MY WORLD THIS WEEK – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World 10-8-18

The Questions This Week: 

Do you prefer Apple (‘I’ products) or Android for your technology ‘fix’?   

I work primarily on a PC. I like the organization and I also appreciate the huge amounts of functional software I can get for it. I have an android (Samsung) phone which I use when I need it (not often) and three Kindles (probably more like five — a think a couple are just buried somewhere) which I use to read and listen to audio books and sometimes, to watch a movie. Mostly to read or listen.

I also have an “air” Mac. I bought it so I’d have something a bit less weighty to haul with me when I travel. I don’t do much with it, at least in part because finding decent graphics applications has turned out to be much harder than it should be. I won’t “rent” Photoshop and my disks won’t run on a Mac. I got a program for it, but haven’t gotten around to installing it and I’m sure I’ll be sorry about that in due course.

As for music? I have a CD/radio player because we have quite a few CDs. We also have a lot of DVDs and we watch them, too. I’m not a wild fan of “the cloud.” I can’t tell you how many times having something downloaded has made it possible to listen or watch or read — without cable being involved. It’s very freeing.

I like having parts of my life NOT connected to wi-fi. I’ve worked with computers enough to know what they are good for … and what they are not good for and I certainly don’t want one running my entire life!

What’s something on your personal bucket list? 

Don’t have a bucket list.

What would you name your boat if you had one?   The Unsinkable 3? The Please Don’t Sink? Your choice! Also, what would it look like? Do you want a motor yacht, a sailboat, or perhaps a dinghy?

I had a boat. A 16-foot centerboard sailboat built originally to race but used by us mostly to drift through channels on Long Island’s south shore.

We named it “Gwaihir,” the Wind Lord (eagle) from Lord of the Rings. Kind of a big name for such a small boat 😀

Which fictional character would be the most boring to meet in real life? 

Anyone from a Jane Austen novel. I am not a fan.

What brought gratitude, a smile or laughter to your life this week?

Getting out to take photographs on the only sunny day of the week AND discovering that Garry can hear!

THE NARRATION – Marilyn Armstrong

When I was little, I had imaginary playmates. I talked to them. They followed me around. I was never bored because I had friends who really understood me.

After I started school, my shadow friends left, never to return. Instead, I got a narrator who has been my lifetime companion. Whatever has gone wrong in my life, I suggest you blame it on the narrator.

It’s all his fault.

“Narrator?” you ask. Before you decide I’m schizophrenic, a lot of writers have one or more narrators. I understand the narrator is my voice. He has just one story to tell. Mine.

My job is to live. His is to tell the tale. His is the eye that sees all but isn’t involved. He witnesses — but causes nothing, changes nothing, makes no suggestions except to correct grammar. I wish he were a better proofreader.

My narrator does not instruct, chastise, or judge. He records events, remembers the background, and fills in the story. I’m in charge except I can’t get him to shut up. He gives me a third person perspective on my life. I’m so used to hearing the running commentary, I don’t know how else I could see the world. I’ve grown fond of him. And yes, it is always a male narrator. No idea why.

There are narrators and then, there are narrators. You can get into serious trouble if you forget the narrator is you, not an “other” entity. Should you find yourself listening to a narrator who is telling you to blow things up or kill someone, you might want to drop by a doctor’s office for a little chat. Just saying.

Of course, if you know it’s God talking to you, who am I to interfere?

Through the years, the narrator has filled the holes in my life story, adding “He said, she said,” describing action and scenery, “novelizing” my reality. I have grown fond of my narrator and wish he could type. It would save me so much work.

A couple of years ago, the narrator left for a while. It was a particularly turbulent period, so maybe the noise in my head was too loud and I couldn’t hear him. Eventually, he came back. There a correlation between when I’m writing and the voice of the narrator. If he’s gone, so is my creativity.

The narrator can be distracting. I have had to learn to not let him derail me. He does not respect the moment. A running commentary in one’s head during sex makes it difficult to focus. Men take this personally and trying to explain always makes it worse. They then think you are not merely disinterested, but also nuts.

A narrator can also take the fun out of parties. You have to make an effort to participate, not just observe. With the narrator describing the surroundings and each individual you meet, while occasionally arguing with other narrators (sometimes I have more than one), it’s tricky to connect with people. When narrators argue, I have to step in, settle the dispute, tell all but one to shut up.

Problem is, there’s more than one way to see stuff and when a lot of points of view clamor for attention, it gets noisy in the brain-space. It can keep you up at night. It can keep your partner awake too

What light through yonder window breaks?

I’ve learned a lot from my narrator. I’ve learned to see life as an endless story with chapters, back stories, weird incidental characters, tragedy, romance, hope, and despair.

My job is to live it, not forget to write it down — and fix the typos.