I wrote these haiku and you won’t believe what they say!

Trending Facebook News!
Famous couple gets divorced
Oh— and Greenland sank

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Jen’s diet secret!
She only eats on Tuesday
You heard it here first

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My note to the Mom
Who judged my cart at Target
Back the **** off, bitch

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Disney Princesses
Drawn as feminist icons
Click. Damn. Page Not Found

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Hamster burritos
Versus peekaboo kittens
YouTube cute smackdown

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Kim Kardashian’s
Booty as a snowblower
*That* was worth my time

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Don’t eat these five foods
One – Anything that tastes good
Two through five – Ditto

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A dude trained his cat
To clean its own litterbox
Could you help my son?

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Instagram picture
Taken while their food turned cold
So they sent it back

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On Buzzfeed I learned
Cool new ways to cut up fruit
That I never eat

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These thirty photos
Prove beyond a single doubt
I’m avoiding work

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Back to work again
But first I’ll take a sec to
Check out Ruelala

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Me and My Shadow

I was listening to a discussion of avoidance on NPR. The speaker’s thesis was that we often avoid that which we aspire to, and that avoidance is attached to fear of exposing our “shadow self,” or revealing what is hidden.It was sort of new-agey, even for me, but I do get it. I avoid writing because I’m afraid that what I write will be crap, and that everyone will know that it’s crap.

I have a piece of flash fiction that I wrote a while back and submitted to a couple of outlets. One gave me a perfunctory no. The other gave me a “we liked the beginning and the end and the rest was weak.”  I thought the piece was great when I submitted it, otherwise I wouldn’t have. But after rereading it, I decided that they were right. It was terribly flawed. I should have never submitted it. It was worse than bush league, and everyone knew me for the poser that I am.

Meet my shadow self. Guess it’s time for a rewrite.

But have I reworked it?  Uhm. No. I’ve tried. Stared it down once or twice. It could only get better. What’s the risk?

I think about my son. He excels at avoidance. He puts off training and practicing, no matter how much I nag. He is, however, a responsible person. He’s the kid you want to water your plants when you’re away. He studies well in advance of his tests. So why the procrastination?

His behavior (and excuses), however, reveal a duality that goes much deeper than fear of failure.  Strangely enough, it’s edged with hope.  It’s Schrödinger’s cat all over again. That feline keeps cropping up again and again, pesky creature.

Before he tries, there are two possible states–awesome and awful. Afterwards, only one. Depending upon one’s faith in the outcome, there’s a twisted logic in maintaining the possibility of greatness, as if talent materialized overnight. The perfect idea, that extra burst of energy, that laser-like focus that allows us to exceed even our own expectations. As long as he doesn’t disprove it, he can still believe in it.

Denial and delusion are happy villages to live in, as long as you never leave town. Unfortunately, it’s a little overpopulated.

So the only way to solve the conundrum is to make a choice. I chose to know and move forward. Guess I have some revising to do.

It doesn’t make it any easier, or less painful. Inevitably, we all have to accept and confront that we are never as awesome as we would like to be.  I learn, however, from each rewrite, tuning the balance between concrete plot and lyrical language that makes a description of events a story, and a shadow self a character.

Maybe I’ll give my own shadow self a hug, after I kick her behind and tell her to stop the whining and start the revising.

Words by J. B. Everett

Photograph by Helmut Klug © 2009 Creative Commons 

Flea brain. Do they make a collar for that?

Last week a fidgety mind was seriously messing up my productivity. It happens to me from time to time. I call it flea brain. When I have flea brain, It doesn’t seem to matter what I’m doing–writing, practicing, cataloging music–my mind darts from one place to another, not settling on one place long enough to focus or engage.

It usually happens when I’m anxious, when the tasks on my list tug on my skirt like a toddler. Pay attention to me! No, pay attention to me! I’ll be doing one thing, and realize I should be doing something else, then on the way to do that thing, get distracted by some other task and forget what I wanted to accomplish in the first place.

The thing is, I’m not anxious. Sure, I have lots to do, but my son is at camp and I have nothing but time. I know my priorities, and even the logical steps and pathway, but it’s like my planning functions and execution functions have been disconnected. My rational self says, time to write. My behavioral self says, let’s look at kitten videos.  Or worse, I’ll stare at the blank screen, thinking Write something! Anything!

I’ll get a shiny new thought, but I can’t pin it down. Like mercury, it breaks into bits that scatter, liquid and elusive. I type what I can and go for a run. When I get back  I look at what I have written down.

Joshua Bell/Jealousy

Have enough/Never enough

Book about sisters/crap, crap, crap

All I can think is, WTF?  What did I mean by any of that? I have six or seven unfinished posts like this on my dashboard.

So I went to see my acupuncturist.  Typically, my flea brain is caused by a slump in wood energy. Instead of moving forward, I run around in circles. This time the source is different. She tells me I have a block. My mind cannot hear what my heart has to say.

Funny, I distinctly heard, Write something! Anything!

No, you idiot, my heart says. That’s not me. That’s fear talking. Don’t you know the difference?

Apparently not. So, Heart, what do you say? I’m listening.

You don’t have to find the words. They are already here.

Well, how about that.  So they are.

Words by J. B. Everett

Photograph by Beatrice Murch

It’s About Time

There are so many things I’d accomplish if I just had more time.  I’d finish my novel, my house would be clean and I’d have a rockin’ hard body.  There would be a shorter pile of books next to my bed, and I’d master that excruciating violin etude I’ve been working on for the last six months.  Six months.  No joke.

I convince myself that time is a wild horse and if I could only break it, I could hurdle over the fences and fallen logs that block my way.  I try to lasso my hours with my Google calendar, plotting and allotting, but having a rope isn’t enough if you have lousy aim.  It doesn’t help that lately I’ve had the attention span of a gnat.  I blame menopause for that one.

Time, however, is life’s big red herring.  I used to tell that to my clients all of the time.  When consumers say, “I’d floss my teeth/dust my furniture/read books if I just had the time,”  they are lying.   Not to me, but to themselves.  The truth is, that if I could magically give them another hour each day, they wouldn’t spend it doing whatever I was asking them about.    They’d watch an America’s Next Top Model Marathon or play Farmville.

I’m no different.  I’ve been known to play Angry Birds until my phone was near dead and my hands had lost circulation.  In fact, I have to turn the sound off, or  I’d never stop.  The oinking pisses me off.  It’s like the pigs are gloating.  My son (who has been known to lose a few hours to Call Of Duty) gets annoyingly preachy and calls me an addict.  My response?  “I’ll quit once I pass this level.”  I am also lying.

Time is a more than just a measure of moments that pass through the gateway between present and past.  Time is the currency in which we measure the value of activity.  So does that mean the entertainment provided by an America’s Next Top Model marathon is more valuable to than flossing?  That Angry Birds tips the scale versus finishing my novel, or pinning down that etude I’ve come to despise?  I really hope not.  So why don’t I use my time better? It’s about fear.

It is far easier to slingshot parakeets than it is to face the truth that I might invest a lot of energy and personal esteem into dreams that might be out of reach.  That I might give it my best, and still far very, very short.  It’s more soothing to the ego to say believe that time is my nemesis rather than my inexperience.  Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes 10,000 hours to master a craft.  If that’s true, I have a ways to go without a horse.  Putting it off won’t help.  The pigs will have to wait.

And after I’m done writing for the day, I’ll finish that etude. If I can find the time.

Photograph – Eternal Clock by Robert van der Steeg