Monday, May 28, 2012


I read what  I've written so far, because I like reading what I write -   I'm not  afraid to admit that I have a huge ego, even though I also suffer from an inferiority complex, an exhausting combination...  - just kidding (maybe).  I read it because I need to see if my thoughts are consistent.  I've written quite a bit about my (see, right here I'm stuck because the word that I first wrote is recovery, but, I don't like that word.  I never have.  If I say that I'm writing about my recovery from alcoholism, to me it implies that I've recovered and am therefore no longer an addict, which isn't true.  I am an addict, inherently, through my marrow, so, I can't say that I've recovered.  If I were to drink again today, I'd do so alcoholicly.  Even if I sipped half a Tom Collins, that half would haunt me until my next beverage and eventually - and trust me on this one - I would not stop at half.  So then, close parenthesis) addiction.  Why, am I being so honest out here in cyberness.  What will people think, Olga?  

Because I am alcoholic through my marrow, the effort that I need to put into not drinking or indulging in various other addictive behaviours, takes up a rather large amount of time in my life, even if at this point, its majorly subconscious time.  It's still a big part of my identity now.  I don't know if this sub-un-conscious focus I currently have ends up becoming a big part of how my characters evolve in my head.  Does it detract from them?  Or does it add a little flavor, a little spiciness.  Some darkness?  You know what sort of darkness I'm referring to?  GenX darkness?  HA HA HA.  I guess if you get that, then you get it. 

For the most part I'm editing work for which the characters are already established but still, I'm adding and deleting and they will be tinged by who I am now, sober, drug free.  But also, I'm experiencing a maturity level that I obviously never knew before.  I don't think that this means my characters will all reflect that maturity, sometimes I barely reflect it myself.  But I do feel it in the way that I have felt all the other stuff.  Stuff.  Good stuff.  Scarey stuff... You know, yikes, emotions.  The same stuff that makes me who I am right now, sitting here writing this down.  Its important for me to work through the idea that they can remain who they are, because even though who I was back then grew up, she's still lurking.  I can write about what it felt like not to know, and I can also write about knowing.  I can write about doubt and I can write about confidence.  I can write about loss, and I can write about hope.  I wasn't familiar with some of those combinations before.  We are grey matter, right? Black and white between the pages, not once we look up.

I did believe a few moons ago, not that many, that in order to be valuable as an artist I had to have a tortured soul.  Looking back on that thought, and on why I needed to feel that way, it kind of makes me giggle in a bittersweet, shaking my head sort of way.  While its never been clear to me what genre I should categorize myself under, I guess, in the big picture - and I hate to admit this - they are love stories.  For the most part they all include paranormal, fantasy twists, and they aren't like, you know, Fabio on the cover love stories, and neither, hopefully, are they stick-my-finger-down-my -throat-gag, sugary-sweet love stories.  Portions of them are dark, after all my sister fed my child's mind with Brother's Grimm, Mother Goose and Disney followed by Poe, Konrad and Hitchcock Presents.  Evidentally, that's the combination instilled in me.  A dash of 18th century poverty and pestilence, dollop of witches, ogres, cauldrons and ovens, a sprig of pixie dust and incantations, rapping ravens, dark hearts and bingo-bango, in gallops Prince Charming on the white horse.  That said, there's a sense in me, and I won't speak for other writer's or painters or musicians, but in me, that thinks I feel too much.  Or feels that I think too much.  My heart seems to break more often than it should or seems fair it should.  So happy ending?  Yeah, but not without a big shake first.  I don't like avoiding the truth as I see it, that life is rough for some of us and still harder for others but then, you know, earth is so frigging beautiful anyway.  I mean, despite us, earth is so frigging beautiful.  I like to wave wands and wiggle my nose and blink my eyes and poof, prince charming because, well, get out of my way, it's my party and I like the magic.     

Olga, the question was, what will people think?  This is supposed to be a blog about your adventure in epublishing.  Why are you getting naked?

Ok. I don't know.  This is who I am.  This is how I write.  A few decades down the road I won't exist anymore.  That almost already happened so, this is my testament to me.  I have dog eared, faded photographs of my grandparents and parents.  The day my dad died, I grabbed his money clip that still held seven dollars, his wallet and a stack of old work id's, some his, and some with my mother's picture on them - they worked for the same maintenance company in New York - and stuck them in  my drawer where they still sit.  Those are the only tangible things that link me to them; pretty much all I have.  I didn't know my grandfathers, one died when my father was five and the other died when I was a little girl and I hardly remember the mention of his name.  What will I leave behind?  Look, this is what I hope:  All these words will float around in space and a few people will happen upon them, or they'll look on purpose, whichever, and they will see two things;  A writer whose words they would like to read more of, and an addict/alcoholic that hasn't had a drink in a few years.  They will think, "look, she can do this.  If she can do it, so can I," and they will know that they don't have to live the way they are living or feel that they are all alone because they aren't.   I'm right here too. 

Writing has everything to do with me.  Stopping drinking has nothing to do with me.  I don't know what it does have to do with but its not me.  And since I know it has nothing to do with me, then I know I have a chance of staying sober, otherwise I'm not so sure I would be very successful at it.  Believe me, if I had anything to do with it, I would still be drinking and the ensuing misery wouldn't keep me from doing it either.  I don't know how spacey that sounds, but, that's just the way that it is.  But did I stop?  Yeah.  And have I stayed stopped?  Yeah.  And has it affected my writing?  Yeah, it's better.

So maybe this is a blog about my adventures in epublishing and maybe its an addicts blog and maybe its a dancing hippopotumus in yellow tights, it doesn't matter.  I believe that what matters is that I am enjoying the bejesus out of this blogging thing. 

By the way, I don't know what a Tom Collins is, I've just heard the name in old movies and it sounds good doesn't it?  My drink was Tanguery and Tonic, but frankly, I don't even like being this close to it.  And. well, I don't know what a bejesus is either, but I think it resides on the edge of our soul.

*Thank you for the picture (and everything else) Disney.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Bad Bunny

This is Bad Bunny. I received him as a gift in the summer of 2006. I died that winter.

I have a chronic liver illness, and at some point in October of that year I start feeling kind of crappy with some strange pains on my right hand side so I immediately think, 'Holy-Moly, Cirrhosis'. I go see the Dr. and get an ultra or an MRI or one of those obscenely expensive tests, and the doctor tells me that I have gallstones, not cirrhosis, and that I need to get my gallbladder removed. Easy Squeazy, like my boss likes to say, right? No problem. In fact, it's so simple they don't even cut you open anymore, they just inflate you and stick a couple of cameras in with a tube and snip snip - they pull your gallbladder out through your belly button. Delightful. "Ms. Naranjo," (I wasn't married at the time... well, I am married now and I didn't change my name so I guess I'm still Ms. Naranjo, except that when you’re in your forties it isn't really that cute anymore.  So... I'm the one that wants to be the librarian right?) Where was I?

"Ms. Naranjo, you know, since you are due for a liver biopsy, I can just go ahead and do that for you while I'm poking around in your abdomen with my pointy little toys. Yes?"  I'm paraphrasing. Yes?  I don't know if you've ever had the pleasure but, if you want to know what it feels like to get stabbed in the stomach with an ice pick, then I highly recommend getting a liver biopsy.  As much as I wanted to go through that again, I told the doc, "Yeah, maybe you should do it while I’m out."  I trust this guy to take a piece of me out of me, why in the world would I think that anything bad was going to happen?  The last time I had the biopsy I was wide awake and nothing happened so this should be a frigging mimosa.

I get the outpatient procedure and go home.  Everything seems to be ok for a day but I suddenly start to experience a pain in my belly.  It feels like my stomach is tied in a knot and someone is squeezing it in their fist.  I rush to the hospital, get a dose of gamma rays and well, long story short you better not piss me off because you wouldn’t like it when I’m angry.  No, that’s another super hero.  Eventually they were able to figure out what was wrong with me.  The biopsy needle nicked the artery in my liver, and unbeknownst to anyone, I was hemorrhaging.

When you start to bleed out from an artery the blood loss is exponential.  While they kept pumping plasma into me, they couldn't figure out how to cap the cut in the artery in my liver, so I kept bleeding and losing blood pressure. Plasma doesn't have white cells, and my white cells were evacuating my body along with my red.  If you recall what they taught in biology, it’s the white cells that coagulate.  SO, they couldn't cut me open to get to my liver either because, basically, I would have bled out and died faster.  Eventually and twice, my blood pressure zeroed out and I had to be resuscitated with fluid.  By that time my family was holding vigil outside of the OR.  My sister reminds me of The Phone Call telling her "you better come quickly, she's in grave condition".  And she reminds me that my dad kept telling her that I was going to make it.  And I did.  Some maverick doctor came in and threaded the stent through the artery itself.

I don't remember much of it and what I do remember comes back in fragments, like a dream.  The few hours before I fainted I remember I kept asking for morphine, because of the pain, but to be honest, also because I really, really like morphine.  I remember getting up and trying to go to the bathroom and calling the nurse because I was dizzy and then falling into her arms, fainting for the first time in my life. Then, stadium lights over the bed and looking over at the bag of plasma which looked like a big white pillow case with a giant letter A and a giant negative sign on it, like it would look in a cartoon.  I acknowledged that they had gotten my blood type right.  And then, I remember being really, really tired and wanting to stop though I wasn't sure what it was I wanted stopping.  But mostly, mostly I remember the fearlessness.

I have lived with an underlying sense of fear since as far back as I can remember.  Sometimes it is subtle, subconscious, I’m hardly aware of it.  When I was reaching my bottom in my addiction, the fear was a flamboyant, pink haired, LOUD transvestite; impossible to ignore.  Sometimes it was downright petrifying and the only thing that would get rid of it was alcohol, but by the time it became Lola, it was the alcohol that was perpetuating the fear.  So, anyway, I have never known fearlessness.  Not that I can remember, but I'm pretty sure we're fearless when we come out into the world.  That was a long time ago, though.  I clearly remember being in a state of awareness with a part of me that is other than me.  I want to call it unfamiliar but that's not it.  Maybe the words that fit better are disconnected or unused.  That part knows nothing of fear. Nothing.  

That otherness scared me.  Sometimes it doesn't seem right to have experienced that feeling only because I was dying.  It doesn't seem fair.  I guess that's laughable, but only when I'm in the mood to acknowledge irony as it pertains to me.

I don't think about that November all the time anymore. The experience haunted me for a long time afterward.  My dreams were filled with the walking dead and I experienced intense de ja vu a few times daily for months later.  It sounds cool but it started becoming really disorienting.  Eventually all of that strange stuff stopped happening and I got comfortable again.  What does Bad Bunny have to do with anything?  Well, Bad Bunny was with me in the hospital room that night.  I didn't bring him, but he was a favorite toy at the time, because of the Stephen King reference and the writing reference all woven into the maniacal rabbit and I had a friend that knew I would think it was funny.  Even if I had died I'd have loved the idea.  So, there, in the corner of the room, watching the scramble as the blood seeped from all of my nooks and crannies, holding his bloody  little axe, covered in REDRUM and blood, cigarette in mouth ready for battle, was my bunny.  I wonder if the nurses ever glanced up at him in horror or with humor. 

I keep him nearby reminding me to live my life to the fullest.  Or else.  

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


I had started another post which I had to save for later.  This is way too important to ignore or postpone.  I might forget it.  I was at Publix, - hopefully someday people will read this that have no idea what a Publix is, so that I must explain that it is one of the major supermarkets here in South Florida.  I don't know much about supermarket chains, except for Pathmark which is what I grew up with in Queens, Yo.  Crap, I'm friggin lying.  I wasn't at Publix; it was Winn Dixie, which is the other major supermarket, in like the-other-woman sort of way.  Not sure why I feel that I'm cheating on Publix when I shop at Winn Dixie.  She's not prettier, her aisles aren't bigger and her selection isn't better, she's just, oh, man... convenient.  I'm a pig, I know, convenient is such a cheap excuse since the Publix is actually closer to my apartment, it - it - it just, ok, I'll admit it, it has the RedBox outside. Shame.  It's OK, I doubt Publix is losing sleep over my infidelity, you should see her commercials. 

So I drop off the movie, (it was The Sitter, with Noah Hill - I hate movie reviews, they are so subjective but, ok, it was cute.  That means I barely liked it.  I'm not a fan of Noah Hill, but at the same time I find myself oddly drawn to him.  He brings out the maternal in me and I think that probably creeps me out a little.)  I go into the store because I was craving pasta and meat sauce - I got ground chicken I haven't indulged in red meat in a few months.  I'm wandering the aisles mesmerized by all the colors in the disposable diaper/baby food aisle (not sure why I was in there, maybe that Noah Hill thing) and I start tuning in to the music playing throughout the store. 

"Don't give up on us baby.
Don't make the wrong seem right
The future isn't just for the night
It's written in the moonlight,
And painted on the stars, we can't change us..."

What?  SHUT UP!  Are you kidding me?  1975.  David Soul, Ken "Hutch" Hutchinson.  I was a Starskey girl myself but by the time I was twelve my hormones didn't care.  It was Starskey, Hutch, or Shaun Cassidy... which would YOU have picked?  I literally stopped for a minute between the Pampers and the Similac just feeling 1975.  It's the closest to time travel we get, isn't it?

Sunday afternoon, (a couple of days ago, today is Tuesday) they were broadcasting this concert on VH1 that was held at some fair in England.  I'm in the kitchen cooking and I hear this mob of people singing "Caribbean Queen" with Billy Ocean.  I was like, ok, whatever, Billy Ocean, who cares?  It sparked a tad of sentimental synapse but I could ignore it.  Then, WHAMO!!

"If it seems a little time is needed
Decisions to be made
The good advice of friends unheeded
The best of plans mislaid..."

It drew me like a magnet into the living room, "oh, is that the The Human League?!!!!!??" trying to be cool in front of my husband who used to be in a punk band. 

And there we were, 198+, crowded into a football (that's English for soccer) field.  Some of us were wearing pink wigs, some of us were sporting the tattoos we got in 1987; some us, well our hair was receding, and maybe some of us had just shaved it all off, screw it.  We gained some weight and some of us gained a lot of weight, but then, many of us looked pretty friggin' good, thank you very much.  Some of us got grey and some of me dye my hair... Hmmm.

Did I mention that MCA died on Friday?  He would have been 48 in August.  I am less than a year younger than he is.  Maybe that's why I'm being so sentimental and time keeps tugging me backwards when really, all it's capable of doing is pushing me forward, leaving nothing but memories in my wake.  It's all we get, I guess. 

Look here, don't be scared!  Memories are A LOT.  Especially now, in the HELLO!! 21st Century!!

Thank you time, for all three Beastie Boys, all at once.  Brooklyn/Queens, baby.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

This ain't THE END

I'm getting a nervous feeling in my stomach now whenever I edit my book.  I looked up and saw page 500, which is actually irrelevant.  As I understand it the epublishing format doesn't require pages.  I've taken chunks out the book this time so it isn't page 500 anyway. 

OMG.  OMG.  OMG.  I'm almost finished!  Anything I do after I have read and edited the last chapter (which P.S. is not really the last chapter, the last chapter has not been written - it's my whipped cream AND my cherry when I've done everything else) will have to do with grammatical corrections.  Other than that, FINI.   Why get nervous?  I don't know why.  I get giddy too after I've read a chapter that I really like, whether in this book or in one of my others, where I'll have a literally visceral reaction, like when my kids would bring home a particularly good report card.  It's not like I accomplished anything.  I can't believe I've had anything to do with stuff like that, neither good writing or the fact that my kids got good report cards. You know that new stuff they've discovered in space?  Dark Matter?  Well. it's like Dark Ego.  I'm not proud that I've (insert the accomplishment here), but more like astounded that I'm capable.  So, in relation to that, I kind of don't want this process to stop, even though I have another book I am editing for publication sort of at the same time. (*I read in or maybe it was Be the Monkey - Ebooks and Self-Publishing: A Dialog Between Authors Barry Eisler and Joe Konrath, it's a really good idea to load a few things in a relatively close time frame so that should readers become interested in your work that they'll be able to find more work by you quickly.)  That other novel, "Magician" is being edited from its first draft which I wrote about fifteen years ago.  I'm having a lot fun with that story because in the beginning of the book my protagonist, Jeremy Dunnett, is a very precocious child living in South Carolina, so I get to play with accents, humidity and lush landscapes. 

Oh, my goodness I took off on a tangent.  The bottom line is that I am Terrified of finishing.  Why is that?  Maybe...DOH!!

Maybe because it's one of the very, very, very few things that I have control over.  Once it's gone, I will no longer be able to manipulate it.  But I have other planets, don't I?  Yeah, but I don't know them quite as well.  The only other book I new like this one - all the cracks in the sidewalks, all the streams, the fossils, everything down to the quarks - was my first, The Hunt.

Oh whatever.  I love writing.  I love everything about it.  I love the craziness it makes me feel.  I love the schizophrenia.  Even when I can't write a single word without throwing a mental hissy fit, I know, in that same visceral, alligator-in-my-belly way, that it will find a way to manifest.  And when I'm done with one, the other one just takes it's place, sliding in, nice and comfy, because it's been there all along. So, stop the drama, Olga.

Finish it.