Posts Tagged ‘paranoia’

When good intentions backfire, sometimes it leaves you a smidge paranoid the next time around.

During my first marriage a long time ago in another chapter of another book of my life, I lived in a triplex. A couple and their baby moved in the apartment above us, and they befriended us instantly.

The husband was well spoken; his posture and mannerisms screamed “Prep School Grad”. She was … well … not. She was clearly born on the opposite side of the tracks from him, and she didn’t even possess all of her teeth. She had a tendency to misspeak, and to dress and behave inappropriately—like wear revealing clothing and brushing up against my husband.

This couple was so mismatched, we speculated that perhaps he married her because he got her pregnant. We later learned we were right. But that part didn’t matter. Their history was irrelevant in the here and now. They were friendly and personable and liked us. Since I assume no one will like me before they even meet me, when they do show fondness towards me, it comes as a surprise and shock and they’d have to do something terrible for me not to reciprocate.   

Soon, however, we began to sense something amiss. The four of us were slowly evolving to just the three of us. We were seeing less of the husband. I felt as if he were in the role of someone hired to find a home for a stray and her litter. His job was done.

Her neediness made us pause. She didn’t work and would latch onto anyone who was home during the day. My husband had weekends off; I had Sunday and Monday. Her husband was gone every day. What he did every day remains a mystery. So she unwittingly became ours, invaded our lives. Every time I turned around, she was there. She was always asking for something, and we were always giving it to her. Either that or she’d help herself to whatever we weren’t offering.

She’d call my husband and ask for assistance in moving furniture around or for minor repairs. She’d flirt a little or a lot, he’d tell me later. Later we would find out she was only sixteen and a high school dropout. Her husband, twenty-three and a university graduate. We would also find out later they were both con artists. Her job title was Statutory Rape Blackmail. His was Lawsuits.

They didn’t just wait for opportunity to knock, either. They made it happen. And we learned of it before they had a chance to strike. We were their next target; our only crime was in our good intentions. And they weren’t happy to know we were on to them. They made out lives miserable for a while.

Even while all this was happening, I was writing the story in my head, filling in the blanks. My novel (the one I haven’t written yet) will someday reveal the mystery of their pairing, his and her upbringings, and all the whys of it, the wheres, and the what happened next.

Then I made a mental movie of it. I can’t put you into my head so let’s use Pacific Heights‘ yuppie horror film tagline: “It seemed like the perfect house. He seemed like the perfect tenant. Until they asked him to leave.”

Mine will be like this: “She likes anyone who likes her. He will help anyone who asks. They meet the couple. They seemed like perfect friends. Until they weren’t.”

Being the imaginative person that I am, I, coincidently, use the same actors. The con husband sort of looked like Michael Keaton, and my husband sort of looked like Matthew Modine. Melanie Griffith looked more like the slut in my story, so I assigned her that role. Angelina Jolie will play me of course. (stop laughing.) I might have a hard time erasing years off their looks enough to play sixteen to twenty-three-year-olds—details I’m still working out..

That was one of my more vivid memories of good-deed-gone-bad. There have been other times my good intentions backfired. But each time now that I perform a neighborly service, do a good deed, or befriend a new person, my suspicious mind triggers a story, an outcome with tragic consequences. I can’t help it; it just happens.

A few years ago, I found myself watering an Australian tree fern at a vacant, foreclosed house in my neighborhood. I was paranoid each time I crossed the grass and turned on the hose that somehow the house became occupied overnight and I would be arrested for trespassing or shot. My mind works that way. And I wrote a story about it titled Tree Hugger, published at The Earth Comes First.

Do you have any tales of good deeds gone wrong?

Read Full Post »

It might have come to your attention by now that I won’t be a cake decorator when I grow up as evidenced by Cake Disasters I and II. So let’s move on to ornaments.

There was a time, long, long ago—let’s call them the good old days—when all the women in my family lived in the same town, and we got together often and did crafty things. Let me say first that I am not a crafty person (see cake links above), but I am shifty. I didn’t want my mom, sister, and sister-in-law having fun without me. Nor did I want them talking about me behind my back, especially since I provided them continuous gossip material in which to discuss. Of course, looking back now, my life wasn’t near as newsworthy as I imagined. In all likelihood, I would not have made headlines in any of their conversations. I might have made the comics section, if at all (Born Loser comes to mind).

So when they got together for Christmas crafts, I was right there in the center of it all, an imposter among the creative. Lucille Ball vs Martha Stewarts. Once I got into it, there was no turning back. My over focused ADD took center stage, and I committed myself 110% to the project, tuning out the banter, the background Christmas music, the instructions. And I would look up and they would be gone, finished light hours ahead of me, dispersed to other parts of the house or to bed. But ha! I finished. Let’s take a look.

The first pictured are the oldest from my childhood. Here we have some silk and velvet fabric-draped bulbs with fancy pins. My mother’s is the one on the left, my sister’s on the right. Time of completion: 30 minutes.

And here’s mine.



Time of completion: 3 hours.(sans instructions, of course)


Pictured below is a cinnamon log by my sister-in-law and a handpainted bulb by my mother.


And here’s my horse/donkey/whatever.



Pay close attention to its face. Forget the time involved.


Below is another handpainted bulb by my mom that is the most recent, painted eleven years ago for my infant and says “Baby’s First Christmas” on the back.

Baby's First Christmas

Here’s another by my mom.
Here’s an older creation from my sister-in-law.
And here’s mine from 1989 on maternity leave with my first. So essentually, this is my Baby’s First Christmas.

 I’m scared. What if I’m an imposter to writing too? What if any one of these ladies, should she decide this minute, writes a book. Will it be done in a fraction amount of time than mine? Will it shine with effortless prose, structure, and style? Will it be about me?

Okay, I can strike off that last one. Where I lacked in creativity, I made up for in paranoia. But I have enough residual paranoia left to worry I’m all a sham, and if my cakes and ornaments are anything to show for it, then I’m in deep doo doo.  

Are you creative in areas besides writing?

Read Full Post »

Small changes. First the Header, I changed cats. Second, I note my new blogging schedule on the sidebar above my picture. Third, I have a new page at the top called The Staff. Go ahead and meet the invaluable behind-the-scenes coordinators of my daily grind.  

Lastly, I have a new story up at The Shine Journal. This was my first submission of the year (March) and I don’t even remember writing the bio. I remember the story though. Who can forget their creations? And this one I dreamed up sitting in a dentist’s chair feeling nervous about a perceived spider on the wall.

Read Full Post »

Part of devoting your life to writing a novel is shutting yourself away from the world, living in your own world.  Now I think I’ve lived in my own world long enough; because now I’m paranoid. And here’s how I know: I think “they” are out to get me. (Don’t ask who “they” are.)

“They” are the forces that keep me from reaching goals: from full-on tackling my revisions so that I can query agents, from entering contests, from …

Linda and I were talking yesterday about self-sabotage, and how we are both guilty of it. I think on my end I spend hours online doing anything but revising. I blog. I visit other blogs. I visit agent blogs (my biggest time sucker). I comment on agent blogs. I enter more silly contests than serious.  I join online clubs, groups, forums, critique sites, community writing sites, book reviews, ….

Then when I do take myself seriously it backfires. “I’m sorry,” says the voice on the other end of the phone, “but your submission to the essay contest you entered in May just came to us in July. The post office didn’t even apologize for hanging on to yours and eight others. I did read it though and I loved it. If you haven’t published it by our next contest please submit again. It was very lovely …”

On another contest, I needed a combined score of 300 points to qualify for finals. I got 298.

And only since I took writing seriously did the publishing world slide. I think a lot of writers are freaking on that one.

So when feedblitz sends me a new email with “more query do’s and don’ts” on their subject line, I find myself unable to resist opening, reading, then clicking onto other sites within that site, and finding that maybe I have a problem with addiction. (Admitting it is the first step.)

Here is where paranoia steps in. Could it be that agents are in on it? Could they tempt me and others online for hours to keep us from writing so they have fewer queries to field? Could it be the publishing houses are simply not taking on debut authors anymore and agents just don’t have the heart to tell us for fear of a mass suicide world-wide? “Keep em busy until the market picks up again.” They say to each other.

They invented Twitter! They invented all the distractions!

“They” are out to get me.

It’s a conspiracy. I won’t put up with it. I won’t.  Crouching in corner, perspiring, laughing evilly. I won’t, I tell you. Muhahahahah …

Read Full Post »