22 November 2014 @ 09:49 pm
What is old? I Remember the Canadian flag with no maple leaf and the US flag with 48 stars. My house was built in 1900. But my Nana already had children by then. I once talked with a man who had been an officer in WWI. And I met a man who was born a slave and whose Da had taken him to see the signing that ended the American Civil War. So I have a steady stretch back to the 1850s. And by reading my talking about it, so do you. If you pass it all along in time, we could keep a line that stretches 200 years. And that is what history really is.

What about your characters? Do they have a past?
22 November 2014 @ 08:09 pm
I spent part of my time growing up on both sides of the lake by Buffalo. So, if my parents were still alive I would thank them now for moving. Of course we were in a panic here because of 4 inches. Granted I was not thrilled with the minus 10 degrees. Now there are a few people out there in North America that were not affected by the weather this week. But still our flame chatterlings did their best to help warm things up. Such as...

Monday mistvieh asks about how we handle a crisis.

Tuesday darlinleo talks about the non-writing processes of writing.

Wednesday jlly_coppercorn talks about acts of kindness..there or there but missing there. Well, sort of.

Friday mistviehasks about physical limitations or injury.
22 November 2014 @ 10:34 am
Hello again! It appears darlinleo and I are impossible without the magic touch that is jlly_coppercorn, but after a little toiling, I think I've managed to do justice to her magesty. THE VOTING POLL IS HERE! It cloes in one week, on Friday, November 28th at 11:45PM EST.

The reading list, as transcribed by darlinleo, is below:

"Denial or What?"
Word Count: 35
Warnings: Silly, oh so silly!
Genre: Fiction

Word Count: 80
Genre: Poetry

"Denial: An Overpopulated State"
Author: darlinleo
Word Count: 131
Genre: Po-Fic

Just For Fun Entry

"Those Who Wait"
Length: 5319 words
Genre: Fiction - set in WWII
Rating: General
Note: This pulls together and builds on the ficlets I wrote for the August 2014 Brigit's Flame challenge.(posted in dreamwidth)

Thank you for being patient with our technologically challenged meanderings.
21 November 2014 @ 08:57 am

I'm late! Thursday morning my roommate's cat and dog conspired to kill me. The cat, Kung Fu, threw the mail on the floor. The dog, Pippin, spread it all over the living room. We have ceramic tile. I stepped on a piece of mail and went flying. I fell and hit my butt, banged my arm on the baby gate we use to protect the bedrooms from the dogs, and my leg folded backward and behind me. My knee slammed into the ceramic. It was one of those falls where you sit still for a moment and contemplate whether you're gonna be able to get up again.

I did, and I rode my bike to the train, and I limped into work. I was fine for a few hours. I limped. I sat awkwardly. But the longer the day went on, the worse my knee got. By the end of the day, I could barely walk and I couldn't bend my knee at all. My supervisor had to give me a ride home. I couldn't sit comfortably in my chair to watch Buffy, so I just went to bed grumpy.

I woke up feeling better. Hopeful! I cradled my leg, swung it out of bed, and asked it to hold weight. Worked fine. I walked a few steps. Stiff, but manageable. Then I sat back down and tried to imitate a cycling motion. Yeah, NO. My supervisor came to my side of town and brought me in.

I feel useless when I'm sick or injured. I am the worst kind of patient. I know I could have forced myself to ride my bike, but the small part of me that knows better bullied me into asking for a ride, and I hate it. There was a moment yesterday when it was suggested that I go to Urgent Care. No, thanks. I'll deal with it. "But what if the cap is fractured?" Meh. I'll deal with it. And that's all just a defense mechanism. I detest my own weakness. I do not process it well, which is silly because I often crave and ask for sympathy if I'm suffering physically. "Just hold me!" (pathetic wail) I have no explanations for myself.

How do you process physical limitation or injury? Would yousay there is room for improvement? Does thisbehavior differ from how you'dtreat someone ELSE who is limited or injured?

19 November 2014 @ 07:00 am
Hello my lovely Flames,
I am writing to you from a brisk and brittle New Jersey night. Thankfully there is no hysteria here to speak of, but hopefully you've found some to write about from a safe distance.

Today I would like to talk to you about courtesy and our expectation of kindness.

I grew up in South Florida, which to some is lumped in with the South due to compass points, but if you've ever spent any time in South Florida you will know that it is neither the South, nor so full of Northerners that it resembles the North. It is a place wholly unique unto itself.

That said, I have heard all of my life about the friendliness or courtesy of Southerners - good ol’ Southern Hospitality dripping with sweet tea, and twangin’ like a cricket in a Coke-Cola bottle. Conversely, I've often heard it said that Northerners are pushy and in too much of a hurry. I've experienced the good and bad of Southern courtesies over the years, but this week was my first lengthy experience in the North to permit a comparison.

Yes, the people in the North seem to move at a faster pace. There have even been a few individuals here who have deliberately slowed their speech when talking to me even though I have no accent to give me away. I have also seen two instances of stern honesty that no one from my neck of the woods would have the balls to pull off. It doesn’t seem rude to me though, just honest. I like honest. I like to know what I’m getting, to know where I stand. To know what is on someone’s mind.

Aside from the public interactions, I’ve also had a chance to observe the Northerner in a more private setting in their natural habitat. There is no visible difference when you zoom in that tightly. Maybe they talk a little louder, maybe they are deeply focused on getting things accomplished efficiently, but they are no less kind or helpful than their neighbors to the south.

They do not, however, like sugar in their ice tea.

What are some common acts of polite kindness that jar you when they are missing? Do you believe that geography or ethnic history could influence courtesy? Do you have any North vs South experiences to share from your own region of the world? What kind of stereotypes can you lay to rest?

<3 jlly
18 November 2014 @ 05:09 am

We're past DENIAL and on to HYSTERIA now, November writers.
Submit Entries for Week 3 Here!

Early on in my ... let's call it my writing education... I was under the impression that the process should be all hell-fire quick, steaming with inspiration and facts (even fiction is based on some fact), and astonishing wit. I was under the impression that a real writer could and should swallow a topic, then, within a pre-set (and brief) period of time, regurgitate a thousand beautiful words on that topic that drew readers in to marvel over genius perspective. This is how journalists, comedians, screenwriters, and novelists all work, right? This is how it's done.

This is why for so long I believed myself to be an utter failure, and I why I often struggle with the feeling of inevitable failure. I labor.

Brainstorming 200 word stories for a fiction class caused finger paralysis. Timed exams that require answers in essay form cause my lungs to stop working. Putting together a "quick" chatter post is impossible for me--the most brief of chatters takes me close to two hours. Even now.

It's a good thing I wasn't born in the Wild Old West with a dream of being a gunslinger.

Even after two consecutive years of chatting with other writers (here & at school) about their process, after five or so years of reading editorials and memoirs and various other articles written by writers on writing, subconsciously I held on to the idea that it all had to be quick and brilliant or I was a complete loser.

Only recently have I begun to loosen my hold on that school of thought. In spite of earlier quickly-forgotten epiphanies, only recently has the understanding begun to truly sink in that the writing process is as individual as a person's palate, pace or gait, or speech pattern.

Besides the rarely discussed, and vital, individuality of each writer, there is the rarley discussed and all important Non-Writing Process--the time in which we savor and filter our experiences, try out the taste of rare word combinations, discover the individual perspectives of our characters, or subjects; the time in which we come to terms with, embrace or discard our individual understanding and value of "memory", or "facts". The non-writing process is the time in which we practice forming our own style, our own vision, our own voice (and perhaps, decide whether or not to dally around with grammar rules).

What is involved in your non-writing process? Do you take mental notes, photographs, do you keep a notebook or digital recorder handy? Do you read EVERYTHING? Do you journal, or sketch, or get your fingernails dirty in the garden? Or... would you be a legendary gunslinger in the Wild Old West?

I spent four hours in the ER on Saturday.

I was riding bikes with my buddy/ex when a plastic bag snagged his spokes. I was right behind him and watched as he pitched forward, became perfectly vertical, and smashed face first into the asphalt. I swerved hard right, skidded to a stop, ditched my bike and turned back for him. He was face down and immobile. Luckily, this was only because he was in shock (and pain).

I'm very bossy when people are injured. Wounded people do not take direction well, and they habitually make poor decisions. I helped him move onto his back and told him he would not be getting up. He was gonna shut up, calm down, and let me help him. I asked where he felt the most impact. I asked where it hurt and how. I asked him to evaluate the quality of his vision, sense of smell, and clarity of thought. It was pretty obvious pretty soon that he had a concussion, so I asked if he had medical insurance. "Okay," I said, "I'm gonna call someone with a car and we're going to the ER." Ambulances are expensive. Nope.

He's fine now, except for the lingering effects of a concussion and some facial fractures he may need repaired. The point of this story is to illustrate the odd juxtaposition of who I am in a legitimate crisis and who I am in a completely shallow crisis. If I can't find something at work, I'm a wreck. Someone I dated for five years smashes head first into the ground and I'm Mrs. Composure.

I'm a little known for this trait, too. Some years ago I ran with a crowd of drug addicts,  because they were amazing and because I also happened to be one. Drug addicts are not the smartest people at their worst. They (we) lose our IQ to the high and forget that we know better. They're also less than medically sound, and bad things tend to happen to them. Case in point: My buddy Max "freaked out" one night, and everyone collectively decided it was wisest to call -- not and DOCTOR -- but another addict. They called me. I asked and few questions, put them through a few evaluations of Max's state and conjectured he'd had a stroke and, "uh, should probably see a doctor, guys." They didn't listen, but they felt saved by my cool.

It's one of my only really boasts in life. I'm a complete wreck, but I'm amazing in a crisis, especially if someone is injured. I've patched injuries, diagnosed illnesses, performed foxhole triage, and convinced doctor-phobes to let me take them to a medical professional. But if the sink is clogged? WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE.

How are youin a crisis?

16 November 2014 @ 08:45 am
Welcome to Week Three!

In week one of November, we talked about mania, and the particular kind of optimism it can be mistaken for during the first week of National Novel Writing Month. In week two, we talked about denial, and the refusal to believe the possibility that only writing five hundred words a day for six days straight is a bad thing. In week three, we'll discuss the second to last stage of the four distinct mental phases of National Novel Writing Month:


When I was a young teen, my favorite movie was The Blair Witch Project. I have no idea why, but I was pretty crazy about it for the whole first year it existed. By the time it had finally faded from my memory, its sequel came out, and I went even crazier than I did the first time around. (I used to draw those creepy little stick people all over my school books.) I mention these movies, especially the second one, because they have a lot to do with the concept of group hysteria and shared delusion. Moreso than after the release of the original, the sequel (The Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows) brought up the question of what really caused the deaths of those three young filmmakers out in those woods. Were they really tormented, stalked, and eventually murdered by the lost soul of a murdered witch, or did the blind fear of being lost in the woods with dwindling supplies finally crack them collectively? Human minds are complex and brilliant, but they have the terrible tendency of being completely malleable under the right circumstances.

Think of any war that has ever been fought. What are one of the subjects of study when we look back on conflicts past? Propaganda posters, right? I always found them so fascinating, and that was because they were so incredibly simple and nakedly suggestive, but they WORKED. They whipped millions of people into an absolute frenzy without even twisting their arms. It takes so little to set people off, and once they're in a group of likemindedly incensed people, there's no convincing them to turn back. I chose the video above because it illustrates this point rather concisely. In the end, if the driving force behind a conflict is the madness of the crowd, neither side retains any of its original righteousness. All is lost in the sea of fanatical voices.

That being said, I choose to identify the third phase of NaNoWriMo as being dangerously similar to this same phenomenon, whether it be singular or shared. I believe it is both. It is most definitely singular because, don't like, if you aren't on track by week three, you're probably going entirely bananas. So what do we do when we feel like we're falling short? Well, I don't know about you, but I go straight to the internet and look for other people who are equally inadequate. I figure I'll feel better if I'm not the only one. WRONG. Once it becomes apparent that THOUSANDS of other writers trying just as hard are falling behind and losing the war, my anxiety only triples. For this reason alone, I almost went with panic for week three. In the end, the idea that panic shared within a group is an entirely different monster, I elected to unleash the latter and far more ferocious beast.

How will you whip us into a frenzy in week three?


For our newer members, remember that you can only compete in the main contest of week three if you survived week two, but Just For Fun entries are both welcomed and encouraged every week of the month!

This poll closes Sunday, November 23rd at 11:45PM EST. :-)
Current Mood: sleepysleepy
Current Music: Watching "The Craft"
15 November 2014 @ 08:17 pm
Yes I admit it, I watch television. Thanks to my ROKU I watch it is spurts and globs rather than show by show. ROKU carries a number of online channels. Netflix of course, and Hulu. And Amazon Video. One of my favourites at the moment is one called ACORN, which calls itself the best collection of British shows available. Interestingly, the first show I watched was actually a murder mystery which takes place in Quebec. Then there was the entire three season run of Slings and Arrows, about the trials and tribulations of a Canadian Shakespearean Festival over three seasons. One was Hamlet, two was that Scottish play and the third was King Lear. I do suggest you watch it if you can find it.

And now I watching seasons 1-7 of Murdoch Mysteries, yet another Canadian show. This one a sort of cross between Sherlock Holmes and a steampunk Toronto CSI. I am in the 7th Season, Victoria is gone and a new century has arrived. There is an interesting blend of attempted reality and sneaking personalities into the plots. But of course there is no way that a tv show can totally give us a feel of a different time. The feel of fabrics, the sounds as people of the era could hear them, obviously the smells.

So here is a game of sorts. Pick a character, any character, from tv or movies or books. Now move that character into a different time. How will it it affect that character or vice versa.
15 November 2014 @ 12:09 pm
Another week and if you are, well, just about anywhere in the US it has gotten more than a little cooler. Okay..it has been going down in the teens here which is probably a bit more than cooler. And what are the good chatterphiles doing to warm things up?

Monday mistvieh talks about feelings (please do NOT cue the song)

Tuesday darlinleo talks about messages we want to send out.

Wednesday jlly_coppercorn starts a new game with song lyrics.

Friday mistvieh talks about gifting people. Which can be very, very dangerous.

Good morning, guys. :-)

Have you cast a vote in Week One?: https://polldaddy.com/poll/8437177/

There is also a Week Two topic to consider -- don't pretend you didn't know!: http://brigits-flame.livejournal.com/1005927.html

Last night, I took my credit card for a walk. I only shopped for two people thus far, but I'd also paid some bills right before doing so, so I had to stop early. It was beginning to hurt.

These last few years have been the first that Christmas shopping has even been a possibility for me. Before that, I was never gainfully employed long enough to pull it off. It was okay though. I wasn't getting gifts either. But last year in 2013, I spent so much money trying to give something to everyone, I only had enough left to keep from switching to living outside. IT WAS AWESOME. Awesome, but seriously difficult.

People are NOT easy to shop for. For one thing, how are you supposed to know they don't have it yet without asking? What if it's so obvious, someone else is already giving it to them? What if they hate it? What if they're completely confused by why you thought they'd like it at all? And more than that, what about between couples? How often do gifts require profundity in a relationship? UGH.

I am not content giving people any old thing. Yeah, okay, I know what would always been good enough for you, but shut up. I wanna be the one who got you something GREAT. Especially for stupid Daniel, my boyfriend, who only ever has a Wish List for one thing (it's collectible), and maintains that he doesn't really need anything else. Worst thing? He's kinda right. Everything else he's into is EXPENSIVE and makes no sense to me. I bought him an electric razor for his birthday. That's how bleak it's become.

Do you find it difficult to shop for others? What vexes you most about the process? Have others said the sameabout you?

12 November 2014 @ 08:14 am
Hello my fiery friends,

I don't have a lot to say today that will help you start the day on a happy note. In addition to other melancholy things, I was just reminded that tomorrow would have been my father's 82nd birthday. For as much as I wish he were still a daily presence, I know he did not want to be old or frail. That number is just a reminder to me that it has been 12 years since I have heard his voice. I still remember what it sounds like though, so I am grateful.

darlinleo's idea of messages in bottles reminded me of a little thing she taught me a few years ago. There is this poetry device, called a Cento, that is a new message completely composed of lines from someone else's poetry. We even made a few together that were derived from lines of verse from songs. Lyrics to even modern music is a form of poetry, right? These days it's far more likely that people have the words to a song carved into memory than a standard poem.

Anyway, the evening we spent slicing and dicing songs was fun and I would like to invite you to have some of that fun today.
Much like the Five Word Story - let's build a cento together in the comments. Try to find a line that fits naturally with the line above it, but don't labor over it. Just let it flow.

I will start us off in the comments, not in the body.

Make sure you write out your denial and read and vote for our maniacs.
<3 jlly

11 November 2014 @ 06:36 am
Hey! Check out these links:

I'm one of those people who tends to get stuck in her own personal bubble--not necessarily an introvert, but someone who gets a bit preoccupied with juggling personal and immediate family responsibilities. This is okay, I guess, with the exception of those days that I'm inside all day caught up in chores and writing or class work... and I don't even notice how nice the weather is, or I don't think to call up a friend and say, Hi! I love you and I hope all is well :)

On those days I realize with a heavy heart that I'm just too self-absorbed and I end up feeling like a horrible person. There is LIFE beyond Kathy, after all.

Maybe, someday, we'll discuss how to prioritize responsibilities and relationships. Maybe. For now, I am thinking about those age old stories of messages in bottles, and those lovely funeral traditions where family members and friends float notes and candles out to sea, or up in balloons as a way of saying their final goodbyes. I want to do something like that today, but rather than the finality of "goodbye", I want my message to be something like, "I'm thinking of you even when I don't have sense enough say so in your ear."

To my friend who is hurting, who must watch and listen from afar as her S.O.braces for the life-changing experience of losing a sibling, I wish I could be there for you. I would make you breakfast and help you walk the dogs, and when those terrible gut-wrenching phone calls are over, I would hug you and cry with you... and I would listen to all the things you want to say without that phone  in your hand. I'm sorry, and yet I cannot help but be happy for you that you have had the opportunity to be a part of this amazing family.

To my sister, the toughest girl I know, the girl I should call every day and tell her she's a freaking outstanding human being, I would say, hey! You got this! The world is your oyster. Prop your feet up, exhale, and bask in the glow of your awesomeness.

And to my hubby, who has been preoccupied with the memory of his father lately and wants so badly to have one last long talk with that funny wise old man; to my hubby who tends to get stuck in his own bubble which my voice cannot penetrate, I would say trust me. I cannot explain how it is that I know this, darlin', but I know that your dad is content. He is proud of you, and he has no advice to give, because you have taken everything he ever taught you and you have successfully created your own work ethic and personal philosophy, and become a better man than he imagined possible. (And he doesn't care that we threw away the blue recliner.)

I have a hundred more, but you get the gist.  I feel a bit freer now that I was able to get a few messages out there...

What messages would you send?
10 November 2014 @ 08:21 am
Good morning, Flames -

Looks like we are at the mercy of NaNoWriMo projects and holidays. I hope our members who are focused on their NaNo projects are feeling productive and inspired. ctfd_ricochey (formerly mistvieh) has outlined the rollercoaster style extremes for us this month, but we hope our members are beating that instinct to run screaming into December.

Your reading list for the topic Mania:
Take a moment to read and share some love.

darlinleo shares "Manic Destiny", poetry like substance, Word Count:226, Rating:none

missflyer shares her story "Mantians", Science Fiction, Word Count:1,200, Warning for promiscuity and murder

urb_banal shares a little social fiction with us in "One True Moment", Word Count:330, Warning:foreshadowing domestic violence

Non-competing entry just for fun

jlly_coppercorn hopes you will enjoy the rather lengthy "The New Doom", Speculative Future Fiction ('cause it doesn't read all that sciencey), WC:4,579 Rated M for Mature but only for a little implied thing that might be in the second half anyway

Happy Reading
10 November 2014 @ 06:15 am

Edit: I often forget I am among some relative strangershere on the Flame, and my social decency tends to suffer a little. For those of you who have already read and don't know me well enoughin real life to know it was meant to be a facetious satire, the details of this anecdote (particularly the bit at the end, prior to edit) are not limited to one gender. We are all silly and guilty. ;-) Thank you.

Another week begins at the Flame and we have a winner to congratulate! Hip, hip, hooray to melaniebrooke for taking the Halloween Mini Contest by storm!

We celebrate your writing chops and hope you'll come back to play again! For those of you who have a sweet tooth with a jealous streak, this contest's winner will have something yummy shipped via Amazon -- my treat! (Now I just have to find out what she likes!)

Speaking of contests, by the way, has anyone else noticed week two topic is up? BECAUSE IT IS! (http://brigits-flame.livejournal.com/1005927.html) What, were you in some sort of denial?

I had precisely the kind of weekend I always hope to have, with the exception that some potential drama may be blossoming. On Friday night, I rode my bike up to a former coworker's apartment. He'd previously lived far enough way that seeing each other outside of work was impractical. Now he's only 30 streets away! He's good people. Troubled, but good. I've valued my friendship with him more than some of the people I've known "in real life". Lately, life has been putting him through a ringer, and I've been doing my best to reach out. Facebook, text messages, random visits to where we used to work together -- I've tried to be present. On Friday night, we finally had a chance to see what kind of friends we were away from work.

Turns out, though he and I know the score (I'm not single and neither was he until recently), the people around us seem to think something is definitely brewing. Now, in their defense, we flirt. Shamelessly. It's kind of our thing. The mutually understood truth that being together is not the end game has made it a comfortable interaction. It makes us laugh, and it lifts our spirits to pal around without it having to mean anything. I suppose it was foolish to expect others to see it that way.

See, he had this friend over. This friend knew my name. The recognition in him when I was introduced as Cheyenne was unmistakable, and my buddy looked a little chagrined by the whole thing. Didn't help matters that the drunker his friend got, the more he had to say. About me. About my buddy. About the fact that my buddy talks about me outside work. The guy held my hands, looked me in the eye, and thanked me sincerely for being in his friend's life. Like my love was gonna set him free. Oof.

So, it boils down to this. Though it is likely the feelings will dissipate in the future, for now it's fairly clear that I've made a pretty deep impression on my friend, and his recent break up is not helping him. Thus, even though I know it's just a temporary snag in our understanding, it does have to be handled delicately. You are never as reckless with another person's heart than when you don't mean to be. My boyfriend told me, when I asked if it would make him uncomfortable knowing my friend might have some feelings toward me, "I don't know. How would you feel if it were me and someone I know?" Well, that doesn't answer my question! He then proceeded to spend our Saturday night together poking fun at me for being a friend-zoner, just because he knows I don't believe in the friend zone. People!

Have you ever had a friend develop feelings (deeply romantic or even just crush-like) for you? Did that friendship survive? Whether you were able to stay friends or not, what was the ultimate resolution? OR! Have you ever been on the other end?