Past my bedtime

I am up past midnight, fretting about how I am going to get more people to read this blog or buy my e-book 5150. It’s cheap as heck, and a superb read.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/366295

I wish I had more time, know-how and energy to work on viral marketing campaigns. I wish I could afford to pay some junior publicist to put the book in the media spotlight.

The book is a thinly disguised autobiography focusing on the time in my life when I suffered a break from reality. I want the mentally well to understand how mental illness feels…so I wrote the book in first person present tense. This forces the reader to follow the narrator through the mouth of madness. Very few people go that deep into psychosis and return to write about it. I think of it as a visitor’s guide to mental illness. Does anyone want to read it?

So far, I have sold six copies. This is after ten years of writing, work -shopping, polishing and editing it into a perfect story. This is after sending the manuscript to 125 agents and receiving 125 rejection notices. This is my deepest self-revelation…deeper than my homosexuality…deeper than my addiction. And it gathers electronic dust at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple, and a few dozen more outlets.

So I am envisioning Oprah reading my book. What else can I do? I used to envision Dolly Parton listening to the Acres album. Another artwork that is gathering a virtual 1930’s Oklahoman level of e-dust. Oh and that movie I made about Mexican Wrestlers that finally broke my artist heart and made me turn my back on art in general to pursue material comfort. That one was for rent on Netflix and then one day disappeared as mysteriously as it appeared. I used to picture Dana White (UFC) watching it and hiring me to do docs about his fighters.

Dust in the wind. Or, as the Lady Chablis says in her autobiography “Hiding My Candy” – two tears in a bucket, motherfuckit.

Why reality TV can’t hold a candle to the Cinematic Arts.

In the semi-fabricated world of the Kardashians, if a story needs to be told, it will get told with on the nose dialogue in a whiny voice, with cutaways to interviews with different family members adding their opinions. It hurts my ears and my eyes.

Compare that with Milo’s Forman’s masterful use of the cinematic image to tell a story in the musical film “Hair”. The last five shots are essentially a silent film with music. George Berger, wearing the uniform of his friend Claude Bukowski, disappears inside the gaping mouth of an army plane. Claude chases the plane, but it is too late, the plane has taken off for Vietnam. The next shot shows the rows of white graves, with the backs of Berger’s friends assembled singing in powerful irony, “Let the Sun Shine In.” Then, avoiding the dreaded ubiquitous “screen direction” error, the camera cuts to a close up of a grave with George Berger’s date of birth and date of death. The last shot before the giant be-in shows the friends from the front. Woof and Jeannie hold their baby, answering the question “whose baby is it?” Hud holds his child, standing behind his fiancée, who now wears her hair long in an Afro. This symbolizes that they have met each other halfway, as Berger would have wanted to see. Claude stands next to Sheila, implying that their romance is born out of the tragedy–again as Berger would have arranged it.

What a difference! Let me revisit the concept of screen direction for a minute. Anyone who went to Film school has this drilled into them. There is a line of sight and an arrangement of left and right that, when violated, causes a character to appear to be looking in the wrong direction…look it up. I am too tired to do the concept justice. Reality TV violates screen direction as a matter of course. To a cinephile, this is the visual equivalent of fingernails on a chalkboard. The term is sometimes called “crossing the line.”

I want to give a much-deserved nod to the editors of what is arguably the world’s best reality show, “Small Town Security.” They have learned how to tell a story with images, not whiny voices. They understand that a close-up of a pair of hands can both avoid the screen direction problem and further the story by highlighting the anxiety or exasperation contained in those hands.

Still, if you want to feast on powerful imagery, then watch a film by a master director. Reality TV is seldom more than visual bulimia.

Email Insight

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I discovered today that if you send an email promising an attachment, but you forget to attach it, you’re far more likely to have a real interaction with the recipient. Today, I was using a mail merge in Word to send out a friendly reminder to about 85 people at work that I didn’t know. I asked them to do a simple task, and to follow the attached instructions, which they had received a couple of times already but chose to ignore,

Of the 85 people I contacted, I got 30 emails saying “Hey, where’s my attachment?” I learned that 10 people had left the company unexpectedly. Another 15 found their old instructions and signed up without bothering to engage me.

Now this was the third time they were asked to do this, so it was surprising to me that 55 out of 85 recipients were checked off my list, leaving a short list of people who would do well to take my time management class.

I really connected with the 30 folks who wrote back. It was a chance to wish the sick people a get well soon, and to say goodbye to a few people who were on their way out.

It was unexpectedly productive to withhold the needed information on the third go round. Food for thought.

Powered by Faith…Running on Fumes

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Faith has powerful connotations in the vocabularies of each person. It is a strongly religious word, and yet atheists and agnostics can have faith in their own beliefs or lack thereof. Faith, to me, is a combination of trust in a higher power and a trust in the natural cycles of birth, growth, decline, death, and decay. It is faith that allows me to endure long, crippling bouts of depression, knowing that it is no more than a warped perception of my present circumstances. Faith allows me to continue to do my very best work and accept less than stellar recognition or reward for my efforts. It is an enduring belief in a greater good, as real as gravity or magnetism, but just as invisible.

My faith has been tested a lot in recent months. A series of unfortunate events have collided in the month of June and continued into July. My beloved dog nearly died, but was saved with some very expensive medicine. My husband’s truck conked out and needed a big repair. My back gave out and requires expensive treatment. No bonuses are given out at work, and raises are a specter in the far off future. Marrying my husband caused our tax return to go way down, and my student loan payments to go way up. These are “tests of faith.”

The thing is, to take the test, you need a sharpened #2 pencil. My pencil feels like a stub, sharpened with a buck knife, and the lead is about to fall out. I wrote some great songs, and wrote a couple of books, made a few great films…but saw very little monetary gain for all my efforts. I have spearheaded projects at work that saved the company millions of dollars, but I am still at a low salary relative to my abilities. Faith moves mountains. Faith is a renewable resource. When my pencil finally breaks, the proctor will give me a new one. I hope.

Next entry will be about “Grace.”

Microsoft Cutting 14% of Its Workforce, Stock up 2%

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I went to Business School, so I know the deal…fewer employees create higher profits and larger dividends to shareholders. But I still carry deep-seated humanist tendencies, instilled by my working class family, that cause me to experience grief upon hearing this news.

18,000 people are losing their jobs. 18,000 people are looking at their last paycheck and feeling real fear, dread, depression, anger, helplessness. 18,000 people have to deliver bad news to the people they love.

The coverage on the financial news channel contrasted sharply with my emotional reaction. The anchors had big smiles, focusing on the good news for Microsoft shareholders. They interviewed an analyst who actually stated that he was overjoyed with this move by Microsoft. He felt that the Nokia acquisition was a bad move, and this was a good exit strategy. A huge portion of the people being let go are former Nokia employees.

My inner worker is shocked by the soulless-ness of the situation. Big corporation Microsoft turns its greedy eyes towards a shiny manufacturer of outdated products and screams, “Mummy, I want that!” Mama Board of Directors says, “Okay, but don’t break it.”

Greedy corporation swallows the shiny jewel and it comes out the other end as a stinky turd.

I guess B-school didn’t manage to brainwash me enough, which is why I am facing huge loan repayments with no change in my station in life. If I could just convert my depression into sociopathy, I could afford those crippling payments.

The Hand You are Dealt

dunkablog:

This is perfect illustration of the playing card communication channel that is opened up for me…

Originally posted on SUCCESSTROGEN:

On a fashion website, “Jacks and Jokers”, the creators celebrate an American icon, the deck of cards.   Playing cards have been in America over 100 years and provided us with much entertainment.  Most of us  would have to admit that we played  countless games of War and  Gold Fish as children, solitaire as teens, hearts as college students, and perhaps Bridge or Gin Rummy in our adult life, all with a deck of cards.   Teachers use them as a  sorting activity for pre-schoolers,  casino dealers use them to entice us to put our money on the table, and magicians use them to wow us with their ability to guess the card we thinking of.

Beyond their entertainment factor, the deck of cards has also played an important role in our history.  During World War II, a U.S. playing card company  secretly worked with the U. S. government ro make special decks to send as gifts to American prisoners of war. When these…

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Do Business and Hyper-intuition Mix?

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There are a lot of positive words to express the abilities of intuitives. Sometimes we are called “prescient.” Others call us “creative.” I think we may even be called “visionary.”

Here is what I hear more often: crazy, unfounded, scatterbrained, lack of discipline, chaotic…I didn’t have to struggle to come up with those negative words. In my graduate program, we learned the value of “playing to your strengths.” It is a waste of time to put your strongest ability on the back burner in order to cultivate skills that you don’t possess naturally. I could argue that getting an MBA was an enormous exercise in playing to my weaknesses. But let me offer up a positive spin on this paradox.

I am lucky enough to have a boss who recognizes my abilities and gives me opportunities to use them. Intuitive accounting, for instance, allows me to look at a stack of numbers and immediately recognize an error. A few years ago, all of the accountants were scratching their heads trying to figure out why a business unit was off by a huge sum. I took one look at the workbook and told them that they were showing a different number for the forecast than what was given. I emailed the forecast to the head accountant so she could correct her mistake. Flustered, they begrudgingly thanked me and muttered things like “lucky guess.” It wasn’t a lucky guess. I just happen to know how to do math in my head and have an almost absurd recall for numbers. I had seen the forecast before month end close, and it was much larger. I didn’t know the exact number, but I knew the number they used was the wrong one.

The sad thing is that my ability drives logical sensing people to the edge of sanity. My boss knows how to keep his distance from me, as he is an extreme sensing person. He doesn’t know how I know what I know, but he does listen. I warned him of several efforts to undermine his plans based on a few snippets of conversation I had overheard. All of them were real, but he didn’t want to take action until the actual coup d’état was right before him. I have stopped offering up my psychic knowledge to him to preserve his sanity. He cannot understand how I know things in advance. I can read people’s subtle energy and he can’t.

I untangle a lot of financial knots. I love doing reconciliations. They are like an Amish puzzle for me. I love getting things started, but prefer to hand them off once there is momentum. When I hear the words “attention to detail,” I sigh, because I can only pay attention to important details…and what I deem important is rarely, if ever, what sensible business people consider important. If I have to pay attention to unimportant details, I will fall asleep at my desk.

I guess I would ask, gentle readers, that you weigh in on whether hyper-intuitive, psychic people belong in the world of business, and if not, where do we belong?

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Lunch with Ladies Who Lunch

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This weekend I was fortunate enough to get a glimpse into the gardens of The 1% at the 26th Annual Beverly Hills Garden Tour. The tour is a fundraiser for the Virginia Robinson Gardens, which is one of the world’s more spectacular estates. Since the United States doesn’t have a Queen to preserve our historic residences, we rely instead on non profit organizations to keep the great estates from crumbling to dust. Luckily, there are enough exhibitionist billionaires to satisfy voyeuristic millionaires, which is the premise upon which the garden tour is based.

The gardens are beautiful. This year, the trend in gardening was to set aside a patch for growing herbs and vegetables. Even billionaires need fresh zucchini.

The gardens surround the estates, and there were a lot of picture windows. Maids stock up on Windex to prepare for the tour, because millionaires have an insatiable need to peer into the houses of billionaires, which leaves a lot of handprints and breath stains on the glass. Some of the tourists carried iPhones and tried to take forbidden snapshots of the privileged life. The docents would chase them down and chastise them. It was one clever lady on my tour who got the vote for smartest use of an iPhone. She had a shopping list app, and was adding plants, furniture, and accessories to her shopping list. No one tried to stop her.

The tour ends at the Virginia Robinson Gardens, with an all you can eat buffet of chicken skewers, shrimp salad, quinoa and raw kale bedecked with heirloom cherry tomatoes. The plates and silverware are made of guilt free bamboo.

The peace and tranquility of the gardens was interrupted on the tour bus when a fight broke out between a British limousine liberal and a Texas oil baroness. It started out innocently enough. The Baroness complained about the hot weather. “Shoo wee it’s hot as blazes today.”

The Limousine Liberal replied, “It’s good evidence for global warming.”

The Oil lady huffed a bit and said, “I don’t really believe in all that hogwash.”

The British woman mused, “I’d imagine you must have heat stroke to say something so ridiculous.”

Oil Money replied, “You must be British, I can tell by your teeth.”

British liberal snapped back, “I’m Scottish, actually. My mother always told me how to spot an American. You can hand them a plate of dog shit, and so long as it’s covered in ketchup, they’ll eat it.”

Oil baron said, “Do you really want to go there? Haggis, tatties and neeps?”

The docent chose that tense moment to get on the microphone and begin her history of Beverly Hills, which, it turns out, was a bean field until 100 years ago.

Later I saw them sitting together at the same table, sipping champagne and eating kale. God Bless Beverly Hills.

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Talking to Angels

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Some or all of you will think I am a kook when you read this.  My suggestion is that the moment you think this seems too weird, just move along.  It is National Mental Health Awareness Month, so it is important to note that not only am I a kook, but I embrace all things kooky and strange.  Or, as the Twelve by Twelve (AA) says, “One day I awoke to find myself surrounded by kooks, crackpots, queers and fallen women.”  I have embraced them like I would my own children.  They are what makes humanity so different from machines and animals.

Anyway, one kook in particular I have spoken to lately is a fabulous lady who does long distance Reiki over the phone.  She informed me that I have two guardian angels watching over me, and that they communicate with me regularly.  I wasn’t quite sure what she meant, but then I remembered this really, really weird phenomenon that keeps happening to me.

Everywhere I go, I find playing cards.  Not a whole deck, or a group of six or seven, but one playing card at a time.  A few months ago, I found the Jack of Diamonds over in Highland Park.  Right before I met the Reiki practitioner I stumbled across the Queen of Spades at the Orange Line Metro station by my house.  Yesterday, I found the two of Diamonds laying face down in my neighbors yard.  I asked other people if this happens to them, and NO ONE has this happen to them.  Just me.  And, because I studied the Tarot since I was eight or nine years old, I know what the playing cards mean.

The Jack of Diamonds came to me a couple of days before I called my Executive Coach for the first time. Part of me was scared to work with her.  But the Jack of Diamonds reassured me that she was working for my betterment, despite what some of my inner voices were saying.  It reassured me and told me to relax and just go with the flow.  We ended up writing a book together over the past few months and I am excited to see it get published.

The Queen of Spades is a wise older lady, who is often depicted as a solitary crone in the forest.  We should always heed her advice, because she knows what she is doing.  That was the Reiki lady, who told me about my two guardian angels.

I’ve been a bit down in the dumps the past few weeks, because I am working harder than ever, but finding myself not having enough money to spend on improving my house.  I am due for a raise at work, but nothing has come through.  The two of diamonds face down was one of the angels letting me know that things are going to be like this for a while, unless I decide to make a big change.  Right now, I am struggling with work/life balance, and when the 2 of diamonds is “reversed” it confirms that things are not in balance.  That’s why I am risking my job and writing this extremely nutty blog from my office right now.  It is after 6pm, and I am done for the day, so hopefully it won’t be considered an unforgivable breach of conduct.

I will talk some more about this sort of freaky new age stuff in future blogs.  It is a deeply rooted part of my being.  I was raised in a “psychic” family, so I sort of take this stuff to be natural and normal.  It is not “witchcraft” or some sort of devilish trick.  It is simply the angels in my life speaking to me in words I can understand.

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