A Cosmic Joke after Trauma

When life becomes a cosmic joke, I’m ready for the punchline.

It’s more than traumatic when someone healthy dies moments after you speak with them. My mind has been flooded with what ifs and the disbelief that anyone could sit down and pass away from a clot. I’m still in shock after almost three weeks.

So what’s the joke?

My husband, Danny, and I returned home to regroup before the funeral. We stepped inside and a steady dripping sound greeted us. Part of the ceiling lay on the floor of the guest bedroom. Water collected in pools on the hickory floors around it.

Remember my demon washing machine story?

This is the guest bedroom on the first floor under the laundry room.

When it rains it pours - a cosmic joke

In a panic, I ran upstairs to the laundry room. Water poured from the cold faucet. Why now? I checked those faucets three times a day for five weeks and they had never shed a drop.

The drain under the washer remained dry. Water ran inside the wall and had collected in the ceiling, which caved in. Then it traveled through the floor to our unfinished basement below.

I ran down the steps. Water sprinkled our kid’s apartment furniture and inconsequential storage containers. My eyes fell on a large rectangular box. It had leaned against the wall since we moved in seventeen years ago. It contained some of my artwork.

“Are you effing kidding me?” I shouted and shook my head. I didn’t need this while planning for my brother’s funeral.

Then I rushed back upstairs, stood in the guest bedroom doorway and laughed. Continue reading

An Ode to a Midwinter Cold

midwinter-cold

Hark!

Is that a death rattle I hear, trembling the dark wood around me?

Nope.

‘Tis the phlegm from thy chest cold shaking the bed frame as I hack up another loogie.

A midwinter cold has claimed yet another Kleenex which shroud thy bedclothes like moguls on ski slopes in thy feverish dreams.

Okay, so I don’t have a fever, but as I gaze out the window, red nose pressed against the glass, the lengthening daylight draws me outdoors, like a siren, or Beckham, or some other hot guy. Thy waning energy, thy only defense against overdoing it on yonder slackline. (A gift from Santa.)

yonder-slackline

Each day, upon wakening, hope soars that its hold has loosened. Alas all that has loosened are the reeds in thy larynx as I croak in a strong baritone, “Coffee, I need coffee.” Perhaps I should audition for a boy band.

And so linger do I like fingerprints upon thy neti pot. Only a shadow of thyself, stretching out with the day, on the couch, zapper clutched tight in one pale hand while guzzling mugs of green tea like shots of tequila with the other.

The next few days would certainly ring brighter. But, alas, I awake slack-jawed with energy zapped. Now rapid-fire sneezing and nasal congestion appear. I try to sleep it off.

Then darkness swallows all hope as a shiver slices thy core. I tunnel deep within the tangled sheets, tossing then turning to Web MD – How to sleep with a fever. Reduced to a mouth-breather, I check off thy list until the corners’ of thy cracked lips curl in a smile.

Nasal strips. Duh!

I dash to the bathroom to see if drawers contain the desired breathing implement. Aha! I apply it to nose’s bridge and can instantly breathe. Oh, the relief and sanguine bliss and scent of flowers and sunshine and… then I notice thy reflection which resembles a prizefighter after losing the prize. What if my nose sticks like that?

I quiet down for a long midwinter’s nap, snoozing for two hours at a time. By morning, the fever has fizzled. Yes! My expectations fly away with my imagination. I would rest, then go running tomorrow and then write, then replenish thy refrigerator, and then… I dragged through another day.

I curse thy pharmacist. How dare she send me away since thy flu shot was almost in hand (or arm) and with such a lame excuse. Something about anti-cancer drugs suppressing thy immune system and not giving anyone a shot who had double boobectomies. Never before have I beset such an outrage. Instead of smiling and leaving, I should have explained, “I only had one bad boob!” Shoulda, woulda, coulda.

And here am I, a mere shell of thyself, crawling with legs splayed sideways, skittering from bed to couch to chair, always hiding, the light too bright still.

Oh, when, doth midwinter’s cold end? Hack, cough, spit.

It better be soon, dammit. Snow’s in the forecast and there are wild rides to be had.

Did you get your flu shot? It’s not too late. When I’m well, I’m demanding one.

I drew Midwinter’s Cold as I imagined it when I wrote this poem. Yes, thy mind is a very scary place.

How La La Land Inspires Writers and Artists

Have you seen La La Land? You should. It will inspire you. Here’s why:

Writers and artists can be sensitive people, right? We tack our work up on the wall for everyone to judge and hope someone, anyone, even if they’re in the back of the room, gets what we were trying to do. It’s hard when we hear whispers and a few giggles. It’s all the H words; humbling, humiliating, horrifying and hell. So why do we keep doing it? Because of all the P words. It’s our passion. The potential to reach the precipitous peak of all our pleasurable dreams by perseverance would be pure paradise. Okay, so I’m pushing it.

la-la-land

La La Land is a vibrant musical film. It shows how Hollywood can suck hope from a person unless they’re willing to take a risk and persevere through all those H words.

The following paragraph includes SPOILERS: I watched Mia, played by Emma Stone, appear in front of stoney-faced production heads while she auditioned her heart out. Time after time, she faced rejections. Sebastian, played by Ryan Gosling, sells out to play his piano just about anywhere, even though his heart belongs to jazz. The odds are against them.

Three things really hit me:

A teacher at Icon Collective Music Production School recently told my son, Kelly, all artists face horrible rejection at some point. Most give up. Successful artists persevere, take risks, and follow their passion no matter what happens.

The second takeaway? Support. Surrounding yourself with people who “get what you’re trying to do,” is imperative. We have to make the effort to find them. All it takes is one.

The last message I got from the movie was about sacrifice and choices.  Sometimes we have to choose what’s uncomfortable in order to grow as an artist. Following a passion may not be convenient and can be isolating. Most of us won’t be faced with the choices Mia and Sebastian had to make, but I think the message in the ending was clear.

SPOILER ALERT! They chose their passion over passion. Watch the movie and you’ll see what I mean.

End of spoilers.

la_la_land_film

The irony of La La Land? It took all those P words and six years in order to make this film, according to writer and director, Damian Chazelle. No one believed a musical would make any money. He said this while accepting awards on stage at the Golden Globes. His film took seven of them, including Best Picture. He embodied his film’s message. He dedicated his first award “to all the musical theater geeks out there.”

Watching this movie after posting about my failed resolutions really hit me.

As a writer, rejections pile up. Writing books, screenplays, and blog posts take most of my free time. I’ve already faced cancer and freaked out over how short life can be. I asked myself point blank. “Is this really how I want to spend the rest of it?”

In that moment, I wondered what life would have been like if I hadn’t started writing almost six years ago. No books. No screenplays. No blogging communities or conferences or writer friends. There are other ways I could create, after all, I graduated in art, but it comes down to passion. I couldn’t imagine that alternate universe. I love writing. I can’t give it up.

So bring it on, H words! I will continue to ignore the whispers and giggles. It’s part of the process of following my passion. I’ll reach that precipitous peak, someday.

Have you seen La La Land? What’s your passion? Do you eat popcorn with or without butter?

My Christmas Card Drawings Revealed

In three days Christmas will arrive whether we are ready or not. Three days! I’m psyching up for my last lap around Boulder for holiday gifts. I need to bake my annual cinnamon rolls and make a list to hit the grocery store. The good news? The illustrated Christmas cards are done and in the mail. YES! I’m always relieved when this tradition is complete.

I sketched my family skiing and boarding on the slopes, but I didn’t get into it. Then I drew Danny hanging an ornament on the tree. When I cracked up laughing, the decision was made.

As most of you know, I’ve created popup cards for the last few years. My internal conversation over whether to cut and paste this year, turned into a raging argument. I really wanted to make it a booklet, but I didn’t have time. After printing out a few boring black and white cards to give to friends at a holiday lunch, I settled on a compromise.

I added a tinge of color to the last illustration and ran the cards through the printer a couple more times to add borders.

Ted Strutz guessed what my family is doing and won one a Christmas card! Way to go Ted! He blogs flash fiction for the Friday Fictioneers on Ted Book and slice of life photography on Ted Book Daily Pics. Be sure to check out his blog.

Yep. We are decorating the Christmas tree, but it’s a little on the wild side.

So here’s the scary part. The big reveal…

2016 Christmas Card

 

Happy accidents during Christmas

 

2016 Christmas Card reveal - illustration

It’s all about happy accidents.

We all experience them throughout the holidays. We run into old friends at celebrations or make new ones while looking for dog coats at Petsmart. We may think of the perfect gift while searching for something completely different. It seems like good stuff happens when we are putting out that positive vibe.

It’s all about recognizing the beauty around us and keeping the meaning of the season in our hearts. Keep counting your blessings!

The #Blessed Projects were a happy accident.

I needed something to pull me out of a funk one day, so I made a list of my blessing. The blues faded like the fog in Scrooge’s cemetery. I had to share the idea and the #Blessed Projects were born. If you need something to uplift you, look no further. Click on the link above. There are many to choose from. Make sure to check out Being Thankful, by Words from Anneli. I failed to link her fantastic #Blessed Project when I posted. Another happy accident since she is featured here today.

Another illustrated card is finished. Onto that last-minute Christmas shopping, oh, yeah, and then wrapping everything. *yawn* I still have three days…

Have you experienced any happy accidents lately? Are you feeling blessed or stressed?

Win a Handmade Christmas Card!

It’s time to guess and win a card!

One of my Christmas traditions is to draw a family Christmas Card. It’s almost done. I’m toying with adding something to the last drawing. Yes, there are three illustrations this year. No popups. Whew! I had to draw a line (pun intended) to save my sanity. A couple of years ago, I spent close to 80 hours just pasting them together.

Last year, I made a modified popup.

tobogganing Christmas Card

Christmas Card 2015

I’m having a hard time with my “no cutting or pasting rule” for the year. I look at these cards and their so much prettier than a plain white one. I still have time to assemble something, don’t I? Maybe not.

The card from 2014.

christmas card with tree punch

illustrated christmas card

Guess what we are doing in this year’s card. Leave a comment and win!

Merry Christmas!

 

Holiday Overachiever Meets Christmas Disasters

Like most of you, the holidays require time for planning, cooking, baking, shopping and celebrations. I add drawing illustrations to that list. No matter how organized, there’s never enough time and mistakes can be made. Add four birthdays to the Lindau mix and my Type-A, overachiever, perfectionism is really tested. But that doesn’t stop me from setting lofty goals. Nope.

illustrated christmas cards

Looking back on November, I can’t believe I signed up for NaNoWriMo. I knew I wouldn’t write 50,000 words like I did in 2014. I didn’t need to. My new book is almost done, but I signed up for the camaraderie and the word counter. Still, I thought I would write at least 20,000 words to hit my own 50,000 word mark. I was dreaming. I fell 4,500 short of that wimpy goal. I guilted out day-after-day over Thanksgiving for not carving out a little time to write. Then I faced that whiney voice head on and turned it off. I spent time with my family.

After taking my mom and brother to the airport and helping my sister with her paintings for a show, I finally sat down at 7:00 Monday night. The house was quiet. My husband, Danny, watched the Packer game in the other room. I planned to catch up with blogging. It would be nice to sit back and relax for the next few days.

Then it hit me.

IT WAS CYBER MONDAY! December 1st would arrive on Thursday! I scrambled to click on deals until Amazon read, AAmmaazzoonn and my credit card was maxed out. Not really, but I got a lot of shopping done.

The next day, I made a list.

  1. Decorate the house.
  2. Prepare for a holiday party.
  3. Bake cakes and cookies.
  4. Draw the family Christmas card.
  5. Shop for everyone.
  6. Wrap presents before Christmas Eve.
  7. Keep up with writing projects.

At the end of every holiday season, I take pictures of my decorations to make it easier for the next. The following year, I never look at them. I’d rather try something different. Decorating a couple of Christmas trees and evergreen swags which hang on almost every surface, then setting up several tablescapes should be easy. (In other words four solid days of work, at least.)

Fifteen years ago, Danny and I hosted a humongous Christmas party for a few hundred guests. I made ninety-three different delectable dishes, sweets and treats. Ninety-three! I kept the list. I told you I was Type-A, I mean OCD. That stands for Obsessive Christmas Decorator, right? The inside of the house was trimmed from stem to stern. The outdoor decorations made Boulder’s Top Twenty list. I splurged on a velvet Ralph Lauren dress complete with a train. I hired help to pass out appetizers. It would be elegant.

gorgeous dining room christmas

Over-achieving had reached new heights. I planned the perfect holiday party. I hadn’t learned the fact that no matter how you fantasize about an event, it never turns out remotely close to your imagination.

A few flakes floated down adding to the Kincaid Christmas card mood. It kept snowing. The snow blew and drifts rose toward the windows. It didn’t stop until the next day. More than half the guests didn’t make it because of impassible roads. Someone tracked mud through the house from the garage. The kitchen, which is the focal point of my house, was trashed sometime during the second hour of the party. Unwashed dishes and containers littered the streaky counters. I tripped on my train all night and considered cutting it off. Some of the hors d’oevres, which took hours and hours to make, were never served on trays. My heart sunk when I found all of them in the refrigerator the next day. That was the last big Christmas party we hosted.

After that fiasco, I entertained my tennis friends with a ladies sit luncheon. It started with a very small group of five. Over the next few years the guest list grew. The last time I hosted the event, I invited seventy! Only half of them showed up. Key words, “The last time I hosted.”

I had a weak moment in November and we will brave entertaining again, inviting people who have kept in touch through the years along with some new friends. The last two nights,  I woke up in a cold sweat wondering how I’ll pull it off without a caterer. I’m relying on my old mantra: “You got this. You can do it.” I’m trying not to fantasize. Nothing will be served on trays. My new dress won’t have a train. My family is helping with the party. I’ll be “dancing for drought” before the party, just in case.

After brushing off my dusty cookbooks, I listed the dishes to prepare for the party. Cakes, breads, and my favorite cookies will be baked and frozen. I hope they don’t disappear before the holidays. I’ve developed a bigger sweet tooth than Danny!

My Christmas card will be tackled early. The first time I made a popup version, they were so complicated, each one took more than ten minutes to paste together. I missed two holiday parties to finish them. That didn’t stop me from continuing the popup time suck over the last few years.

pieces and parts of card diy

This year, I will create an old-fashioned illustrated card. (See card below from 2008.) No bells. No whistles. No pull outs. Just one fold down the middle. I hope. Okay, so if I do something remotely popup this year, take away my scissors next year. Please!

I still have lots of time before Christmas to shop for presents. Ordering online makes shopping so easy. I had a brilliant idea to wrap gifts as they are delivered or bought. Ha! That would be a Christmas miracle.

illustrated christmas card 06

So how will I balance my writing life through the holidays? I won’t. I wrote a new chapter yesterday and then studied my planner. There’s no way I’ll finish everything on time for the holidays with a 1000 word per day goal. It’s time to cut back, relax, and enjoy a season that only comes around once a year.

The most important thing? No matter how I plan, I’ll remember that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. “Do you hear that right side?” asks the left side of my brain.

illustration of boy and girl fighting

I’ll do my best and will enjoy the holidays like a normal person. What’s that like? I have no idea. I’ll let you know in January.

 

I have a gift for you! I’m hosting The #Blessed Project until December 17th. Blog a #Blessed Project list and I’ll feature your post on December 19th. Check out the details here. No matter how the holidays turn out, I’ve been blessed by having family and friends like you!

What could go wrong if I stick with my plan? Are you a holiday over-achiever?

A Shia LaBeouf Hitchhiking Update #TAKEMEANYWHERE

Good morning Wild Riders and Happy Summer to you!Shia LaBeouf and Susie Lindau at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art

Remember when I met Shia LaBeouf in May? Well he, Nastja Ronkko, and Luke Turner have been hitchhiking since May 23rd. Every day, they have posted their new coordinates at noon on Twitter and have taken a ride from whomever picks them up first. GPS placed them north of Seattle, Washington yesterday. Today at noon, they were further north near Maple Ridge, British Columbia. My guess is they will head to Los Angeles, but who knows? Maybe they’ll complete their weird loop by hitching a ride back to Boulder.

#takemeanywhere hitchhiking map LaBeouf, Turner, Ronkko

These are their last few days of hitchhiking. My husband, Danny, and I are road-tripping on Sunday and will just miss them. Dang!

I found the coolest video of Scott Daly and a friend who set out from Utah to track the team down. Being super fans, it soon became a cat and mouse adventure. If you’re a writer, this video includes every step in the making of a great story. It is very suspenseful and worth a view.

Take a look:

Would you have gone this far? Can you see how Daly’s adventure plays out like a great short story?

I wonder what LaBeouf, Ronkko and Turner will do with their #TAKEMEANYWHERE hitchhiking adventure. Will they do something with the GPS coordinates? Will they document their journey in a video or photos? Or is the journey the art installation? Stay tuned. When I find out, I’ll let you know.

Everyone is a super fan of some celebrity. How far would you go to spend a day with your favorite star?

 

Watch for all kinds of Wild Rider adventures this summer. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram too.