Exercising my brain to vent a pressure cooker

Discovered an interesting writer and website today thanks to A Room of Her Own Foundation post: Spiritual Memoir. The author, Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew, posts weekly writing exercises designed to engage writers in their craft and its connection to their spiritual growth.

Very cool if you ask me.

This week’s exercise is “overwhelm.” Considering that I “coincidentally” feel exactly that way right now – thought I’d give it a go.


I am 43 years old and the granddaughter of a life-long seamstress. The fact that I do not know how to sew a hem randomly boomerangs tears of grief while walking around in extra long pants. I miss her and mourn the time I did not spend with her learning.

I wear my responsibility girdle on top of my big girl panties hidden beneath my emperor-wolf’s clothing all day, most days. It only takes a moment of self-induced authoritative direction in a time of multi-directional conflict to make my hands tremble and my voice quaver. Extricating the acceptance for the need of more girl friend time again emphatically strikes unexpectedly.

The car behind me honks. I begin screaming at the rear view mirror, “What?! What do you want? The light just turned green and my foot is on the accelerator! Give me a chance to go! I was about to go! Give me a chance! What more do you want from me?!” The familiar salt sting grinds around the edge of my glasses.

“I have decided to dissolve the Quorum of 12 and as of this moment have declared martial law.” ~ Colonel Saul Tigh. Even though he really did frak things up when he did that, all of it had happened before and all of it would happen again. I allow myself to be mesmerized. Anon.

Remaining open to messaging from the Universe in a kaleidoscope of signals is most difficult when I believe myself overwhelmed.

Like when in a vegetative state of status scanning, I see a link to a website about spiritual journey writing and click through…


Overdue post – Sudden Fiction entry

A while back, I wrote about a sudden fiction story I wrote that was well received by A Room of Her Own Foundation.

Well, here it is.

I like this format.


Manifesting the Invisible

As she sat at her desk, surrounded by blue pushpin fabric and tiny windows whose only view was of interior walls, munching on pink M&Ms intended for Valentine’s Day, Vivian wondered how she’d let it happen again. She thought she’d been extremely careful in her choices over the last few years, made those major life changes all of the self-help gurus prattle on about and yet, here she sat convincing herself that not one thing had changed in her life and she was destined to fade away like an old water stain eventually does on decent leather – slowly, but surely.

Then something unexpected happened. As Vivian reached out have a sip of her soda, it was as if her hand – ever so briefly – disappeared. She almost didn’t see it as she was concentrating on her computer monitor with the usual blinding monotony that kept her seated there nearly forty hours every week. But, as she glanced down to make sure she actually grasped it instead of knock it over like she had been known to do – her hand was as clear the plastic bottle containing her afternoon caffeine fix. She made a tiny, yet audible yelp which in turn made her co-worker in the neighboring cube react.

“What was that?”

“Um,” stuttered Vivian. “Nothing. Almost spilled my coke is all.”

“Not again?”

“It’s okay,” Vivian replied quickly. “False alarm.”

“Humph,” the neighbor responded minus concern.

Vivian settled her hand onto her mouse as if clinging to the crossbar of a speeding rollercoaster. She had always been eccentric with a bit of the fanciful, but she had never, ever physically hallucinated before. IF that’s what this was –a hallucination. As she maintained her much too expected composure and clenched her every muscle into paralyzing submission, she allowed her eyes to slowly drift over toward the clock. It was time to go home.

“Thank goodness,” she thought. “It’s been a long day, probably nothing.” She hadn’t had a break as the office was short-staffed and she’d had to cover the phones most of the day. Vivian finished what she was working on, cleared off her desk and grabbed her purse. She stepped out of her cube to say goodnight but there was no one left. She quietly left by the back stairwell. As she walked to her car, she checked her hands every few steps to make sure they were still there. They were.

As Vivian approached her beat up old car, the thought again crossed her mind that nothing had changed for her. She originally loved her red station wagon with the turbo engine, but it had fallen into disrepair. She kept meaning to get that dent fixed, but never got around to it and now the dents had begun reproducing like rabbits. She climbed in, tuned into her favorite talk-radio station and began her short drive home in her typical mental brown-out.

Vivian liked to listen to sports talk-radio even though she didn’t really follow most sports. She liked the banter between the hosts and occasionally would talk back to them as if she were part of the show. The argument tonight was one she was becoming extremely tired of – steroid use by extremely well paid baseball players.

“What do you mean – no one cares?! What about the fans?!” Vivian yelled at no one in particular in response to the side of the debate which claimed that if everyone was using, the playing field was then level. She reached down to turn the volume up and it happened again.

Her hand was gone. And this time it wasn’t brief or for just a flash of a second. It was gone.

She could still feel it, feel her fingers but she could not see them. She clutched the steering wheel and immediately saw that her other hand was gone, too.

“Aagh!” Vivian screamed and hurriedly pulled off to the side of the road. As other cars passed, she could see drivers yelling and even flipping her off. She didn’t care. Couldn’t they see she was in distress? She sat there trying to comprehend the fact that although she could sense them, she could not see her hands at all. “What the hell is happening to me?!”

She stretched her fingers, balled her fists and even clapped – there was joint crackling, nails digging into her palms, and slapping sounds. But no hands.

Vivian had no idea how long she sat there on the roadside staring at the empty space that was expanding on the end of her arms. A car honked loudly enough to get through her haze and she instinctively found her winter gloves tucked into the side door pocket and put them on. She waived off the honker who was long gone and decided it was best to get home. She sped off down the road so fast, her car squealed but left no tire marks.

It was dark by the time she arrived. The porch light was not on, so she had to fumble with the lock and key mumbling to herself how it drove her nuts that no one ever remembered to leave the light on for her. She could hear the kids arguing in their rooms with their Dad about taking a shower or finishing up homework and headed straight to her room.

While in the bathroom preparing to take off her gloves, praying her hands had magically reappeared, her husband knocked on the door.

“Hey, babe, you in there?” he asked. Then, without waiting for a reply, he said “Going for a bike ride. See ya.” Vivian soon heard the back door swing shut.

She chose to leave the gloves on, she was cold anyway. She put on her nightshirt and climbed into bed without saying a word to anyone. Tears of confusion dampened her pillow, as she fell into a deep slumber.

Not even the dog asleep at her feet noticed as the lump under the covers slowly, but surely faded away.


Kathleen Vaught
© February 11, 2009
All Rights Reserved.

Intimidation Dance

I know this incredibly beautiful woman. Her beauty is not in the stereotypical Helen of Troy sense as few wars have been waged over her, but she is pulchritudinous nonetheless. She has many friends ranging in levels from simple acquaintance to casual yet personal conversation to intimate know-nearly-everything-about-you. I cannot tell you how many times she has been complimented for her smile or honest charm or willingness to help when needed. She has a better relationship with her kids than she gives herself credit for and the same could be said of her relationship with her husband. They have a marriage based on equal partnership yet lived in the reality of give and take. It’s not perfect, and neither is she if you use Merriam-Webster’s definition, but there are times when I look at her and think, “Wow. She has a great life. Thank God.”

blessed art thou among women…

This woman I know works hard. Even though it is far from the dream she had for herself, she loves her job and is proud of the work she puts in each day. She tries to make the most of her time with her family and works with determination to accept the times when that is not possible for whatever reason. She has emotional struggles like many of us and she has worked diligently over the years to find paths to peace, gateways toward wisdom and layers of herself to love. Sometimes, when I hear her talk, I cannot imagine a time when she was afraid or didn’t believe in herself.

floating above you
I see with clear eyes your grace
clouds challenge within

Today’s woman I am writing about is also talented. She is a writer, has some solid, albeit dormant, acting chops and may have been an inventor in a past life, given her MacGyver-like skills. She loves her thesaurus (as evident by pulchritudinous) and is unashamed to use it. When she embarks on a project – whether it be a short poem, work related newsletter, Chekhovian drama, reparation of a small rocket launch pad, or configuring convoluted connections in a snow storm involving taxis, trains and planes to ensure arriving in Texas for a marriage license waiting period deadline – nine times out of ten, most dentists agree, she won’t quit until she has either reached a superlative solution or the heartbreaking realization that there is not one to be found.

but the tigers come at night…

And then I read posts like this and like this. I learn about the winner for the A Room of Her Own Foundation Grant, along with the finalists. I hear an old friend of mine that I didn’t even realize could sing, sing and write songs like these. Hell, even two of the people I love most in the world (next to my kids) have started a folk duo and every time I get to hear one of the songs they are working on, I get the hair-raised-on-the-back-of-my-neck-they’re-that-good feeling. (If I had a link to one of their songs, I’d post it, but they are currently “in development.”) I have many past friends who are continuing to make a go of it in the theatrical world – working either locally, regionally or in NYC. I could go on…

My stomach muscles tighten and my head begins to swim. Electrical impulses inside my brain begin to dance to an irregular arrhythmia pulsating from my weakening heart. Large, dark clouds of doubt flood my retina and my vocal cords begin to swell preventing spoken words. My lungs fill with cement pressing down hard on my diaphragm. Lastly, my fingers become thick and heavy with poisonous lead making it impossible to clack out the cacophony of angry voices yelling at me “Who do you think you are, anyway?!”

I close my eyes to await the inevitable implosion of my universe. When it doesn’t happen immediately, a small breath of air is able to seep through a tiny crack in my formidable fortress and a smidgen of light softens the darkness.

you are my child and I love you.

I wrest my lids open just enough to see a note I have placed under my makeshift laptop stand, given to me by someone too young to be able to not tell the truth.

You Rock

You Rock

And I go on, being me, remembering that I, too, rock…