Home and hearth

Prompt: On January 5th 1959, “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” backed by “Raining in My Heart” was released by Coral Records. It was the last release of Buddy Holly before his death.

I’m not a particularly big fan of Buddy Holly, but there’s one song of his that always throws me right back to my childhood. And no, I’m not old enough to have been alive in 1959 or when he released any of his songs. I’m only 37. Buddy Holly was way before my time.

When I was young, New Zealand didn’t have a particularly good television network. We had two channels, both owned by the same network. And where I lived, in the wop wops (that means, in the hicks, or in bum fuck nowhere, whatever you call it when it’s miles away from anywhere), we only got one radio station – Radio New Zealand. So aside from the news and similar shows (like documentaries), there wasn’t a lot to watch. What we did get was British television shows. Only Fools and Horses. Blackadder. ‘Allo ‘Allo! The Two Ronnies. Open All Hours. To The Manor Born. Last of the Summer Wine. Fawlty Towers.

And Heartbeat, which apparently started in 1992. I could have sworn it was older than that. Maybe it’s the just the theme song that makes it seem so dated. Anyway, I can’t really tell you what the show was about, other than it was based around a small town cop. Just a soap kinda thing. IMDB says ‘Constable Nick Rowan is a English Policeman in the 1960’s who decides to be reassigned to the same small village where his wife was born. There, he patrols the countryside as a part of a small attachment in the area dealing with the various events and problems that come up while at same time keeping a eye on Claude Greengrass, the local rogue.’ Ah, it’s set in the 1960s. That’s why I thought it was older. I didn’t realise it was backdated.

Anyway, whenever I hear the first few bars of this song, it transports me back to my childhood home. Which is weird, because we moved out of that house in 1993, so I’m not even 100% sure I ever watched the show there. *Blush* But it reminds me of watching TV by the fireplace, in our little farm house. It reminds me of Queen, our snow white cat, sleeping in front of the fire. It gives me warm fuzzies, because my childhood was very happy and it reminds me of those days. Often when I think of my childhood, I think of the farm, which of course was a huge part of our lives, but this song reminds me of the house, which is nice.

What songs remind you of your childhood?

#real life

I’m sorry I haven’t been posting much lately.  Just….work.  I can’t say much, obviously, in a public forum, but yeah.  Work.  I heard this song while I was driving to work, and it really summed up how I was feeling last week.

When things calm down again, I’ll be back.  In the meantime, I’ll try to post when I can.  I recorded a poem on my phone the other day when I was driving home, and my friend Rachel nominated me for a blog thingie, so I’ll try to post those.  Oh, and I made some homemade foodie Christmas gifts on the weekend which I want to post about.  I’ve got heaps of entries from blogs I follow to read (stashed in my inbox!) so will slowly work my way through those too and throw some likes, etc. out to my fellow bloggers.

So I guess I’m just asking you to be patient with me until real life lets me get back to the virtual world.  🙂  Thank you, kind readers!

Music for the occasion tag

I couldn’t resist! Ha ha!

The rules are super simple. Answer the questions, tag the creator (www.theroadtoelle.com) and tag some friends to answer! Simple, huh?

A song that reminds me of home:
Bliss by Th’ Dudes

Play this song in a pub full of kiwis (New Zealanders) and I guarantee every one of them will start singing at the top of their lungs. Yes, it’s old. Yes, it’s dated. But it’s a classic NZ anthem.

I could also have chosen anything by the Exponents or the Mutton Birds, or How Great Thou Art as sung by Sir Howard Morrison (sends shivers up my spine every time) but I had to pick just one, right?

Five songs that are must-haves for a road trip:
I Was Made For Lovin’ You by Kiss
You’re The Voice by John Farnham
American Pie by Don McLean
Dream On by Aerosmith
Never Tear Us Apart by INXS

My actual road trip playlist is well over 100 songs, so this was a near impossible choice. They’re all songs that every member of my family (myself, hubby and the two kids) know the words to, enjoys and will sing along. They’re upbeat (except maybe American Pie!) and you can wind the windows down and crank it up. Oh man, now I feel like a road trip! Anyone?

A song that inspires me:
The Longest Time by Billy Joel

This song always reminds me of my friend Chelsea, and the creative, colourful journals she used to keep. I was a bit OCD about my journals, which were very neat and uniform, and I was so jealous of her creativity. She was the first person to help me step out of my comfort zone when it comes to creativity.

A song that puts me in a good mood:
Dear Penis by Rodney Carrington

It was my father-in-law who first introduced me to this song. I could also have used this for the next question as I know all the words! It’s funny and it makes me laugh. I nearly chose Gonna Make You Happy Tonight by Tripod, which is another good one.

A song I know all the words to:
Lola by the Kinks

I knew all the words to this song long before I ever heard it performed by the original artist. My uncle used to visit us and he’d play this one on his guitar. Also, Dead Skunk In The Middle Of The Road by Loudon Wainwright III, and My Old Man’s A Dustman by Lonnie Donegan. That reminds me, it’s been so long since I heard Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavour… I must make sure my kids know that one. 😛

A song that annoys me:
Lips of an Angel by Hinder

I detest cheaters and I hate the lyrics to this song and the attitude the narrator has to his girlfriend. Drives me mental. I’ll admit, the Crazy Frog song was my first thought though!

A song I used to like but don’t anymore:
As Long As You Love Me by The Backstreet Boys

Yeah, I went through a Backstreet Boys phase, I’ll admit it. It was short lived, I promise.

A song I thrashed:
Run Like Hell by Pink Floyd

This is absolutely my favourite song. I’ve been known to listen to it on repeat and it still doesn’t get old. I love this song! It works best with Young Lust first though, amiright?

A song I like to play loud:
Freaks by Timmy Trumpet and Savage

My kids introduced me to this song, and it’s so damn catchy. A fun song to play loud and dance around the house to.

A song that makes me want to dance:
Runaround Sue by Dion and the Belmonts

Speaking of dancing… When I was growing up, my dad played in a band. We lived in a small rural community, so he mostly played easy listening, middle of the road stuff. There is a whole list of songs that remind me of my dad and my childhood, but this one always makes me want to get up and dance, like we did at those old community hall gigs.

A song I like to listen to when I’m angry:
Teenagers by My Chemical Romance

I used to have an angry playlist. Actually, I lie, it was an angry CD. Ha ha! But this song reminds me that I’m not the only one dealing with teenage dramas, and it’s just a phase. I actually first heard this song when my younger (by 2 years) sister was going through her rebellious teenager phase, so it definitely reminds me that all is not lost!

A song I like to listen to when I’m going to sleep:
Why Worry by Dire Straits

This is the perfect song for nodding off to, both in terms of music and lyrics.

A song by a band that I’ve seen live:
I Will Wait by Mumford and Sons

I’ve seen some amazing bands and artists live (all fairly recently!), including Adele, the Eagles, Guns N Roses, etc. I went to Mumford & Sons with my sister, mum and mother-in-law for my sister’s birthday. I only knew two songs, and my expectations were low. How much can you expect from a band that has a banjo player? But it was amazing. High energy, great fun… One of the best concerts I’ve ever been to.

A song I play when I’m doing the housework:
Fake It by Seether

I have a whole playlist, but this song is right near the top. Nothing to do with the lyrics, just a song that makes me want to get off my ass.

Tagging:
Christina Weaver
Reb Kreyling
Pooja at Life’s Fine Whine
Thompson Crowley
Tiny Rubies
A.C. at An Anonymous Escape From Life
Nic Starr
Jess of Earth
Rachel Peck
Susie Lindau
Phil Taylor at The Phil Factor
Michelle at The Writing Hufflepuff
Drew at The Tattooed Book Geek
and of course, anyone else who would like to give it a go!

Echoes in time

Prompt: Pick a band or solo artist. Write a poem that includes 3 – 5 song titles by said band/artist.

With a thoughtless lack of action
and callous, careless words,
you smashed my dreams and aspirations
into razor-edged smithereens that
tempted me into dangerous darkness,
a world where I could breathe
and be comfortably numb,
where your taunts
were just echoes in the
empty spaces of time…

I think the band I chose is easy to figure out.  Can you pick all the song titles in the poem?  There are five.

An interview with author Rachel Peck

How long have you been writing?
I used to write stories as a child. I was a huge Enid Blyton fan, so most of them involved boarding schools and solving mysteries. I never took it seriously, though. When I was thirteen, I received a journal as a Christmas present, and I started journaling daily. I continued until I was in my early twenties, amassing over fifty volumes! As a teenager, I wrote a lot of angsty poetry. I never thought it was any good, though. I never shared it with anybody. I had a long gap after that, when it didn’t occur to me to write. Life kind of got in the way. Then, two years ago, my husband suggested I join an online writing group, and now I spend most of my time writing. When I spend time away from my computer for a long period of time, I actually feel twitchy. I write on my phone’s notepad, or in one of the many paper notebooks I carry with me. I don’t think I could ever go back to not writing again.

What genres do you write in? Do you have a favourite?
I was thinking about this question a couple of days ago. I don’t know the answer. I guess, literary fiction, mainly. I say that because a lot of my stories don’t fit into one specific category. They are stories about people. Real people, going through things that real people go through. I write with a lot of emotion, and I love to put my characters through the ringer. Seeing them survive and evolve is something I find really interesting. My stories always begin with a character, rather than a detailed plot.

I discovered, only recently, I can write non-fiction. Writing, with honesty, about the darkest (and lightest) parts of your life can be therapeutic. It is my ambition to write my memoirs, one day.

My poetry is free verse and, like my stories, packed full of emotion. I guess I’m still writing a lot of angst-ridden poems, if I’m honest. I’ve written my life story through poetry.

Letting Go

I sit next to the
sterile hospital bed and
wonder how she got this ill—
how I never noticed—
I was supposed to look after her.
I watch as the angry mask
furiously forces air into her lungs,
her body slamming into the bed
with every blast.
I hold her lifeless hand
and trace the misshapen
fingers and thumbs;
memories cascade before my eyes, and
I am a grown-up child,
five years old, taking care of my mum,
my precious responsibility,
but I was selfish,
all I wanted was a mum
who could play with me,
run with me,
lift me,
hold me.
None of that matters now,
I just want a mum who can hear me,
speak to me,
but I know I’ll never have that again,
so I turn to the doctor and
nod,
and the mask is removed,
the machines switched off.
I’m terrified as I watch her breaths,
almost imperceptible,
gradually fade to nothing;
she is still,
pain free,
and I am broken.
I look to her face,
in her very last breath
she has smiled,
and I know she has seen my dad—
the love of her life—
they are reunited in death,
and this comforts my shattered
heart.

Rachel Peck

Are there any genres you’re afraid to try, or struggle to write in?
A couple of years ago, I would have said Sci Fi, Fantasy, or Steampunk. I don’t read these genres, and I don’t understand them well enough to write about them. But, now that I have more confidence, there is nothing I wouldn’t try. I think it makes it interesting to try something new, sometimes. I’m sure if I did try to write in these genres, I would still turn my story into one about intriguing characters and their lives.

Do you read in the same genres that you write in?
I don’t read much literary fiction. I do read books with great characters. I also love psychological thrillers. Grip-Lit, your “Girl On A Train” kind of style. I like to read a wide variety of genres. I think it widens your imagination.

You write both poems and stories. Do you have a preference? Which do you consider your strength?
My poetry is more personal. It’s less polished, more raw. I think, poems have always been something I write when I have things I need to work out. They’re written for me, rather than for my readers. Stories are what I want to write more now. Specifically, the novel I’m working on. I think I write stories better than I write poetry. I’ve learned more about writing them over the last couple of years. Although, when my poetry is spot on, it’s pretty good.

The charity shop doorway looked inviting to Charlie. Walking the streets for hours, trying to stay away from J.T., had made his body heavy and in need of rest. His backpack hit the floor with a thud, startling the bundle of clothes lying next to it.

“You don’t mind if I grab this doorway, do you?” He pulled his lips into his most dazzling smile.

Donna was so young. It saddened him when he imagined the things that led to her thinking sleeping here was her best option.

“Knock yourself out.” Her smile had become sharper around the edges since they first met.

Springtime hung in the air, with its warmer weather finally reaching the streets. Even so, Charlie shivered, as he sat with his back against the door. He hugged his knees, and his eyes darted from side to side. He knew J.T. was out there watching him.

Screams drifted through the air, signalling the coming of Crazy Sue. She staggered between bodies, displaying a strange mixture of crying and guffawing. There were stories she ended up sleeping rough because her husband died and she lost her job. There were stories that back then she really wasn’t that crazy. Charlie knitted his brow as he contemplated how pretty she might once have been.

A whimpering sound drew his attention. He looked to Donna, who quivered and cried. Reaching out his hand and resting it on her back, he spoke in hushed tones. “Hey. What’s up?”

His friend gulped air, in an effort to breathe. “It’s C-Crazy S-Sue. She’s gonna k-kill me.”

The laugh had escaped his mouth before he could stop it. “Crazy Sue’s harmless. Why would you think she’ll hurt you?”

“I lay my stuff down in her spot earlier. She said if she saw me again she’d kill me.”

As the frightened girl buried her head in her blanket, Charlie shuffled closer to her. “Donna. It’s okay. Crazy Sue is . . . well . . . crazy. She shouts and screams at everyone. But she forgets all about it five minutes later. Honest.”

Donna peeked at him from under her blanket. “Really?” she whispered.

Holding her eye contact for longer than he normally managed, he nodded. “Really. You don’t need to be afraid of her.” He was tempted to add, “But J.T., well, there is someone you should avoid at all costs.” But it wouldn’t have made any difference. It never did.

Charlie’s Story by Rachel Peck

Do you listen to music when you write? Do you have a favourite ‘soundtrack’ to write to?
I always listen to music when I write. There is no specific soundtrack. I hit random shuffle on my iPod. I have to skip certain songs, as they can be really distracting (like, you cannot write whilst listening to “Stayin’ Alive” by The Bee Gees!). I love music. I listen to it all day long.

Do you have a favourite author? Or perhaps an author you view as an inspiration?
Yes. Marian Keyes. I love her. I first discovered her in about 1997. I was in a bookshop, and I spotted a book with a bright red cover with a pair of lime-green mules on it. It was like a siren, and I made my way over to it. When I saw the title—“Rachel’s Holiday”—I believe I yelped with delight. It was like it was made for me. I bought it, without reading what it was about. As it happened, I fell in love. Marian Keyes writes books about characters. She writes about the darker side of life, with topics such as drug addiction, depression, domestic abuse. But she also writes with humour and oodles of warmth. Her natural storytelling style has me laughing on one page, then weeping on the next. I would love, in my wildest dreams, to be able to write as well as her.

Tell us about something you read that was particularly memorable, for whatever reason.
About three years ago, I came across a book called “The Shock Of The Fall” by Nathan Filer. He was a new author to me, but I saw him speaking on TV about this book, and I had to look it up. It’s about a young man with paranoid schizophrenia, and about his past and his illness. I read it in one sitting, and I wept and felt my heart twist and turn. At the end, I felt like I’d gone through a bereavement or something. But, I realised I could write a story like that. I mean, I didn’t imagine it could be anywhere near as good, but it gave me the idea to start writing again. I had a story to tell. Maybe I could do it. Reading this book was kind of a turning point for me.

What inspires you? Where do you get your ideas from?
My best ideas are always based on my experiences. I change them, play with them, but ultimately, they have events that are part of me at their heart. I also have a tendency to dream vivid, wild dreams. Pretty much every night. So I write them down and draw on those when I’m looking for an idea. Really, though, ideas are everywhere. Wherever I go, I see people who look interesting and imagine their life stories. I spend a lot of time inside my head. I think it comes from being an only child.

Do you think negative experiences are crucial in order to be a good writer? Do you find it harder to write well when it’s a positive experience?
For me, I wouldn’t be the writer I am without my negative experiences. Especially, where my poetry is concerned. I write so much better when I’m feeling unhappy. I always have. My negative life experiences are probably the reason my writing leans toward being emotional. For me, experiencing pain makes me more understanding of how it works. For example, I don’t think anyone who has never experienced the darkness of deep depression can really understand it. They can read about it and understand it on a logical level, but they won’t feel the emotional connection to it. I think that comes across in writing.

With regards to positive experiences . . . I find it much harder to write happy. It is good to do this from time to time, though. Like, sometimes I have an idea for something light and fun, and it feels good to write something happier.

Do you think that as an author you write better when you pour the emotion on to the page, or when you take a step back and refine your work?
Without question, pouring emotion onto the page is what works for me. I always get better feedback for my pieces that are from the heart. I never would have believed it could make such a difference, but it does. It comes back to that question of having a connection to your work. However, that isn’t saying I don’t edit my work. The first draft is pure emotion, and from there, I make it more cohesive and shareable. That’s an important part of the process.

What has been the hardest thing for you so far on your writing journey?
The hardest thing has been, without question, believing in myself. It’s hard to be objective about my work because, no matter how hard I try, whenever I read it, I hear my own voice. So it doesn’t sound very special. But, I’ve chosen to accept that my voice is okay. One thing I’ve learned over the last two years is that most writers also have doubts. It actually makes us better writers. We can harvest that insecurity and turn it into magic.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
I’ve received so much advice in the past couple of years. I’ve learned to always listen to advice, even when it’s tough. The best piece, though . . . probably to write about what you know. I didn’t believe it at first. When I did, my writing improved.

What is your purpose in writing? Do you aspire to be published?
When I stared writing, it was mostly about exorcising demons and validating my feelings. I never dreamed I could be good enough to publish. I never dreamed I would one day want to try. But, now, things have changed. I would love to be published one day. I have a novel I’m working on at the moment that is everything I’ve ever wanted to write about. It’s in the formative stages right now, but the feedback I’ve received on what I have written has blown me away. So, this book has to be published. That’s my dream. After that, my memoirs. This last year, I’ve had two poems and a story published. One of my poems is in www.threelinepoetry.com. The other poem and the story are in the WDC 2016 Anthology. I can’t tell you the thrill of that! Really, though, I just want to write. Every day; forever. That will make me happy.

How do you drawn the line between truth and privacy when it comes to publishing a memoir?
This is a tough one. Writing about people who are still living is difficult, and I wouldn’t write about anyone without first getting their permission. I know the trouble that can cause. I have a distant relation who published a book on my mother’s family. She had so many facts that were incorrect. For example, she made two of Mum’s brothers twins, when they aren’t. She also said one of her sisters was dead, when she isn’t. So, getting your facts right is imperative. Like I say, I wouldn’t write about living people without asking their permission. I know most of them would be happy. People who have died, I would say that as long as you don’t lie, some people may not like it, but they are probably people who aren’t that close to you in the first place. I think honesty is the key. Whenever you write about real people and your own take on events, you run the risk of upsetting others. You have to be prepared for that, if you want to write about true events.

How will you format your memoir? Will it be told as a story, as a sort of ‘letter to the reader’ or will you use excerpts from your journal entries?
I’ve thought about this a lot. I don’t want it to be a long narrative that moves linearly from event to event. I plan to write about certain events and certain time periods in an order that makes sense to me as I’m writing. I think chapters, covering events or time periods would make sense. Some of them short, some longer. Including some journal entries is a great way to show how it felt to be me at different times. So that’s something I will probably include.

Will you include photos, letters, etc. in your memoir? I love books that do that!
Yes! I love books that include that, too. I’ll probably have some photos dotted throughout the book, rather than a section with tons of pictures. But I will definitely include some.

Will you self publish your novel and memoirs or try traditional publishing?
Ideally, I would love to have them published the traditional way. I think most writers would probably say that. However, this is the real world and there’s a lot of competition out there. So, self publishing may be the way to go. Initially, at least. I can always hope I get noticed somehow.

You can read more of Rachel’s work at her Writing.com portfolio.

Rise Up

Each piece of armour, selected with precision and ridiculous overthought, sat in a pile on the corner on my bed. I stood in my underwear and tried to inhale peace and tranquility, but only managed to suck in a faint taste of dust and desperation. This was it. This was the point of no return.

I drew on a pair of jeans that were so tight they redefined the term ‘skinny jeans’. I nearly fell, and ended up in an ungainly sprawl across my unmade bed. I tugged until my fingers ached, inching the jeans up my thighs. There was something ridiculously satisfying about gliding the zip up and pushing the button through the hole. I stood up and did a few knee bends, reminding myself that walking like a bow legged cowboy wasn’t part of the plan.

A white crew-neck T-shirt followed. It had that brand-new, straight-off-the-shop-shelf blindingly white glow, but I’d run through it through a wash cycle so it had that comforting fragrance of fabric softener. It smelled like home, even if home was an illusion. Maybe I just liked the smell. Was it lavender? Jasmine? I tugged it on over my head, wondering at the train of my own thoughts. Was I really contemplating fabric softener perfumes right now? I smiled a little, kind of amazed that I even could.

I left the jacket for now, and reached for my pride and joy – a pair of knee high vegan-leather boots. They’d cost me a shitload, but they were perfect. As I slid one foot in, then the other, I felt my smile grow. Fuck yeah, I loved these boots.

I sat down on the chair that accompanied the desk in my room, and reached for the items I’d set out earlier. I started with the tinted moisturiser. I’d thought about using a proper foundation, but I found the moisturiser had a more natural feel. I could forget I was wearing it. Nothing about this look was supposed to be subtle, and comfortable wasn’t what I was going for either, but fuck it, I wanted to be… me. I wanted to feel real. Fan-fucking-tastic, but real.

I applied the eyeliner with a steady hand, grateful for the wonder that is Youtube and the people who put makeup tutorials on there. You really can find anything online these days.

I finished my makeup and speared gelled fingers through my hair. I was going for that carefully mussed look, the one that says I don’t mind getting dirty, but also screams ‘You want this!’

When I was happy with my hair, I anointed myself with a cacao and amber scent that made my senses tingle. I grabbed the jacket that matched the boots, and glanced around the room before sweeping the few items I’d used into a backpack and reaching for the door handle. Shoulders back, chin up. I looked amazing, and I knew it. Tonight was my night.

I walked down the stairs, and was nearly at the front door when my father yelled my name from the living room. “Liam!” I spun on one heel and cocked an eyebrow. “What the hell are you wearing?” he growled, looking me up and down. “You look ridiculous. Are you wearing makeup?” I nodded, smirking. “Boys don’t wear makeup! You look like a goddamn girl! Tell him, Margaret. Tell him he looks like one of those pansy sissy boys. I didn’t raise no goddamn pansy. Get back upstairs and wash your face.”

I reached for the handle behind, and swung the door open. “No,” I replied. I wasn’t wasting emotion on this argument. Tonight I was embracing myself, and anyone who didn’t like it could go screw themselves. I’d had enough of caring about other people’s opinions.

“If you walk out of here like that, you can forget about coming back,” he spat. I smiled. Goddamn predictable as always. Good thing I’d packed my shit and had somewhere else to stay.

“Don’t wait up,” I tossed over my shoulder as I sauntered down the drive. I ignored the blustering and smiled up at the evening sky. Oh yeah. Tonight was definitely the point of no return.