Hey Lou Writes

The Grey Matters


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Too Real For Fiction {Part II}

I can’t make this stuff up….(click here for part I!)

Today I got some advice.

I was sitting in Whole Foods. I had literally just sat down and the stranger at the table beside me says, “Excuse me.”

So I say, “Yes?”

He’s an old guy. I would guess 55 or 60. He starts this conversation with me.

“Okay. Am I freaking you out by talking to you? (I shake my head, try to smile with my eyebrows raised…) Okay. Good. I hope I’m not freaking you out. I’m an old guy. You’re young. I look…. I look a lot older than I should. I look bad for my age. I spent the last forty years or so being bipolar. Do you know what that is? (I nod, keep trying to smile…) It’s this guy disease. I had it. I’ve recently been let back in here. They kicked me out about 9 months ago. I’m on probation. I guess I talk to much. I like to talk to people. I’m a people person. I can’t help that. But the reason I’m saying this… what I’m saying is… are you in show business?”

“No. Not at all.”

“Yeah.” He nods. “You’re probably a nurse. You’re a nurse, aren’t you? Or a teacher. You’re probably a teacher.”

“No… neither, actually.” (more about why I’m NOT a teacher…)

“Probably because you found some amazing guy.”

“Well… I did. But that’s not why I’m not a teacher.”

“Are you married?”

“Yes.”

“Good. You know? I just realized, last week, that I spend my entire life living without the most important thing a person can have. I haven’t been giving out any love. I haven’t had anyone. I’m so lonely. I realized how lonely I am. Truly alone. And it’s my fault. Anyway, why I ask is, I’m happy to hear stories like yours. I’m so happy some people have someone to really love. So, thanks. Thanks for talking to me. Thanks for listening.”

“Sure.”

“Did I creep you out?”

“Nah. Nothing really surprises me anymore.” (which is totally true)

“Alright. Thanks. Thanks a lot.”

Then this guy started talking to the person he was sitting with again and didn’t say another word to me.

The point? Today a total stranger made me realize how lucky I am to have someone to love me and to love in return. It was unexpected advice. Even though part of me was actually totally annoyed to be bothered, another part of me let go of that and really took this as something I should listen to. Not everyone has had the chance to get married. Not everyone has a great family and sisters to talk to every single day. So even if some random stranger never approaches you with some weird soliloquy of their own lives… realize it.

Take those people who are blessings to you and hold them close.

Don’t let them go.

Don’t let a moment with them slip away unnoticed or uncared for.

Smile even when you don’t want to.

Say I Love You even when it’s the last thing you’re feeling.

Pick your crap up off of the floor/counter if that’s the one things that drives them crazy. (I’m working on this!)

Don’t be too hard on people.

Don’t be that guy who wakes up to be 60 something years old and realizes he’s been lonely and it’s his fault. That’s no life.

Be thankful.

Be happy!!!!

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Surviving… and Writing

writer, new writer, short stories, poetry, hey lou

first, you gotta survive!

When I say I’m writing all day long, it usually means that I wander over to do the dishes…fold some laundry…text Greg to see how work is going…and then sit down again to type. That’s not to say that I’m not thinking of what it is I am going to write the entire time. I can’t really stop my mind from thinking the next thought or coming up with the next character.

I like to call this rehearsing. I rehearse all day long, even if I’m busy at work. I never get writer’s block, if I count all the thinking I do as part of the writing process.

Today, as I sat in our hallway (because it heats up faster than the entire house), I listened to music the entire time. One song that really stuck out to me was Cory Branan’s song Survivor Blues. If you haven’t heard of him, look him up. And listen to Survivor Blues. Cory has written some of the most poignant lyrics I have ever heard and some of the most profound are in this one song.

We’ve all heard that old phrase:

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

It’s a popular tattoo. A very clichéd bit of advice to give someone who has had a horrible day.

But what about the flip side to that? What about that terrible, gut wrenching pain that some people feel? Survivor Blues states it plainly:

‘They say it makes you stronger

But first you gotta survive”

What a concept. First, you have to survive whatever it is that is potentially going to make you stronger. It might really suck. The next lyrics says,

“What didn’t kill you will make you wish you died”

Again… what a concept. I’m usually a pretty optimistic person, but yes, there have been days where I felt this way. OR days where I knew someone else was going through something so terrible that this was how they felt.

Yet, at the end of the day, people are resilient. Even people who think to themselves that they’d rather have died than survived whatever they just lived through… even they come out on top. They DO eventually get stronger.

It’s the surviving that counts, though.

Right now I’m constantly inside the world of a character I’ve written, Ezra, who has survived something I would consider awful. If I were him, I’d even wish that I could have died at times. This is what characters do… at least the ones who stay with us as readers. They survive anything. They hit rock bottom and somehow, some way, rise up again. It can be a struggle, a messy, ugly one at that, but a successful struggle in the end. (except for those extremely depressing stories where everything goes to hell and never comes back. but those aren’t the standard… or my favorite)

I hope that as you live your own story and continue to be the main character in your own lives, that you are all surviving whatever it is you are going through!

<3


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Current OBSESSION

les mis, writer, new writer, poetry, short stories, author

Jean Valjean… swoon

I have a few “all the time” obsessions.

They include: HONEY, KOMBUCHA, and KALE

They’re all food, which I just can’t help. But every once in a while, my obsessions shift gears. This obsession began on Christmas day when I went with my mom and two of my sisters to see Les Miserables. I had always known the “pretty songs” from the musical. I kind of, sort of, knew the story.

BUT OH MY GOSH. I wasn’t prepared for the absolute emotion and epic drama that this movie held. I have a new found love for Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman… both actors I had never really paid much attention to. I think every single person (even Amanda Seyfried, who isn’t my favorite) in the movie did an excellent job.

I used to think that Tom Joad was the manliest character EVER written. He is second place now. THE manliest character ever written? Of course, the award goes to Jean Valjean. What he overcame in life… how much he changed… how TRUE he was to himself and God… all equals pretty much the perfect man. And talk about cute college boys. Get them singing together about “red” and “black” with nice clothes and curly hair, and I’m pretty much a goner. Fantine (Anne Hathaway) is one of the most tragic characters ever written. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen something so touching, desperate, and depressing as the way she was depicted in this film. Little Cosette was so cute. Eponine, so strong and sad all at the same time. I’m telling you- it’s a MUST SEE FILM.

I cried. My stomach ached from how distraught I was almost the entire time. I couldn’t sleep that night… woke up thinking about it…

Even my husband Greg wants to watch it!  I told him I’d have NO issue seeing it twice. In fact… I’m CRAVING it!!

Thank God I have the soundtrack on my iPod.


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Too Many Thoughts

Living A Novel

By Melinda Williams

I’d rather life resemble

a Steinbeck novel

I’d rather starve

or lose a house

or drive Route 66

or have an evil mother

or kill for the greater good

Than risk living the life

of a chick-lit novel

Where I’d never feel anything real

Just what others did to me

Above is my latest poem. I’ve been writing them lately. I jot down poems here and there, or little thoughts of inspiration.  A friend of mine got me this little book and it has been life changing. See? Here it is, and look how messy my handwriting is!

writer, short stories, poetry, new writer, author

My Little Notebook! I take it EVERYWHERE

I highly recommend doing something like this. It’s for life’s little thoughts. Or big thoughts… either one, really. Why not have a place where you can jot down a note or two, perhaps an inspiring quote, and maybe even journal in when it’s needed? These little books are so cheap and fit in a pocket, even!

Anyway. This blog is not an ad for tiny notebooks. It’s a blog I’m writing, pondering WHY I’ve become someone who would stay awake and write a blog past midnight. (while sitting in the hallway in front of the heater… because I am frozen. Where’s that whiskey…?)

WHY have I become a person who would stay up that late anyway? I used to be a “get 8 hours of sleep” kind of a gal. Now… lately… I’ve been functioning on far less. Mostly, this is because of fun nights spent with friends when we drink way too much wine and then all have to work the next day. But partly, and more and more frequently, it’s because I cannot sleep and my thoughts are carrying me away with them. Yes. Carrying me away. My thoughts are like little ants in a cartoon of a picnic, and I’m the sandwich, slowly getting further away from the person who prepared it…

That’s a horrible analogy! But I think it kind of works!

I’ve been trying to make quotes like these my mantras:

writer, author, short stories, author, rumi

amazing, huh?

OR

writer, new writer, short stories, poetry, author

I laugh out loud to myself MANY times a day. It’s awesome

Life IS too short not to try to live by these. What does the first quote mean? Well, if you haven’t yet made a few mistakes in life, this isn’t for you. AKA, everyone can probably relate to this. I love the idea that there is this constant gray area, LIFE, that lies between right and wrong. Who’s to say what is right and what is wrong, anyway? There’s always two sides to every story. There are always hearts involved… always personal feelings and actions. It’s just like Justin Townes Earle (one of my favorite singers) says in one of his songs…”Who am I to say?” Therefore, I hope we can all agree to meet up with each other in life. I hope that you and someone, or many people (maybe someone you love, maybe someone you cannot stand) can agree to meet out in that “field” and live life, regardless of blame or “right and wrong.”

The second quote is pretty obvious. And I really, truly hope that you all find a moment to laugh by yourself at least once a day. Think of a funny moment you’ve experienced lately. Read the comics! Make a funny face and then shake with laughter knowing that you are the only one who knows you just did that… (or if you have, say, a twin, make funny faces to each other when no one else is aware… that is pure joy!)

On bad days, or moments when I’m not feeling so great, it’s quotes like these that plague me:

writer, new writer, author, short stories, poetry

Ugh

OR

Exactly. Memory can be a monster!!!

Exactly. Memory can be a monster!!!

I’ve really been trying to live in the moment. Not in such a “you only live once” kind of a way… but in a “I need to quiet my freaking brain for at least a second, please” kind of a way.

Do you go over the exact same thought again and again?

Are you riddled with the if’s of your last choice?

Do you over worry about someone else’s reaction to something you’ve done, knowing full well that you are being silly?

I think we all do. I sure hope I’m not alone in this! This is WHY I’ve been trying not to let my memory monsters get the better of me. Memories can be beautiful and peaceful and filled with the best moments of life… I’m not saying that remembering is a bad thing. But hanging on to those moments can be less than helpful in your every day life, particularly when clinging to a bad memory. After all, that is NOT what is happening RIGHT NOW… whenever right now is for you. The same goes with worries about the future.

I’ve heard stress is only a reaction to something we think might happen. It’s rarely a physical reaction to something that is literally happening that moment. Which is exactly why I’m trying so hard to live in the moment. I don’t want to live in the past, whether I’m enjoying a good memory or crying over an awful one. I don’t want to stress about what tomorrow or next week might bring. I want to be present. I want to be thankful for each moment as it comes. It sounds cheesy, but I have to constantly remind myself that tomorrow is not promised. It’s not for sure that I’ll even have to face {input awful outcome of such and such decision here}. I’m trying my hardest not to worry about these things.

So for now, I’ll keep sitting in front of the heater (it’s now much later… or earlier in the morning, rather…), probably writing in my little notebook. I’ll also be trying to quiet my mind.

Oh, and I’m listening to Paper Forest by Emmy the Great. This song has some amazing lines. I listen to it over and over… I’m obsessed. Give it a listen. See if you can get the connection between what I’m trying to say here and what she says in the song.

“It’s like these days I have to write down almost every thought I’ve held

So scared I am becoming of forgetting how it felt

And these fears they will unravel me one day

But still I am afraid…”

Emmy the Great, Paper Forest

<3