Sunday, January 31


"Vertigo is the conflict between the fear of falling and the desire to fall."
~~ Salman Rushdie
I know I've been absent the last few days, but I needed to shut myself down for a bit. The weekend was a forced rehabilitation time for me, although I did have to work (crazy situation there that I'll explain later). I had visited the doctor Thursday thinking that I might have strep. I've had an upper respiratory infection for nearly two weeks that has refused to be coaxed away by any medication. Last week it migrated into my ear and I started feeling dizzy. Really dizzy. Disoriented.

Then it got worse. I can only relate it to the feeling that I used to get as a child after spinning around in circles. My eyes couldn't focus on one spot. I could only stop myself from falling by reaching out and holding onto something. I would be overcome by waves of nausea that felt like sea-sickness and then a feeling that I might pass out.

The doctor discovered that I've developed an inner ear infection that has caused vertigo. I haven't been able to drive, I can't sit at the computer for long and I can only read when I'm laying down. When my eyes shift right, my body drifts left. I find myself walking into things. If I stop suddenly whilst walking I feel like my body is still moving forward. I have to grab onto something until the feeling passes.

The vertigo is not consistent. It comes and goes. I never know when it will happen and I don't know what sets it off. According to what I've read it can be brought on by simply looking in a certain direction or moving my head in a specific way. I can be feeling fine one moment and then unable to stand up straight the next. And I have no idea how long the spell will last. It has made life miserable.

The doctor gave me medication to help, but the only way to get rid of vertigo is to see a specialist who is trained to do certain head-moving exercises to re-balance the fluid in the inner ear.

For now, I'm taking the meds and resting.
I will be back soon.

Currently Reading: Web of Deceit by Darlene Cox
Look for the review soon on my blogcritics writer profile page.
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Hang with Me on Twitter: @a_geek_girl

Thursday, January 28

The New York Plan HNT

It has been a long time since we did this. A long time since I fell into her and let her take control. And now, after many plans thwarted and agendas changed we had finally settled on a date. We would be together in December, after Christmas. A short visit to re-connect, then back home. Work would be waiting. I wondered if things will be like they were before? I wondered if I could get our favorite room in the Bowery.


Then it all fell apart.

I found myself going through our old photos and thinking of what might have been.
I can't help missing New York.
And her.

The original NYC HNT
Happy HNT
See the man, OS!
Forgive my absence... I've been nearly dead.

Currently Reading: Web of Deceit by Darlene Cox
Look for the review on A Geek Girl

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Tuesday, January 19

Snow Day - Cold Morning Play

I awoke the other morning to find a fresh blanket of snow on the ground. Not something we get to enjoy here often. I poured a cup of hot Brazilian coffee to fight off the morning cold and prepared myself to go outside. The wind chill factor was still well below freezing so I threw on my new fur and suede boots, my big winter coat, a hat, neck gaiter, gloves and liners and headed out to take puppy for her walk.

The kids in the neighborhood were playing in the snow. I could hear the echo of their high-pitched laughter as it bounced off the houses. I recognized the voice of my neighbor's five year old daughter as she screamed and then busted out into giggles. She was yelling indistinct instructions to dad, mom must have been inside with her new baby brother, a child they named Wolfgang. I do not know why. I'm thinking more likely Van Halen than Mozart.

As I trudged my way back up the hill towards the house I saw the damage that I had only heard in the early hours of the morning. Furrowed tiremarks buried deep in ice patches right in front of my driveway.

This is a regular sight for us when icy weather hits. We live in the middle of a double hill, where the first hill begins to flatten out, a place known to trap unsuspecting yard gnomes, past my driveway the second part of the hill ascends steeply. An area that accumulates runoff so that when people leave for work in the morning they hit what once was slush, but overnight has become a large peaked patch of ice. I hear them as I lay in bed in the quiet dark on wintery mornings, they hit the patch, tires spinning, then slide back down again. They rev their engines and hit the gas, hoping that momentum will eventually prevail and propel them past my patch of icy slush. It usually takes a few tries. As a neighborly gesture I keep salt in the garage and put some out, but this year the storm came so quickly that by the time I realized that I had run out, there wasn't any left in the stores, no sand either as the whole city braced itself for the worst.

The sun was trying to come out. The sky was changing from dark slate to cold steel grey. The wind, excruciating. I pulled my neck gaiter up higher on my face and my hat down further until all that was left of my face were my eyes. I pulled my parka hood down to block the wind from my eyes and hoped that puppy would guide us both home safely, but no. The snow and the kids playing proved too much for her. She rolled around, kicked up snow and barked, trying to get their attention. Normally they would have run right over to play with her, but not today. Today all either of us would get would be shouts of hello and waves from little gloved hands.

I stopped at the mailbox at the end of the drive. There was a package that I was expecting, it was overdue enough to cause me concern, but not concern enough to drag myself out in the freezing cold after work to look for it. I opened the box and bent down to look inside. There it was. Finally. That had to be it. A manila folder just the perfect size for a book. I reached my hand in and grabbed it, the feeling of excitement growing. This should be the review book I had been waiting for. Web of Deceit by Darlene Cox. I've been dying to read it.

I started to open the package and that's when I felt it. Or rather, heard it. I'm really not sure which. It was a small noise that seemed to have some percussion. A thud in the back of my head. It was familiar, awash in nostalgia, yet it took me a moment to realize what it was. I had been hit with a snowball. I couldn't help but giggle. I haven't been popped by a snowball in years.

I turned to see who had assaulted me and in the middle of the street stood one of my neighbors. Bundled in a big, puffy snow parka, a scarf and a balaclava all I could see was the smile on his face. He laughed out loud and waved a big gloved hand at me. I laughed and waved back. I still have no idea which neighbor it was. But it made my day.

I took puppy back inside and opened my package to see that inside was indeed the book I had been anticipating. And there was a note from the author inside. I really nice note. She had taken the time to write a small apology for the delay and a really sweet little letter. She included her email and phone number so we can keep in touch-- Like a note from an old friend. I was half tempted to pick up the phone and call her to tell her We Got Snow!!!

Instead I tucked the book and letter away in my book bag and snuggled up on the couch with puppy to watch one of my all time favorite movies, Enchanted April

I prefer winter and fall,
when you feel the bone structure of the landscape -
the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter.
Something waits beneath it,
the whole story doesn't show.

~~ Andrew Wyeth

My Three Must - Haves to survive the Winter Weather
Women's Suede And Fur Bootsuede_fur_boots
Neck Gaiterneck_gaiter
Traditional Balaclava (various colors)balaclava_face_cover

Currently Reading: Web of Deceit by Darlene Cox
Look for the review on blogcritics


Sunday, January 17

How to Spice Up Your Blog - The One Brick Shy Gadget

I now have an iGoogle gadget named for me.

Gadgets Directory, whom I linked in my Blog Explosion post created a thing for me. A thing which looks like this...

And does this...

I have no idea what this thing is but I want it.
They call it the One Brick Shy Gadget. Of course it may just be my RSS feed through iGoogle, but that's okay. It's mine. All mine.
It is proof positive of what many have long suspected-- I am a gadget.

Come stare in wonder at the page upon which it resides.

I also added a signature to my posts thanks to this great post called How to Create a Stylish Signature on

It is beautiful, no?

Make sure you read Paul Crowe's instructions when making your signature. He has many useful suggestions and instructions on adding your signature to each post automatically.

Currently Reading: My Life and Other Lies: Tales from the Writer's List by Steve Pitt. The review is up on A Geek Girl at

Sunday, January 10

Winter Charity

Atlanta Icestorm 1935

One of the activities I'm involved in through work is helping out at one of the city women's shelters. One of the ladies I work with began volunteering there and it has turned into an activity that we regularly participate in. Gathering things necessary to keep women and children healthy and going through these frigid winter days has been a challenge. And it is most often women and children that I deal with.

Please remember as you are taking your winter clothes out that those things that no longer fit or that the kids have outgrown might just be the answer to another family's prayers.

We set a box by the front door to make it easy for everyone in the family to pitch in. The box is almost full of things that we've come across in the last week that we realize we don't really need anymore.

As I sorted through the linen closet I gathered also the old blankets, towels and mismatched sheets and pillow cases that have accumulated. These are the items that we normally wouldn't take to the local charity closet, but winter is the time when families get displaced by fire and these items, along with old dishes and pots and pans, can help a family rebuild. Many families here lost their homes to the floods so this week's freeze demanded my immediate attention.

As the cold weather encroaches most of us find ourselves nestled more and more in the warmth and comfort of our families. A roaring fire, warm soup and hot drinks. An old favorite movie playing on the TV. It's a wonderful time to think about the blessings we've been given and to think about paying it forward. We never know what the future holds in store for any of us. The day may come when we must rely on the generosity of others. It's not a bad lesson to teach the kids. The concept of Noblesse Oblige. And the golden rule, Do unto others...

Local Kroger stores are now accepting coat and blanket donations. We are expecting another round of bad weather.

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    Tuesday, January 5

    A Cold Night in the City

      The last two nights have been cold. The kind of cold that wraps itself around, radiating inwards. Making me feel fragile. Flesh over glass. Breakable.

      I took the train all week. That has been my favorite mode of transportation since taking an Amtrak trip with my mother when I was little. I traveled by train all over Europe. The subways of New York and DC. I find there's something soothing in the rhythm of locomotion. Particularly on the night train, when the lights blink off randomly and the only sound in the world is the bump and whir of metal on metal.

      I missed my train both nights. Projects that ran late so that I found myself sitting at the platform in the biting cold, alone. Wind gusts at 20-25 miles per hour and a wind chill factor in single digits have sent this city into hibernation. They are not accustomed to cold here. They've not experienced the kind of cold that I did growing up on the Atlantic Seaboard. They've never known the bite of a Nor'easter nor the sudden blast of cold air off the Chesapeake-- it sucks the very air from your lungs, like a punch in the chest that makes you gasp.

      I felt the subtle vibration of the metal rails that signals the approach of a train and began gathering my things. My hands were numb, even with gloves and liners on, so that I had a difficult time making a fist around the straps of my bags. As I stood up to wait for the train to show itself around the bend in the tunnel a homeless man wandered past, wearing most of what he owned on his back and carrying the rest in black garbage bags. He walked past me, his mouth moving with words that I could hear, but not understand; the specific cadence that all city dwellers recognize immediately, the song of insanity. He did not look at me. I did not exist in his world.

      I moved towards the edge of the platform to wait for the doors to open, anticipating the blessed rush of warm air that was sure to come. The homeless man had stopped talking now. Standing rigid on the far end of the platform he suddenly turned and shot me an angry look. He crooked a dirty finger at me and said "You're all done for." Then he turned and continued on his way.

      When I got home I followed an old, familiar routine. A routine born on the Eastern Shore as a teenager. I immediately put the kettle on to boil for hot tea, turned on the stereo and then went into the bathroom to start the shower. I stripped off the many layers of my winter clothing, leaving them on the floor where they fell. Too cold to bother with them now.

      I stood under the water, slowly raising the temperature from warm to hot. Letting the heat melt away the rigidity in my muscles. I listened as James Morrison sang from the other room.
      I've been twisting and turning in a space that's too small
      I've been drawing the line and watching it fall
      You've been closing me in, closing the space in my heart
      Watching us fading and watching it all fall apart

      I felt my body begin to relax. Memories of home filling my thoughts.

      I dressed in warm, flannel pajamas with thermals underneath and then poured a cup of hot Lady Grey. I picked up the package that had been sitting on my doorstep, abandoned no doubt, by my poor half-frozen postman after a few quick bangs on the door that got no response. I ripped off the parcel paper to find a hardbound copy of The Red Door by Charles Todd, the next book I'm due to review -- another commitment that I made to myself. I felt the momentary tingle of anticipation that I get when new review material arrives, then I stuffed it into my book bag for safe keeping and sat down to write.

      The words of the homeless man are with me still. "You're all done for." I remind myself once more that this is not my home, it's just a place I'm staying until I get back there. I fear that if it's not soon his words might prove prophetic. The Sea is calling.

      Currently Reading: My Life and Other Lies: Tales from the Writer's List <-- Click to read the full review. by Steve Pitt. A collection of wickedly funny short stories from a man whose name nearly became a social disease." A Geek Girl at

      Read with me?
      The next book for review is The Red Door by Charles Todd.
      Listen with me?
      The song is called The Pieces Don't Fit Anymore from the album Undiscovered by James Morrison

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      Hang with Me on Twitter: @a_geek_girl


      Monday, January 4

      The Commitment to Write

        Most of us who are passionate about writing find at some point that the desire to write and the words to express ourselves have disassociated themselves. Some people call it 'Writer's Block', others 'a dry spell'.

        I call it 'The Slough' and I immediately set about looking for inspiration to overcome it as soon as it begins to rear its ugly head in my world. I habitually read several blogs on writing tips and it always rejuvenates me when I find other bloggers who write well. There are three problems I've found with using this approach:
        1) I find myself reading and reading, but not writing a word myself.
        2) I write (at least on this, my personal site) in rich and slightly florid prose. A self-affirming response after being forced to write more rigidly elsewhere. Most of the sites I enjoy reading are more journalistic, geeky, which only serves to reify my feelings of literary alienation.
        3) I get great advise from sites on writing, but find that most of them are focused on writers who write in 'niches' with sites dedicated to one subject or one theme, whilst my writing is based on the vagaries of my emotions and my own chaotic experiences.

        I've always assumed that I write geek for my living, but the Muse is only truly with me when I'm writing from my heart. And when I cannot get to the place where I can express myself the Muse will eventually return and free me from my cursed bindings.

        That whole ridiculous idea was shaken when I landed on Joanne Huspek's website.
        For the first time in a long time I was getting useful writing advise that would change my philosophical view of writing. She impressed upon me the idea that writing is work no matter what the subject, and that I must make a real commitment to it. A commitment of time and attention. The saving grace for me is her approach to writing; it makes no difference what I write, as long as I write. That I don't have to look at writing as a packaged product. A 'thing' that must have a beginning and end. And that I don't have to write with the idea of anyone else reading it, I just have to write. I've now realized that the only real defense I have against 'The Slough' is to commit myself to a certain amount of writing time and/or a minimum amount of writing.

        Her advise is simple.
        Five Tips that have changed my perspective on writing.
        Adventures in Writing: Kicking Your Muse to the Curb

        "There is NO such thing as a Muse.
        Getting anything accomplished, including the task of writing, takes blood, sweat, tears and more tears."
        I must confess how vulnerable I felt in finally admitting to myself that what she says is true. There is no Muse who will eventually come to my rescue. Sad. I had wanted only ever to be her amanuensis. I had been so patiently waiting-- and at least I had someone else to blame when 'The Slough' was upon me. Reassured in my conviction that Erato was just being coy.

        "Set up a daily minimum word amount."
        I'm definitely going to put this advise to work. I've the terrible habit of avoiding writing until I feel that I have something of substance, and quantity, to write. She has inspired me with the idea of a daily writing minimum. I used to carry a mini-journal of sorts, jotting down random thoughts and observations that usually opened my mind's creative eyes and also gave me material to fall back on when I was feeling blocked. When I stopped lugging it everywhere I don't recall. I would imagine it had to do with not having room and time for it at work. I dug it out of my old briefcase on New Years Eve as I made my commitment and resolution to write every day. I must admit to being overcome with panic when I realized that it was no longer in my book bag. I had poured my thoughts, and my heart, into that purple-striped, elastic bound journal. I had stuffed its pockets full of scribbled notes and photos during my travels to New York, Las Vegas, Paradise Island, not to mention the hastily jotted fragments that screamed in my head for release at red lights and whilst standing in line at the grocery store.

        And the time commitment?
        "Set up a daily time for writing."
        Needless to say this is the most difficult part for me as a woman. More and more over the years I've allowed my own desires to be usurped by feelings of guilt. Guilt that I'm being selfish. Guilt that I'm being negligent in some way if I put my writing ahead of the priorities of other people. Resentments that build on all sides when I refuse to be at the beck and call of my career, and all the while I feel my internal clock ticking a mournful countdown on the woman that I had thought I would be. All of the goals that I've put off thinking that I had so much time. I had broken my vow to myself. My own desire, a jilted lover left at the altar. 'I want you, I do. So much. But not right now, just sit quietly and wait for me. Don't change. I won't be long.'

        But I had been long. And I returned changed. My passion had become inconvenience, I had acquiesced to the label that others had forced upon it.

        I have decided on a time, either very late or very early depending on your geographical perspective. I will not let work interfere. If the words are there, the journal comes out. But I must learn to sit myself down with the intention of writing, no matter whether the words are in the mood to be had-- I have to put pen to paper. This is about training and self-discipline. Changing my habit of waiting until I have something 'worthy' to write.

        In a moment of Epiphany I realized that I've treated my desire to write and my commitment to writing as two separate issues, when they should have been one all along. The commitment to write should be the fulfillment of desire, not a burden to be overcome. I don't know when this changed for me, when the passionate writer that I once was became so hard on herself. When my self-criticism became so severe that I found myself unable to enjoy writing just for the sake of doing it.

        I could blame it on writing geek. A very specific format. Rigid. I feel like it locks me into a particular way of writing and it takes time for me to find my own voice again.

        My Commitment to Write
        So the commitment I've made is to write a minimum of two paragraphs every day. It matters not what I write-- or if it is on the web or in the little journal that I have once more secured in my book bag. I just have to write.

        A Place to Write Your Heart
        As I had written in Logos I have many scraps of paper lying about with half finished thoughts. I've decided that this blog should be the place for such fragments, the pieces of myself that I cannot bear to throw away-- although it will no doubt confuse anyone who doesn't understand my purpose. I started another journal elsewhere. It will be used for more formal writing. I cannot link it here, not yet, but I'll explain all of that later... Just know that there will be nothing there that will not be, or is not already, here first. This space will remain the home of my 'private' writing as well as random thoughts and observations. Probably far more interesting in the long run.

        Some posts here will go down and be moved as I weed through and begin the process of dividing myself into two selves.
        In the words of Anais Nin
        "There were always in me, two women at least".
        "The role of a writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say."

        I shall attempt to say all that I could not.
        This will be my journey.

        Joanne Huspek is one of my favorite fellow writers on blogcritics.
        She's smart, funny and very prolific.
        You can visit her profile page here.

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        Hang with Me on Twitter: @a_geek_girl

        Currently Reading: My Life and Other Lies: Tales from the Writer's List by Steve Pitt. The review will be going up on A Geek Girl at

          Sunday, January 3

          The Spirit Box 2010

          The ritual of burning The Spirit Box is one that I have taken part in every year since Seamus first wrote about it. My First Spirit Box was the most difficult for me.

          I collected my notes from the year past and put them to rest forever. As the flames began to rise I once more felt the release that comes with letting go of the past. I now have the freedom to move on. An opportunity to begin this decade with a soul that is cleansed, a mind that is looking only forward, never back.

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          Hang with Me on Twitter: @a_geek_girl

          Currently Reading: My Life and Other Lies: Tales from the Writer's List by Steve Pitt. The review will be going up on A Geek Girl at blogcritics.