Friday, October 29, 2010

Lies, All Lies

I am pretty comfortable saying I’m a lousy liar. To say I never lie would be, well, a lie, but I think I do it so rarely as to be in the group that could honestly say, “I don’t lie.” I tried it out when I was younger and I sucked. Pitted against a younger brother who was a natural, I never had a chance to develop any level of skill in even the normal, every-day kid deceptions necessary for survival to adulthood.

The “I didn’t break it, eat it, lose it, put it in the dryer” excuses (lies) were never convincing enough for my stepmother, and I even began to take credit for things I really didn’t do because she didn’t believe me anyway.

So, no positive reinforcement for lying was ever received and I’ve gotten along just fine without it.

However, writing fiction and poetry – telling stories – is essentially lying. This came into stark relief the other day when a reviewer asked me if something I had written was true. Part of it is true, the tiny grain of an idea that begins the story (or in this case a poem), and I certainly want it to have enough impact as to feel true, but I don’t really want to throw myself under the bus either. So I told the truth, said some of it was true, and left it at that. Perhaps my real challenge is not truth versus lie, but knowing when to STOP TALKING.

Do you remember the TV commercial where the old woman has fallen and she uses her alert thingy to summon rescuers with “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”? My son uses that to make fun of me and mid-lecture will say “Help! I’m talking and I can’t shut up!” I know I should be parent-like and get mad at him, but I laugh every time because it’s so me.

I should not feel like I have a duty to explain my writing, or classify it as truth or lie – it is fiction and it is poetry. That is all. It’s my prerogative to use my life experiences in any way I see fit. But my life hasn’t happened to just me, and if I write about an interaction with someone, they may know it’s about them and maybe at some level I want them to know, but my intent is never to lay bare all of the truth. That would be memoir and frankly, my life hasn’t been that interesting. There is no one in my past or present that I aim to hurt - even the wicked step-monsters (except for calling them that – which pleases me to no end).

Maybe no one else thinks of it, but I’ve begun to wonder if people really get the difference between fiction and the truth. In my job it is imperative that I am truthful, and there is no question as to that benchmark. In real life and in writing, there is room to hedge. If you ask me a question, I will tell you the truth - to the point where you might want to carefully consider the question and if you really want the answer. If the question is never asked, I probably will not seek you out to tell you how I feel, or what I did, or what you didn’t know. This can’t be much different than how most people view the truth. For civility and to be considerate, we don’t go around saying exactly what we think all the time.

And yet, I am not angered or annoyed by this question about something I’ve written. I take it as a compliment that my writing seems real. I just have angst about responding, because I don’t want to lie. Communicating to someone cryptically through story or poetry has certainly been done. It’s just not something I do. If I really have something to say to you, I will track you down. This does not mean that there are not experiences that I now understand more fully (because I am older) and want to revisit in this artistic way. I think there is real value in evaluating life and not just living it. That someone reading my work can commiserate or see their own experiences through my analytic lens makes me happy.

If I choose to see the lies of storytelling as metaphorical truth, perhaps I won’t feel so compelled to defend or explain this kind of lying. It is the greater truth of a situation, not the particular truth, which teaches us. Becoming skilled at writing fiction demands skill at creating something that did not exist before – lying - but the intent is often (for me) to illuminate some truth. So I will lie. And that’s the truth.

Jo Taylor

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

You're an Excellent Driver

We were talking at work about compliments recently and I found it interesting that people remember some rather unusual things as their favorite compliment. As with any other human behavior, it is personal to each of us what means much or little, and often we don't know something will be meaningful in the moment.

I've had two compliments in my life that I remember. I'm sure I've had more than two, but these two were particularly meaningful. They aren't compliments of the ordinary sort, so I will explain.

I was working ambulance and we had a big grinder (wreck - 4 cars) out on Hwy 46 East which is where James Dean was killed.  We had three ambulances on scene and I was doing my job, nothing special. We ended up changing partners as my partner and another EMT were doing an extrication, so I drove one of the other rigs to the hospital. The best thing for a trauma patient is a lead foot, and I have one of those. At one point on the way in, the medic stuck his head into the cab from the back and said to me, "I forgot how nice it was to ride with you. Thanks."

He was busy and didn't have to say this, but I have remembered it because I loved being an excellent driver.

The other compliment I remember was when I was working as the charge in the ER. One of my nurses asked me if I thought I could run the department if the opportunity came up. I was about to answer her when one of the ER docs started laughing. We turned around to see what was funny and he said "Are you kidding? She could run a small country."

I loved that too.

So the things I've remembered have been comments on my ability, not my looks or my clothes or my possessions. The conversation at work made me think about how I compliment others and what I base it on. I hope and will aspire to tell them something meaningful to them, and to take the time to find out what that might be.

My son, at 13, is in that place where nothing anyone says makes a difference, and yet everything does. I'm trying to teach him to filter, but I don't know if what I'm saying makes him feel good, or if I'm scarring him for life. Writing about him in the blog is probably not a great idea in terms of a childhood unscathed, but it illustrates the point of making your words count in your everyday life.

Taking the opportunity to thank someone who said something meaningful is another good goal, and one I failed to realize the importance of until recently. So, thank you Dr. John, and thank you Wes. I've never forgotten your kindness.

Jo Taylor

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Random Things

I've had the most random memories pop into my head lately. The one I can probably share without too much personal embarrassment is my favorite ER Nurse phone call. Back in the 90's, you could call an ER and speak to a nurse and ask them questions. We never really answered the questions, but we let you try. Now there is a long and tedious message at the beginning of the call that tells you the ER staff will not give you advice over the phone, but occasionally, someone makes it through even that obstacle to ask their question. We still don't answer. We hedge, we sympathize, we do not give advice over the phone. Even to those who think the rules do not apply to them.

My favorite ER Nurse call ever was in 1999. A pleasant young woman called on a not too busy night.

Caller: "I have a question. If I drop acid, will it interfere with my Amoxicillin?"

Me: (Trying not to laugh) "If you're going to drop acid, why do you care if it interacts with your Amoxicillin?"

Caller: "Well, I wouldn't want to do anything to hurt my body."

Me: (Not really hiding the laughter at this point) "Um, most of our drug books only cover legal drugs, so you're on your own. Sorry."

Caller: "That's okay. Thank you very much."

I miss the ER sometimes. I especially miss many of my co-workers, a very few of the patients, but none of the hours. The ability to work 72 hours a week (yes, a WEEK) when I worked ambulance, then four 12-hour night shifts in a row when I was a nurse are looooong gone. To my complete amazement my body is not like that of a twenty year old.

But even if I was not encumbered physically by having the good fortune of discovering sleep and therefore not wanting to give that up again, I'm kind of done with working in the ER. That's a really good thing since I'm not anymore. I haven't been ER staff since 2001, and while being the House Supervisor for 6 years after that had me there a lot, it was different to be able to play for a while and then LEAVE.

IV's? Codes? Sure, no problem. Seizure day? Oh hey, I'm busy in ICU - sorry. Not that I did that to my nurses all the time, but the point is that I COULD. I didn't have any direct patient responsibility. I only had responsibility for a 100,000 square foot building and everyone in it. Much easier.

What does any of that past experience have to do with writing, and more specifically, writing character? For me, it is an un-mined field. I have the great fortune of having been witness to the range of human experience, mostly on the tragic side, but all those responses to critical situations become tools for writing well. I have been absolutely floored by grace in times of difficulty, both from the RN's and MD's and from family and friends of those in my care. You can't make this stuff up. I've also seen what horrible things humans do to each other.

This speaks to motivation and situation, but mostly it gives me a vast and rich memory for story to use as I write. But I rarely use it.

I've been asking myself why not lately. I think that's where some of the odd memories are coming from - because I'm looking in my past for ways to illustrate action, or motivation, or cause. I have tons of "material." At a recent writing workshop, when I said I was a nurse, the teacher responded with a smile and said my profession was the goldmine for writers. And yet I don't want to or don't feel comfortable using it yet. Maybe I'm not far enough removed to revisit THOSE memories again - the ones that left me sleepless for days on end.

The other challenge is finding the right tone with stories specifically about human suffering. Sometimes you can be caustic, sometimes funny or flippant, but mostly you have to be respectful (I think) of human nature. I can show it in all its grace or depravity, but there still has to be a reverent acknowledgement that I know of these stories because I got to be a nurse. Who else gets to experience a hundred lifetimes of experience through others? Not many, and I thank the ER for that - the patients, the nurses, the docs.

So, here's a short list of "Things I Learned in the ER," and I hope it shows some of the scope of the experience, and some of the challenge of writing about it.

1. The weirdest things fit in the weirdest places. Patient confidentiality prohibits any further detail. Use your imagination and you still won't be able to encompass the full scope of this delightful human pastime. The excuses and explanations are all the same however.
2. The ability to have olfactory premonition is very helpful (I would sometimes smell blood right before a trauma - independently verifiable by my former coworkers). Either I have some level of psychic gift, or I'm a vampire. 
3.    An artery can shoot blood all the way across a room.
4.    Playing practical jokes on the doctors makes the day go by faster.
5.    Surgeons don’t have the ER sense of humor.
6.    People really do not realize when their hearts stop. If they are otherwise healthy and awake, they are incredibly surprised when I hit them in the chest, or shock them, and they yell “Ow! Hey! What’d you do THAT for?” (Well sir, your heart wasn’t beating).
7. Pain medicines do not take away all the pain; they make you not care that your leg is broken.
8.    There really is a light in your eyes that goes out when you die. Watching it is humbling.
9. People will accept suffering with an amazing amount of dignity and grace if they feel it is for a reason. Any reason.
10.    If you tell a mother that her eighteen-year-old son is dead, you will remember her face and her name forever.
11. If you advocate for a mother to hold her seven-year-old child one more time, she will remember your face and your name forever.


Jo Taylor

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


We went to my son's Parent - Teacher conferences tonight, and no less than two of his instructors commented on his nice handwriting, his cursive to be exact.

I was a bit shocked that they mentioned it. It hadn't occurred to me that many kids his age (13) spend so much time on the computer, or texting on the phone, that they don't take time to practice their writing. Since I am of the age when computers didn't exist until I was in high school (and then were a bit of a novelty for the science-nerd-techie crowd), I learned to type in 10th grade and had my first computer at 20 something. So, that means all communication before then was - gasp!- hand written.

Oh the horror!

I actually like to write longhand. My cursive is of the flourishing, curly sort, which is a bit difficult to read, but it looks pretty good. And sometimes I still write with a pen.

Poetry especially is more suited for paper and ink, at least at first, because it doesn't come quickly. It must be painfully extracted if you want to know the truth.

Prose, on the other hand, comes out so fast that it is cumbersome to try to get it all down on paper, and the revision process looks like hell.

Jake (my son) has great handwriting, and he writes quite often. I've read a few studies lately that there is a neuronal connection between handwriting and creativity. It makes sense in a very common sense way. As an evolutionary tool, communicating by written language required development of symbols to get an idea across. That humans are hard wired from brain to hand seems reasonable.

In my office I have lots of examples of my fascination with words (the subject of previous posts), and as I look around the room, I notice that quite a few of them are handwriting examples: my grandmother's notes above her Vaccai vocal exercises, artist's signatures on paintings, my own script. I think many of us think that handwriting is a tedious chore, but I've always seen it as expression.

I won't be giving up my computer in this lifetime, but there are days, rainy days, when I sit on the bed, pen in hand, paper on lap, coffee nearby, and write.


Jo Taylor

Monday, October 18, 2010

Now for Road Clothes

Giving equal time to my other novel, this is an excerpt from Road Clothes.

This scene is in the middle of the book. Cassidy collects road clothes and because she does, she found a jacket in the roadway with an arm in it. She lives with her mother, Linda,who is a hoarder. This scene gives some background to the genesis of the problem. When Cassidy was sixteen, her father burned most of their possessions and then dropped dead a few weeks later.

Road Clothes

She'd always loved him very much, her dad, but those last few weeks, when he'd burned their things and yelled, and then left them for good, she'd put him in a remote place in her mind. Her mom didn't take it very well, she heard her sister and friends say. She kept waiting to see someone take death in a good way to have something to compare it to, but by the time the headstone came, shiny black granite with gold flakes that glittered in the sun, she decided it was just a figure of speech. There was no such thing.

She found her mother wandering around the house, picking up items and setting them down. She wondered how long Linda would stay in this foggy-eyed trance, looking to Jenna and Cassidy for answers to simple and every day questions. It took awhile to notice that he house had gotten cluttery and Jenna was the first to be offended. Linda didn't work and the girls were in school all day. Jenna was graduating from High School in June and threatened her mother that she would move out if Linda didn't get rid of the accumulating things.

Linda would buy things every day, saying they reminded her of him. She would stop at any garage sale or second hand store, bringing things home like a lamp that she thought Dad would have liked. Jenna and Cassidy exchanged glances and picked up as much as they could. It wasn't trash exactly, but the amount of stuff that Linda piled everywhere precluded them cleaning very well and Cassidy thought the house took on a faint, musty smell.

It made Jenna crazy, this uncontrolled collecting and she screamed at her mother to stop. Linda blinked and did not cry.

When Jenna graduated, her party was at a friend's house, and people stopped coming over. Not even the priest was invited to visit. Cassidy took sides and landed on her mother's mess, unable to fathom losing both her partents, but thinking a while without her sister wouldn't hurt.

With her husband gone, and perhaps a tendency to want stuff anyway, Linda's control was gone too. She assigned value to things way beyond their influence. A two inch teddy bear that came with some Valentine's candy would be kept in the living room. A button that caught her eye in the store would go in a jar on the counter to be used "someday" for "something." She wouldn't throw anything away. It might be useful someday. She might be useful someday.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Lightning! And Thunder!

Oh my gosh, we had lightning and thunder today! I love lightning and I miss it so much. When I was little and we lived in Texas and Kansas, we could sit out on the back patios and watch the lightning like it was a movie show. Central California has lightning once every 3 or 4 years and we've had two "events" in the last month. Surely the end of the world is at hand.

Since I wrote about the novels yesterday, I thought I would give an example of the middle grade one, as it is not as complete as the other one. Well, that was clear. Let's start over.

Novel 1 - Margaret of Thibodeaux (middle grade or young adult) - not complete
Novel 2 - Road Clothes (literary fiction) - complete but not revised.

So Margaret was the original voice of this blog, mostly because I had fear about being myself on the Internet (now I don't have fear - you have to do hard work to get lots of people to read it). This is the very beginning and introduces Margaret and her father.

No need to comment, but rave reviews are always welcome. I am always so curious about what other writers are working on, so just thought I would share mine.

Margaret of Thibodeaux
Daddy stood on the porch slapping his hat against his leg. "Come on Margaret, we have to go," he called into the house.

Margaret stood in the middle of her room, dressed and ready, but trying desperately to think of a way to get out of going to Dina's house for supper. It occurred to her to run in place and she did so as quietly as she could, waiting until she knew a second yell would be coming soon, then hurried down the stairs, her heart beating faster and her cheeks filled with heat.

"I think I have pneumonia."

"You don't have pneumonia. Get in the car."

"Maybe I have leprosy."

"Margaret Louise, you do not have leprosy. Get in the car please." He said the last word as a threat against further delays from her, but she stood, feet together and unmoving on the walk, as if she would fall off a cliff is she continued toward the Dodge Dart parked against the curb. "What's the matter with you today?"

She met his eyes and felt a new flush across her cheeks. It was unnatural to disobey him, but the conviction she had over not going to Dina's house, and therefore giving her blessing to their friendship, was winning the pull inside her. She could not think of a reason for her obstinacy that sounded true, and he would want a reason.

"I don't want to go," she said finally, putting her head down and dragging her eyes away from the fierce reaction she imagined in his face.

"Why not?"

"I don't think Mama would like it."

A tension sprang between them and she peeked up to see if he was mad or shocked, and instead found him staring down at his hat, turning it gently in his hand and feeling the brim with his thumb.

"Get in the car," he said.

She thought it would be easy. She'd resist and he'd give in. But that didn't happen and now she would have to go where Mama warned in a cryptic message from the Ouija board, "Don't go."
"I can't, Daddy."

"Get in the car, get in the car, get in the car!"

"Mama said 'Don't go!'" she yelled back at him, not meaning to say, "Mama said," because how could she, if she was dead.

He'd gotten a grip on her upper arm, to lead her to the car like a young child, unaware of the reason behind his daughter's dread until the words hung heavy in the air. "What did you say? How would she have said to you 'Don't go'"?

"She talks to me sometimes. She doesn't like Dina."

He pursed his lips in disgust for long enough to convey the message. "Margaret, that's a bunch of horse shit," and the conversation was over.

Margaret got in the car, the heavy door creaking a complaint at being made to move and slamming shut just as noisily. She rested her head on the door, her face pressing against the window. The cool glass felt good and comforting against her recently defiant and now defeated cheek. She was being taken to Dina's house; she wasn't getting out of it. She hoped that Mama would understand, and knew that Daddy wouldn't.

Tomorrow, a Road Clothes excerpt. Thank you for reading. 

Jo Taylor

Making Progress

The characters for my two novels in progress have been left at home lately with nothing to do. This writer has been sidetracked with various small projects so I'm not really writing, I'm thinking about what I'm going to write, and somehow that isn't really the same thing. November is National Novel Writing Month, and I've decided to NOT participate this year. Not that I don't think it's useful, or fun, or a sadistic form of writer-torture, but I have two novels that I need to finish, and if I start one more, then I'll have three.

I do have a story though. I could do a little bit on it. 65,000 words isn't that many. Right?

I've discovered my writing block to be at the revision end of a completed work. My son is on my case because I intend to kill his favorite character in my Middle Grade novel. He doesn't get, nor does he care, that it will move the protagonist to a discovery she wouldn't have made if her best friend was there to keep her safe. He begs me, "Please don't kill Honey!" and I respond, "but I HAVE too." The grocery store was the last place this came up and I didn't edit myself until I saw the sideways glances and Jake's sudden realization that people were looking at us. End of exchange.

I am perfectly capable of making my own writing decisions and suffering the consequences if necessary. That usually is only a monetary drain on otherwise hopeful earning streams, but not as unexpected in our current economy. I'm years away from finding an agent, so perhaps the ability to get a well-written book out there will not be the leviathan task it now seems from this side of the fence.

I went to the Central Coast Writer's Conference at Cuesta College last month and had a few very helpful, very interesting classes. Dr. Clark from Cal Poly did a great poetry intensive that inspired a few of my latest works. Charlotte Cook was from a publishing house and read the first three pages of the brave souls who brought their blood and sweat and ink to her hand. For better, a "this is nice," to a worse, "don't do that," we all saw in quick succession that an agent or editor will give us about three minutes of their time. Rarely more, but at least a few.

It reminded me of me buying houses. I've bought so many that I see the outside presentation, walk through the flow of the rooms, get the gist of the timbre of the structure and make my decision. Some detail work is done later of course, but the decision to go onward can be made rather quickly. Charlotte does this with writing. I keep that in my head when I'm constructing the beginnings of things now.

My very most favorite presenter was Melissa Pritchard. She is a professor at Arizona State University and has written novels and short stories. I hadn't read her work before sitting in her class, but I instantly like her manner, her style, the way she spoke softly but so that all could hear, and really interacted with the class. Style. She has class and style. I love it. Some of the things she said in the workshop made intense divots in my illusion of having a great system for working full (and now also part) time and still being able to write. And her writing is . . . stellar. I truly love it. Her detail and story progression seems familiar, like something I've read before, but not boring. It's something I want to read over and over. My idea of literary fiction.

Not that I would have to do everything she did - you could say some of the things were quirky - but her point of shaking up the picnic blanket of your life so you could see what tumbled back to earth and where it landed - to see your own world differently - clicked into the space in my brain that had been patiently waiting for it all these years.

Now to make time to put those "out of the box" mental escapades to work for my girls Cassidy and Margaret. I had no concept of how very large a novel was when I started. Two sitting on my desk almost make me want to turn around and go get a nice hot cup of coffee and sit on the couch watching QVC. There is a system for revision - it is still overwhelming. So, I've let myself off the hook for a deadline.

I think I will have them both ready to shop out in December 2012 - just in time for the end of the world. That suits my pessimist side, but having a goal of two whole years to finish two whole novels makes the optimist sing.

Work will have to be wedged in there somewhere, along with the two men in my life, but they are pretty easy going and if there is food in the house, they don't venture far.

It will truly be a life accomplishment, a bucket list check, to complete and revise and refine and publish the novels. I really like the heroines and the stories. Hope readers will like them too.

Jo Taylor

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Good Morning

"Good Morning, Vietnam!"

I don't know why I woke up to one of Robin Williams' screen personae bellowing in my ear, but I did. Figuratively, of course.

I think it's because today is the first day of fall and for the life of me I cannot come up with an expression that is well known for acknowledging the seasons. We acknowledge holidays - usually with "Happy something-or-other," when holidays are notorious for not always being happy times. But we don't really acknowledge the changing of seasons, and I wondered why.

Perhaps it's because, while there is a date and time for the season to change, our realization that it's changed comes with the weather or our schedules, and those don't line up with the scientific definition of season.

Is fall when school starts? August 30: "Happy Fall!"

Does it come when the weather turns and the leaves change color? In California that's Novemberish: "Happy Fall!"

What about people who live somewhere else like Maryland, or Australia?  Pick random day: "Happy Fall!"

So, I see the challenge of acknowledging a season - it isn't always the same day. Also, some people don't like one season or the other, so a "Happy" exultation might not be true for them. I still think the seasons are important enough to be heralded though.

What to do . . .

We could make a national Candy Corn day (I swear I don't know why I love them so, but I do), and then that would announce Fall. For Winter it could be those peppermint patties, Spring would be "Peeps Day," of course (although I'm not fond of those really), and summer would be - tah dah - "Ice Cream Day :)" (with the silly smile face and everything!).

Have you noticed a food theme here?

Fall means oatmeal for breakfast and a big cup of coffee. I wonder what they eat for breakfast in Vietnam?


Jo Taylor

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Lost and Found

I've been working on establishing a better routine for my life, so that I get more done and have more time to write. Here I am at Oh-Dark-Thirty wide awake after maybe six hours of sleep. What does that mean? The more I try to organize my time, the more my internal clock gets screwed up.

Maybe I just function better without a routine. Writing my blog is a perfect example at the moment. I have found it nearly impossible to post with any true routine. My thoughts and what I have to say get boring even to me and I really want to say something at least moderately interesting when I do take the time to blog. When I was working 12 hour shifts, most of them were at night, and most of the time I worked 3 on, 4 off. I always thought I would get a routine when I worked "normal" hours. I've worked "normal" hours now since February, but still no set routine. It feels like a failure of mine, but it's a personal failure and therefore not so important as the failures one can see - such as losing something.

I almost never lose any of my stuff (oh, I think I see the Karma sword off in the distance). The funny thing is, stuff is not all that important to me. So if I did lose it, I probably wouldn't care much. I have wonderful people in my life, and I'm lucky enough to have the ability to replace said stuff should it really be an important piece of stuff.

One of the duties of my new job is dealing with people who have lost stuff in the hospital - not that it happens very often, but as you can imagine, sometimes stuff gets lost. It makes me have angst. I care way more about other people's stuff than I do for my own. I have absolutely no control over whether something gets lost and this control freak pretty much freaks out. I really don't like it.

When I worked in the ER as a nurse, I frankly didn't care about people's stuff - I was saving lives dammit! I was never reckless with said stuff, but really, it was so low on the priority list for me, and for the most part, for the patients at that moment. I cared about the person, and cared for the person, and stuff be damned. So I really get it that in crisis moments, stuff gets pushed aside. But now I work on the other end (meaning the administrative type end) and caring for people means that I'm upset for them if something is lost.

What I don't like is the weird mentality that pervades our society of "someone else" being responsible for  your stuff. If you really value your things, take care of them. Don't expect those in service to do everything for you if you are able to do it for yourself.

Yes, I know, sometimes people's stuff is more important to them than life, or they are temporarily unable to care for themselves, much less their stuff. I have a nebulous concept of that. But because I personally don't care about stuff, I think the angst I feel is more about having to care about it. I'll get over it. My personal value system usually meshes with my work, and it certainly won't affect the performance of my duties, but I think this one issue speaks volumes on a societal level.

Do you ever notice how many Self Storage places there are? Why do we have so much stuff? I have an absolutely astounding amount of stuff and I try to use it or give it up, but if the house burned down, there is nothing material I would have wanted to save. (It would be bad if it burned down because my husband is a fire chief - but that's an embarrassing kind of bad).

My novel that is complete, but not finished (meaning revised, edited, perfected) is about a girl who is compelled to pick up the clothes she finds lying in the road. Her mother is a hoarder. It's all about how we value stuff and let it take over our lives. So, I think about this topic a lot. Do you ever wonder how/why those various and sundry pieces of clothing end up on the road? I do. I have a theory that there is a portal from the dryer to the roadway and that's where all of the socks go.

Now I've spent more words on the subject and am no closer to any kind of personal resolution than I was before. I do have another kind of lost and found story that is part of the reason for my absence of late. In mid August, we went to Hawaii for two weeks. It was great, fun, great fun. When we came home, our dog Jessie did not seem very enthused to see us and I thought she was mad at us for leaving her for so long. The next day she was still not herself and I noticed her gums were pale. The diagnosis was a hemangiosarcoma and our sweet Jessie died on September 14th. She was the best dog we ever had, and we miss her.

I swore I would not get another dog . . . for about 2 days. What we lost could not be replaced. But we found another puppy. We'll bring her home in November - a black lab girl born on the 19th of September. We don't have a name for her yet, but we can't wait to get her.

So this loss, and find, is an exchange of the immaterial kind. I much prefer that kind of lost and found, even if it is more personally painful, because if it hurts, it means that it meant something.

Jo Taylor

Monday, July 19, 2010

Where I Write

My writer friend Leslie features pictures of "where I write" on her blog, and today, she's put up a picture of my space.

Very cool. Thanks Leslie.

I don't think you can see it in the picture, but her blog is on my monitor 'cause her lessons and exercises are wonderful and I use them a lot when stuck for ideas.

It's made me think a little bit about "where I write" and I've come to the conclusion that it is not really a place in the world, but a place in my head. What no one around me knows is that I am writing all the time. I listen to conversations, analyze physical situations, and try to translate how tension makes itself known. This thinking gets written down at various times at my desk, but I don't really need a bunch of desk time to get pretty good results.

In the last few months, I have taken a break from writing. This was kind of an enforced break due to school and the pursuit of another new job that I wanted. School is almost over and the job is lost, but I choose to take that as a signal that I should continue to write.

The link to Leslie's blog is here, and I think you would enjoy a few moments with a truly wonderful, giving writer.

Thanks for reading me.


Jo Taylor

Thursday, June 24, 2010


May I just say that I love Toni Morrison? She is absolutely brilliant. For those of you who do not know, Toni Morrison won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993. In my English class, we are reading "Beloved," and it is seriously one of the best books I've ever read. It's about a woman who escaped from slavery and the things she did to ensure her freedom. Some of those things were unforgivable.

Online classes are a bit of a challenge in that your discussions are done in an online exchange and you don't have the benefit of voice inflection, expression, and rambling to help you make a point. I've been impressed by my classmate's ability to make me see things differently. I tend to understand the books with layers of inferred or hidden meaning, but sometimes you "meet" someone who gets it at a level that makes reading a book an event. So thank you, classmates, for the enlightenment.

The other writer I discovered is Zora Neale Hurston. You may have heard of her novel, "Their Eyes Were Watching God," and the movie with Halle Berry was pretty good. But the book is fabulous. A bit hard to read at the outset because she uses the dialog to get the Southern black inflection, but once you pick up the cadence, the story is amazing.

How's this for a first line:

"Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board."

Wow. If you are looking for something to read this summer, give it a try. It is a story about an unforgettable, strong woman, and I kind of like those stories. You might like it too.


Jo Taylor

Monday, June 21, 2010

It's June!

Holy Cow! It's June! How did that happen when I wasn't looking?

Am I the only one who writes the date at least 50 times a day, but somehow does not realize it has been 2 months since I've done something I love? (That "something I love" would be posting on my blog oh-you-who-go-to-the-dark side).

I got a very kind and thoughtful email from a writer friend today, saying she missed me and my posts - how's that for making my day? Fabulous, I tell you - it felt fabulous. It felt so fabulous in fact that I felt like writing, which I haven't felt like for awhile. I think I'm starting to sound like Winnie the Pooh.

My silence has been from the usual busy, but also from the last push to finish school, applying for a big job I didn't end up getting, and other nefarious things thrown in my way, trying to get me to stop talking, or writing, or both.

Now that I'm almost done feeling sorry for myself (not quite done yet, but I will be done at 4:17 on June 28th), I can get back to writing. It feels kind of like the pool when you take the cover off- hot on the top and cool underneath, but refreshing and inspiring now that I've waded in.

My last two classed for my BA in English will be complete on August 9 and I will officially be done with school 20 something years after I started. I do not advise this. My dad told me once he didn't really care if I got a degree, just that I was well educated. Unfortunately, the rest of the world cares, so I caved to the pressure and got one. There. Boy, I feel so much more smarter now.

Life is good, all things considered, and I think a little break from writing every now and then will be a good thing. But I'm back, so get ready to read.

We are planning a road trip for the summer - up to Yellowstone - and I think I might do a road trip section for the blog just for the heck of it. Planning, going, going, going, re-planning, going some more - and all the stuff in between. It might not be that interesting, but it will keep me writing when I keep saying I have too much to do.

I hope it ends up being a bonding experience for the three of us (hubby, me, and 13 year old son), and I fondly remember road trips of my youth: Eating crunchy mac and cheese and crunchy red jello somewhere in Arizona after a sandstorm, wondering what the heck was so fabulous about burnt marshmallows but eating them anyway, lying in a tent that was just under 179 degrees with crickets singing so loudly my eyeballs hurt. Ah, the American Dream - the open road and all the discoveries just waiting over the horizon.

Now we have an RV and air conditioning. I hope my son will not suffer an incomplete childhood because he didn't get to experience camping in all its rustic glory. He'll get over it. I bet we can come up with completely original Taylor Fails for his story telling days. I'm going to be brave and share. Pictures may or may not be included.

Thanks for reading and thank you, dear Laura, for letting me know you thought of me today.

Jo Taylor

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Short Story Today . . .

Okay kids. One more post of my recent writings and then I'll get over myself for a while. But not for too long. 

I wrote this one day when I was thinking about the 3 Navy Seals who are being court-martialed for hitting someone they captured. It just doesn't sit right with me. I don't know the details, and maybe I don't want to know, but most of my family served or is serving in the military. I'm proud of them all and also of the friends and their families who have served us. 

I wrote with Leavenworth in mind, I lived there for a year when I was 7. Not IN the prison, ON the base. 

Enjoy. And THANK YOU!

Everything Fell Into Black (1075 words)

The door closed in slow motion and the metal clanged together in a sound so final, even light stopped coming in.

For days, maybe weeks, he lay on the small cot, staring at the ceiling and trying to keep out thoughts of home: lightning bugs in the front yard, rain on the gravel drive, bacon frying in the cast iron skillet on Sunday morning. Random memories of the place he would never see again didn’t give him comfort, and he wished they would recede into faded images like the ones in an old photo album he could close and put away.

He felt better if he was able to move around, to concentrate on the outside world and not his inner, desolate one. In the yard, a gravel path hugged the perimeter fence and one of the guards said, “You should walk – the path’s a quarter mile.”

He began to walk, always in the same direction, counting laps for the day and scratching them into his cell wall with a fingernail every evening. It wasn’t where he expected to spend his days; a cell reserved for those who broke the laws of God and man. The laws of God were easy to abide, the laws of men were more difficult.

He did what he was told to do. He found the man who kidnapped and killed three of his brothers in arms. Both sets of laws guided him, but somewhere in the office buildings where detail is Lord, it was decided he broke a rule of engagement. It was a conflict, not a war, but the price for all parties was the same.

The enemy spoke enough English to taunt, “I’m glad I killed them, they cried like little children for mercy.”

His punch was instinctive, a posthumous defense of brothers he never met, but a broken jaw crossed the line of acceptable treatment of an enemy combatant. The guilty verdict for a war crime charge brought with it a life sentence. Life meant something different before he came here. It was one thing to willingly serve your country, but he wasn’t sure where he’d gone wrong to have to pay such a heavy debt to society.

The scene was always the same when he came out into the sunshine for the hour of daily exercise, but it shocked him that it wasn’t his own back yard. The guard who gave him the hint about walking made small talk like they were just standing on a street corner.

“Walking today?”

“Yeah, for a little bit, I guess.”

“Watch out for where the rain made some little gullies. Twist your ankle something fierce if you don’t see it.”


No one smiled in prison, but they exchanged nods and went on with their days. The crunch of the gravel beneath his shoes gave him the satisfaction of the sound of progress, even if he only went around in circles. Some folks did that their whole lives and never knew it; the soldier recognized it painfully with each step that took him nowhere. Nice Guard let him finish twelve laps that day, delayed calling everyone in until he got back around. The soldier never asked his name and he never said, but Nice Guard seemed like a good enough name in a place where nobody had one.

On the other side of the tall, razor-wire-topped fence was an old country road that he’d only seen tractors and a red Ford pickup on, no matter the weather or season. He didn’t really know much about where he was, so the road meant nothing aside from another thing that went away from him. The Missouri River was nearby, and when the breeze blew just right, he could hear it gurgle like an old man clearing his throat.

Nice Guard handed him a piece of chalk one day and the soldier dipped his chin as he took it. The school-board chalk made it easier to keep track of the laps he’d done. The neat sets of marks already went down to the floor, so he started the chalk marks up higher on the cinder-block wall.

About half of his cell wall was covered with marks when Nice Guard came up to his cell and unlocked the heavy door. “Come with me.”

The sun dropped behind the distant oak trees on the other side of the outside road as they neared the path the soldier walked every day. He loved the smell of dusk and the hum of insects in the warm summer air. Shadows disappeared into the ground and everything fell into black except the muted colors in the sky.

They walked out to the path and stopped, the soldier didn’t know what they were doing, but he stood at attention, expecting judgment once again. Flickering lights and the faint sound of folks singing came into his ken and he realized a large group of people marched slowly down the rough country road. He peered into the darkening land, still not able to make out exactly what was there. He saw candle flames as they moved with the oncoming mass of people, and heard their soft voices singing “There is A Balm in Gilead.” He felt the power of a gathering of people united in one direction, marching toward something, or for something, or perhaps even away from something.

Nice Guard said softly, “They’re marching for you.”

The soldier had words to say, but his throat was too tight to let any of them out.

“They came all the way from your home town to protest your imprisonment. I wish I was on the other side of the fence right now.”

In the twilight, as the voices grew louder and other guards moved to the fence to determine friend or foe, the soldier turned to Nice Guard. “I’m glad you’re on this side.”

They walked in silence back to his cell, the heavy clang of the closing door echoing against the high, sweet spiritual. He lay on his cot and let the sounds of peaceful assembly surround him. The thought wasn’t going to change anything, but he realized that he served his country, and paid a debt if he had to, so that all those people could do what they were doing right now outside military prison walls.

He got up from his cot once more and wrote neatly beneath the marks of his journey: “Peace.”

Jo Taylor 

Friday, April 16, 2010

Loved the Responses!

I have to say I loved the varied responses I got from posting that poem. Y'all are very nice. Even though there are only a few written comments, lots of people told me they read it. 

In case anyone finds it interesting, the way I came up with that poem was a prompt in a writing group I'm in that included the challenge to use certain words in a poem. The one's I remember off the top of my head were:


There were a total of ten we had to use, and the list of words brought immediately the image of a young lady stepping off a building. Beyond that, I have NO IDEA why that came to me. 

When I decided to enter the contest, I had to weigh whether I would send in the poem I liked best, or send the one that is a bit brave, different, has a bigger impact. What will people think if I wrote about a girl jumping off a building? Obviously, I went with go big or go home.

For those who were concerned or think they might not read the rest of my stuff if I always write DEPRESSING things, I give you a more typical poetical offering from me. This is the one I liked best. Tomorrow, I'll post one of my short stories. I can do that . . . publish myself right here . . . because it's my blog . . . and I'll write if I want to. :)

Fire's Censure

She gathers twigs in nearby wood,
selecting only dry and good
sweet-smelling apple for the fire -
near to the place of her retire, long understood

as adversary to the cold.
Used all throughout the days of old,
the warmth and dancing flames instead
inspire stories - lovers wed with bands of gold.

She weaves a tale to no one there
of love and loss - all from the stare
into the flames. She spies reprieve
from deepest woe upon the eve of love's despair.

She wakes to find the embers died,
no memory if lovers lied,
the prose is gone on smoky thread,
the flame put out by words of dread, a tale denied. 

Jo Taylor

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Published Poem!

First off, Happy Easter. I rose early, went to Mass, ate a big Brunch, and my 12 year old son is making Boeuf Bourguinon (a la Julia Child - love her) for dinner. I am a blessed girl.

But, even better than that - today I had my first experience in which I saw my name above something I wrote IN PRINT!!

Okay, so it was only the local paper, but it's still a big deal to me. I'm starting out small so as not to overwhelm the competition. Heh heh.

I'll post the poem below with a warning that it is not a nice, happy piece. It's rather dark and especially dark for me as this is unlike my usual style. But - somebody liked it enough to use ink! That just slays me. I don't usually write free verse either, but hey, whatever works. Enjoy.

(PS - I just realized, looking at the date, that it is my mother's birthday and the day Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. You may think it's strange that I just now remembered her birthday, but she died in 1967, so I think I'm doing pretty good, never having celebrated it all these years.) Happy Birthday, Mama and Requiescat in Pacem, Dr. King.

On Her Way To Zero

Below her
sounds of the city
tumble along
skyscraper canyon walls

like black freckles
on the face of a distant dome
too far away to see wings flap
or hear the caws

With an eagle eye
she notes the time on the clock
two stories down

A note tucked in the bodice
of her yellow-flowered summer dress

His careless words
left lying on the clean-swept floor

Her descent is as calm as
stepping off her mother's porch
No frantic hands
no fierce grabs at air that
will not save her

on her way to zero

Sunday, March 21, 2010

And Another Thing . . .

As you can tell, I'm still not really writing much in the way of blog-ish stuff. BUT, I found another really cool webpage today, found here. It plays a note for each of the planets as they orbit the sun. Makes for some celestial music and I've had it on as background while I write about a guy in jail. Just thought you might like to hear what the heavens sound like.

That is all.


Jo Taylor

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Truly Cool Thing

As a writer, I'm always looking for inspiration - everywhere. There is a very cool thing called StumbleUpon on the web and it is a search engine that finds various pages from the World Wide Web.

Face it, if you had to search for something, could you really find everything you were looking for? What if you don't know what you are looking for, but you'll recognize it when you see it?

That's where StumbleUpon is way above any other search engine I know of . . . it finds random things that you can save as favorites, or click through in rapid fashion if it doesn't do anything for you. You can make a profile, mine is JoTaylor776 and it shows all of the pages (84 so far) that I've "liked" and saved for later.

I'm finding this to be fun, educational, and a better use of 10 minutes to fill than watching the same old same old on TV. Check it out.

I leave you with this, an interactive map of the constellations I found just today and it thrilled me beyond belief because one of my current stories has to do with my favorite constellation, Cassiopeia.

Try it, you won't be sorry. Maybe you'll Stumble once a week or so like I do.


Jo Taylor

Saturday, March 6, 2010

I Write

I was asked the other day why I write. So, I thought about it. And then I thought some more. And then I tried to go to sleep but instead kept myself awake trying to come up with something clever. At this point I will settle for just plain truth.

The truth is elusive to me on this subject. Partly because I don't really know, I just do it, and partly because the reasons why I write change all the time, like the color of the sky at dusk.

Writer's block is not something I've ever experienced, but lately I've been going through a phase where I think that no one could possibly be interested in what I have to say, or even the way I say it.

This has nothing to do with my concept of self, and everything to do with my concept of the quality of my writing. Everything I write is not fabulous, but it isn't terrible either. I am not personally satisfied, and so I write and write and revise and start over. I know what my writing lacks, and that is always better than not having any idea, but it is infinitely more uncomfortable.

When I sang in my youth, in high school and college, I had a pretty good concept of my ability. Good technique, but the voice itself didn't have that "it," the subtle quality that captures attention. I was okay with that. The part I wasn't good at was the part I had no control over. I was good enough to sing Master Classes and fortunate enough to learn from gifted artists, but I knew I could not be a singer. I was simply not good enough.

When I was a nurse, I was also very cognizant of my strengths and weaknesses, even to the point of realizing before it was apparent to anyone else that I should stop doing patient care because it was sucking the life out of me.

With writing, I have found something that I desperately want to be good at. But I'm not yet. I can't even explain to myself why I want to be a good writer. Is it a reach for fame or recognition? Is it a choice of something, anything I can practice long enough to master? Is it selfish or is it for others?

At some level, it must be from the desire to make a mark in the world, to make a difference by word or action in the lives of others. But why writing? I have been a word snob my whole life, so that part makes sense. I always think that I am entitled to my opinion, and so is everyone else, so check off that box too. I am inherently physically lazy, so writing works for that as well, but the collection of attributes does not begin to describe what prompts me to put words on the page.

"I desire . . ."

Finishing the phrase gives me the best and only answer I can come up with that is true. "I desire . . . to communicate." For all the reasons communication exists, both to express myself, and to connect with others. Sometimes the simplest answer is the best, an Occam's Razor example if ever there was one.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Waiting . . .

As a group, we Americans are terrible waiters. I don't mean the job as in 'waiting tables,' I mean the physical act of doing nothing in anticipation of something. The online dictionary, found here, tells me that waiting has many uses in our language.

Noun - a period of waiting, pause, interval or delay
Adjective - serving or being in attendance
Idiom - in waiting - in attendance, as upon a royal personage (really? this sounds the same as the adjective to me)
Verb (used without object) - to remain inactive or in a state of repose, as until something expected happens
(THIS is the one that suits my current state, which I will get around to explaining here after a bit)
Verb (used with object) - to continue as one is in expectation of (waiting one's turn)

So, if it is a word with such vast application, why do we do it so badly? Is there something inherently painful in being bored? Certainly, we've come up with enough distractions for waiting to be tolerated for at least the next three millenia, but sadly, it's not enough.

Efficiency is a god and the highest and best use of our precious commodity - time - is a goal on many lists. Maybe that is one of the things I don't get about the world. I like waiting. I like having to wait. I like anticipating an expected happening.

It lets my mind go anywhere I want to go. I get to notice the people in line who look like they will next end up on here. Or in my next book. Frankly, we miss lots of what makes up life when we try to distract ourselves from the nothingness of waiting. That's too bad. 

"Ah!" you say, "I have to wait in line at the post office with small children. What's to enjoy about that?"

I didn't say you had to enjoy every moment of waiting. I think the people in Haiti right now are thrilled to wait, because they have hope and expectation of something happening. It's all in how you look at it. 

So, today I wait. For a good thing. A new piece of furniture that I am lucky to be able to afford, and find, and have a place for. It's not about the furniture, or the inconvenience to me of having to leave work to wait and then go back. It's about being lucky enough to have the luxury of waiting. It is a luxury. 

We have the whole world to meet our daily needs, but the delivery of those services makes us wait sometimes. At least I don't have to wash my clothes with a rock in the river, or kill my food in order to be able to have dinner tonight. I'll wait.

Jo Taylor

Saturday, February 6, 2010

I Don't Wanna

I'm having a bit of a temper tantrum today. The sky outside - well, it's right there with me. This is the view from my front door. I am really happy that this picture is not of 3 feet of snow like they had back East today.

As I write this, I am supposed to be writing a paper for my English class. It's due tomorrow, but - whatever. I don't wanna.

I'm a grown-up and you can't make me. There.

Somehow, the paper has not magically appeared, perfectly written and formatted, during my hissy fit. How come the world doesn't work like that?

Of course, I could chose to not do the paper at all. I would then have the ramifications of a bad grade (ee-gads!) But - totally my choice. By signing up for this class, I implied that I would be responsible for the work assigned. Responsibility is a heavy thing sometimes, but in this case, it is my own sense of responsibility that holds me to a certain standard. No one will be injured if I do not complete the paper. But I'll do it anyway, even when I really, really, really don't wanna . . . because I said I would, and for that promise, the task must be completed.

They know who I am, those responsibility police, and they know where to find me.

In these days of Internet anonymity, it is possible for us to hide behind screen names and "Anonymous" comments, but I think that erodes our sense of feeling tied to what we say or do. I chose to use my real name in my Internet presence because I think it implies a certain sense of ownership. It makes me think before I hit "send" and at times, I say less than I might in a real life situation because I know that many will read it. I wonder if that is me censoring me for a good reason, or is it an external censorship - the possibility of popular opinion that I don't want to come crashing down on me?

I'm the "get-along" girl. I can get along with almost anyone, and I find it easy to see the common ground between people instead of their differences. There is a role for that, both in real life and in cyberspace. Many people use blogs as the way of putting their opinions out into the ether, hoping perhaps that it makes those opinions valid, as if they are published by the sheer force of will. Me, I just say what I think, not really pushing any kind of agenda. I'm absolutely amazed that people find even that small offering interesting at times.

I totally understand those who chose not to use their real names, and I'm not impugning that decision. I'm just saying that, for me, it made me feel less responsible when I used a pseudonym, so I stopped doing it. A few days ago, I read a very interesting post from one of my favorite blogs on how this anonymity can be not just irresponsible, but hostile and dangerous. Here is the link, and this wonderful woman puts the problem into such an interesting context.

Funny thing, but I just realized that the topic of my paper is the transgression of irresponsibility. Perhaps I've been working on it after all.

Jo Taylor

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I Get To Wear Clothes

I hope the title hasn't scared you. I usually do wear clothes. But I started a new job on Monday, the day which happened two days ago, and it's the kind of job where you sit at a desk and you wear regular business clothes.

This is only remarkable because, at age 44, I have the first job I've ever had wherein I don't wear some type of uniform. I worked at Baskin-Robbins and wore the uniform and silly hat, I worked ambulance and wore a jumpsuit (my personal favorite - step in, zip up: dressed), I was a nurse for 16 years and wore scrubs everyday with the requisite stethoscope and various tools and papers stuffed in my pockets.

Now I go to work in "clothes" versus "scrubs." So far, it is very fun, but I haven't had that day yet where I stand in the closet thinking I have nothing to wear.

Yesterday, when I was in the hospital cafeteria with my dear friend Holly (who bought me lunch! - thank you), someone - I don't remember who - remarked loudly and with great enthusiasm, "You are wearing clothes!" Now I know, and everyone who works in a hospital knows, that her comment meant that I was wearing clothes and not scrubs, but the poor elderly lady sitting in the corner got a most painful look on her face that I could only mentally transcribe as "did she used to walk around nude?"

I was entertained by this for the rest of the day.

There have actually been a few variations on this theme, such as "oh, I didn't recognize you in your clothes!" and "isn't it nice to wear real clothes?"

Again, these things, said around anyone who works in the hospital, would not make them pause their thinking or activity. But sometimes, there are visitors or patients nearby and I just smile as I look around and see them regarding me with confused expressions. The explanation is too long. It is an inside joke.

I live in a small town. My writer brain goes immediately to the coffee shop on Spring Street where the old folks sit and chat and I can hear them saying "Did you know - I heard them saying she didn't used to wear any clothes!"


Jo Taylor

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


For my English Lit class this week, I had to read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. With all the reading I've done over the years, this was one of the classics I'd never even picked up. I saw the movie. I know what happened. I am dumb.

I should know by now that Hollywood movies back in the 30's didn't stick to the story line AT ALL. I really should know this. But, I was pleasantly surprised to find a well-written, interesting literary story that was a completely new discovery. 

I am not quite finished, but I got to read the monster-y part while the wind blew, lightning flew, and thunder crashed around me. We are having a big storm and today I stayed in my jammies, made hot chocolate (with marshmallows), got out the blankets, sat on the couch in front of the fire, called the dog up onto the couch with me, and read a good story. To know me is to know that this was a little slice of heaven. 

One of the things I like about older novels is the minutia and detail about daily life they include. Jane Austen does this, Proust does it to a degree that maddens most people, and if I'm not in the mood to be slowed waaaaaay down, to read about life in slow motion as it seems the 'olden days' were, then I too get bored easily. The weather and the dry and comfy house set the mood for me today, and I enjoyed hearing about what the character did each day.

I think that is one thing missing from literature being written today. We live faster. The pace is just different. So to write about what I did for two hours when I wasn't doing anything is boring. We are now in a culture that demands stimulation, progress, entertainment on a scale never seen before. I don't necessarily dislike it, but it comes in to sharp focus when I read something written two hundred years ago. Proust wrote pages and pages about the few minutes right when you are falling asleep. I think it is very interesting, but now many people can't slow to that timelessness of contemplation.

Frankenstein was written by a very young woman in response to a friendly challenge. What could I write if I had to live the way they did in 1818? If the power goes off, I can't quit hitting the light switch every time I go in to a room, so I don't think I'd be inspired. I'd be annoyed to have to live without the modern conveniences. I do think that time spent doing nothing but listening, taking things in, instead of always spewing things out would do wonders for our culture. Slow down, just a little. Think before you say something. Really listen to the world around you. Shelley noticed some interesting things. I think those things might still be there, if we just paid attention.

Jo Taylor