Opening A Door to a New Reality

by RS on November 29, 2016

This post is about the events that occurred exactly a year ago. At the time of this writing—5:11 pm—I was absorbing the fact that my partner had died by the side of the road from a massive coronary. I had neighbors coming over to make sure I was fine; I had notified the family; and I spoke with my own family and close friends. Once the shock began to settle, I caught my breath and the inevitable question came up: “Now what?”

I was fortunate to have friends and family who helped me maneuver through those early months of “now what” moments. I managed to move forward, but this year I spent most of it regaining my bearings and in deep survival mode. That comes across a bit melodramatic, but I spent much of it on the mechanics of getting through each month and not fully focusing on what mattered to me.

I also spent time reconciling the reality that I lived with a master controller and manipulator—a classic narcissist.  I lost myself in a relationship that became physically and mentally unhealthy. Once I came to realize how I was made to believe I was borderline crazy or lacked common-sense, or that I was catastrophic failure because I couldn’t meet his expectations that’s when the fury and rage consumed me. I had allowed myself to be with someone who used every one of my insecurities for his gain.

His toxicity, and his own dissatisfaction with himself, poisoned me. I sensed if we continued in this manner, I wouldn’t survive. Was I suicidal? No, but I feared the stress would ultimately kill me. Now when I sense the anger at its boiling point, I remind myself there is light and goodness surrounding me. I saw it in those first few hours after his death, I saw it earlier this month among my friends in Salem, and I see it every morning when I’m greeted with a smile.

During our time together, I questioned whether his behavior towards me had been formed by past relationships. An ex-wife whom he accused of multiple extra-marital affairs had turned him into a man who was distrustful of women, but now I suspect that any type of male friendship was seen as a threat. In his perceived reality, he was no longer “the guy” and turned himself into a victim of infidelity; making him, once again, the center of attention.

I also questioned my affection for him during this year. Was it genuine or was it forced? Now I believe it was the latter. If I convinced myself I loved him and accepted him for who he was, maybe he would reciprocate in the same manner. However, his moments of affection were purely theatrical, showing me off at a gathering, and later, behind closed doors, dismissing me.

So now, a year after the fact, I’ve made a pact with myself: after spending a year analyzing him, me, us, going through the anger, the guilt, the rage and the exhaustion that followed each emotion, I can’t change what happened in the past. It’s done. It’s over. However, what I can change is my outlook. And in doing that, I am opening that door and letting go, so that I can live my life happily ever after in my new reality, under my own terms.


Fifty-Five and Counting…

by RS on September 12, 2016

The world works in mysterious ways. Cliché, right? Well, this year the Universe has proved that it is on my side. So many good things happened: from getting story assignments from Newsday to moving to Vermont and to having the opportunity to attend the second Writer Unboxed UnConference in November.

I am achieving my goals—albeit at a slower pace than I anticipated. Some of that has to do with how things work and some of it has to do with my own procrastination. I have fifty-five days to accomplish one major goal, and I am so close to achieving it, and that is…drumroll…finishing Julius.

Oh, I know you’re rolling your eyes and thinking, “Oh, yeah, we’ve read this before.” This time, though, I am near the final chapters and if I stick to my schedule I will have a complete manuscript by November 6th. However, a small reminder—Julius has gone through many completed versions. The issue was that each one had its on set of problems and needed to be fixed. Via all those revisions, I discovered that I have a story about loyalty to family and political beliefs as well as betrayal of family and political beliefs (sounds very Mario Puzo).

It’s taken me a long time to piece together the story I wanted to write, and what’s fascinating about the process was to see how both story and writer have evolved. One of my many challenges with this story was to present characters who are not flat cardboard cutouts, but actually flawed human beings. I’ve had to go back to the beginning and ask why they do what they do. In other words, my characters have been on the couch in deep analysis. What I discovered about Jake is that he’s not a selfish bastard, but suffers from a personality disorder. He is a narcissist. I also discovered that one of the so-called bad guys is not so bad—he has a conscience. So while I write new material and weave in these revisions, I discover certain elements within the story that are now surfacing. It is that cream rising to the top and it’s very good.

Thus, I still stand with that cliché that the world works in mysterious ways. The Universe as a muse is helping me finish my story.


Digital Doodle

by RS on September 2, 2016

Since getting the iPad, I discovered a great app that inspires me to draw. It’s called Paper by 53 and it has a bunch of nice features, but the one that I like the best is the sketching/doodling function. You don’t need a stylus to draw and can use your finger, but, lucky me, when I ordered my iPad cover it came with a stylus.

My drawings are quick sketches and because I am using an iPad and a stylus they’re not at all sophisticated. Today, I discovered how wrong I was that you can’t create layered and complicated art on the iPad with a stylus. I happened to look at apps Twitter feed and saw what others are creating. It puts my doodles to shame. In any case, I thought I would show you some of my finest pieces. I am quite proud of them because I’ve never been good at drawing.

Here are the first images just using my finger and testing out the app:

Doodle - 29

Doodle - 26

Doodle - 24

Once I had the stylus, I began to sketch some items around the house, including a beagle:

Doodle - 20

Doodle - 14

In the drawing feature there’s a paintbrush function that’s similar to painting with watercolors so I went ahead and played with “pigment”:

Doodle - 12

I’m discovering that each day I draw that I’m improving little-by-little. Below are the sketches I drew in the last three days:

Doodle - 2

Doodle - 3

Doodle - 6

What’s interesting about Paper by 53 is that somehow it isn’t as intimidating to digitally draw as it is (at least for me) in a traditional sketchbook using ink or pencil. Last night, I decided to give the iPad a rest (actually, more like a charge) and decided to draw in my new sketchook. With my sharpened pencil hovering over the page, I had this sudden fear that this non-digital sketch would never turn out as good. I persevered, put away the pencil and drew a series of flowers with my new set of colored pens:


I’m partial to the blue flowers on the lower left-hand corner.

I was inspired to learn to draw after viewing Meighan O’Toole’s Instagram feed and watching her progress. I reckoned if she could start fiddling with paints, pencils and colored pens, I could do the same. So now I have a pretty good selection of watercolor pigments, brushes, palettes, colored pencils, pens, sharpies, sketchbooks in different sizes, but Paper by 53 is my predominant drawing application. However,  I will continue playing with all mediums and will keep you abreast of my progress.