Pilin’ On: EEK and Double EEK!

Where did these babies come from?

Only days ago, I crowed about completing a major paper organization for my Work In Progress. That effort moved from this:

To a month later, this:


I dodged truth-in-advertising by playing shut-eye with the other paper stacks still accumulating for another pair of projects. So here goes: pictures of looming stacks for those:

Guess what? There’s piles in three more rooms:

And one more time:

Oops, don’t forget the studio closet:

This all makes for a combined 16 stacks of wild and unruly paper in four places around my abode. Now you know why I played shut-eye with you (and myself) about ALL of these paper monsters. (For all you kids out there: don’t build your novels my way!)

Actually, there’s a reason—a really good one—why so much paper made babies around my house. Scroll back a blog entry or two and you’ll find it.

But, excuses aside, the learnings of the past six weeks reveal my new truth: by conquering the one highly visible and monstrous four-stacker for my WIP, I learned I can do this silly paper-sorting work. And it feels so big, even now.

Ninety minutes a day of action—consistent

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Building a Novel, one Pile at a Time


May Day delivered the most spectacular, back-slapping scene:


Of course, it took four looooonnnnngggg weeks to get there. All the task required was sorting, stapling, and filing a countertop of paper and folders amassed in the past seven years. Each piece of paper added that extra measure of factoid, plot point, character backstory, or random snippet that would make my novel an International Bestseller. Of course, having color-coded file folders would surely ensure an extra edge.

I started on the fool’s day, staring at the overwhelming mess and wondering about the synchronicity of the task. Freud would roar at the beauty of both the day and the task, eh?

Measuring these massive stacks, I groaned at what lay ahead: 43 inches of collected papers to sort, staple, and file. How could I ever complete this dreaded, but vital task? I divided 43 inches into 30, arriving at a daily sort/staple/file requirement of 1.6 inches of paper. Yes, it’s an approach that’s anal-to-the-nth-degree. Real progress yells out for such obsessive detail. So, off I went to wrestle with this monster, amid the other everyday chores of my life. I reminded myself daily, “progress, baby, critical progress on your

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It’s Time!

What do you learn from a life cycle?

Answer the question only after you learn what my most recent life cycle included: three family deaths, one air ambulance ride, six ground ambulance trips, four surgeries, and ten hospital stays. All in 31 months.

Expand the timeline to five years, toss in two dog deaths and in-laws moved into assisted living/nursing home care, and you’ve captured my life experience since 2010. The sterile words convey nothing of losing either your mother to dementia or your own brain to a ruptured aneurysm.

Some people toss away the months with convenient blame: Hell. Others pin the meaning to “life cluster.”

I choose Life.

Yes, it’s easy (easier?) to say or write this now. But it’s true: I choose to celebrate these adventures in living. To do otherwise would potentially send me into infinite paroxysms of grief, rage, and unending depression.

So yes, I celebrate. Especially today.

The worst part of these misadventures was the aneurysm that exploded in the back of my brain. That occurred three years ago this noon.

I celebrate with a letting go and a moving forward.

It’s time.

Losing so much of what

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Ebola or You?


Of all the reactions I’ve heard to Ebola’s arrival in America, only one shocks me: the voice of surprise.

We’ve had two decades to figure out this thing, a god-awful hemorrhagic fever that kills 70 percent of its victims. First news of Ebola came for many of us from thriller writer Richard Preston, courtesy of his frightening bestseller, The Hot Zone.

Truth is, twice as long ago, healthcare workers first discovered the virus. It surfaced in 1976. In Africa. Convenient for us?

We Americans have been complacent too long about this ticking time bomb.

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Two Years Later…

and it’s still a rebuild mode.

This time, it’s a hinky angiogram that demands a second look by the main man neuro doc. I think, “aren’t we done yet?”

I’ve got books to write, a life to live, and things to do, for cryin’ out loud!

Sometimes, it’s not waiting anymore.

It’s doing that matters.

Now, I’m off to the oval. This time to get this first book d-o-n-e.

Hide and watch.

18 Months Later, We Start Anew

Has it really been 18 months today since my life changed forever?


And I’m done with these anniversaries. It takes this long to say “I’m over it” — a ruptured brain aneurysm. At least I can write those words myself. A near-majority (49%) of its victims don’t survive a day in a hospital; of those who do, two-thirds never work again.

I’m thrilled to be here, working. Writing.

Bear with me as I struggle to embrace all of this, make it happen somehow. It’s harder than it looks.

Truth is this recent journey includes a much longer time, 32 months, bookended by the tragic suicide of a beloved nephew in December, 2010, and fast forwarded to the slow passing of a gentle mother in July, 2013.

Be they unexpected or awaited, these losses add up to a life experiencing tremendous transformation. Figuring it all out and moving forward is merely the last leg.

But I’m posting again and that’s a step forward. More coming, monthly, from here.

Thriving, Post-Ruptured Brain Aneurysm

Despite proverbial good intentions otherwise, today marks four months since I’ve written a single word, much less posted anything here or anywhere else.

No, posting on Twitter with its 140 characters-a-message doesn’t count as “real writing.”

My disappearing act reflects the life-real consequence of a major health crisis.

To wit, today marks precisely seven months since a half-inch aneurysm at the back of my brain exploded, launching me into a journey that is only now ending. After 150 days straight of mind-numbing headaches accompanied by predictable dizzy spells, I can smile and laugh again with delightful ease. What a joyous thrill. I’m returning to the page.

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No Blogging when your Brain says “Hello!”

Today marks three months since my last blog posting.

You yawn and say, “who cares?” then cite statistics about how most of the 175 million blogs on the web go inactive in less time than that.

How about what happened a month later, I volley back with a description of the previously-unknown aneurysm rupturing in my brain on April 20th? The rupture initiated a 35-day hospital saga filled with Lifeflight rides, blue bag resuscitation, and Michael Jackson’s favorite drugs. Most punishing to a writer was my lost voice, courtesy of an emergency tracheostomy.

At long last: light and play during dreary ICU days — thanks to E.T., the pulse monitor.

Countless rounds of physical and occupational therapy later, I finally possess enough sustained energy to write a blog post.

The picture tells a thousand stories.

There’s E.T., aka the pulse monitor, who brightened my days because the little red light gave me something to laugh about. Eighteen days in Neuro ICU does that to a sick brain.

Priscilla, the Prairie Dog, nests by my right arm. She’s a remnant from my childhood, Fed-Exed to my Nebraska hospital bed for comfort and familiarity. Yes, there’s a story in her active

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Leaf Redux

33 Days and Leafing











Mother Nature awakens

to spring.





Original alchemyst,

ancients say

She is.

This fig tree, plant.


Her single leaf

morphed into a multitude,

I, observer, tremble anew.

Thirty three days.


Imagine possibility:

hope embodied in

one single leaf,

a singular season.


Leaf and person

need each other

this year.

Bye-Bye, Britannica

image: Encyclopedia Britannica website


Say it ain’t so!

Encyclopedia Britannica says no more printed books.

Sound familiar?

The gold stamp begs me to buy this final 32-volume of the Encyclopedia Britannica. I’m tempted—this illustrious tome has been published annually since 1768. But $1519.95 (including $125 for shipping costs) seems a steep price for a cheap visit down Old Times Lane.

Unbidden, memory roars in and jolts me

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