Stairways to Somewhere Else

Something disturbs me about an extra long flight of stairs, especially going down. Why would that be? Maybe because I’m a klutz and fear falling. Certainly the former is true! On a recent trip to New York, I snapped a couple of extra-creepy flights.

Manhattan subway escalator.

Looking down a Manhattan subway escalator.

Perhaps long staircases disturb me because I fear my subconscious. The mystical psychologist Carl Jung talked about stairs that descend to the subconscious, as I was fascinated to recently learn. Well, okay, re-learn, because I was surprised to read it in (my own damn) novel, Was It A Rat I Sawwhich I wrote a couple decades ago. But I digress. Anyway, I don’t fear my subconscious, I’m fascinated by all the things it seems to know that I don’t – and there’s no question that I get my best ideas from it!

Entrance to Le Poisson Rouge, a club in Greenwich Village.

Entrance to Le Poisson Rouge, a club in Greenwich Village.

I’m joking around. I know why some staircases bother me. It’s the sense that their steps are capable of taking me somewhere else, an unintended journey to an unexpected destination. Some building entrances feel that way to me, too. I’m finally exposing their truth in my fantasy series, FRAMES, where nothing in the universe is as it seems. The red staircase above will be a location – or maybe a character – in the second book in the FRAMES series, which I have just started writing.

New York doesn’t have a lock on eerie stairs. Here’s one that hails from Echo Park in Los Angeles:


P.S. I’ve finally finished the first FRAMES novel, Nica of Los Angeles. Watch for posts about that soon.

(This post responds to the WP Weekly Photo Challenge, Extra Extra.)


Ten Questions I’ve Never Considered

This Word Press Daily Post was fun to consider. It said On the interview show Inside the Actors’ Studio, host James Lipton asks each of his guests the same ten questions. What are your responses?

What are your own responses? Post them in comments here, or write your own post and comment me the link!

Always good for a laugh.

Always good for a laugh.

What is your favorite word?

Clam. It’s always good for a laugh.

What is your least favorite word?

Teh. Which is how the comes out whenever I type it.

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Live music.

What turns you off?

Fragmentation – demands, deadlines, chores, requirements, expectations pulling me in multiple directions.

What is your favorite curse word?

Hands-down winner: the F word.

What sound or noise do you love?

I love hearing my twins (son and daughter) talking and working together without bickering or oneupsmanship. I typically hear this once or twice a year, when they make me breakfast in bed for mother’s day and/or my birthday.

What sound or noise do you hate?

1970s arena rock. GMWAS.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Professional surfer. Well. I would love to be one. I would not bother to attempt it. I can barely negotiate a boogie board.

What profession would you not like to do?

Waiter. I would be a terrible one and I would find it so stressful to be polite and calm in the face of customer demands.

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Your friends, family and critters await you in room 12C.

Wisdom From An Unexpected Corner

I’m moving like a pinball – behind as always getting ready for a week out of town – and thinking about chickens without heads. The last thing I need or intend today is an 11-minute video by some shock-talk comedian.

Cut to: Sue finishes second viewing of the clip and thinks, I need to share this.

Inspiration always trumps packing.

P.S. The clip thinks it is 18 mins long but it is not.

My Epitaph Collection, Compiled

I am a casual collector of potential epitaphs.  In the early days of my blog I posted each of the candidates separately. I’ve had a request to compile them, so here they all are.

This one happened by me during an email exchange at work. The original comment referred to a scientific paper. Way too good to waste there:

Not without a few errors, but provocative nonetheless.

I can see having this on my headstone (Except that I won’t have a headstone.):

Wait! I’m not done yet!

On my optimistic days, this is the epitaph I favor:

The adventure continues…

For the last word in petty revenge:

Not even the dog will miss him.

Yup, sounds familiar:

Lived at the corner of Skepticism and Rebellion.

Death comes to all of us and yet:

They told me to expect the unexpected but here I am.

No more fooling around:

Next time I come back as a cat.

This offhand comment from a biologist deserves immortality:

She wondered about genetic drift.

Or maybe the reverse is more meaningful:

He never wondered about genetic drift.

I know, right?:

Damn, just when I was getting the hang of it.

Although debate with the universe is not recommended:

But –

You know who you are:

Death. The last word in writer’s block.

A final disclaimer:

It wasn’t always like this for me.

Disgruntled past the end:

Was that all there was?

An epitaph for my cat Boink:

Peace, love, and asparagus.

Strolling down the lane with the Buddha:

Once a life, always alive.

Epitaph for a joke-teller:

Three worms walk into a bar…

Ouch. Description of a graveyard with headstones from William Faulkner’s only mystery novel, Intruder in the Dust:

…carved mottoless with simple names and dates as though there had been nothing even their mourners remembered of them than that they had lived and they had died…

Not Actually by George Carlin (But Still Worth Reading)

I almost fell for it. I posted this essay, then unposted it, vaguely recollecting something about a hoax. Sure enough, this essay has been attributed to George Carlin and several others over the years but was actually written by a pastor, according to Note to self: next time check before you post.
George Carlin

George Carlin was one of the great satirists and social commentators of our lifetimes. He is not the author of this essay.


The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life. We’ve added years to life not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things.

We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.

Remember to spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.

Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn’t cost a cent.

Remember, to say, ‘I love you’ to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.

Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.

Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

And always remember, life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by those moments that take our breath away.

Carlin photo is from his official website.

All the Blues Imaginable

One of the great treats about being alive and on this planet is getting to see the ocean at sunrise and sunset. I am always staggered by the number of different colors in the water. I’ve yet to get a photo that comes close to capturing it, but maybe that’s okay. Because I don’t have a photo I need to keep going back to see the real thing.

The full moon sets and the sun rises at Carlsbad Beach, San Diego County, California

The full moon sets and the sun rises at Carlsbad Beach, San Diego County, California

(Posted for the latest Weekly Photo Challenge.)

Inspiration From a Life Well Lived

Elaine Morgan, dead at age 92.

Elaine Morgan, dead at age 92.

Recently, an internet pal’s grandmother passed away – a woman I had never met nor heard of. In reading her obituary, I discovered that she had been an extraordinary individual, and learning about her life filled me with optimism.

Our world is full of wonderful people, some famous, some well-known, and most invisible except to those whose lives they directly enrich and improve. I won’t ever know about most of them, but they are out there, and it bolsters me to know that.

Writing Every Day

Writing can be a bicycle made of lead. It’s much easier to stop than to start.

I’ve got two quotes that help propel me forward again after I stall out.

One is by the scientist and activist Linus Pauling, who won two Nobel prizes  (chemistry; peace):

The way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.

The other is by musician, song-writer, and record producer Nick Lowe, who had this motto in the recording studio at Stiff Records:

Bash it out now, tart it up later.

Finally, this comment by jazz great Thelonious Monk to a newer musician gives me courage to try something different:

You are making the wrong mistakes.