Supernatural Summer Reading 2017

Hello mortals! If you’re in Maryland and like vampire and werewolf stories, you will definitely want to come to Scarborough Fair Bed & Breakfast on July 22nd to enjoy short readings and follow-up discussions with authors H.L. Brooks (that’s me!) and Dea Schofield. We will be reading some short excerpts from our latest books. There will also be some light refreshments and a door prize for one lucky winner. If you are a book blogger, vlogger, or bookstagrammer, send me a note if you can come by and we will hook you up with a swag bag.

TIME:
Saturday, July 22nd, 2017
4pm-5:30pm

PLACE:
Scarborough Fair Bed & Breakfast in Baltimore, MD
http://www.scarboroughfairbandb.com

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Gratitude Practice

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My week, and subsequently my weekend, was a bit of a roller-coaster ride. Anybody who has ever tried to run their own business, or who has to submit themselves to regular public scrutiny can probably relate pretty well to the way things went for me last week.

I had a few confidence shudders. A few squealing belts under my hood that wanted attention. Fortunately I have a pretty great support system. The mechanics of my life stepped in and told me what the trouble was, I listened to their expert advice, even if I didn’t want to pay what it cost in self-reflection. In the end, I chose the path of GET THE FUCK ON WITH IT.

After the tears and the fears started to wane enough to see a clear route, I stopped to reflect on gratitude. I see a therapist and she has me do this thing, which as it turns out is a pretty good thing – at least for me. That thing is writing down acknowledgments and gratitude. The acknowledgements are for the things I have done that day. Little pats on my back to myself, even for small things. Because face it, when you’re in a depression, or stressed and feel a bit like you’re failing – even small feats of organization, house-cleaning, or work can feel like mountains. And when you do big things you can sort of pat yourself on the back for, it helps lay a solid foundation for the direction you are headed. So–ALL GOOD STUFF!

The gratitude portion is just anything I am grateful for. It reminds me that no matter what I might be stressed about, or hurting from, or worried about, there is always something to be grateful for. Sometimes, on days that are rough, all I can manage is things like “easy access to telephones and email.” Among other little things that are actually quite important, like having enough food to eat and a roof over my head. Sometimes these things show up even on days that are a bonanza of good news, just because I remember a time when having those things was much harder.

Anyway, what I did was–instead of meditating on what didn’t go right–I meditated on what DID go right, or at least the parts of my day that were good. So here is what I posted on Facebook.

Good things that happened today – aka practicing gratitude:

-Will made me breakfast in bed. Then went out and got me pads and chocolate.
– Will and I got a little dressed up and looked pretty fly. Wore my new pendant Bridget made.
– Went to Baltimore, saw our friend Barry, had some of his spiced apple cider with caramel schnapps, got my fortune read, got some valuable feedback, enjoyed the Halloween decorations.
– Jade got to see two shows today thanks to Audrey. It makes my heart so happy when my friends are good to my babies
– The sky was amazing the whole way home from Baltimore.
– Stopped at Trader Joe’s and got some tasty food. An attractive woman with curly hair came up to me and flirted with me. She really digs my hair, and called me a silver fox and meowed at me. Lol
– We got home and my Hillary swag was here and I tried on my new shirt and it fit great and looks cute and Will complimented me several times. Kissed me and told me I’m cute.
– Amber sent me some sweet texts.
– Got a wonderful video from our granddaughter – who loves her little Halloween card we sent her.
– Will made me a Nasty Woman (see recipe further down my wall) – but used the cute highball glasses my sister gave me instead of a tumbler – which elevated the Nasty Womanness of the cocktail.

That’s a lot to be thankful for.

Love Letters – Epistles of Love and Longing in a Modern Age – 2

I am going to try and make the Love Letters thing on Fridays. I am going to write up a Sensual Sunday today, it will drop on Sunday, so come back and check it out!

It’s hard to figure out how much to share of something as personal as love letters. Things are out of context a bit. There is little clue as to how things between the texts and emails transpired, other than what is written.

One thing people might not realize is that I was married when I met Will. I embarked on a relationship with him two days after meeting him, with the knowledge and consent of my husband. Love is complicated, folks. Anyway, I will begin, as they say, at the beginning. Will emailed me and I emailed him back. Are these love letters? Maybe not. Not yet, anyway. But they are flirt letters. The beginning of a wonderful, and terrible, overwhelmingly beautiful and hurtful decade in my life. These letters are the cornerstone of a foundation he and I built together and holds us up today.

These are slightly abridged versions of the conversations, but mostly they are a copy and paste. Other than that, this is how it began. With words.

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From: William Hardy
Sent: Monday, July 15, 2002 2:43 PM
To: goddess@
Subject: Thanks for your address – I’m trying it out

Greetings, fair lady.

It was a real pleasure meeting you Saturday night. I’m looking forward to
seeing you again – before too long, I hope. Yes I thought about you quite a
bit that night. That was the most delicious kiss I’ve had in a looong time.

I’ve been to your site but couldn’t look at *all* of it because [redacted]. From what
I’ve seen (not much yet) I’m really struck by how strong your color sense
is. I wonder who some of your favorite artists are? Well, if you need a
model sometime, I’d be happy to work with you. I used to be good at
charcoal – I haven’t done any sketches since school, but I always enjoyed
working with live subjects. I’m hoping to get back into it, now that I have
all this “free time.” That, and learn to play violin, and write the great
American novel.

What, you don’t believe me?

More to come. Ciao fer now.

-Bill

P.S. Contact info:

[redacted]

********************************

TO: William Hardy
From: Heather Bartlett

Mon 7/15/2002 4:04 PM

Sub: Hi yourself 😉

William,

It was a pleasure making your acquaintance as well…glad I could help you out with [redacted]. You must have been awful tired for moving day.

I kept thinking that you reminded me of an actor that I’d seen in movies, but I particularly remembered him from Veronica’s Closet, so after poking around on a Veronica’s Closet Website I figured out that you, with the beard, remind me of Ron Silver, I’m sure you know who he is. What particularly struck me was your smile…I think that was what sealed it, he has a great smile and a great aura, like you.

Some parts of the night are very dreamlike, because I’d been drinking in spurts, shots of bourbon and stuff, but other parts are clear. I was never totally fall-down smashed though. I did get to swim in the pool sometime after midnight, and I think I shocked the hell out of two of the twenty-something frat fellas because I decided to go topless…[redacted]

Thanks for the offer to pose, I’m always looking for subjects, usually I photograph, because I can’t force the art. I get tense when I think about live models because I worry that the artistic ability won’t be there at that moment, and I’ll be wasting the model’s time (I don’t like inconveniencing folks) I can’t force it for some reason, so I keep photos for when the urge strikes me and I use them for inspiration. I have female friends offer to pose for me, so they can help me get used to working with live models, but schedules haven’t allowed that yet. I suppose I’d be less concerned about it if I’d gone to college art classes and gotten used to using live models. Usually I just REMEMBER a moment…and THAT inspires me, curves, shadow, a person’s aura, a feeling. I am particularly inspired by intimacy. I have creative ups and downs. I’m in a creative UP right now. It makes me more flirtatious, more energetic and gives me the ability to see beauty in so many things, it’s overwhelming sometimes.

I wished you would start up charcoal again, I’d love to pose for you if you ever got back into it. 🙂

My favorite artists are Klimt, VanGough, Matisse,
Amy Brown (fairies), and Heinz Guth http://www.gutart.rit.se/framehome/frame.html there are LOTS more but those are the first ones that come to my mind. Actually I have more flooding in, but you get the idea.

Tell me about the play you’re working on, and where it’s at and stuff. I remember that it was an original…what theatre do you do work at? I have a production meeting tonight for “All My Sons”, Sweetie and I are doing costumes and props…when Sweetie, John , Julianna and I work on a show they call us the “Dream Team”…heh. Isn’t that funny?

I also belong to a Shakespeare Club called Chamberlain’s Men, http://www.chamberlainsmen.org and we JUST finished Hamlet, I *think* we’re studying “Taming of the Shrew” next. One of MY all time favorites.

Anyhoo, I’ve babbled on a while…I’ll send future emails to your “Super Secret Personal Account”, I giggled when I saw that. You’re too funny. 🙂

I’ll see you sometime soon.

Hugs,

Heather

The Corner of Fifteen

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It’s hard to imagine now just how small the world was to me then. He lived next door and worked for his dad’s contractor business. He fixed stuff. At least that’s what I thought. He broke stuff, too. My illusions of love, for example. My innocence of how lovers worked, and what power imbalance was. The belief that if you became pregnant, he would stay, because that’s what men are supposed to do. The reality that in the end, I might not want him to stay. And that people don’t always do what they are “supposed” to do.

I lost a lot of things that year, but I gained some things I would never trade. To say I am happy to have had a beautiful child come from that union may sound cliche, but I wouldn’t change it if I could. It set me on a path to self-improvement and an unfortunate spate of cynicism about men, I’m glad I’ve left behind (for the most part), but made me see feminism in a different light. Those bad experiences with a bad person set the cornerstone of the person I am today.

That house–my family’s, and his next door, are so foreign to me now. It’s like looking at a photo album from some movie I watched. I can conjure up the memories like they were last month, but I feel as though I am viewing them through a sheet of plastic.

I can’t remember the taste of him, or how he kissed. I can remember some of his cheesy lines and hurtful comments. I can remember him throwing pennies at me from his bedroom window. I can remember he smoked Marlboro reds and wore Stetson cologne. I would smell that combination into the mid-1990s sometimes, but thankfully Stetson has lost its appeal. Whichever men who might have stockpiled it, stuck in the 1980s, have probably run out by now.

My heart was broken. It was two years before I would date again. I wasn’t done making mistakes I wouldn’t fix, though. But that’s a story for another time.

 

You Screamed

I had a nightmare two nights ago.

We went to a celebration, a wedding I think. We were in a house I didn’t recognize. Long wooden floors and wide breezeways. We were upstairs, you and I. People I knew, though none in this plane of existence, held glasses with wine and chatted. Some were in couples and others in clumps. Through the large doorway I could see a half-wall that was crowning a stairwell that led downstairs where others were also mingling. You left my side. I watched you walk away, thinking you were fragile from your health troubles. I tried not to worry and sipped my drink as I watched your back as you turned the corner out of my sight.

Then I heard it. You falling down the stairs, hard. I could hear you yelling in pain as you went down. Thud, holler, thud, holler. The crunchy sounds of bones cracking. The people around me were gone and it was just me, staring at the half-wall waiting for the sounds to stop. Knowing it was you, your body, doing a terrifying ballet down the steps. I tried to make my legs move. To go peer over the half-wall, but I was telling myself it wasn’t you. Then another series of thuds. I had this idea for some reason that a large cabinet tipped and went end over end down the stairs and landed on you. In fact I knew that was what had happened. The thing was gigantic and heavy. I heard it stop at the bottom, sounding as though it landed in wet cement, and you screamed. It was horrifying. You screamed high and frantic, a voice I’d never heard come out of you before, “Get it off of me! Get it off of me!” Your pain was palpable. You tried to scream more, but it came out in sickening gurgles. Then I knew I couldn’t go to the stairwell and peer over the half-wall. I knew it was going to be awful. I also had this odd effect of feeling as though if I didn’t look, it wouldn’t be true.

I woke up. It was 1:37am. In another lifetime I would have walked to the part of the house where you were in and checked on you. Or phoned you. Or at the very least, later, when things had really changed, emailed. Just to make sure you were indeed, not at the bottom of a strange stairwell in some giant house, your life seeping out of you.

I realized there was nowhere to put this feeling. No place to store it or let it go, so I drank some water and went to the restroom – life is full of these little cycles, isn’t it? Water. Pee. Cycles. Back to bed. I kept hearing the scream as if I had actually heard it in real life and was now having some kind of flashback. I lay there, tried to just tell myself it didn’t matter. The screams would fade. Sleep would find me. And it did, only to have several more nightmares, but none of them as awful as that first one.

I was tired the next day – yesterday. I kept having moments where the thought of the screams made my stomach sour. How could I find ways to not care? For it to not matter?

I remembered a huge part of why it is impossible to even have the smallest of exchanges. I remembered the irony of the anger of a person so concerned about their name, being in my correspondence, or in my mouth – a person who stole names. Squatted in them like a vagrant’s hovel. Pissing on things to mark them, then growling over the territory like a rabid coyote. Hypocrite. It makes it easier to let go of concern when you remember how little there is for you.

I again pushed aside the idea of checking on you. Each time I pushed the thought away, it was easier to look at from a distance. As the feeling would rise for a moment, then fall further away each time. I kept walking away from it. I kept imagining ways I could walk faster. Then I remembered that I’m a writer. So, here I am in the middle of the night – letting go.