The Horriblist Word

December 21, 2011

The Earth Presents Itself

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karen A. @ 9:18 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I love the midwest: the rolling farm fields, big green trees, rampant weeds, rivers, streams and lakes, pale blue sky (or gray, depending on the day), cows, corn.  Every time I go I admire them all, even take special extra drives into the country.  But I don’t want to go back.  And when I return to Arizona, I watch the appearance of the rocky hills, the dry washes, the great dry open spaces, and feel a kind of relaxation, a letting go, a pleasure in the naked beauty of the earth.  I don’t quite know if I love it more, or just differently; but it stimulates a different part of me.  The desert is subtle in its beauty – you have to look more carefully to see the green, the differences between the summer and the winter, the slow growth of the desert plants.  The midwest seems almost ostentatious in contrast, with its heavy foliage, outsized plants (really – do they NEED to be that big?), lush grasses, abundance of water.  The sky is so wide, so blue here; and when there are storms, there are storms.  I feel more of the scope of the earth, even with the immediacy of the rocks under my feet, or the cholla just an inch from my knee.  The mountains rise up, the canyons cut down.  The earth presents itself.  I can see, can touch, the different layers of rock slicing through the slope I’m climbing.  The plants live here, as do the animals (and humans), but it’s not their domain – it is the earth’s.  And I find myself over and over looking at this or that rock, or mountain, or horizon, or wash, or canyon, and feeling the wonder of it move me.   And move me it does.  I don’t always know toward what; but is definitely toward, rather than away from.  It draws me, makes me wonder what is farther along – just over that hill, or beyond that horizon.  The midwest never quite did that.


December 19, 2011


Filed under: Uncategorized — White Lightning Dreamer @ 10:18 pm

 I love the phrase “when luck meets preparation”… to me it’s like fishing.

 Putting whatever bait you have out there in the stream in the best way you know how.  Then staying attentive to the smell of the air, the feel of the wind on my naked arm, the play of the sunlight on the water.  Alert to feeling the tiny tug if and when it comes and responding with a gentle tug. Reeling in the catch.

 And if it doesn’t come… knowing there’s another pool downstream… wandering through the underbrush, stepping over fallen trees, smelling the evidence of wild animals everywhere, stepping on the spongy moss…feeling the agility of my body to approach another hole.  Positioning to get above the hole and drop the fly in just above so that it floats by what must be the most likely hangout of the bigger fish, the sleeping fish.  Feeling the naturalness of the movement to seduce the dreaming fish to rise to the bait.  A subtle movement of the twist of the torso to propel the fish upwards toward the sunlight to engulf the fly in the whole of its mouth, so directly connected to the body. And if I’m alert, the pulse on the leader line reaches my arm and I yank the line to set the hook.

September 18, 2011

Dear Writing Group

Filed under: Uncategorized — Diana @ 9:17 pm

You click away on your keyboards, and it’s as if I can watch you in your wordplay.  Karen is hunting, stalking, sometimes jumping on her prey in a somersault wrestle to the ground, then quickly up again, fading back into the forest, moving stealthily forward.  Mandy hovers above her scene like a goddess, watching the action like humans watch bees, detached yet involved, choosing random moments to intervene, knowing that her own existence is made manifest by the stories that call her into being.  Holly sits there quietly now, her mouse scrolling as she ponders what just moments ago was pouring out of her, a gush and rush, cavorting like puppies who have now worn themselves out and so briefly rest.

I, like Mandy, come to this night odd, unsure of how to enter or what to bring.  Recent travels have changed me and the newly formed landscape within seems too wild to map, too foreign to explore, too private a place to bring outsiders.  I look for distractions I can toss into the mix, ways of acting like I’m contributing without revealing how much I’m not.  I’ve been writing nearly daily at home, brimming and overflowing with integrations and insights, excited to bring them to the surface.  But that writing is a world away from this one, and no bridges yet exist to carry what I know there to this place I sit with you.

Holly scratches her belly and yawns loudly.  “It’s not going anywhere!” she laments.  She is bored with what is not getting written, bored with our silent clicking efforts, asking if it’s time to read, no matter how rambling the writing has been ‘til now.  Karen studies her screen, scientist of life, ever willing to see what might be there.  Mandy squints her eyes, bites her lip, and keeps typing.  I lift my own fingers up, sigh loudly, say, “Ok…”  Holly eagerly and loudly concurs, drawing a fond smile from Mandy as her fingers continue.  Soon we will read.

January 22, 2011


Filed under: Vulnerability — White Lightning Dreamer @ 10:23 am

V – very much the thing I most want to do

U – ultimately satisfying

L – like nothing else in exposing my soul

N – never want to go there

E – everything I need to do

R – really mystifying why it is so exposing

A – are you kidding me?

B – be vulnerable?

L – Leave it out!

E – everything else is easy

January 16, 2011


Filed under: Vulnerability — Mandy @ 6:40 pm

Vaulting into the unknown, hoping to be

Understood, wondering if anyone is

Laughing at me

New people and places, feeling the need to

Entertain someone,

Remembering all the notes

Allowing people to know things about me,

Believing I can

Letting go of


A Private Investigater Named Zach

Filed under: Novel Beginnings — Diana @ 3:46 pm
Tags: , , ,

There’s all sorts of good that can come out of bringing others into something – personal trainers, and executive coaches, high school teachers and parents of toddlers.  Sometimes you just need someone else to set the boundaries, show you the way, remind you that your best is better than what you settle for.

That’s what I thought I was getting into when I hired Zach.  Really I was.  The idea of a private investigator gets all tied up in shady deals and cheating and snooping where your nose doesn’t belong.  But I thought that by having an outsider take a look at things and bring me real data, a reality test really, that I could take this thing to a higher plane.

The problem was not just that I was deluding myself.  Yes, I was looking for an excuse, a substantiated reason to turn this thing on its head.  But even so, cooler heads may have prevailed and all that if Zach hadn’t been who he was.  If he hadn’t been the kind of person who, having witnessed a wrong, or at least something that looked like a wrong given the info he had access to, couldn’t rest until it was made right.  Probably being a PI wasn’t a very good career choice for him, but the roads he did and didn’t take are a different story.  I got the Zach I got, and that has made all the difference.

It was a cold February day when I first went to his office.  It felt so scripted, the damsel in distress on one side of a cheap metal desk, the gumshoe on the other.  Except Zach was no Humphrey Bogart, although he did have the looks.  He couldn’t have been more than 30, with a thin sheen of cool barely masking an almost painful eagerness to be helpful.  He was the nephew of a neighbor, the kind of person you hire when being a good member of the community is more important than getting the job done.

I didn’t have much to tell him.  Looking back on it, that’s probably why I didn’t try to find someone with more experience; it would have been embarrassing to admit how little I knew to someone who was asking all the right questions.  I knew instinctively that Zach would take the crumbs that were all I had to offer and act as if my job were done – he’d have it covered from here.  I needed that sense of reassurance, no matter how falsely it rang.  That was it really – the thing that led to all the bad decisions I made from there.  Having asked him from the start to shoulder far more than was his to bear, I felt responsible to make it up to him somehow.  When he started to care, more than just caring on principle because he felt it was the thing to do, but really care, as if his understanding of the world and good and evil and the meaning of life all depended on this, I was already beholden to him in a currency I had never intended to spend.

Sharing a Moment of Vulnerability

Filed under: Vulnerability — Diana @ 3:39 pm

I’ll admit it:  I’m choosing a safe vulnerability to write about.  It’s a real one – and maybe one of my deepest ones.  But, still, it’s safer than some things I could write about, and that’s the point about vulnerability, right?  It’s not about avoiding it or not;  it’s about the fact that some things just are vulnerable, they just are, and you’ve got to take life on its terms.  And that includes getting to say, no, you don’t get to see that place.

The vulnerability for which I am issuing limited admission is the subject of music.  Singing, drumming, whistling (actually, I can’t whistle), humming, even listening to music – it’s an arena that I can barely go into alone, and it takes every once of grit I have to share it with others.  I can’t explain it, it makes no sense, it just is.  And here’s what I’ve learned from it.

Vulnerability is like density:  the mass per unit volume of a chemical element.  The more vulnerable an arena of life experience is, the more it means that energy is packed into a small space, just waiting to be liberated.  Going into those places of vulnerability can be like liberating the masses from a despot king.  If you do it right, that is.  Done wrongly, you can just make it all worse, increasing the king’s power, making the prisoners more hungry and despairing than they already were.

Ah, there’s a bit of drama.  Drama and vulnerability go hand in hand, you know, the one a smokescreen that makes escape from the other possible.  If I talk enough about vulnerability, I won’t have to feel it, won’t have to wonder how different my life would be if I just had a little more courage, won’t have to admit how hard I work to avoid the vulnerability, justifying my neglect with any convenient reason that comes along.

Like checking my email.  That’s always a good one.

All right, all right. Music.  What feels vulnerable is the fear of all the ways I’ll fuck it up.  Sour notes, lost beats, my lack of skill and familiarity butchering something intended to be pure and unfettered from human error.  But really that’s just another smokescreen, a reason not to go there.  It’s what justifies my absence from the spaces of vulnerability, as if there’s just too much risk to the universe itself for me to go there.

But what is true vulnerability?  What music does is brings out something in me that is less masked than I’m used to being.  It’s the sounds I long to make just because – not because they are needed by someone else, but just because they make me happy.  It’s the rawness of my desire to learn and excel, finding the beat and surrendering to it fully, letting it use me as raw material only, no name, no identity, just raw power energy poured into the creation of something new, something momentary, something with no justification at all.

September 20, 2010

Where do I know you from?

Filed under: Misc writing exercises — Karen A. @ 12:53 pm
Tags: , , ,

“Where do I know you from?”

“I don’t think you do know me.  I certainly don’t recognize you.  Leave me!”   She gestured dismissively.

“No, but really.  I’m sure I know you from somewhere.  Were you in the south of France last year?”  The persistent person of dubious national origin peered into her face solicitously.

“Why would you ask such a personal question?”  She allowed her glance to run up and down the person, in a way which suggested doubt about the legality and advisability of someone continuing to stand just there.  “If you do not leave, I will be forced to call the management.”

The person took a step backward, clearly struck by the force of the idea of the management entering into the discussion; but also clearly not intending to leave just yet.  “Why, it just seems to me that you might be a little kinder to the person who saved you from the clutches of the mercado pirate.  You recall – the one you had handed over your entire life savings to, and almost your – ah – reputation?” 

“Indeed.”  The direction of her gaze rose up, like bubbles floating to the surface, until they met the eyes of her accoster.  There they stopped and became like green lasers.  “You mistake me for someone else.  Now please be on your way, lest I mistake you for someone I once knew, and do what I ought to have done then.”  She paused.  “I’m sure you understand me.”

September 3, 2010

Tough times in Arizona

Filed under: Uncategorized — White Lightning Dreamer @ 7:22 am

August 30, 2010

They say that “Necessity is the Mother of Invention”. [1]

I hope so!  I feel like so many of us are becoming extra creative now that our finances are so strapped here in Arizona (and other states).

Today is the day that I told Pat, my beloved physical trainer, that I have to give up the workouts with him; at least for now.

I am working on figuring out how to pay my bills and still have some cash to pay for fuel in France.  I am meeting up with 20 other women near Toulouse France, Languedoc region.  It is our annual gathering – number 12.  I haven’t missed a year and am proud of that fact.

On my computer stand is the colorful stone-like item that an artist created with the words: “Fortune favors the bold” encased inside the smooth acrylic.

I bought the stone last year at Phoenix Airport when I was en route to Raven’s Call (the same gathering of women) that was in Toronto.  Last year I had been in Toronto with Phil only a month before for my friend Eden’s wedding.  To be going back again was rather extravagant.  Do I regret it?  Hell No!  Last year I really went wild; scooting over to LA the weekend before Raven’s Call to hang out with my delightful niece Claire.   I wanted Phil to meet her before going to my nephew (her brother’s) wedding in Calgary the weekend after I got back from the Women’s Gathering in Toronto.  Phew – it was a whirlwind!

Nobody talks about this kind of investment.  The return is not on paper, but I believe, written in our souls.  I created something for me and a way for Phil to better understand my family and my heart.

I’m reminded of the poem called “Warning” written by a British woman named Jenny Joseph in 1961.  I wonder how old she was when she wrote it.  It has since been adopted and changed because of copyright restrictions… I found this version on the net:

With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

I don’t think I need much practice; could be really scary when I get even older.  Back to the Fortune Favors the Bold quote:

The phrase means that Fortuna, the Goddess of luck, is more likely to help those who take risks or action.  In other words, people who act decisively make their own fate.

 The first recorded use of this expression, or close variations of it, are from Roman times – in the writings of Ennius (239-169 bc), Terence (190-159 bc), Virgil (70-19 bc) and Pliny the Elder (ad 23-79). For example in the Aeneis, Virgil writes Audaces fortuna iuvat (luck helps those who are brave).[2]

Oh, and I think I need a new accountant.  He looked at me as if I was from Mars when I said I really didn’t WANT to work full time.  He has never been to Europe.  He and his wife never go camping.  They are kind of pale and only go back to Indiana to see relatives.

Back to Pat.  I was very brave when I told him that Wednesday would be my last session with him.  I felt feisty and focused and like I was taking charge of my choices.

But then came the shower.  There’s an old woman that’s there when I go to the club later in the day like that – when I don’t have work.  She does her swimming and then she sits quite shamelessly naked and it can take her 15 minutes just to fasten her bra.  I think that’s her husband who comes and waits for her outside the locker room.  He brings his book.  One time she asked me for help.  Today I asked her if she needed help after noticing she was struggling with the clasp again.  “No!”, she barked.  And then added, a little more calmly, “I’m just slow today, thanks”.

By the time I was walking out of the club, I was crying.  I will really miss my time with Pat.  He has helped me stay strong through all the ups and downs and trials of tribulations of living in another country and negotiating the imposed restriction of having to keep my job in order to stay legally in the country.  He also helped me negotiate the hurdle of testing for Sacred Pipe Carrier. 

It’s a loss, and my, my my;  how those losses do bring up memories of other losses.  It feels good to cry.

[1] “something that you say which means that if you want to do something very much you will think of a way to do it” from

[2] http://

June 15, 2010

Book Blurb

Filed under: Book Blurb — Karen A. @ 1:54 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Who’d ever choose to live in a town like Randallville?  Or, more importantly, who would choose to die there?!?

Three deaths in one week bring together a strange assortment of characters: a cowboy, who loses his boss at the ranch he’s been working for 40 years; a 10-year-old autistic boy, who notices things in ways no one else does; a detective, who finds cause for cool suspicion and hot desire; a female construction worker as confused by life as she is by her male co-workers; and a host of other town-folk just trying to live their darned lives. 

An epic of swirling emotions, earth-shattering plot twists, wrenching confrontations, and heart-warming connections and salvation!

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