All I Need 2017

I heard a friend recently say, “I need to get out to the woods,” as if he were saying “I need to escape from this cage.” Well said, my friend. My sister is the same way about the ocean. I feel the same way about any remote environment, the less people, the more trees and water, the better. Someplace where no one feels entitled to judge me, to rank me, to decide where my place is in this life. But at the same time, an environment where I’m humbled. The size and endurance of the landscape reveals my true value and place, without judgment or consideration, without evaluation, by merely being there and existing, greater, more important and more lasting than I’ll ever be. The forest humbles me but inspires a sense of relief at the same time. My responsibilities are reduced to breathing, moving, surviving. I’m the only unwild thing in the wilderness. My very not belonging forces me to simplify my actions and thoughts to adapt.

Sometimes I go to the beach after everyone else has gone home, or when it’s cold or rainy. Same with the park. I like to look around and see nothing but what has tumbled or grown there: rocks, hills, mountains, brush, trees, rivers, lakes and oceans, sometimes the gift of a curious coyote or a fleeing deer. I don’t want to say hello or have a conversation. I want to walk, look around and breathe. I’m not any more or less important than what surrounds me. Until I return to civilization.

Marcel Proust’s Questionnaire

IMG_1394Answer these questions if you dare. David Bowie’s answers are “on-the-spot”, glib. I took some time with mine. I still want to go back, edit and reflect.

 

Here is Marcel Proust’s Questionnaire:

  1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
  2. What is your greatest fear?
  3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
  4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?
  5. Which living person do you most admire?
  6. What is your greatest extravagance?
  7. What is your current state of mind?
  8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
  9. On what occasion do you lie?
  10. What do you most dislike about your appearance?
  11. Which living person do you most despise?
  12. What is the quality you most like in a man?
  13. What is the quality you most like in a woman?
  14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
  15. What or who is the greatest love of your life?
  16. When and where were you happiest?
  17. Which talent would you most like to have?
  18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
  19. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
  20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
  21. Where would you most like to live?
  22. What is your most treasured possession?
  23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
  24. What is your favorite occupation?
  25. What is your most marked characteristic?
  26. What do you most value in your friends?
  27. Who are your favorite writers?
  28. Who is your hero of fiction?
  29. Which historical figure do you most identify with?
  30. Who are your heroes in real life?
  31. What are your favorite names?
  32. What is it that you most dislike?
  33. What is your greatest regret?
  34. How would you like to die?
  35. What is your motto?

 

Here are my answers to Marcel Proust’s Questionnaire (constantly subject to change):

  1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

a book and a cup of Earl Grey Tea

  1. What is your greatest fear?

Boredom

  1. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

fear to express myself during an argument…I hate arguments because people expound and get loud and don’t listen to counter arguments. It’s boring and scary.

A quiet debate is so much more productive.

  1. What is the trait you most deplore in others?

talking and not listening…disrespect

  1. Which living person do you most admire?

Stephen King

  1. What is your greatest extravagance?

generosity toward my children, anyone’s children and my dog, anyone’s dog

  1. What is your current state of mind?

ruminative, imaginative, meditative, almost anything that ends in “-ive”

  1. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

consistency   Like Thoreau said “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

  1. On what occasion do you lie?

to protect someone I care about  (Sometimes that someone is myself.)

  1. What do you most dislike about your appearance?

everything that’s sagging or aging or receding or spreading outward

  1. Which living person do you most despise?

Isis and Donald Trump…anyone who’s powerful but demonstrates no humanity

  1. What is the quality you most like in a man?

confidence and intelligence, paired with humility and imagination=humor

  1. What is the quality you most like in a woman?

creativity paired with the confidence to express it=humor

  1. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Recently: Into the Valley of Death rode the 600.

In my lifetime: Quintessential  (It’s a bombastic, pretentious and egotistical word.)

  1. What or who is the greatest love of your life?

words

  1. When and where were you happiest?

home, reading and/or writing, conversations with creative people, preferably with a water view

  1. Which talent would you most like to have?

confidence without ego

  1. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I’d be a better and more respectful listener.

  1. What do you consider your greatest achievement?

My children, my teaching, my books – My most important life’s works.

  1. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

A more improved, wiser version of myself.

  1. Where would you most like to live?

a warm (but not hot), tolerant, small city by the ocean, with lots of public parks, forest trails, shoreline

  1. What is your most treasured possession?

a cameo brooch my grandfather gave my grandmother, carved from a single seashell … Something small enough to hold in your hand and carry with you that you hope you never lose.

  1. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

feeling frustrated when a situation is impossible and I have no control, no voice

  1. What is your favorite occupation?

the cultivation of hope.. that’s what the editing process is all about, not just editing my writing, but my life. I like do-overs. That’s why conversation makes me feel anxious. You can’t erase and then rewrite something you’ve said. I guess that’s called an apology. Apologies are tough but necessary.

  1. What is your most marked characteristic?

I’m thoughtfully hopeful and optimistic.

  1. What do you most value in your friends?

creativity and humor

  1. Who are your favorite writers?

Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, Shakespeare (for the classics)

Camus (for essays and reflections – nonfiction)

Jeffery Deaver, Thomas Harris (only the first two books), Louise Penny, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child – for contemporary. I like mysteries and crime.

  1. Who is your hero of fiction?

Huckleberry Finn – his journey, his logic, his willingness and ability to change his fundamental beliefs about humanity and how this journey mirrored the profound changes the USA went through during his lifetime.

  1. Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Joan of Arc, Martha Corey… someone who was executed for the crime of witchcraft

  1. Who are your heroes in real life?

Abraham Lincoln

Martin Luther King Jr.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday

Jane Goodall

writers, musicians and artists…so many     Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson, Bach, Marvin Gaye, Gauguin, Degas…

  1. What are your favorite names?

Tibalt and Cerulean    

  1. What is it that you most dislike?

People who brag about money and material possessions.

People who exploit their weaknesses to earn sympathy.

Physical and emotional cruelty

  1. What is your greatest regret?

Anytime I’ve ever bragged about anything.

Misrepresenting myself so I appear to be way cooler. (Same thing)

  1. How would you like to die?

quickly and with as little pain as possible… Gunshot to a vital organ, if that fits the aforementioned description.

  1. What is your motto?

“In the depth of winter I found there was within myself an invincible summer.” Camus

 

David Bowie’s answers (His 69th birthday was last week.)

 

 

  • What is your idea of perfect happiness?

 

Reading.

 

  • What is your most marked characteristic?

 

Getting a word in edgewise.

 

  • What do you consider your greatest achievement?

 

Discovering morning.

 

  • What is your greatest fear?

 

Converting kilometers to miles.

 

  • What historical figure do you most identify with?

 

Santa Claus.

  1. Which living person do you most admire?

Elvis.

  1. Who are your heroes in real life?

The consumer.

  1. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

While in New York, tolerance.

Outside New York, intolerance.

  1. What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Talent.

  1. What is your favorite journey?

The road of artistic excess.

  1. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Sympathy and originality.

  1. Which word or phrases do you most overuse?

“Chthonic,” “miasma.”

  1. What is your greatest regret?

That I never wore bellbottoms.

  1. What is your current state of mind?

Pregnant.

  1. If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?

My fear of them (wife and son excluded).

  1. What is your most treasured possession?

A photograph held together by cellophane tape of Little Richard that I bought in 1958, and a pressed and dried chrysanthemum picked on my honeymoon in Kyoto.

  1. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Living in fear.

  1. Where would you like to live?

Northeast Bali or south Java.

  1. What is your favorite occupation?

Squishing paint on a senseless canvas.

  1. What is the quality you most like in a man?

The ability to return books.

  1. What is the quality you most like in a woman?

The ability to burp on command.

  1. What are your favorite names?

Sears & Roebuck.

  1. What is your motto?

“What” is my motto.

What’s your worst supernatural fear?

Danielle with EIYD

It’s out!.

It’s out!

HerEvilWaysHannah Hayward the real woman with two graves

The sequel to Enter If You Dare: Ebook only, available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Whiskey Creek Press. Print edition soon to follow. I’m loving the cover art and its uncanny resemblance to the real version of the setting for my second Annabelle Blake novel: Church Street Burial Ground in Easton, MA (photo above). There really is a woman with two headstones and she’s buried right here in Easton. Her name was Hannah Hayward and she has a Puritan style headstone and a reform style headstone because members of her family belonged to two different religions. However, Catherine Littlefield Hayward, the fictional character in my story, has two headstones because no one wanted her to be buried in their family plot. Her husband’s family refused to inter her remains on their side of the cemetery. They put up a marker for her, but there’s no body buried there. She had to be buried on the Littlefields’ side. Even then, they placed seven heavy stones over Catherine’s final resting place, to keep her evil spirit down where it belonged. But now someone has moved the stones and she’s free to wreak havoc once again.

Grab a flashlight. Let’s go find a ghost.

Here it is! Available on Amazon, in ebook only. The print edition will be ready soon. “Grab a flashlight. Let’s go find a ghost.”

http://www.amazon.com/Enter-You-Dare-Alyson-Larrabee-ebook/dp/B00MBKZHMS/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1406989226&sr=1-1&keywords=Alyson+Larrabee

cropped-enter-if-you-dare-final-cover1.jpg

 Anthony is so obsessed with Annabelle Blake that he would die for her. Except he’s already dead. He’s the ghost of the legendary Lonesome Boy but he’s not lonesome anymore because now he has Annabelle. He’s with her all the time. Stalking her.  Waking her up in the middle of the night with his constant weeping and his ice cold wordless whispers.

She needs help. Fast. Enter the mysterious new boy in town. Wyatt Silver is an amateur medium, but he doesn’t just see dead people. He becomes them. Anthony takes possession of Wyatt’s body and their terrifying adventure begins.

My Low Tech/No Tech Vacation

sand turtleAnnie on the Beach RI

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last week my husband and I went on a vacation together, with the dog, and stayed in a small, essentially two room cottage near the ocean. It was built in the 1920’s and has no cable, no internet and poor cell phone reception. When I told one of my friends what we were doing, her reaction was, “You’re going to be at each other’s throats.”

That gave me pause. I became anxious. We were less than a mile from a beautiful private beach and the house came with a beach pass, so we’d be outside most of the time, but…What if it rained? What would we do? We got lucky, only two rainy days. On one of them, we drove around and looked at houses for sale because we love the area. We saw Taylor Swift’s house. Not for sale; way too big for us anyway. On the other rainy day, we did a little sightseeing: The Nautilus Submarine Museum in Groton, Connecticut. I love museums. My husband was interested in experiencing the close quarters of the submarine. Something for both of us. Great day. The other days, we spent some serious time on the beach; walking, reading, swimming. We talked to each other. We brought the cribbage board and Scrabble but never even got around to it. We both read a lot of books and I worked on the third novel in my series. My daughter Annie visited and built a sand turtle on the beach. (See photos.)

Another thing our love-nest didn’t have: an oven. No cooking. Yay! We tried several great restaurants and sampled everything from $32.00 swordfish, eaten at a table with a view of the ocean, to chowder from a takeout window, eaten at a picnic table overlooking a busy street. Heavenly. Paradise.

We found a dog park. Nigel, our redbone coonhound mix, had never been to one. He loved it. Lots of tail wagging and butt sniffing, two of his favorite pastimes. The dog owners sit around and chat about their pets, children and jobs. The poop bags are free.

So we survived our “off the grid” vacation. I’ve been back for over twenty four hours and haven’t turned the TV on yet. Can’t say the same for my husband.

Consensus: We really enjoyed ourselves and we’d do it again. Tomorrow would work for me.