Friday, July 27, 2012

I Love...Breaking Benjamin

Every artist has her muse. Mine happens to be loud.

photo credit: Vit Goff on flickr
The first song I heard by Breaking Benjamin was Breath from 2006.
...get away...please.
You take the breath right out of me.
You left a hole where my heart should be.

I play the song over and over, often five times in a row at the office, as I plod through Excel sheets. I only force myself to stop because I think its getting excessive – not because I get tired of the song.

How did this happen? I used to listen to ballads. Olivia Newton-John. The Carpenters. Richard Marx. I'm not kidding.

It's like I've been turned to the Dark Side, except I'm smiling just thinking about it.

Now my husband worries other parents won't let their kids visit if they hear the aggression in my music....

So why are the music and lyrics so infinitely inspiring to me?

A few weeks ago, I told my husband I could turn every Breaking Benjamin song into a novel. Maybe I was exaggerating.

But So Cold and Diary of Jane have both inspired plots for novels. Breath birthed a scene, as did Forever and Rain. Lines from Anthem of the Angels inspired two completely different scenes in two completely different stories.

My life does not revolve around this band. I find inspiration in other music. Skillet sparked a story about a demon. Shinedown inspired some individual scenes.

But nothing gets into my soul like Breaking Benjamin.

Here's the downside to my love of the band: Breaking Benjamin is on hold indefinitely. I'm going through withdrawal while the band deals with illness and inner dramas that may never be solved.

For now, I have forty-seven songs to keep me going.

Maybe I'll find myself a new muse someday, but for now, the one I have is the one I love.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I Love...Part One

I was thinking about how we get caught up in the negative. There are so many examples....

The pushy customer behind me in line at the grocery store who groans as I count my Euro cents. The guy who turns left in front of me when I have the right of way. The project canceled at work after three-quarters of it is complete.

It's just too easy to forget what satisfaction there is in the world.

So, I've decided to do an experiment.

At least twice a month, I'm going to write about something I love. Something that makes me personally happy.

Not necessarily something life-changing. No saints. No philanthropists. No major technological developments.

Just things I love. In no particular order.

It'll probably end up embarrassing....

Anyway, I thought I'd start with...wind.

Yes. Wind.

I love windy days.

I always have. When gusts tangle the hair around my head and tree branches sway back and forth, the energy around us is tangible. Something to be felt with every inch of skin.

Strong winds spark my imagination. Wind is potential. As a kid, being outside and feeling the strong breeze convinced me that there was more to the world than the obvious.

There really were ghosts. And aliens. And superheroes.

A child could be a spy or a detective. A dog might follow me home and be my friend forever. The rock star everyone was swooning over could fall in love with me.

Back to the present. Work has been strenuous this past week with hours-long telephone conferences every day.

Luckily, it's also been windy. As irritating as my 8:00 a.m. appointment might be, if I get to fight the gusts on the way back to the office, my spirits will be lifted.

It's like the wind blows the ability to handle things right into my chest and head. Wind is a rejuvenator. An upper for my soul.

So bring on those 8:30, 9:00, 9:30 and 2:00's tomorrow. The forecast calls for high westerly winds – with envigorating gusts of up to 37 mph.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Bookstores and Distractions

For years, I've almost exclusively purchased books online. Browsing a bookstore with two young distractions – I mean children – can be irritating.

Last week, my daughter asked me to go into a bookstore with her and her brother. Silly had been so long, I was delighted to say yes.

I’d forgotten how much I love bookstores…. My quiet tread on the noise-swallowing carpet. The scent of paper. The front covers seducing me to read the backs. The descriptions on the backs even more enticing.

That there are so many ideas, so much creativity out there, so much information. So many opportunities to escape from the real world.

In minutes, I wanted to buy twenty books, and that was without being able to fully comprehend the summaries since I was interrupted by my distractions’ questions every thirty-five seconds.

That the Erotica section was next to Science-Fiction did not help matters any.

No, honey, I don’t know why that lady wearing only black lacy panties has handcuffs on. (Public nudity is not verboten here in Germany.) Kids, let’s be moving on….

It turned out my daughter wanted to buy a diary with a lock on it. The only versions available were too girly for her taste. Unable to concentrate, I left that bookstore without making a purchase.

But one thing stayed with me as I walked out: a feeling of emptiness. A trip to a bookstore – without the purchase of a book – is a sad thing indeed.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


On Friday, I realized that if I buy my daily cappuccino from the machine at work instead of the coffee bar, I'll save enough for a paperback within three to four days.

The quality of the coffee so easily brushed can see the price of books has been on my mind.

At my request, my husband got me a Kindle for my last birthday. Since electronic versions are often cheaper than printed books, I convinced him it was a sound investment by calculating how many books I’d need to buy before it paid for itself. Knowing my appetite, he realized it wouldn't take long.

Another major advantage with electronic books is that I’m also saving space. Houses in Germany are generally smaller than in America. Despite bookshelves that reach to the ceiling, mine are lined two deep. And that’s after I gave away two moving boxes full.

If I really hope to earn money selling books someday, shouldn’t I be less of an El Cheapo when it comes to buying them myself? I'll expect others to spend their hard-earned pay on words I've written. Of course, I do the same for other authors, but not very often.

Because I’ve been brainwashed.

It’s all my mother’s fault.

When I was a kid, she was the thriftiest woman around. She could tell you the price of bananas or pork chops or strawberries and which store was least expensive during any given week. I can still hear her voice saying about some long-forgotten product, “Can you believe they want twenty-nine cents a pound?”

Books were never bought. I borrowed them stack wise at an old yellow church that had been converted into the public library. The library has long since moved to a modern brick building, but I can still feel the momentum of my feet on the carpet-covered wooden floor which sloped toward the former sanctuary.

J.K. Rowling was possibly the first to chisel me out of my cheapness. Powered by an addiction as strong as any twelve-year-old's at the time, I bought the hardcover version of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix as soon as it came out. I can still remember holding the heavy tome in my hand and debating whether I should spend that much on one book.

So I'm not a lost cause. I buy new books.


I'm not a lost cause, but – at least in a lot of ways - I am my mother's thrifty daughter.