Category Archives: characters

more thoughts

i had a conversation with my brother this week.  i told him how anxious i have become with writing this novel.  even tho the characters are less like my family every day (and more like me), i’m still dealing with family issues.

universal family issues.  issues of self-worth, issues of abuse, long buried wounds and painful adhesions.

his advice to me was simple – don’t write painful.  write happy.

i snapped back at him.  i’m not interested in writing happy, i said.  i want to write catastrophe, disaster, the basic nature of people in crisis.

it’s true.  i’ve always been interested in disaster (dis-aster loosely translated is bad star) i’ve always had a plutonian desire for insight into the mystical working of things.  the occult, the hidden, the magic, the real working of the universe.  the god level.

mind you, i was never interested enough to become a practitioner in any discipline except astrology.  my mom rightly kept us away from ouija boards.  don’t touch that – you never know where a spirit has been.  we weren’t allowed to watch dark shadows either, come to think of it (thanks be to god i’m not addicted to soap operas).

spiritual laws are very valuable to learn.  they enable you to make healthy, advantageous, worthy choices.  but they’re not something you should practice.

and why, you ask, would you learn something if you didn’t intend to practice it?

because these energies are very dangerous.  mastery is a long slow road full of mistakes and damage.  ego comes into it, and your soul is damned to hell because you thought it was you and forgot to be humble in front of all that power.

i have been around thru enough lifetimes to see that for the trap it is.  nosir, no fame and fortune for me, no lightning rod, no straight tree that gets cut down first.  i have always striven to work behind the scenes rather than draw fire.  i know i’m not strong enough to fight the forces that are arrayed against you when you decide to be a player.

so i’ve spent a good part of my last 40 years studying one system of knowledge after another without being very proficient in any of them.  astrology, tarot, palms and feet, herbal medicine, bodywork, dreams, tantra, various magic traditions, cabala, divination.  all of these things teach you about the reality behind the reality you see.  the god level.  the level that lays beyond the mystery we call life, and the mystery that we call death.

i don’t have much trouble accepting my own death.  i can remember about a dozen past lives i’ve already been thru, and they were nothing much compared to the wonder of life beyond death.  of which we can’t speak because we don’t have the words or the memory to say it.  i’ve learned that death is a metaphor.  it’s the perfect ending to whatever kind of life you have lived.  it’s poetic justice, it sums up your life, it comments on your mission, your reason for being alive at all.  it’s your very own graduate thesis summed up in a few breaths.

whenever i think of a character i think of their death.  for myself, when i’m up against hard decisions, i generally take myself to my deathbed and look backward at the situation.  it clears up complexities wonderfully.  each of my characters dies the death appropriate to their personality.  mom dies of old age, judy is executed, frank dies of sex, rick dies by some violent means, his wife (name) by poisoned candy, cindy dies of an overdose, her husband (name) dies of overwork, gordon dies conning people, and laurie spins so hard her head comes off.  these are all metaphorical deaths.  “laurie spins so hard her head comes off” means she goes faster and faster until she looses control and self destructs.  that can mean any of a million kinds of deaths, and i’m sure the appropriate one will occur to me as i’m getting closer to it.

since all the characters are in fact – me – then i’m dealing with a whole lot of personality fragments all dying their own tellingly obvious deaths.  all deserving their just desserts.  i get to hand out punishment for being a hateful daughter, a selfish mother, a vengeful victim.  i have the golden opportunity to tear my personality apart, clean it off, carve new bits or carve off bits, and reassemble it when i’m done.  field stripping my soul.

the option of writing happy pales before this kind of intense therapy.  it’s the chance to learn so much more about me than i knew before the words flew out of my fingers (automatic writing).  and that’s probably why i’m so anxious.  i’m anxious because anxiety is the wellspring of creativity.  you create out of your issues.  you take the rawness of your life and you make art of it.  or you go crazy.  you laugh at it.  or you go crazy.  you turn the things that wounded you around until they are not your enemies but your best teachers.

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thinking about relationships

judy and frank (i’ve named him just now) don’t have much of a marriage.  she’s always afraid she’s going to do something to piss him off and he’ll want a divorce, but this is just her anxiety.  he’s actually devoted to her, but doesn’t get caught up in her worries so she thinks he doesn’t love her.

rick and wife (no name yet) are a blast out of my past.  he’s my ex the ax murderer and she’s me when i was living with an abusive asshole.  it’s going to be hard to write her convincingly because i was such a wimp back then.  she’s been trying to leave him since before they got married, but he keeps her insecure and holds her kids over her head.  typical abusive pattern, with fights and blowups, tearful reunions and promises, and then walking on eggshells until the next explosion.

cindy and husband (no name yet, do i have the luxury of time? no) hate each other.  she’s not happy with any aspect of her life, and this includes her marriage.  he is tired of her carping and suspicions.

gordon and laurie i’m not sure about.  it’s a neurotic relationship.  they love each other when sober, but when drunk they fight bitterly and both end up with bruises and the cops called by the neighbors.

and how do they all die?  i’m getting some inklings.

frank dies of his circulatory problem.  every time he goes over to mom’s he ends up fainting after sex.  several times he has to go to the hospital because he hits his head.  on one occasion, all his secrets come out.  when judy takes him home and they begin to reconcile, they try having sex, he faints, and she props him up while going to look up his condition online; he suffocates while she’s out of the room.  she is blamed.

rick and wife perhaps both die together.  gordon hates both of them and decides they should die. not sure how, tho.  not sure how judy is blamed for it.  what happens to the kids?

cindy dies of an overdose which is blamed on judy.  she finally decides to throw mom down the stairs, from which mom is rescued miraculously, and before mom can call the cops to arrest her daughter, she collapses and dies.

gordon dies of convulsions after an episode of menieres disease brought on by a music cd judy sends him.  laurie notices and does things to aggravate the problem.  judy is blamed.

laurie?  how does she die?  didn’t i put something down about her earlier?  evidently not.

here’s my newly picked name analysis

  • Your first name of Frank has given you a quick, analytical mind.
  • You are creative, versatile, and imaginative.
  • However, independence, positivity and the urge for action and progress are such strong forces in your nature that you find it difficult to control them.
  • You feel happy as long as headway is being made, but as soon as you are obstructed or your individuality and freedom of action are restricted, you experience an intense nervous reaction.
  • Moods of depression can result during which you become sarcastic and stubborn in your attitude toward everyone, especially to those in closest association with you.
  • While the name Frank creates the urge to be creative and original, we emphasize that it causes a restless intensity that defies relaxation.
  • This name, when combined with the last name, can frustrate happiness, contentment, and success, as well as cause health weaknesses in the solar plexus, and tension or accidents to the head.

and i’ve never done one for the spice yet, so here’s the other name i have picked out

  • Your name of Laurie gives you a very happy-go-lucky, spontaneous nature.
  • You see the humorous side of many situations and can laugh at yourself as well as at others.
  • This name gives you a musical, artistic nature and you would do well in any occupation in the entertainment field.
  • You have many friends because of your generous, happy nature, but if crossed you have a quick temper, although your annoyance does not last too long.
  • You do enjoy an argument and will at times say things just to get others going and then you sit back and enjoy the debate.
  • You lack system and order and find it very difficult to budget and save money.
  • Although the name Laurie creates idealism and the urge to help others, we emphasize that it frustrates you through a scattered and emotional nature.
  • This name, when combined with the last name, can frustrate happiness, contentment, and success, as well as cause health weaknesses in the nervous system, liver, and bloodstream.

i’ve got rick’s wife and cindy’s husband.

while we’re on cindy, one of the traits of a cindy is that they play with the spellings of their names.  i’ve noticed this.  cindy.  tsindy, sindee, cindie, sindeigh, cyndhee.  do the kabalarians make anything of this?  well, i’ll never know, because they only allow 6 lookups.  good thing my instincts for naming are good, because i’m not going to be able to rely on the kabalarians anymore.  damn.

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what drives them crazy

i’ve been thinking about the first conversation, the first chapter.  i had to get jim to help me figure out what it was about mom that drives each of them crazy.  mom’ll start in on each of them in turn, and only when we get to mom’s version do we find out that it’s been a very caring and considerate conversation.

judy – mom wants to know how often she’s going to aa meetings.  she throws her lack of education in her face.  she chastises her about the mess in the house and says that if she were still living at home she’d make her clean up.  she treats judy like she’s still a teenager.

rick – he wants mom to mortgage the house and lend him the money to cover his debts, and she thinks this gives her the right to control his expenses, like the money he spends sending the kids to private school, and that new car he bought that woman he married.

cindy – mom keeps bringing up things from her childhood, and comparing her unfavorably to judy.  she denigrates her husband because he made his money from blue collar pursuits, she criticizes her weight and style.

gordon – mom unloads all her unhappiness on gordon, who hates hearing how much pain she’s in.  she keeps thinking the other kids are stealing things from her, something he encourages because he’s the one stealing.  he also borrows money from her constantly, and depending on her mood it’s a gift or a loan, and she holds it over his head.

when it comes to mom’s side of it, the kids practically beg for her to comment on what they’re doing wrong, even tho she called to be nice and loving, they drive her to wonder where she went wrong raising her kids.

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birth order revamp

i feel like changing around my characters.  judy is still the oldest and gordon is the youngest, but rick is the second child and cindy is the third, changing places.  girl boy girl boy.  rick acts like the eldest anyway, and i’ve got a growing enmity thing going on with the two girls.  i was just thinking about it and something popped into my head, a vision of cindy getting something handmade and unwanted from judy, and picking something totally broken to send judy as a return present, but before sending it, she smears poison ivy juice all over it, which judy is highly allergic to.  and this kind of back and forth goes on all the time between then.  like wiley coyote and the roadrunner.

the dynamic is different because of the birth order.

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a friend of mine

a friend of mine was telling me the story of her fucked up family.  she’s got a sister who under the guise of concern stalks my friend and goes out of her way to make up family secrets to tell her friends, and offers to mess up any attempts my friend makes to improve her life.  she’s bi-polar.

i know a woman who had a baby and then her sister tried to get custody of her kid with their dad’s collusion.

it’s a screwed up world out there.  my family might as well be called normal for how bad we didn’t turn out.  i’m the only loser in the bunch, the others all have viable pursuits and paychecks of sorts and they’re successfully married and nobody’s killed anyone or been committed.  they’re all republicans, but what can you do?

so i figured i’d take the stalking thing and slip it in.  i think i’ll make judy the stalker of cindy.  she keeps trying to make up for the insult of so many years ago, and cindy takes it for a hostile act.  judy just thinks she’s not trying hard enough and sends her presents, puts stuff on her my space page, leaves comments on cindy’s my space page, gets mad at being ignored (or some other slight) and posts threatening things, write letters that she sends.  writes letters she doesn’t send.  it all adds up, and let’s see, how does she get pinned for cindy’s death, oh yes, i remember, nicotine poisoning.

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more character traits

i’ve been doing some thinking.  i’ve been ruminating on the characters for a couple of weeks now, because without knowing the characters, i can’t finish weaving the plot.

so, here’s what i came up with last night and this morning.

cindy and her husband haven’t had sex since he and judy were caught having sex at the wedding dinner.  he hasn’t had sex since then either, and cindy never lets him forget why.  he visits the strip club out of genuine need, and feels bad about it.  cindy’s husband’s relationship with judy is cool but wistful, because they really should have been the ones to get married.  they’ve spent 20 years living it down at the cost of their continuing attraction.  it was because judy had too much to drink, of course, and she managed to get pregnant at the same time, but got an abortion.  she hates cindy for blaming him for their never having children.

the strip club is going to end up being an important link.  rick goes to the club because he’s trying to do a deal with the owner or a manager, something to help him finance whatever trouble he’s in.  he met laurie there and that’s when it all starts between them.  at first he’s not aware that she’s gordon’s girlfriend.  gordon goes to the club now and then and watches laurie dance and drinks.  all the girls know him, sometimes he helps the bouncers out when there’s a problem.  cindy’s husband goes because he’s lonely, and falls in love with one of the girls even tho it’s hopeless.

there are a lot of side stories here, all with their own story arcs which i’ll get to writing down as the plot thickens.  there’s a good example of complex side stories on the wiki page about “meet the feebles,” a cult classic.

gordon is being used by the feds as an informant inside the strip club (because they caught him with kiddie porn), and while he’s there he takes part in the criminal activity, selling drugs, for example.

cindy is a prescription addict, and narrowly avoids a constant stream of side effects and overdoses.  judy has been writing a lot about poison, including obscure poisons, like nicotine, and by the time cindy dies she’s got an overdose of nicotine pending because she’s been trying to quite smoking and is double and fourple patching.  judy gets pinned for it because her dog ends up poisoned (xylitol) and the feds are on the lookout for the MO.

as for fratricide, so far i have gordon deciding to kill his brother rick for sleeping with laurie, and maybe cindy deciding to punish her sister judy for ruining her marriage, and rick wanting to kill his sister cindy for sleeping with his wife.  but i still have judy’s husband (name), cindy’s husband (name), rick’s wife (name), and gordon’s girlfriend (laurie) to figure out.  do they all try to kill someone too?  because at this point i have all the siblings deciding to kill each other, which i think is appropriate.  but who can the spice kill?  what’s the term for inlaw-icide?

and what about that marginal character, the employee of cindy’s husband who both of them send out to kill mom on different occasions?  and what about the federal agents?  and what about allen?  do we even need the employee hired gun?  we just know that he meets up with people in the strip club, whatever his fate.

it’s going to be so impossible for anybody in my family to charge me with exploiting family secrets.  these characters are so not my siblings.  my brothers and sisters are nowhere near wicked enough.  i had to use a whole amalgam of my freinds and enemies to construct these characters.  but boy is that fun.  for instance, i get to roll up and caricature every one of my 20-minute boyfriends in one person.

maybe i don’t need cindy’s husband’s employee.  allen is rick’s tenant, and there are the two agents.  why two?  for comic relief, i guess.  but then how does cindy go about trying to kill mom at first, and how does her husband try to kill her when he decides she didn’t do it right?  mister mustard in the bathroom with the mace.

can all the spice try to kill their sweetheart and life partner?  i can see why rick’s wife would, because she’s abused.  i’m not so sure about laurie killing gordon, or why judy’s husband would want to kill her.  maybe he can’t stand the noises she makes at night that keep him awake.  some little tic that sets him off.  a way to make her finally clean the house.  i don’t know yet.  all allen does is protect mom, his golden goose.  he’s not killing anyone, but he’s not above hanging at the strip club or letting gordon do him out of pity.

and we musn’t forget that great plot device – divine intervention, which is how mom is saved from these various attacks, and which becomes more and more obvious as time goes on.

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duh

i’ve been agonizing over how to get into my characters’ heads.  after all, they’re all me, different projections of me, and most of these have been externalized over the years so i don’t have to feel the ugly emotions they’re capable of.  which is why judy is anesthetized.  judy is supposed to be me, that is, the eldest daughter, and so she’s supposed to be autobiographical.  but all the characters are autobiography.  and it’s obvious to everyone except me, so it hit me like duh this afternoon that when i come to write mom, i need to write myself as mom, and when i need to write judy, i can take my kid as model.  i don’t have to reach to feel the righteous indignation of a mother wronged, and i don’t have to remember my teenage self to write  judy throwing a fit and getting all offended.

if i’m going to have feds i’m going to have more characters.  two federal agents.  i already have the truck driver employee of cindy’s husband.  i’m going to have the owner of a strip club, there’s an innocent bystander or two.  this could get difficult.

judy writes an ode to a fucked up dog, where she figures death is a release, and leaves it stuck in some book.  later the dog is found dead of xylitol poisoning and judy is blamed.

i’ve almost figured out that the youngest son’s name is gordon.  it’s a good name for a conman.  here’s the kabalarian take on it:

  • Your first name of Gordon makes you spontaneous and versatile, enjoying congenial association, appreciating the finer things of life, and loving to talk and debate.
  • You are strong willed and self-sufficient, not depending on others for encouragement.
  • Your desire for independence and freedom means that you seldom tolerate limitations
  • While the name Gordon creates the urge to be self-expressive and happy, we emphasize that it causes a blunt, sarcastic expression that spoils friendships.
  • This name, when combined with the last name, can frustrate happiness, contentment, success, as well as cause health weaknesses in the liver, bloodstream, and tension or accidents to the head.

gordon is at this point going to decide to kill his brother rick when he finds out he’s been sleeping with his girlfriend laurie.  and rick is going to decide to kill cindy because she’s sleeping with his wife name.  i’m not sure it’s going to end up like this.  there are so many to kill, and fratricide is not the only option.

Fratricide (from the Latin word frater, meaning: “brother” and cide meaning to kill) is the act of a person killing his or her brother.

Related concepts are sororicide (the killing of one’s sister), child murder (the killing of an unrelated child), infanticide (the killing of a child under the age of one year), filicide (the killing of one’s child), patricide (the killing of one’s father), matricide (the killing of one’s mother), mariticide (the killing of one’s husband) and uxoricide (the killing of one’s wife). See also siblicide

siblicide.  that’s what we’re dealing with.  do the siblings kill each other exclusively, or is there a round robin between siblings and spice?

judy, of course, is the only one who doesn’t kill anyone.  well, i don’t guess mom kills anyone, or allen.  but even judy’s laid back, peaceful husband kills someone.  he even tries to kill mom.  and then he collapses and his secrets are revealed in the ICU, and he comes home only to die because of an experiment he and judy decide to run, and she gets blamed.  but i have to figure out who judy’s husband kills.  as well as who everyone else kills and how they die at whose hands.  it’s already too complicated.  and i’ve only got another week or so before i have to start writing.

but i’m really glad i figured out how to write mom.  i won’t be writing actual mom at all, and i’ll be projecting all of the siblings’ attitudes.  they won’t recognize themselves for the portrait of me they’ll find.  it’ll be great.

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