Frostbite Nation

Frostbite Nation by Jacqueline Cioffa

There are few things I know. I have never seen or imagined some better, happier version of me from the future.

No matter how hard I squeeze my eyes tight, I’m blindsided. I can’t map it out.

I visualize serenity, the modern beach home, transparent, quiet and clean. Made of clear glass to see the silly sun rise in the mornings, and mourning moon smiling back at me.

Perched high on a bluff, roiling waves crash below in a somber rich rhythm that soothes the wild child’s soul. The sun’s restorative warmth cuts right through the glass hitting my cheek just so, the wide open invitation to rest tired weary bones, and rejuvenate the mind freeze.

A four pegged, barebones desk and an antiqued typewriter sit off in a corner facing the north star, clean, clutter-free and cozy. White, oversized sofas are inviting and available for lounging. Lazy day Sundays are not the pre-requisite or prescheduled, they are the norm and everyday order routine.

The expansive ocean is warm and inviting, and the sea breeze feels like home. Almost, exactly like being at home safe inside the bubble of four walls and imagination. The skin feels wet from the ever present rising mist, dewy and reminiscent of salt.

Vegetables in varying colors and shapes decorate a wooden bowl. Plentiful, there is no hunger in my home.

The night sky is almost black not quite a midnight blue. Silver stars and a happy harvest moon fill me with, hope.

Dare I say. Hope. How dare I?

SplitShire-6661

I see things differently eyes closed than how they appear. How can the world look so ugly, be so bloodied, hateful and cruel. Have we not learned anything after all these one trillion years?

How not to treat others kindly, how not to forget words like hate, greed, murder and rape.

Have we not raped each other’s souls?

Where do we go from hate to hate to hate?

It’s an evolutionary unevolved spin cycle, I suppose.

Take the word human, humane out of the equation. Throw it out to sea, it returns with with the tide pools, washes back to shore. Little itty bitty children play by the rocks, build sand castle dreams right there on the shores of our beaches and homes. Our children play on the same soil, the same good earth we call home.

Where are the pretty words like want, kindness, serenity, empathy, beauty and a sense of purpose.
     

Where did the plain, flowery words go?

Did they get lost inside the coarse sand granules, kicked aside, buried so deep under the Marianas Trench we can no longer reach them with small fingers and outstretched hands? They slip and slide out of reach, and our grasp gets harder to hold on to.

To hope.
Follow the rules they say.
Rules learned as children, yet cruel fate intervenes.
Are we meant to be only unhappy, bound and determined to be defiant?

Life is beginning and end.

End of what? Massacres, more blood, sweat and tears?

End of what? Massacres, more blood, sweat and tears? No, No, No.

End of what? Massacres, more blood, sweat and tears? No, No, No. Say it isn’t so.

There is too much pain, too much suffering in this place, too much hate.
The karmic scales are way off kilter.

Are dreams so far and away from reality I shutter to think, my fingers and toes numb from lack of heat.

As I sit in my newly warmed comfortable dream home, I cannot help but worry.

About the less fortunate, left out in the cold.

What future might they possibly see?

Do not send me some fucking quote, “how happy, enlightened you’ll be if only you practice A, B and C, when we’re already way past Z.’’

The future doesn’t exist, plain and simple. This second is it. This one tangible second and then poof its annihalated.

So I dream of nothing, and everything. A new world order where bloodshed is not on the menu.

Come what may, I will be gone before May.

The future and past moments already given away freely and without want. I expect less than nothing but hope to see flora bloom wondrous in late May.

I can’t help but wonder if fate has a different future in mind.

 

 

 

#Author Diaries ~ C. Streetlights, author of Tea and Madness

2

Author Diaries is pleased to welcome C. Streetlights, Gravity Imprint author of Tea and Madness.

 

C. Streetlights

After writing and illustrating her first bestseller in second grade, “The Lovely Unicorn”, C. Streetlights took twenty years to decide if she wanted to continue writing. In the time known as growing up she became a teacher, a wife, and mother. Retired from teaching, C. Streetlights now lives with her family in the mountains along with their dog that eats Kleenex. Her new memoir, Tea and Madness is now available.

 

 

 

12314696_10153493777754457_7757826515323767730_oWhat is your book’s genre/category? 

Memoir

Please describe what the story/book is about.

Tea and Madness is a collection of poetry and prose written during a time when I experienced a great deal of emotional pain, loss, as well as growth. In approximately 3-5 years I experienced the loss of a baby, sexual assault, debilitating depression, betrayal from friends and coworkers, memories of a rape from college, and severe anxiety. This collection is my way of showing how I survived.

 

 

 Now for the juicy, fun part ~ discovering more about what makes you, the author tick.

Please pick 15 random questions from Proust’s Questionnaire and answer.

0002-106861130

 What is your greatest fear?

Losing one of my kids. It is the worst panicky feeling when you turn around for a second and can’t find one of your kids. It’s the kind of panic that makes you want to vomit. I am absolutely terrified that I will lose them. My son was always very timid in public places, always stayed close to me. My daughter, on the other hand, is 100% free spirit and gives me the slip constantly. I feel like I need a sedative by the time we come home from wherever it is we went. It is a very hard balance to teach your children the proper dose of caution while out in public and not instill in them total paranoia – even if you yourself are feeling it. If I could strap my little girl to my leg when we go out, I’d do it more than likely.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

I have the inability to celebrate myself and my accomplishments. While this might seem like a small trait to deplore in myself, I have seen how it has affected my life and so many of my choices. It is because of this that I never studied abroad when I was younger and why I never attempted to submit any writing to contests or scholarship opportunities. It is because of my silence that I never spoke up in my defense when nobody else would defend me either. It is because I thought so little of myself that I relied on the wrong people to fill up my spirit’s empty places with even emptier words to make me feel whole. What’s worse is that I still struggle with accepting well-deserved praised; I still feel itchy with compliments as if I’m wearing wool sweaters. I am working hard to be gracious and say “thank you” without qualifiers. It is harder than some might think.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Entitlement. I grew up in a home that many would consider this hypocritical of me. My father worked very hard so that my mother could stay home with the kids. We lived in an upper middle class neighborhood with equally nice homes. I went to schools that were predominantly white with classmates that were just as fortunate as I was socioeconomically. Most kids were given new cars when they turned 16. I didn’t know of anyone who went without when I was growing up. When I talk about how and where I grew up people want to shame me – that’s the stylish thing today, shame – because I while we weren’t affluent, we were part of the Orange County beach community. However, none of my friends grew up feeling entitled to anything. I certainly didn’t. All of my friends had jobs from the time they were 15 and saved money to pay for college, car insurance and gas money. If we wanted to do something we had to work for it. And while my parents worked hard so that I wouldn’t have to work for college, they still made sure I knew how to work. I had a work ethic that meant doing a job well, not taking money unless I earned it and not until I had earned it. I was taking care of my grandma (who had Alzheimer’s from the time I was 8 years old) every Saturday once I turned 12 years old, from noon until 5. The kids in my graduating class went to top tier universities because they earned scholarships their, not because of how much their parents donated. And so when people look down their noses at communities like where I grew up and assume we had it all given to us while at the same time complaining they aren’t given enough to compensate, I have to bite my tongue. None of us expected things to be given to us. That’s the difference. The expectation that benefits of some kind will just be handed over really bugs the hell outta me.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

This was very challenging so of course I had to answer it. I would have to say honesty is most overrated. Everyone claims they want honesty in a person but in reality they don’t. What they are really asking for is to not be hurt. Nobody really wants honesty, if they did then politicians would be much more likable, teenagers wouldn’t be afraid of those in authority, and there’d be no need for most of our laws. In all actuality, what people want is to be seen for who they are and for others to honor the truth that is inside them.

On what occasion do you lie?

I lie to protect others.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?

My “baby weight” turned into “toddler weight” and is now “preschooler weight”.

What is the quality you most like in a man?

I really enjoy men. What I mean is, I enjoy talking with men and being their friend. I tend to have more male friends than female friends. I don’t know why this is, and maybe it has to do with communication style more than anything, but I like men who are straightforward and to the point. And I like men who can handle that same trait in a woman. I find that when I make a new male friend who is incapable of understanding my straightforward nature, we are not good friends for long. Even when I tell men from the start that this is my nature it’s as if they don’t know how to respond to it. So I really appreciate it when I find a guy to talk with who is not a game player and is capable of accepting the same from me.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?

I like women who respect other women and their choices. Not all women will be the working mom, or the stay home moms, or even become moms – and all of that is okay. I despise “The Mommy Wars” and wonder how on earth we will ever close the wage gap when all we do is tear each other down? I love women who support each other, congratulate each other, and are willing to jump in and help when and where it is needed. We are not each other’s enemy, why are we criticizing each other constantly? Why are we so catty with one another? I am astonished by what women say about other women – whether it’s about looks, clothes, their children, their housework, their partners, everything! The best advice I was given was to surround myself with other women “who get it” and I have found that as I build my tribe of women who get it, I am feeling more empowered, more self-confident, and more encouraged than ever before. These are the kind of women I like.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

My Southern California comes out strong here, I overuse “like” for sure. Are you kidding me? Rad and stoked.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

By far the greatest love of my life is my children. Everything changed for me the moment I held my son. He had a way of pursing his lips as a newborn and he looked up at me with his enormous eyes, his sweet lips pursed, and I just knew that my heart belonged to him forever. And it has been that way ever since. He and I both nearly died when he was born. He had fallen asleep in the birth canal and just decided that birth was not exciting anymore. The c-section had to be rushed because I had to be put under and so I didn’t get to hold him for several hours until after I had woken up from the anesthesia. Even now I can imagine the warmth of my baby boy lying next to me. Motherhood is terrific wonder. My baby girl was rushed to NICU soon after she was born. I thought my heart would erupt into pieces when I heard the Code Blue being called for her and there was nothing I could do. I didn’t get to hold her until three days afterwards when she was taken off the ventilator. My heart has been complete ever since. My kids are everything to me and they truly are my greatest loves.

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

I wish I enjoyed exercise and had the motivation to do it. Because I sure as hell don’t now!

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

When I was on suicide watch this was, by far, the worst misery I have ever experienced. It was several days of terrible darkness and emptiness inside me, something I have never experienced before. I had no noise in my head, no thoughts or words, just a void. Nothingness. Days passed, one to the next, and I had no concept of time. Sometimes I slept but mostly I stared at my wall. All I wanted, more than anything, was to no longer exist. I truly believed that there was no purpose in my living any longer and my family would be better they didn’t have to deal with me anymore. I have never felt such numbing lack of emotion.

What is your most marked characteristic?

I have freckles on my nose that never go away and get darker in the summer. When people spend time with me or get to know me, they seem to always point out my freckles as if I don’t know they’re there.

What do you most value in your friends?

Love. I’ve been betrayed and hurt so deeply I need friends who will love me. With love comes loyalty, faith, and all the rest.

What is your motto?

You can’t dance with the devil and expect to lead.

 


What motivated you to write the book and what have you learned about yourself from the process?

Tea and Madness came about because I had no faith in myself, to be honest. I knew I wanted to have a collection of poetry and prose reflecting a time period when I when experienced enormous pain and struggle. I wanted to be real to the reader and that life is authentically messy. Everything is extraordinarily packaged for perfection out in the media and women in particular are sent toxic messages that their lives need to be perfect. Even their struggles need to be conducted in a socially acceptable way. I felt driven by the truth I learned for myself, that we are all incredibly messy with living messy lives and that chaos is what makes us human. I didn’t want my book to be one more voice adding to the “perfection programming”. I wanted it to be safe. I wanted Tea and Madness to tell people, “My house is a wreck and my laundry never gets done either, but I’m still a good person doing good things.”

Where can we find your book?

Tea and Madness by Gravity Imprint author C. Streetlights is available in both print and eBook on Amazon.

12314696_10153493777754457_7757826515323767730_o

You can follow C. Streetlights on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Thank you, C. Streetlights for chatting and taking the Proust challenge. I wish you continued success with your writing and Zen life! 


ABOUT JACQUELINE CIOFFA

unnamed (9)

Jacqueline Cioffa was an international model for 17 years and celebrity makeup artist. She is a dog lover, crystal collector and Stone Crab enthusiast. Her work has been featured in the anthologies, Brainstorms, Feminine Collective’s Raw & Unfiltered Vol. 1, and numerous literary magazines. Living with manic depression, Jacqueline is an advocate for mental health awareness, and author of the poignant literary debut, The Vast Landscape, and soul-stirring sequel, Georgia Pine.

The essence continues because you do. Harrison leaves the door open a crack. I seize the opportunity to revisit my whole, healthy self a bit longer, live in the mystic beach home I adore, dream eyes open. Hope is our greatest asset. To choose hope against the worst possible odds is the true measure of life. ~ Georgia Pine by Jacqueline Cioffa

Look for her new column, “Bleeding Ink” with Feminine Collective.

 The Infamous Proust Questionnaire

In the 1880s, long before he claimed his status as one of the greatest authors of all time, teenage Marcel Proust (July 10, 1871–November 18, 1922) filled out an English-language questionnaire given to him by his friend Antoinette, the daughter of France’s then-president, as part of her “confession album” — a Victorian version of today’s popular personality tests, designed to reveal the answerer’s tastes, aspirations, and sensibility in a series of simple questions. Proust’s original manuscript, titled “by Marcel Proust himself,” wasn’t discovered until 1924, two years after his death. Decades later, the French television host Bernard Pivot, whose work inspired James Lipton’s Inside the Actor’s Studio, saw in the questionnaire an excellent lubricant for his interviews and began administering it to his guests in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1993, Vanity Fair resurrected the tradition and started publishing various public figures’ answers to the Proust Questionnaire on the last page of each issue.

3 Day Quote Challenge ~ Heaven Help The Weak

I was invited by the lovely blogger Stephanie Ortez (thank you), of Collected Essays of The Anxious Mind to participate in the 3 day Quote Challenge on the theme of sadness.

I have chosen not to write about the recent tragic events and massacres unfolding on a global scale, but to look back and reexamine where we have been. To ponder how many mountaintop peaks and ocean depths there are separating and dividing society.

How do we find our way back to respect and basic human kindness?

My belief and hope remains in the children. They are our best and only way back to love.

IMG_7434

Heaven Help the Weak

by Jacqueline Cioffa  2000

photo-1429615259109-d09b27d47fef

Please God I am asking for help

A little guidance

Buddha can you hear me?

Do we deserve hate for this lifetime?

Or can we find a little peace and happiness

Heaven help the weak at heart

For they are not weak, but sensitive

Let me be strong, yet kind

And always considerate

Let me turn towards poetry and words of inspiration

Let my light be white and clean

For I do believe

You gave me the gift of freedom

Freedom of choice

 

Challenge Rules:

Post three consecutive days.
You can pick one or three quotes per day.
Challenge three different bloggers per day.

 

While I’m honored to participate, I’m choosing not to challenge another blogger. These are highly sensitive times, where privacy and time to process personally is critical. If however there is a blogger (or two) who would like to join in and accept the challenge please do so on my behalf.

 

 

#BOOK FEATURE: THE PINK MARINE by Greg White Cope

I am thrilled and proud to present the hilarious and touching The Pink Marine by the multi-talented author Greg White Cope with Querelle Press.

 

7278536

​TITLE: The Pink Marine
AUTHOR: Greg Cope White
PUBLISHER: Querelle Press
DATE OF PUBLICATION: October 21, 2015

 

BLURB:

When Greg Cope White’s best friend tells him he is spending his summer in Marine Corps boot camp, all Greg hears is “summer” and “camp.”

Despite dire warnings from his friend, Greg vows to join him in recruit training. He is eighteen, underweight, he’s never run a mile—and he is gay.

It’s 1979—long before Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the Supreme Court marriage equality ruling, and with no LGBT rights in place in most states, and the Marines having a very definite expulsion policy in place for gay people when it comes to military personnel, will Greg even survive?

The Pink Marine is the story—full of hilarity and heartbreak—of how a teenage boy who struggles with self-acceptance and his sexuality and doesn’t fit the traditional definition of manliness finds acceptance and self-worth in Marine Corps boot camp.

PRAISE:

“A great story beautifully told—surprising, funny, courageous and inspiring.”
— David Hyde-Pierce

“The Marines got a great soldier out of it. And we civilians got a great author. This is the story of how, through pure gumption, a most unlikely Marine candidate rises to the occasion to show his true colors!”
— Jane Lynch

“Greg is as inspirational as he is hilarious—I love this book!”
​—Margaret Cho

 

3709752_orig

 

AUTHOR BIO:

A card-carrying member of the Writer’s Guild and SAG, Greg’s a produced television writer. He also steps in front of the camera and hosts. ​The Pink Marine is his first book.

His writing credits include HBO’s Dream On, Norman Lear’s The Powers That Be and 704 Hauser, Fox’s Life With Louie, Sony’s animated series Jumanji, and Disney’s Social Studies. He currently has a sitcom in development with Norman Lear’s Act III.

He writes television, film, and articles for publication. He’s a member of The Association of Food Journalists and James Beard (his major passions are food and storytelling).

He appears on this season’s Unique Sweets on the Cooking Channel.

He also shot a pilot for Food Network as host & cook for a food and travel adventure show and competed on Mark Burnett’s TV show On The Menu in 2014.

He writes articles for The Huffington Post and Good Men Project, and most recently his memoir of his time in the Marine Corps–The Pink Marine (available everywhere books are sold 10/15).

Veterans Writing Project and Military Experience and the Arts include chapters from his memoir in their print editions of collected short stories – he’s honored, and bought 5 copies for his mother.

His memoir, The Pink Marine is also being developed for a TV series by Rachel Davidson and Pamela Oas Williams (The Butler, The Amazing Spider Man ….) .

 



 

AROUND THE WEB:

THE PINK MARINE thepinkmarine.com

FACEBOOK: EAT GREG EAT https://www.facebook.com/EatGregEat/

EAT GREG EAT BLOG: Eat Greg Eat

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/eatgregeat

GOOGLE +: https://plus.google.com/+GregWhite/posts

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/eatgregeat/

 

Please find links to buy The Pink Marine from all of your favorite booksellers on his fun website www.thepinkmarine.com

 

 

Forever Betrothed To The Night

photo-1439902315629-cd882022cea0

Forever Betrothed To The Night

By Jacqueline Cioffa

The rotten apple bobs atop the pond scum drowning and dunking under the sweet, brown silence of murky still waters.

And me, I understand.

In tune with the dark, the death concept softens the breath in an instant. My heart does not skip nor quicken under the harsh white rays of a chilled, September sun. It is calmed and quieted, intoxicated by the still-birth possibility.

The black and grey gravel, foreign misshapen pebbles, and boorish stones stab underfoot. They do not annoy me; I empathize with the rough surfaces and pierced, jagged edges. Bleed, I bleed forest green and dream of Parasol queen ghosts walking beside me. Heart shaped brown and red leaves curl and quiver in the breeze, hiding from the menacing sun discoloring their emerald green envy.

The Goldfinch dances above skimming over tree top branches in a frenzy. Pausing mere fractions of a beat, milliseconds, something I find intoxicating.

The obscure does not threaten, caressing the skin like a careful, thoughtful lover fully awakened and in tune. The dark washes free my sins baptizing the polluted thoughts, brain obstructions. There are no edges, disciples or boundaries in the midnight hour. The world is less loud, less demanding, less  everything the soul is expected.

The spirit feels safest alone; there is no need for words, responsibility or white noise complacency. The night and I are very much in love, betrothed and besotted to none other.

For the night and I agree; the light is purest, more radiant, more blinding and most magical undistracted.

Home, the night and I are at home in each other’s company. No false niceties, polite oddities. Solace is fondly found in the sweet dew evening. The sky blanketed by black oblivion. Only a splinter of smiling, silver crescent moon shines lovely in the evening.

Streetlights, the whirring nuisance jolt me back from daydream reality. Children’s raucous, the humdrum beat of the screaming orange basketball as dirty sneakers glide across the asphalt leave me weary and maudlin. The anarchy disappears behind closested shadow curtains and forty-watt, somber, dimly lit yellow bulbs. I don’t mind the absence, longing to fit in. I am enthralled, mesmerized and enchanted by the underbelly.

For the night and I are in too deep, too enamored with the quieting, melodic air wrapped and entwined inside the mysterious respites of the eve.

I am forever betrothed to the night, in love with the moon and the stars as I quietly walk the day’s thunder.

Nonfiction by Mark Blickley

Mark Blickley did for me what Robin Williams did for him. He was the first published author, kind, brilliant creative person to encourage me to write. I love this piece for obvious and many reasons. Thank you, Robin Williams for paying it forward in kind.

To bleed ink from her heart.

photo-1444211353227-635db788ed4a

For those of you that don’t know me and most don’t, I led a privileged life for many, many years. Traveled to exotic locales on somebody else’s dime lived in Paris, Milan, London, Barcelona, Madrid, Cape Town, Miami, Hollywood, NYC… I was a fashion model who earned a living from her looks.

The bizarre, crazy existence was the difficult lifestyle to explain. It was a job with bonanza benefits. I never took myself too seriously.

When my fashion career was over I had to reinvent myself. Makeup artist, why not? Started at ten bucks an hour and worked my way up counting Mariah Carey, Anne Hathaway, Sandra Bernhard, Connie Britton as clients. I had connections, and lots of help. Again, I didn’t take myself seriously. I knew how to coddle the celebs, after all I’d been on the their side for years.

My spirit was unsatisfied, intuition nagged this wasn’t it. This wasn’t what your supposed to be doing.

I can’t say the precise second, the exact hour my mind blew. It was a rapid, out of nowhere burn.

When something serious happens to your health something so surreal and uncertain you dig, claw, and dig deeper. You fight. There’s a cosmic shift. Something changes in your core on a molecular level.

Nothing is ever trivial again, coasting is not allowed and everything about you feels strange. You’re different.

I found my way back, returned to my old life. It was fine for a time. Mediocre, but fine. The next break would not let me be the drifter, laid back traveler, not this time. Nope, I had to work hard. This time, I was the paradigm shell.

I had to shed the old, and let her go.

Brutal leaving your identity, friends, city, what you know, the familiar, your favorite pizza joint behind. It can be brutal or it can be something different.

It didn’t matter, I learned. I understood other stuff mattered more; family, well-being, sanity, gardening, solitude, writing, walking the dog. Basics became survival tools.

The voices nagged. You better get your shit together. Don’t fuck up. You’ve got one chance to do something good, something beautiful, something true, something with purpose.

I have always been a writer. It’s my DNA, in my marrow, my blood, my heart and my brain.

The words have always been there.

I wasn’t listening. I just wasn’t listening to them.

The irony is not lost on me.

Most days life kicks you in the ass and you do your best to manage.

Sometimes, indigo sky sunshine and karma throws flecks of silver star-dust your way.

When you lead from the heart, those are the best days.

Every little thing matters.

You can’t know when the stardust might shine.

I’m prettier today, inside out.

“When writing the story of your life, don’t let anyone else hold the pen. ” ― Harley Davidson

 story-of-your-life