I have read that some writers listen to their favorite music while writing.  I like music, from Beatles and Beethoven and all through the alphabet, but listening to it while writing doesn’t work for me.  It has something to do with my imagination.  Certain musical phrases conjure up sights and actions, scenes and locations, in my mind–but they’re never the ones connected to what I am writing.

Classical music makes me want to sit back, eyes closed and “see” the patterns and colors the music shows me;  other types of music usually bring back memories from my past, and I find myself drifting back into the past.  Whatever happens–it isn’t writing!

I don’t know of any music that I enjoy listening to that doesn’t evoke memories.  I believe Stephen King listens to jazz–that would just make me want to stand away from the keyboard and dance.  Or at least sway around the room–wouldn’t let me sit at the keyboard with only my hands moving!  The Beatles?  Memories again.  Beethoven?  Pictures and colors, but my eyes would be closed.

And that is all for now–except to invite y’all (see my adoptive language is coming out) to read my new and favorite Blog space: http://www.iamvivra@blogspot.com

I will be posting more there than here, and you will be most welcome.

Keep Calm and Carry On



A friend of  mine, Gay Ingram, was the speaker at Friday night’s meeting of the East Texas Writer’s Association.  Her subject included Creativity, Writer’s Block, and Imagination.  She invited us to choose square of colored paper and write down what that particular color brought to mind.  This lead to a discussion about color, during which another friend asked “Do any of you know what Synesthesia is?”  I immediately raised my hand, saying, “Yes, I do, because I have it.”

It turns out that she and I have the same type of Synesthesia, and upon researching this just now I read that our type is called “Grapheme-Color Synesthesia”–we see letters and numbers as colors.  Not that we see them on the page–newspapers and books are still printed in black on white–but in our “mind’s eye”  we sort of sense the colors.  And they never change. 

I remember mentioning this to my mother when I was about ten years old.  I think I started the conversation by asking her if she saw my name, Vivra, as dark red as I did.  She laughed at me, but started asking me what color other names were–the days of the week, for instance, and I named them in color.  I told her, and was surprised that she apparently did not see the colors–any colors–connected to words.

A couple of months later, she asked me “What color is Monday?”  I said ice-blue; she asked me the other days, and I told her.  She asked again several months later–my answers were always the same, which both amused and amazed her.

I grew up thinking she was the odd one, because I was “normal” right?  It was something I thought nothing of, so never did discuss it with anybody.  Until a friend of mine mentioned that she hated classical music because the colors of music were so brilliant it gave her headaches.  It was then I mentioned that it was words and letters that I saw in color.  And it was she who told me the name of the condition–Synesthesia.

I’ve just looked it up online–apparently only about 1 person in 2,000 have the condition, which can show up in many different ways besides color in letters.  Color in music, sight-and-taste,  for instance.  It appears in a higher percentage of females than males; sufferers of Synesthesia are usually extremely artistic/creative, intelligent, and tend to experience severe migraines (which I used to–a lot–and a migraine headache is something I would not wish on my worst enemy.)

Lynn, my Synesthesia twin from ETWA, and I shared alphabet colors and discovered that her colors are quite different than mine.  I am going to paint the alphabet in my colors, so we can compare.

I also see colors in music–but in a more pleasing way than my long-ago friend who could not stand to listen to classical music.  I see the music in colored waves, the music of stringed instruments–various shades of red, depending on the type; reeds–anything from silver-grey to green; wind instruments produce bright yellows, and piano music is white-to-light blue.

There is some question among researchers that suggest a possible connection to mild autism.  That interests me, because I suffer from  Aspbergers Syndrome–I have “face blindness”, no sense of direction, cringe at close contact with people (hugs and such), all of which are symptoms of Aspbergers, which in itself is a very mild form of autism.

But more about that in another post.

Keep Calm and Color On

Unfortunately, unlike Edith Piaf, sometimes I do.  Regret, that is.  My friend Gay Ingram,  http://gayingram.blogspot.com/ commented on my last post, ending with three words that started me thinking, she said:  “Aren’t people strange?”

I enjoy watching and listening to people, and wondering what makes them do the things they do–and I actually think I have the answers (how’s that for ego?)  I should have been a psychiatrist–wish I had studied psychology–wish I’d done a lot of things.  Looking back on my life, and playing the psychology game with myself, I confess  there was never anything I wanted badly enough to work for it.  Isn’t that awful?  My mother, along with my school teachers and relatives, kept telling me “You could be anything you wanted to be–you have the smarts and the talent.”  My reaction?  Hah, I don’t want to be anything, so there! 

Mother was a professional dancer, did her best to teach me and encourage me in dance–I dug my heels in, didn’t want to dance. Thing is, the things I wanted to do were downgraded–I wanted to sing, loved to sing around the house–mother said I couldn’t “carry a tune in a bucket.”  So I stopped.  I wanted to write–maybe journalism or reporting–my teacher at the time said “Hah, what makes you think you can write?”  So I stopped.  In the English equivalent of high school, when it was time to think about college and a career, I told the art teacher, “I want to be a commercial artist,” her response was “There are very few jobs for commercial artists–why not be an art teacher?”  But I didn’t want to teach, so I stopped thinking about art. 

Consequently I didn’t accomplish anything in the way of a career, and ended up studying to be a  secretary, a very good one, I might add–I can write excellent business letters!  

I have many regrets.  Why did I let people talk me out of things I wanted to do?  I wish I’d studied more in the art line–I did take classes in interior design and textile design, but not enough to be anything.  In my now senior life, I look back and wish I’d studied psychology; studied fashion design; studied dance and music.  Regrets.   I suppose everybody has them.  But did I not want these things badly enough? 

My mother wanted to dance.  My grandparents had my uncle to think about–he wanted to be a pharmacist, so he was pushed through university and given all the help he needed,  financial and supportive.  Mother was “just a girl” and wasn’t expected to have or want formal training.  So, what did she do?  She wanted to dance so badly she searched around and found a special stage school that had academic classes in the mornings and dance classes all the rest of the time, and signed herself up for it–how could Grandma and Grandpa refuse to help her then.

I let people talk me out of things–maybe I’m just lazy?  In psychoanalyzing myself, I know I felt that I could not live up to people’s expectations of me.  As a result, I disappointed so many, and seem still to be doing that–particularly me!

Several really major regrets are to do with opportunities avoided.  One of my first secretarial jobs was “Girl Friday” to the manager of a chain of theaters in England.  If I’d stuck with that job (a job I liked), I could have gone on to be something in television–production, for instance.  But I got bored and wanted a change (which wasn’t for the better.)  During one of my later secretarial jobs, I saw an ad for a wonderful secretarial position–secretary to the owner of a major Formula One racing team!  Wow, the name of that owner is well known in Formula 1 circles to this day.  I applied, an interview was set up–I got cold feet and didn’t show up!

A few years later I applied for a job as secretary to the CEO of a well-known magazine for men (think bunnies)–he was the top man for the European area, based in London.  This time I did show up, and the job was enticing (no, I was NOT to be a bunny!)  The job description required that the applicant  be fluent in either French or German (or both)–I was not fluent, but did know a little school French.  I explained that should I be considered for the position, I was willing to take night classes to become fluent in either or both!

I received a letter from the gentleman telling me he’d given the position to a girl who was already fluent in both languages, but that I was his second choice–he requested that I contact  him after three months, because if his chosen applicant didn’t turn out at the end of the ninety-day probation period, I would have the job.

Did I contact him at the end of three months?  I’m sure you can guess the answer to that.

Keep Calm and Carry On


Earliest Memories

Do you remember your first ice cream?  Your first banana?  Or should I ask, “What are your earliest memories?”

At the end of World War II, rationing was still going strong in the UK.  Things did not become available off-ration all at once, but little by little.  Ice cream had not been available when I was very small; when it was finally,  my mother bought an ice cream cone and gave it to me, I took one bite, started crying, claiming, “It’s too cold.”  I spit it out and the ice cream was thrown away!  I can’t believe that now–I love the stuff.  Unfortunately I can only eat the sugar free (sweetened with Splenda) kind, and would give anything for a huge bowl of sugar-full chocolate/coffee ice cream.

And bananas–unavailable in England until after WWII.  At the age of four I was an avid reader (yes–I was reading at that age) and only knew of bananas from pictures of monkeys eating them, with the peel stripped down on all sides.  My mother came home with these yellow things and handed me one.  I had no clue as to what to do with it.  Mother let me puzzle for a while, then showed me how to peel it.

It was about ten years later that sweets (candy in the US) came off ration.  We’d been allowed about four ounces of candy a week–that’s not much.  I asked if it was true, I could buy as much as I wanted.  When told yes, I simply couldn’t believe it.  I couldn’t even imagine going into the store, seeing what I fancied, and buying as much as I had money for!

I think that’s why I am overweight today–I was so deprived when young, I’m making up for it.  Sugar was rationed, of course.  When we visited relatives and were offered a cup of tea and the sugar bowl, I was taught to politely refuse, or to take a very small spoonful.  This memory is still with me, and I shudder when folks I’m with ladle sugar into their coffee (I’m thinking of The Husband here, he likes coffee with his sugar!)

I have a lot of memories of that war–a few years ago, an article I wrote about it was a winner in a Writer’s Digest annual contest.  I’m changing one or two words and phrases, and will be offering it to more magazines soon.

All for now, thanks for reading.

Keep Calm and Carry On.


Political Correctness.  I’m  tired of it.  Racism, religion, feminism, safety issues–the works.

Thing is, all this PC-ism seems to go only one way.  We mustn’t refer to African Americans by the “N” word or we’re in trouble; but what about white-folks being called “Whitey” or as used to be some years ago “Honkey”–has any African American been in trouble for that?  Nobody dare say a word against Muslims, we mustn’t bad mouth their religious faith, yet they get away with disrespecting ours and other faiths.  Women are suing and complaining about sexual harassment, particularly in the work place–has a man ever sued a female co-worker for that?  I think the answer to all the above is “I don’t think so.”

As for the sexual harassment bit–if I had a dime for every event in my life that, today constitutes sexual harassment I would have no need to buy lottery tickets!  I worked on a USAF base–for over eight years.  If I didn’t get a wolf-whistle when I walked down the street to the snack bar for my lunch, I would think something was wrong with me.  If the guys didn’t flirt with me–simply plain flirting–I would think something was wrong with me.  I mean, it was all in fun–I would flirt back, and everybody knew nothing was serious.  Nobody took advantage of me–and I learned to give as much back, in the way of jokes, as I took. These days it seems, at the first hint of a flirt the woman complains and runs to sue.

In my opinion, what is lacking today is discipline, particularly self discipline.  We are becoming so dependent on being “looked after” we will soon be incapable of personal action.  A certain commercial that bothers me is the one for an over the counter medication to prevent heartburn–you know the one, “Don’t let heartburn stop you eating your favorite foods, take THIS before you eat and you won’t get heartburn at all…”; when the top and bottom of it is have enough self discipline to not eat the foods you know will hurt you. No, take a pill and eat what you want.  Safety issues–wear protective clothing when enjoying cycling, rollerskating, or playing sports–don’t learn to cycle safely, roller skate safely, or otherwise take care of yourself.

When roller skating as a teenager, something I loved to do and went to the skating rink every night for a couple of hours, I quickly learned how to skate without falling, or how to fall without hurting vital parts of my body.  Same with riding a bicycle, I looked after myself and took care not to fall–not too hard, anyway.  Today, children really don’t care how they play, because “I’m not going to hurt myself, I’m wearing knee pads, elbow pads and a helmet, it doesn’t matter if I ride my bicycle properly or roughly, I can’t get hurt.”

We are smothered with safety gadgets–instead of the self discipline of taking care of our own selves.  So we blame others for our mishaps–like the teen who died recently after drinking too may energy drinks (his mother is suing the drink company) and the woman who spilled hot coffee when leaving the drive-through at McDonald’s.

By the way, I am British–several of my American friends have referred to me as “Limey”–that is an insult, but Americans aren’t aware that it is–so maybe the next time I hear my son-in-law say “What can you expect–she’s a Limey” I should sue him for using a racial slur!

It’s all in fun you know folks.

Oh, I found my ear-worm song on YouTube–so I was able to learn the first four lines of it, it is from Disney’s Peter Pan.  I sang it to myself several times, and I think I might have lost it (Never smile at a Crocodile…)  Ooops, no not yet. 😦

Keep Calm and Carry On



First, the Ear Worms:

I’ve had this stupid tune, plus about 5 words of the first line of a children’s song, stuck in my head for several months now.  Yes–several months.  I just can’t get rid of it.  I’ve tried humming a totally different tune as soon as the ear worm pops up–doesn’t help.  The six word repetition:  “Never smile at a crocodile…”  and that’s it!  Why that tune, and why it’s stuck, I can’t fathom.  It could be worse though–could be any one of a bunch of hated tunes from equally hated commercials.

And now the subject of Revisions:

When I write–when I work on my WIP, I tend to over-revise by adding or embellishing what I’ve already written.  I can’t seem to stop, I become out of control, adding a word here, a whole sentence there.  Adjectives and adverbs become over-used.  In fact I do just what a writer is told not to do–I over revise, going back and forth through what I’ve already written, changing too much and not cutting out enough.

What brought this to mind at this point in time is my latest painting endeavor.  You see I’ve become obsessed with Poppies and am planning a large 18″ by 24″ painting of such flowers to go over our mantel.  To that end I’ve already done a couple of smaller versions as practice.  I noticed that I’ve spoiled them by adding a touch of white here, a touch of yellow there–more white and more yellow–oh, and a dab of black in the center–maybe a smidgeon of orange on the edge–right–there!  Darn, why didn’t I stop before I added that last few splodges of white?  

That made me realize that my art,  as my writing, can suffer from over-doing.  I need to make myself stop while I’m ahead.

Keep Calm and Carry On























I got to thinking about last names.  They fascinate me–where do they come from, what do they mean?  I’m not talking about true foreign names, or names that have obviously been changed from the original (foreign) name. I’m talking of odd names–names that are almost a sentence in themselves.

Two that come to mind are “Gathercoal” and “Gotobed”–both of which I encountered in the county of Suffolk, England.  Joe Gathercoal didn’t know where his name originated–well, neither did Eddie Gotobed; I’m guessing both names originated in Suffolk, who knows how many centuries ago.  The Husband mentioned the name Golightly, too.

Some names like Gathercoal and Gotobed seem to be rooted in one particular part of the country.  If you introduce me to a person with the surname Rimmer, I will tell them their ancestors came from the Wigan area of Lancashire in England.  The name “Whatmaugh” is from the Nottingham area–and I don’t think it spread much further than Nottingham, I’ve not come across another Whatmaugh family!

That started me thinking about odd-named people and their occupations.  In Liverpool there used to be a firm of accountants–the company name?  Dalley and Dolittle!  I knew a dentist–his name, Dr. Fillinger (and there is a dentist where I live now who’s name is Dr. Hurt.)

Several years ago, The Husband and I belonged to a local Bass (fishing) Club, among the members were the Hamm family, the Bunn family and us Beenes.  So we had all the fixings for a picnic–the ham, the buns and the beans!

Continuing on with the subject of names–how about the pronunciation of some of them.  Though I don’t know about the rest of the US, but in this East Texas area some names are not pronounced the way I–as a foreigner–would say them,  The first that comes to mind is Beall; folks around here say it “Bell”, where I would say “Beel”.  My mother-in-law (and a lot of others here) pronounced the town name of Carthage “Carthrage”–and how about “ShreveSport” for Shreveport. 

The surname Talliaferro is pronounced “Tolliver”, Ballow is “Bloo”.   Those are just a few names I got wrong when I first came across them.  We have friends with the last name Forsythe–not an unusual name at all, but it gets pronounced “Forsite”–which bugs me.  I asked one of the family members how he said his name–“Well it’s ForsyTHe, but everybody calls it Forsite so I just go along with them.”

Never mind–I get called Ms. BeenAY.  I suppose I should be like a certain character in a British Sitcom (Keeping Up Appearances)–her last name is Bucket, she prefers to be known as Mrs.  “Bookay”.

Since I am not particularly snobby–I will continue to be Vivra Beene, with a silent final “e”.

Keep Calm and Carry On