Welcome to my blog Upstate Girl, (a.k.a Follow Your Bliss Part II), I am an independently published author. This blog is all about writing and the stuff that inspires me to write, the joys and obstacles that come along with the writer's life, and my fascination with the psychology of people and what makes them tick...the human condition, as is...and my love for words, playing with them and making sense of them...and I throw in a few photos from my acre of the world just to make things pretty...sometimes there are things I have no words for, only pictures will do.

*Copyright notice* All photos, writing, and artwork are mine (
© Laura J. Wellner), unless otherwise noted, please be a peach, if you'd like to use my work for a project or you just love it and must have it, message me and we'll work out the details...it's simple...JUST ASK, please.

Monday, January 16, 2017

My thoughts regarding "Batsof the Republic" by Zachary Thomas Dodson

A book—a novel—an illuminated novel—an art object. The attention to detail is simply amazing—I’m green with envy and loving it. This is the kind of book that one must take the time to look the spots off it—if you know what I mean—if you don’t you might miss something. It’s magical when a book is so well done, multi-layered like Russian matryoshka dolls and so full of a wealth of the story, a story within a story, within a story—a storytellers book. I will want to read it again before too long. There are many theories about what is real, what is history, there are possibilities of temporal loops—time bending-mind bending—the bats and maps, diagrams, letters, transcriptions, drawings, pictographs, symbols, descriptions, motivations—a sealed envelope inscribed “DO NOT OPEN”, and instructions inside how to read the contents… A book—a novel—an illuminated novel—an art object. It’s all good.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

My thoughts regarding "The Plains" by Gerald Murnane

Twenty years ago, when I first arrived on the plains, I kept my eyes open. I looked for anything in the landscape that seemed to hint at some elaborate meaning behind appearances. (P. 13)

And so it begins…this novel made me think a great deal about our own country—even tho’ I finished reading it well before the 2016 election results were decided, I was already well aware of the division between the coastal, urban areas and the rural areas, especially the open plains. You know, those “fly over” states in the middle—the Great Plains, the “Bread Basket” of the nation, amber waves of grain and all that salt of the earth stuff. I know there are some who look at that part of the USA map and think, “those red state people who love Jesus, take the Bible literally, and don’t believe in evolution.” Whatever. To each his own, they’re not hurting me none, and I mean them no harm. You’d be surprised, we are more than what we seem, more than anyone can imagine. Being from Upstate New York, I’ve seen a similar difference between town and country—Upstate vs. New York City. There are Upstate people who would love to cut off from NYC, many of the “us” up here resent the audacity of those city slickers trying to impose their highfalutin ideas on us simple folk in the great, lake effect, cold, white north—take that as you think best, it can go either way. The people of the Midwest and the people I bump elbows with outside of the realm of the academia bubble in the Upstate regions are pretty much from the same cloth. And they feel left behind, the forgotten America. Even though, I’ll never fit in with them, I do admire them for their honest, hardworking ethics. Even the ones who are a hard scrabble lot who don’t know better, they chronically do dumb things, and wind up doing time in jail for petty nonsense they shouldn’t have done. I always sympathized with the ones on the outside, even if they didn’t understand me at all, the ones who I befriended, tipped their heads with curiosity and gave up on figuring me out. I wasn’t a threat, just different. They’d talk, I’d listen to their stories. For as long as there’s civilization, there will always be differences, factions, groups, and each has their own ideas of how things are, and what is right—or wrong. See…this is what I love about books, they get you thinkin’ about stuff…even if the stuff has little to do with the book, there’s something about reading that turns on the brain to travel in and around…

The plainsman’s heroes, in life and in art, were such as the man who went home every afternoon for thirty years to an unexceptional house with neat lawns and listless shrubs and sat late into the night deciding on the route of a journey that he might have followed for thirty years only to arrive at the place where he sat—or the man who would never take even the one road that led away from his isolated farmhouse for fear that he would not recognize the place if he saw it from the distant vantage points that others used.

There were historians who suggested that the phenomenon of the plains themselves was responsible for the cultural differences between the plainsmen and Australians generally. The exploration of the plains had been the major event in their history. What had at first seemed utterly flat and featureless eventually disclosed a countless subtle variations of landscape and an abundance of furtive wildlife. Trying to appreciate and describe their discoveries, the plainsmen had become unusually observant, discriminating, and receptive to gradual revelations of meaning. Later generations responded to life and art as their forbears had confronted the miles of grassland receding into haze. They saw the world itself as one more in an endless series of plains. (p. 18)

Wow—think about it. Ain’t it beautiful—universal truths and all that—can you dig it? I thought you could.

The same landowner began to describe other influences that he felt late at night in the more remote wings of his house. He sensed sometimes the lingering persistence of forces that had failed—of a history that had almost come into being. He found himself looking into corners for the favourite pieces of the unborn children of marriages that were never made. (P. 23)

I spent some time west of the Mississippi—a friend and I drove 13 ½ hours on Route 10 from Houston to El Paso once, (that was enough.) I saw a changing landscape along the way, from humidity drenched heat to baked desert dry—a big sky, a broad expanse all around with the ribbon of highway cutting through, and then the shimmering haze of distant horizon—the horizon, the future, the place you’re trying to get to—or get away from—depends on how you want to look at it, I guess. I was far from home, and passing through, looking for something outside of myself. I hadn’t written a book yet, but wanted to, I just had to find what I was looking for out there in that horizon—that periwinkle blue future distance.

…the famous ‘tint of the horizon’… what moved them more than wide grasslands and huge skies was the scant layer of haze where land and sky merged in the farthest distance…talking of the blue-green haze as though it was itself a land—a plain of the future, perhaps, where one might live a life that existed only in potentiality on the plains where poets and painters could do no more than write or paint….a landscape that was wholly illusory…the zone of haze was as much a part of the plains as any configuration of soil or clouds…they esteemed the land of their birth for the very reason that it seemed bounded continually by the blue-green veil that urged them to dream of a different plain.(bits n’ pieces stitched together from P.27)

…an “art of the horizon.” (P.29)

Anyone surrounded from childhood by an abundance of level land must dream alternately of exploring two landscapes—one continually visible but never accessible and the other always invisible even though one crossed and recrossed it daily.(P. 36)

This obsession with explorers. Please don’t misunderstand me; it’s a worthy task we’ve undertaken. But that vision of the plains we’re all looking for—let’s remember that the first explorers may not have been expecting plains. And many of them went back to their seaports afterwards. Certainly they boasted of what they had discovered. But the man I want to study is the one who came inland to verify that the plains were just as he’d hoped for. That vision we’re all looking for… (p. 46)

It depends on what you’re looking for—the filmmaker who proposed to make a film about the plains—The Interior—it never happened, at least, not realized in a tangible way that was initially proposed—he was really a writer not a filmmaker, and got caught in the trap of expectation.

…I learned in time that I was considered by a small group to be a film-maker of exceptional promise. When I first heard this, I had been about to reply that my cabinets full of notes and preliminary drafts would probably never give rise to any image of any sort of plain. I had almost decided to call myself poet or novelist …or some other of the many sorts of literary practitioner flourishing on the plains. Yet if I had announced such a change in my profession I might have lost the support of those few people who persisted in esteeming me…A few of these men argued even that the further my researches took me away from my announced aim and the less my notes seemed likely to result in any visible film, the more credit I deserved as the explorer of a distinctive landscape…It suited the purposes of these men that I should continue to call myself a film-maker; that I should sometimes appear at my annual revelation with a blank screen behind me and should talk of the images I might yet display…No one afterwards could point to a single feature of whatever place I stared at. It was still a place out of sight in a scene arranged by someone who was himself out of sight. (bits and pieces stitched together from pages 109-110.)

He came, he saw—he stayed. If he left, something would’ve come of it.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Rumor has it they lived happily ever after...

Drinking from the Fishbowl, 2017

I finished it. Well, it was finished on 12/30/2016then the next day I added that “one more thing,” which you know always happens

So I’m just telling you now, it’s finished.

For the rest of the story...https://laurajwryan.wordpress.com/

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A Donkey's Tale...

I adopted Eeyore from EBay the week before Christmas...
but he didn't have a tail...so I knew that he'd have a hard time finding a forever home... He effectively breaks my heart every day...I love him!

Poor sweet fellow...I assured his previous owner that I would take very good care of him and make him a new tail...

 When he arrived in my mailbox that cold winter day the week before Christmas, I promised that I'd make him a new tail...a finer tail than he's ever had...

I asked him if he would like to stick with a pink bow, cuz now would be the time to make a change if he so desired...he seemed uneasy about change, so I didn't want to fool with his comfort zone, and found a pink bow that was just right. The one thing I improved on was adding a button...I guess Christopher Robin never thought of securing the tail with something better than that dumb old tack.

 A few quick stitches and it was on!

The moment of truth...does he like it?

YEEEHAAAAA!
That's one happy donkey!

Eeyore gets a new forever home and a new tail...

https://laurajwryan.wordpress.com/2016/12/28/a-donkeys-tale/

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Trespassers Will



I had Donald Trump visit in a dream one night—actually, it was very early in the morning, I had been awake, but went back to sleep. The minute I recognized him, I thought “This isn’t good.” (That’s putting it mildly, but I won’t get into the politics here.) Dreams are odd events, the brain is busy working things out, and my brain has been feeling “already too full” as it is lately. I’m sure the radio turning on and delivering the morning news babble added fuel to this murky muddle...

And it goes like this...

We (my Fred and I) were out walking along a country road, it was a beautiful autumn day, and there he was out for a walk too, suit n’ tie, raincoat, alone. We stopped and greeted him, the polite thing to do here... this is the country road.

“Not much to see here,” he said. “It’s nice, but there’s not much going on.”

“We like it, it’s quiet.” One of us replied.

He pointed to a leaf strewn dirt lane that led into the wooded area alongside the road. (It was pretty down there, whoever owned it kept it well maintained, there were mossy stone walls marking the edges. I imagined it to be a fine place to ride horses, although there were none to be seen, I knew they were around...or had been at one time and their spirits lingered.)  At the entrance of the lane next to a mailbox there stood a wooden sign on a tall post, although weathered by many years of exposure, it clearly stated NO TRESPASSING.

“I think I’ll walk through there,” he said.

“But Mr. Trump, there’s a sign that says ‘no trespassing’, you shouldn’t go there.” One of us said, concerned. The sign was steadfast in its demand for respect. (This is the sort of place that you must be invited to visit.)

He looked at us and smiled, he said. “What are they going to do?” he gestured to himself (in a now familiar way, blustery confidence that nothing will happen because he is who he is...Trump.)

I guess he’ll find out, I thought.

He walked on with a wave and a thumbs up, (so full of confidence that no one will mind that he chose to stroll through their land without an invitation.) We didn’t stop him because we agreed it wouldn’t do any good. I felt sad about it—not for him, but for the one he’s trespassing against. (We were raised to respect other people’s right to privacy—it seems not everyone cares about such things anymore.)

(Back in the day when such things mattered, Dracula knew that he had to be invited inside, but I haven’t kept up with what vampires do these days, so who knows...)

Then I thought, out loud “Cellphone coverage sucks out here.”

Maybe after this he’ll see to that.

I woke up and wondered in my current frame of mind... what the fuck is that shit about?

Yes, that was it...with some parenthetical embellishments necessary to untangle the frustrating murkiness and sensations that are part of dreams—this is what my busy already too full brain came up with while asleep. I rarely remember my dreams.

Why would I dream about this? Other than what this man stands for in my mind, a bully who will take what he wants, he’s all for himself, and doesn’t care who he stomps on along the way—the country road, the two of us, or the private property that he felt entitled to take a stroll through because he is who he is—and my concerns regarding personal space and privacy.

I know I trespassed from time to time in my childhood, little kids do that shit, just cutting through someone’s backyard, through someone’s woods or a pasture to get to where they’re going, being nosy, learning the ways of the world by getting into trouble because of curiosity, learning how to ask for permission rather than asking forgiveness. It’s part of growing up. I tried to be mindful of the land belonging to someone that I should take care, and I shouldn’t wreck it. Things were so simple then...now, not so much. I feel invaded a lot.

This dream also brought me to The World of Pooh, a book I keep on my nightstand for a quiet read...a security blanket of sorts...

Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet's house (image from The Disney Wiki) From the story In Which Pooh and Piglet Go Hunting and Nearly Catch a Woozle

THE Piglet lived in a very grand house in the middle of a beech-tree, and the beech-tree was in the middle of the forest, and the Piglet lived in the middle of the house. Next to his house was a piece of broken board which had: "TRESPASSERS W" on it. When Christopher Robin asked the Piglet what it meant, he said it was his grandfather's name, and had been in the family for a long time. Christopher Robin said you couldn't be called Trespassers W, and Piglet said yes, you could, because his grandfather was, and it was short for Trespassers Will, which was short for Trespassers William. And his grandfather had had two names in case he lost one--Trespassers after an uncle, and William after Trespassers.

"I've got two names," said Christopher Robin carelessly.

"Well, there you are, that proves it," said Piglet.

Well there you are. Maybe I’ll post my sign...Trespassers Will.

And of course, while doing my research, I discovered a band called Trespassers William...and because I love finding new music even if it’s old, I bought one of their records, Different Stars...although they’re no longer together it looks like the former members are still out there making music.

There’s so many layers in life’s journey...so much to learn...so much to see...

That’s my story today, and I’m sticking to it.


This blog is also posted at my Wordpress website...it'd be real sweet of you to stop by there and follow me...

Saturday, September 17, 2016

A work in progress...




I sez, "What writing on the wall have you been reading lately? I want to compare notes..."
I have a suspicion 'tis all, cuz these days I can't wrap my mind around what I comprehend. Things have been more than strange. I feel unsettled. "Everything's gone bat crap crazy," I sez, if you know what I mean. (I don't think you're listening.)

Have you seen it too? Heard it. Felt it. Smelled it in the wind. Tasted something not right. Something off. Spoiled. Rotten. Or am I just imagining things? Gone awry. Running scared. Jumping at shadows. My tinfoil hat has seen better days...'tis a bit askew. I've worn it a lot in various ways...trying for a better signal... cuz I'm seeing ghosts in the machine...have been for ages, but didn't want to admit it. Maybe I'm growing old before my time, cuz I've seen too much. Most likely, I'm wise beyond my years...cuz I feel too much.

"'tis time to go home," I sez. Batten down the hatches. Protect your own. Of late, I sez to you (joking of course) "Other people are Hell." That's the sad part...it shouldn't be that way...but it is. (For reasons unbeknownst to you...apparently.) It's time for me to step out of the way...'n duck. I'm not going to stop your face-first plunge into the cat box if that's what you want to do...I sez, "Not my monkeys, not my circus." I am going to be okay, but you, with your head up your ass, misreading the wall, be screwed.

Friday, September 9, 2016

The Jackalope and Eugene Riley... are They Related?


This amusing creature and such things of myths and legends always interested me...a big part of writing fiction is making up shit, which is part of the fun...The Jackalope has a small, yet significant part in my novel Drinking from the Fishbowl (which is closer than ever to being done.) I found this postcard when I was out West once a very long time ago, but darn it, I can't lay my hands on it as I've squirreled it away somewhere in my treasure-trove of crap that I've collected over the years, so I Googled it and found a picture of it on an amusing website that included the greatest hits of legendary creatures like Bigfoot and Nessie:

http://www.skeptiseum.org/index.php?override=home.php&subcat=Choose%20a%20topic

Not meaning to get your hopes up (or down if you don't dig Bigfoot) the book isn't about any of them, but it is about dreams and realities, and the mythology that is invented about people who become "rich and famous."

Eugene Riley originates from a place where the mythological Jackalope has been rumored to leap around in mountain meadows...he is on a life journey in which the reality of his dreams isn't what he had expected, he is a successful actor and filmmaker, goodness yes, he seems to have the golden touch...and yet, no, he has plenty of stumbles along the way that are less than glamorous. The talented young man is determined to follow his dreams and make them happen, and has overcome the obstacles that get in the way, and from time to time as he progresses into his career from a finds himself in good company with the Jackalope. The media makes up stories about him throughout his career in Hollywood, the truth mixes with lies and the lies become a bizarre "truth" that the inquiring minds want to know...when in reality, Eugene is an ordinary fellow, he's really an introvert, but a few tips from a flask or hits from a joint smooths the rough spots and he's good to go. When seen in person without the make up, the costumes, the lighting, the dramatic camera angles, and of course, good editing, he's not as tall as you think, and his eyes, although they are blue, they are not really that blue, and his real hair is unruly dirty blond curls. The Hollywood media machine is riddled with rumors about him, some of the most outrageous things are typical fodder (who is he dating, who is he dumping, look who he's been caught in a love nest with while he's married to wife #whatever, is that baby his baby, is his wife going to leave him, did he beat his wife, he's a drug addict, he's a drunk, is he going to rehab, he's out of rehab, did he have a relapse, oops he did it again, did he just die in a fiery car crash, did he get kidnapped by aliens, where is he now, is Bat-Boy his big brother? Seriously...if you spend any time in the grocery store line, you know the drill, this shit is crazy.) The fabricated "royalty" that grace the glossy covers of magazines are a cultural fascination that flows between fairy tale and comic-tragedy, it's so bizarre.

Why on earth would I want to write about this... because I wanted to explore the emotional side of the person living with this burden. How does a man voted "The Sexiest Man Alive" feel about it? How does the actor who doesn't win the Oscar for Best Actor feel about it? How does he feel when the film he's directed gets the "Two Thumbs Up" and wins Best Picture? There is a real person riding that Hollywood wild horse. Living with all the ridiculous rumors about his private life swirling around in print (and feels compelled to call his mom, Grace Riley in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and his best friend, Georgia Sullivan in New York City to tell them to ignore it, he's alive and well.) His reality is this, he just happens to have a really cool job doing something that he loves. People fall in love with an image that he projects, a character, a fiction. It's a fickle life, and he's very aware that the ride can end at any time. Does he wait for it to throw him off, or does he stop the horse, get down, and walk away on his own.

Eugene Riley is a Jackalope.