Phoenix Fights

Fighting the FEAR, depression and BDP on a daily basis AND making my own bread. Bring it on 2016….


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STARTER GAIN

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Yesterday after I got over my little panic attack shit fit, I decided to make some sourdough muffins, and reached into the dark, dank, depths my fridge for my starter.

Having not used it for a good six months, the bakers amongst you will not to surprised to hear that it looked a little grey, with about a centimetre of brackish looking liquid floating on top, so I took the lid off and gave it a sniff.

God, it smelled absolutely rank!  But I know it’s meant to be a bit funky to give the bread that lovely tang, so I give it a quick stir then add equal amounts of flour and water and put it on top of the fridge, where it is usually, for some reason, quite warm and left it overnight.

When I managed to drag my arse out of bed today, I went to have a look at it.

It had barely moved, let alone doubled in size, only one or two bubbles had appeared to break the surface, and it seemed to be separating again.

Hmm.  This isn’t promising….

So I added another tablespoon of flour, an equal amount of water and mixed it all up again.

I then got paranoid about how crusty the plastic tub it was kept in had gotten, so tipped it into a bowl, washed and dried said container, put it back in again and put it close to, but not touching the radiator, and left it there to recover it’s va va voom.

An hour later?

Nada.  

Well maybe it had farted up just a couple more bubbles, sighed and collapsed back down again but it was very hard to say.

I search the internet for advice and inspiration, and surprise, surprise I’d done the wrong thing.

‘The dark liquid is a form of naturally occurring alcohol known as hooch (yes it’s alcoholic, wish I’d known that before I got started….), this is harmless but does need to be poured off and discarded prior to stirring and feeding your starter’

Shit. But the teacher from my bread making course told me to mix it in?

And there, on another bread making forum, it is in black and white:

‘The hooch is perfectly normal, just mix it in….’

Ha!  See! Bloody, scare mongering wankers.

‘…if you culture is too dry, and pour it off it it’s too wet.’

??????

I look at it again.  It stared back moonily, all pallid and lethargic.

Huh, I know how that feels.

I continue to scout around on t’internet and find a remedy equivalent to the kiss of life for stinky glop, so then I halved it, fed it again, then grabbed my phone to set an alarm so I would remember to do it once more before bedtime.

Then….

….I thought ‘Fuck it’.

Maybe like me, it need to get it’s shit together in it’s own good time.

Some things just can’t be rushed.

Let’s hope it doesn’t need 18 frigging months plus, like it’s mother…..

 


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MISSION ABORTED

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Today was my first day volunteering as a kitchen worker for a charity.

I’d requested a local branch, but the only post available was in town, so whilst inconvenient, I thought it would be alright.

You wouldn’t think it would take very long to get anywhere in London, would you, what with all the buses, trains, tubes and trams at our disposal would you?  

But I practically have to use pretty every mode of transport available to get to a tube, let alone to the venue, and yes, you’ve guessed it, I missed two buses and found myself, once again, tardy for the party.

And then the panic set in.

The shaking.

The dry mouth.

The heart palpitations.

The stomach churning with fear.

The gremlin’s voices in my head.

‘How can you have missed it?  You should have set off early just in case, stoopid!’

‘There isn’t another one for at least 20 minutes now.  You’re going to be at least half an hour late, how embarrassing!

‘Late on your first day. They’re going to love you!’

And they laugh, and jeer and cackle, hysterical with mirth.

‘Yes, they’ll be falling over themselves to offer you training, oh and maybe permanent employment, probably a directorship – not!’

‘I bet they’ll leave you with all the dishes tonight and it will serves you right!’

‘Can you picture their faces when you walk in now?’

I can.  

Disgusted, angry, exasperated.

My heart skitters even faster now, and I’m frozen to the spot.

‘Are you OK?’

A young guy touches me on the arm, his face concerned.

I start, and smile, trying my hardest to look, well, normal.

‘Yes, I’m fine, I just remembered something I forgot to remember!  I mean i forgot…I….’

He laughs, ‘I know what you mean!’ and walks on, then glances behind him looking directly at me.

‘Look, you’re attracting attention!  Go inside!  You look like a raving lunatic!  Go home!’

I head for the door, push the key fumblingly in the lock, stumble inside and slump against it, my heart hammering in my chest.  

I’ll wait in the warm, just until the next bus arrives.

‘Who are you trying to kid?’  

‘You can’t go now!’

‘Stay home, it’s not like they’re even paying you!’

‘They’ll hate you whether you turn up or not now, It’s not safe, bail!  BAIL!’

So instead of helping others help needy folk, I’m sat here typing this, my face burning with shame and humiliation.  I sent an email, apologising profusely, and the kindness and understanding in their response only make me feel worse.

How the hell am I to set up my own business if I can’t even catch a bus without freaking out?

How will I get through any job interview process when I’m like this?

How I am going to earn a living?

How will I survive?

The gremlins have stopped their noise for now.

But, just out of the corner of my eye, I see them smile.

Oh how they smile.

 

 


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DID YOU MISS ME?

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I did my age old trick today,and bailed on meeting up with someone.

And I think he’s pissed off with me.

We had planned to go to a market about 15 miles away and I had suggest going early, but he wanted to play it by ear as it’s Sunday and he wanted a lie in.  So, by the time we arranged a time, and I got on the road, the traffic was hellish.

Presumably down to Christmas shoppers.

Fuck people, it’s mid November!  What’s the rush?

So I’m sitting there, getting rather irate as I go into the old ‘first, second, horn’ routine as Homer Simpson would say, and the ‘let’s cancel’ dialogue starts to play out in my head.

Well I say dialogue, but it’s more of me justifying it and the other me agreeing, so it’s not exactly a debate.

It’s that ‘bad parent’ colluding with the ‘child’, as Aunty C would say.

It’s goes something like this:

Child me:   Look I’ve been sat in this traffic for half an hour and was meant to be there by now, it’s going to take me at least another hour, I’ll only be at the market for a couple of hours, then back on the road to face this hell again!

BP me:      You’re right, it’s a total waste of time!

Child me:   And the amount of petrol I’m spunking away!  I’m not working y’know and can’t afford to waste money like this.

BP me:      That’s a very responsible attitude.

Child me:   David won’t mind, Anna is with him; they won’t miss me, and I would have felt like a bit of a gooseberry anyway.

BP me:      And imagine if you couldn’t get a parking space? They might all be gone by now, it is nearly afternoon.

Child me:   I know!  This is all David’s fault, so he can’t blame me for not coming!

BP me:      Also, your old boss doesn’t live that far from there imagine if you bumped into him!

Child me:   I’d sooner not thanks.  Do you think he will mind?

BP me:      I doubt it, but give him a call and see what he says.

So I do.  And of course he says don’t worry about it, the market isn’t all that and he’s fine with me turning around and heading for home.

Which I do.

But by the time I get back an hour later and make a cup of tea, I feel like a right lemon because I’m sat there thinking ‘What am I going to do with the rest of my day?’

As if I’d stayed in the car and toughed it out, I would have been there by now, wandering around with Dave and Anna, having fun and a bit of banter, scoffing street food and probably finding a few bargains there to boot.

I drop Dave a text asking him if they’re having fun and I’m met with stony silence.

He might not have got it.

He might be busy.

He might not have a signal.

But I don’t think that’s the case.

I’m puzzled. Why would he care? It’s not like I’ve left him on his own like Billy-no-mates, he has his girlfriend to wander around with so I haven’t sent him there alone on a fool’s errand then stood him up?

Then the penny dropped that maybe it’s not that simple.

Sometimes couples get bored with one another or they have a spat, and seeing an ‘outsider’ can break that divide and bring them back together.

I hadn’t seen Anna for ages and maybe she was looking forward to catching up with me.

Maybe my view of myself, i.e. a sad old tag along to their perfectly united two isn’t quite how they see things?

Maybe they, shock horror, actually enjoy my company?

Plus, the biggest realisation of all is that when I do this I make myself dispensable because in the end, people don’t expect me to turn up, miss me when I don’t, or think to invite me to anything again.

Or if it does occur to them, they dismiss it because they think I will cancel yet again.

And I wonder why I end up lonely, when the reason is that I do this all the time, i.e. if the person i am meant to be meeting is not alone, I think it’s OK to bail.

And now I’m sat on the sofa bored, wondering whether I can face another 9 hours in front of the TV alone.

I get it now.

I know this is down to my illness and that when I’m having a bad spell, everything is an anti climax and that’s what makes me have such a ‘can’t be bothered’ attitude.  But on the rare times that I have forced myself turn up against my will, I’ve usually surprised myself and had a good time after all.

Lesson learned.

I forgive myself.

But I’m going to try really hard not to do this again.

Then, they’ll miss me when I genuinely can’t make it.  And hopefully, keep inviting me to stuff.

Namaste x


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RETURN OF THE MAT

Today, for the first time since my rather traumatic retreat in Italy, I went to attend a formal yoga class.

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I had decided to do this because my home practice was uninspired, ad hoc and always being interrupted by the postman, plus if I’m going to teach this for a living, I’d like to do lots of different styles before I decide what it is I want to teach rather than have it dictated to me.

I set out in good time (unusual for me) and got there early, which was just as well as the studio was packed.  

I then made myself very popular by holding up the queue by paying with plastic whilst everyone behind me was trying to appear patient and Zen like, when they were in fact bristling with suppressed frustration and impatience whilst the poor little pixie on the desk stared at the bank machine willing it to get a move on, whilst minutes ticked by, closer and closer to the start time, which I have to admit, did bring a wicked little smile to my face.

It was going to be yoga Jim, but not as I know it.  

It was going to be the kind of yoga class I used to go to.

The other tell tale sign was when I clapped eyes on the teacher.  

As soon as I saw him, one (rather uncharitable) word popped right into my head and stayed there for the duration of the lesson:

Shagger.

As in, the kind of teacher that ends up shagging his students.

A bit like my old ‘Guru’ probably, but younger and more attractive. 

But with a flaw.  

They usually have a minor flaw these guys, just one tiny thing that stops them from being model perfect (biggish nose, slightly receding chin, not very tall), so they hurl themselves into their practice, and work until their bodies are Greek god like, then, and only then do they feel that they are entitled to plunder their salivating, hero worshipping, downward dogging customer base.

And shaggers usually teach competitive yoga.  

Not deliberately you understand, but their classes nearly always attract gym nazis that wear tight ‘Sweaty Betty’ lycra, a stony ‘I’m better at this shit than you’ expression, and have a very determined air about them as they crowbar their poor bodies into the most excruciating contortions, usually before they are ready to do so.

So this was going to be quite a challenging class.

Bring it on.  I’ve spent so many months practising in a body-kind, gentle, responsible fashion, it will be kind of nice to tax myself a bit again.

Pretty soon some mystical cum ‘chill out’ music fills the air, and as the practice begins, I realised that I can’t understand a single thing my heavily accented teacher says, and certain tossers that insisted on breathing very loudly and theatrically didn’t exactly help.  

And as I was at the back of the class, I couldn’t see what he was doing either.

But you know something?

It didn’t matter.

Because I just followed the others and, if nothing else, in the last couple of years, I’ve learned to feel free enough in any yoga class to do my practice at my own pace, leave out the bits that don’t suit me and not participate in the inevitable ‘pissing contest’ when it comes to headstands, lotus’, back bends and other such difficult poses.

A few of the ‘show boaters’ did cast me a few puzzled glances on noticing me breaking from protocol, as if waiting for me to grab a yoga belt and start flagellating myself with it in shame and contrition. 

But the teacher said not a word, nor did he have to come over and correct me at all.

And I was one of the few people who wasn’t trembling with excessive effort as I transitioned from pose to pose.

But I enjoyed it.

It wasn’t perfect; old Shagger didn’t ask about injuries or tell us to go at our own pace, I couldn’t hear a bloody thing of course, and the person inches in front of me had the most minging feet. 

But I loved the thing I’d been missing most of all.

Practising, breathing and chanting with others.

Because I’m far from perfect either, and whatever style we practice, and however seriously we take it, and whatever reason we do it, we are all on the same journey, whether we know it or not.

And it was nice to share mine with someone other than two very mischievous, intrusive, bombastic cats and a horny postman.

So, as that other muscular, showboating shagger used to say, “I’ll be back”…..

Namaste x

EAR WORM No. 16 LENE LOVICH – The Night (aka HARPING HYPOTHALAMUS)

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Most nights, I don’t get to sleep until the wee hours, and lay twisted up with fear of what the following day might bring.

‘Wooooo,’ howls my hypothalamus from a place where it is seemingly Halloween all year round, ‘beware sleep as it will only deliver you to the new day, where you will be eaten by a sabre toothed tiger, trampled by a mammoth or burned on the pyre by the rest of your tribe. You know they hate you.  They’re talking about you now you know; I can hear them. They hate your new puma skin and say your cave’s a mess.  Woooo….’

Hypothalamus, it’s not the stone age anymore, you twat. I’m lying in a bed, here?!

‘Woooo, do not close your eyes, there is still much danger,’ it insists, getting into it’s stride ‘those girls at school can’t wait to beat the shit out of you, and they’ll be there in assembly, right behind you, spitting in your hair and jabbing you in the back with a ruler, then they’ll get you at break time.  And there’s no point in running home and expecting sanctuary ‘cos your Mum with scream at you, make you feel like shit for being so weak, and send you right back, and then….’

Hypothalamus, I’m 50! I don’t go to school anymore, and my Mum is dead! What the fuck is your problem?

‘Wooo,’ it insists ‘beware the night, as it will surely bring the day where….’

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Where what? I sleep late, stay in, eat too much, lie on my bed with the cats and watch ‘Real Housewives’?

It is silent for a while but then creeps back just as I am nodding off.

ooooooooo,’ it keens softly only adding to it’s menace, ‘you know that you can’t stay in that cave forever.  And when you go out, such dangers and cruelties await you, the like of which you have never seen. You think you had it bad as a teenager? Just wait and see what the world has in store for an out of work, menopausal depressive with a bad reputation and a mob of ill wishers just waiting for you to trip so that they can fall upon you, spit in your face and tear your throat out. Night, fucking, night.’

No one can say that the ancient brain is rational, but in the cold, wee hours of the morning, it ain’t half convincing.

But I think I have turned a bit of a corner this morning.

I think.

I’m not going to promise anything or make any elaborate claims, as you’ve heard it all before, but I do feel that I finally know what has been going on for me. As in someone who has actually been slapped around the face, rather than remembering it in the long distant past or fearing it in an uncertain future.

And I’m hoping it might have woken me up.

My cheek stings, my neck aches and a white handprint emblazons my cheek.

But the day is fine, the cats are purring, and as yet, I see no monsters out there.

Only trees, people and the occasional fox slink past, it’s fur burnished orange in the Winter sunlight.

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Namaste x


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Daily Prompt: CRACKED ACTOR

‘On the interview show Inside the Actors’ Studio, host James Lipton asks each of his guests the same ten questions. What are your responses?’

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On cold, grey days like this, when all I see is doom, gloom and Christmas looming, these little prompts really are a blogger’s life line….. 

On with the questions:

1. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE WORD?

Now this is a difficult one, rather like choosing your favourite cake, wine or HBO programme….

I love words that are so descriptive, they can do it all, and then some, on their ownsome.

Words like sumptuous, malevolent, and a particular favourite, exquisite.  If someone tells you that a person/dress/performance was exquisite it tells you everything you need to know about that person/thing/experience and you can see it clearly in your mind’s eye.

A more economical word that I loved to use in my scarier, Queen Bitch days when was pissed off with someone/something, was evidently.

Sounds innocent, doesn’t it?  But this simple four syllable term, phrased and intoned in the right way can chill the offending person right down to the bone.

An example:

Your Partner – “Oh, I’m so sorry, I thought we said 8pm not 7.30pm, but anyway it’s only just started raining, your hair looks lovely all curly like that and hey, I’m, erm, here now!’

You, with soft, cold menace – ‘Evidently’

Tradesman – “Well it didn’t turn out quite how you expected luv, but we can do so much, you can cover it up with a picture, and my boys did the best they could!”

You, in clipped tones, with excoriating scorn, and a slighly raised eyebrow – ‘Evidently’

And so on.  Help yourself, I’m sure you’ll get as much pleasure from it as I have! 🙂

I also love plenty, as it is such a comforting, reassuring, generous word without implying greed.

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2. WHAT IS YOUR LEAST FAVOURITE WORD?

I know I run the risk of offending people here, but I have to be honest, I absolutely loathe the use of the ‘word’ ‘anyways’.

For a kick off, it’s an adverb and shouldn’t be used in the plural, secondly it just sounds so wet and passive aggressive because whenever I’ve heard it, it’s being used by someone who thinks the other person is being unreasonable and/or talking shit and they want to change the subject.  So instead of saying ‘You’re talking absolute bollocks’ they sigh, roll their eyes and say ‘…well, anyways….’ 

Just hearing said out loud makes my arse clench with suppressed rage, and I have to fight the urge to grab them by the throat and scream, spraying their face with spittle, ‘The word is ANYWAY!  A-NY-WAY!’

I have no idea why it riles me so much.

It’s especially annoying when men use it (?!) and a particular ‘friend’ of mine now makes a point of saying it as often as possible whenever we meet to get a rise out me.  For my part, I refrain from letting him see even a flicker of my mounting irritation, but have to excuse myself and go to the Ladies, where I can fall to my knees, howl with anguish and claw at the tiles for five minutes before composing myself, making use of the vending machine and dropping a tampon in his beer by way of revenge. 🙂

WHAT TURNS YOU ON CREATIVELY, SPIRITUALLY OR EMOTIONALLY?

Creatively

Authenticity, every time.  People who are being who they really are, and create great stuff because that’s what comes out of them, and not because they are trying to sell more records/books, get more press, or make people like them.   People who are focussed on expressing themselves rather than on their potential income or popularity.

For example, Amy Winehouse was absolutely, 100%, the real deal, amazingly talented and innovative, and did everything she could to keep herself to herself and avoid the press, who, because they found her lifestyle shocking, stalked her mercilessly and drove her to an early grave.

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Then there is Mylie Cyrus the home grown Disney Princess, who was moulded into a career of being a clean cut girl next door, has yet to do anything musically to make me (or anyone else that I can see) sit up straight and listen, so is now jumping around in front of the world’s media like one of those eejits who goes to the Running of the Bulls, flashing her labia, dry humping anyone that stands still for five minutes, desperately trying to shock in the hope that the resulting notoriety keeps her famous and in the money instead of working on her ‘talent’.  Someone ought to tell her that the press won’t go away when she wants some privacy and she may live to regret baiting them like this.

And that is the difference between a star and a celebrity.

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And no matter how drunk or drugged poor, vulnerable Amy got, or how many times she fell over in the street, I don’t ever think that we ever got to see her minny, which let’s face it, is how it should be.

What was I saying?  Oh yes, and individuality and innovation!  I love to hear a track on the radio or put down a book and think ‘Who the hell was that? They are amazing, I want more!’  and then hunt their back catalogue down.  And one day I would love to produce something that will make others say that about me. Fat chance, but no harm in wishing, hey?

Spiritually

Tolerance, acceptance and non judgement (says Ms Tolerance herself – ha!).  Truly spiritual people do not spout rules, dogma or threats at others, they share their knowledge when asked, work quietly through their karma, try not to let the mind-monkeys get to them and help others along the way, no matter what their religion, if and when they can.

Emotionally

Honesty.  Simple as that.

WHAT TURNS YOU OFF?

Oh God, where to start?

Usually people.

People who spit in the street, eat chicken on the bus and hurl the bones everywhere, people who chat/text/eat/drink loudly in the cinema and kick the back of your seat, Jeremy Kyle, snotty egg whites, intrusiveness, people who talk loudly on the mobiles/cell, attention seekers, fakes, ‘celebrities’, cruelty to kids and animals, people who yell at their kids in the street, people who wear fur, cheap, sugary cup cakes, gobshites, arse lickers, greasy pole climbers, game players, processed food and fizzy drinks.

I’m going to stop now, before you start thinking that I am one intolerant biatch…..

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE CURSE WORD?

Oh, that’s probably going to have to be twat; it’s so emphatic! 😉

WHAT SOUND OR NOISE DO YOU LOVE?

The sound of the ocean, baby laughter,  a knife going into freshly baked bread, early morning birdsong, crickets in a hot country at dusk, the sound of a yoga bell calling me to satsang, thunder and lightning, the roar of a big cat, my little cats ‘talking’ to me with their strange little chirrups and meows, the sound of a kettle boiling for m’tea of a morning.

WHAT SOUND OR NOISE DO YOU HATE?

Intrusive chatter, the alarm clock, supermarket muzak, electronic voices on phones/tablets, other people having domestics, crying children, bills hitting the mat, someone hawking up snot <retch>, people having sex (it’s surprisingly boring to listen to), doors slamming, pneumatic drills.

WHAT PROFESSION OTHER THAN YOUR OWN WOULD YOU LIKE TO ATTEMPT?

A columnist, an author, cafe owner, healer, maybe even an actor, as I’ve recently discovered, I find it much easier to be someone else than be myself.

WHAT PROFESSION WOULD YOU NOT LIKE TO DO?

Politician, middle manager, PR, sales, any role that would require me to be anything other than my authentic, ethical, honest, bullshit free self.

IF HEAVEN EXISTS, WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE GOD TO SAY TO YOU AT THE PEARLY GATES?

“OK, stop your whining, you’re back!  Told you it wasn’t that bad didn’t I? It all came right in the end, didn’t it?  OK, you’ve done your bit, you never have to go back down there again!  Unless you want to, that is….”

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