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Fine Lines

Fine lines are never something you wish for—unless, I suppose, your fashion designs are being judged on Project Runway. Any other time a fine line is mentioned, it’s going to involve a pricey skincare regimen, or a flimsy spider web of a line that somehow separates normal behavior and the kind that’s used in case studies at psychiatric conventions.


Though you’d never know it by looking at my begging-for-Botox face, it’s these latter lines that concern me most. So much so that I wish we could borrow the technology from the makers of Invisible Fence ® so that those of us who tend to make like Johnny Cash and “Walk the Line” could shock ourselves back to clear thinking whenever we’ve strayed to the dark side.


One such fine line I’ve recently pondered is that which separates a dreamer from someone who is downright delusional. How narrow is the distance between someone who is tenacious and determined when faced with adversity, and the dude who winds up as a blooper audition on American Idol, yet still can’t process the possibility that he sucks like ten hungry puppies on their momma’s mammaries? I’m thinking it’s a line so thin that only a Cirque d’ Soleil performer or a millipede could walk it.


The question leaves me praying to God that my own lofty aspirations place me on the sunny side of that fine line—that I’m not the writer’s equivalent of William Hung. After all, are you even allowed to have dreams once you’ve turned 40? Or are you expected to divide your wildest desires by 10 and then subdivide them into manageable goals that will be achievable only if you manage to live to the age of 112?


This would mean, of course, that if you spent your 30’s wanting to become the next Bill Gates, you would now be better served trying to retain your cubicle during the next recession.


Or is that you still have fantasies of becoming the next Michael Jordon? Well, news flash: even he has retired. Let’s focus on scheduling two pick-up games at the local elementary school each week—dunking being optional.


Perhaps you think you could be the next American Idol if it weren’t for that annoying age cap of 28. Hmmm, how about commandeering the Nintendo Wii for some karaoke once those kids are in bed?


Do you see yourself as the next famous writer who could fill concert halls for your interviews and readings? Uh, yeah, that one hits a little too close to home to be mocked.


Those of us who still hold on to our “drelusions” in the face of impossible odds could probably keep from becoming Case Study 1395 if we could stay away from award ceremonies and all things marketed to preteens.


I say this as someone who recently wept through Alicia Keys’ acceptance speech at the Grammy’s and through much of the Hannah Montana in 3D movie. Yep, I said wept. I’d love to say that mine were bitter tears of mourning that these gals realized their dreams while I’ve been forced to install a gastric band on mine to reduce their appetite. But no; it’s worse than that—I think these performers are talking to me. So when they say they accept their awards on behalf of anyone who’s had a dream, or they sing “life’s what you make it, so let’s make it rock!” this ol’ gal becomes the only person in the audience who is wiping away tears from beneath her 3D glasses.


As the stars leave the stage, and while the lights are still dim, I swear I even hear the words: “Live from Carnegie Hall with the debut of our series on 21st Century philosophers turned humorists, we have the great honor to present Shana…”


Zzzzt. Oh man, I’ve crossed the line again— please pardon the smell of burning flesh.



Shana McLean Moore, Case Study 1395, is a resident of Almaden Valley in San Jose, California. To read more of her essays and listen to her podcast, visit: www.caffeinatedponderings.com

6 Comment count
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musings, Shana, using the metaphor, "fine lines." Very fresh. Fresh fine lines.

About the fine line in talent--between the dreamer and delusional. I think we see the worst cases in free verse when the poet inundates the world with truly horrible stuff. I love poetry in meter and some kind of poetic form, because it's musical, has dimension and muscle, but also because verse in meter and form tends to weed out the truly BAD and DELUSIONAL poets, including me. Okay, there are limericks and doggerel but that's done for the fun of being bad.

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If this is bad, I don't wanna be good...

There once was a poet named Belle

Who cast a magical spell

On the readers and writers

Whose work was beside hers

At the fabulous redroom.com...el

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You're on the sunny side of it

I think it's the relentless dreamers who prevail. I am all dreams and very little pragmatism, and I love it! I, too, dream of making it huge with my writing, and I think it's a goal worth investing in. It doesn't harm anything to dream it; when it happens, you knew all along it would. If by some chance it doesn't, then you won't harbor any regret for having failed to put your hopes out into the universe.

As a huge fan of your writing, I can just see the book readings and signings and parties and Carnegie Hall bookings. Just keep writing. 

Katie Burke

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Katie, But BIG

Is one's own definition, isn't it?

I think getting published itself is BIG. Writing and making enough to keep writing is BIG. It's not necessarily some bestseller's list is it? It's big for me to be writing and getting read. Big.

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depends what your definition of BIG is

You make an interesting point, Belle. I agree with you that it's exciting to be published, but in my humble little case, my books are self-published (with the exception of 2 Chicken Soup contributions). I am the first to admit that I have a chip on my shoulder about this fact that rivals any shoulder pad sported in the 80's.

The other side of it is that I am a goal oriented person, so there is always a hunger to take the next step up the ladder. It is wonderful to have people read my column in the local paper or buy my books, but I still aspire to a larger audience. I think it's okay to be grateful for what you have yet still push yourself toward bigger things.

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Just love me some Katie

Katie, doll, I feel like we are fraternal twins separated by about a 15 year gestation gap. (For the record, Mom likes me better because she was tired of schlepping you around all that extra time. :)

I hope our kindred spirits meet face to face some day. Any chance you're participating in or attending LitQuake in the fall? If so, I'd love to hear you do a reading!