Friday, December 30, 2011

This will only hurt a little bit--maybe

I think the tangerines are multiplying. There was one on my desk yesterday, when I came into work, which I ate, and now there are two. Some people might think it odd to eat a tangerine (or food) of doubious origin, however all food is of dubious origin, isnt it? And I like tangerines.

I apparently have this problem where I think I am invincible. I know this is going to get me in trouble one day, but you see, perhaps I wouldn't believe it if it wasn't backed up by evidence like, getting exposed to strep all the time and never getting it, being immune to salmonella (recent claim since I eat the same food as other people and they get food poisoning and I don't--mostly involving poultry), or hitchhiking, and picking up hitch hikers. A good bit of this is probably luck, the rest is who knows...more luck, and a strong immune system.

The issue then becomes trying to grasp "normal", and how to make characters seem normal, or have "believable" reactions to things, like eating slightly under-cooked turkey, a normal remark apparently is not "eh, it will be alright." Some of my characters have a bit of my sense of invincibility, they live life along the "if it doesnt kill me it makes me stronger" belief, and well, if it doesn't make me stronger it only hurt a little bit right, plus scars are cool.

The issue that I run into is that I base characters on people, real people, or well real peoples personalities. And the personality I am best able to dissect is my own, which brings me back to my limited knowledge of normal. So my characters sometimes react to things in a very un-caviler way and I loose a readers since of belief, they dont understand the reasoning behind it, and want me to explain more...but well, that reaction is normal to me. So, I'm left trying to explain a rational that is perfectly reasonable to myself, to people who don't think like me, which means I have to think like them, which isn't an easy task.

How do you manage it?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hasmechkwanachan

I dont particularly like confrontation, I much prefer to be sneaky and backstabbing.

Not that I am particularly sneaky or anything, with my surplus of grace, my ER record speaks for itself.

I am also a pretty equal opportunity partier.

Growing up in Georgia, not being Christian often caused a couple of issues, especially at this time of year. In elementary schools we learned Christmas carols, not Hanukkah songs. I had kids tell me Hanukkah is a made up holiday...not to mention getting told I would go to hell, but that's not really on the point. We made Christmas cards, and Christmas ornaments.

I went along with it because well, the school wasn't set up to handle the 1% of the Jewish population, and like I had already said, I am an equal opportunity partier, what did I care that the cookie/cupcake/glitter card/etc had santa clause/christmas tree etc on it (my parents drew the line at crucifixes though), its still a cookie damn it.

However it does upset me when other people do not take such lax point of view. What kind of world do you live in if you honestly believe your's is the only holiday that exists (after all I did grow up forced to celebrate your silly holiday). But, going around and stabbing those people in the back would most likely not be viewed as a public service and would probably land me in jail or something, and for as little for as little as I like confrontation I think I will dislike prison more.

So I have decided, if I cannot stab the people who refuse to be equal opportunity partiers, and insist on voicing their refusal, I will confuse them.

If you've been reading this blog, which I hope you have, and if you haven't I am impressed with how far you've managed to go. You might have noticed I have a habit of making up words, I'm like Shakespeare that way, without the beard or the duels or the rhyming. Okay fine, I am nothing like Shakespeare. But I do like to make up words.

My newest word is Hapsmechkwanachan. Pronounced Has-me-ch-kwana-chan

It means, Christmas-kwansa-hannaka-holiday.

Not only is it fun to say, its confusing to people who are clueless...and its (mostly) all inclusive

I came up with it (I think) the other day when I was leaving Target, and someone honked at me, for crossing the street (in a crosswalk) and I yelled at them "Happy Holidays!"
They yelled back "Its Merry Christmas"
To which I replied, "Happy Hapsmechkwanachan!" and kept walking.


So in celebration of this festival season I wish you all a Happy Hapsmechkwanachan! Go forth and spread the joy, and feel free to confuse the haters with this awesome word, not only is it fun to say but its also fun to watch the confused people react.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Deja Vu: You look oddly familiar

I am oddly excited to be participating in the Deja Vu blogfest


At first I was all like, what will I post. But the more I thought about it the more I realized I knew exactly what post to re-post. Why, well its been nearly a year since the headache of death started, and because this was one of the first posts in a long time that made me really enjoy writing, and because I have a headache (well a hangover) today. All good reasons to post "Oh the" again.

I hope you enjoy.

I am no stranger to headaches. I lived with one for a little over a month and a half in January/February/March, a constant pain concentrated between my temples, radiating through my brain. I lived in sunglasses and earphones (often with no music just to drown out the noise). I took stock out in Tylenol and Excedrin, since I went through a bottle (of each) a week, screw my liver or kidneys. I had mini nervous breakdowns. I cried in bathtubs. I sent text messages to friends saying "I wish I could stop my heart from beating for just one second so the pain will stop." I cried at work, I cried at home, I cried on the subway and in my car. Light made my eyes feel like they were bleeding, a whisper pulsed in my ears with the grace of a hammer. I ended my day with two pills and started it the next with more.

And then there were the flairs. The blinding moments when the pain was so bad and so extreme that I called people and said, I need to go to the Hospital. Or get in the car and start to drive myself to the emergency room, only to realize how loud, bright and crowded that place would be. So I would go back inside, and try to numb whatever senses I could.

The rational part of my mind knew what I was saying/thinking/doing was irrational. It would say things like, you don't really want to stop your heart. But I also knew that the irrational part of my mind was winning. My rational mind was shutting down, giving up, saying; "I surrender. Just make it stop". Normal tasks became difficult, hard tasks became impossible, it took all my concentration, and will power to wake up in the morning and go to work, to sit in front of a computer with the brightness turned all the way off, and try to do my job. And I felt stupid, slow, like my brain was getting scrambled, and I was loosing what made me who I am. I felt like I was loosing my mind, and in several ways I was. No sane person thinks about stopping there heart to stop there head from hurting. I felt my grip slipping.

It took a month to get in to see my Primary care physician, at no fault of hers, more simply that the primary care physician that my insurance assigned to me no longer practiced medicine. So after trying and failing to get a hold of her, I called the insurance company to switch, only to be told all changes will begin at the start of the next month. A full two weeks away. I broke down. Then tried again, got a more friendly agent, who made the change. I called the new doctor, who told me they could see me in two weeks. I broke down again. Then tried again, and after crying into the phone, got an appointment in two days. A prescription pain killer, and an MRI later, I saw a neurologist. The neurologist ordered blood tests, and put me on a steroid anti-inflammatory with the prescription pain killer, and then, by the time I finished the treatment, the pain was gone.

I wish I could say it was like waking up from a dream, that suddenly everything was normal again. It wasn't. There was no fog clearing moment. I couldn't see clearer now, the rain wasn't gone. The pain was, but the foggy, slow, stupid feeling remained. I felt like I was having trouble doing normal tasks. I felt like doing my normal job took me twice as long as it had pre headache. My focus was shot. My body was drained. My mind was in pieces.

I had moments of doubt, when I would look at a task and say, this should take me X amount of time, then when it took me twice that, I would wonder, am I really this slow, or am I remembering my abilities incorrectly. Was I ever that fast, organized, on top of things? I felt like a stroke victim.

My coworkers were supper understanding throughout the entire ordeal. They would ask me if they could help. They would stay out of my way when I ran from the office in tears. They never expressed disappointment in my speed, or frustration in my abilities. But it was the self doubt, the internal feeling of failure that I couldn't shake.

I have not written creatively since mid way through February. My brain couldn't, wouldn't, grasp the words. Until this weekend. I went to a cafe and started to write.

It has taken me four plus months to recover. I still get occasional headaches, like the one I have right now, which is like a tickle of pain on the inside of my skull, and I cant always shake that tiny bit of doubt that plagues me with insecurity and uncertainty, that I am still not quite what I was before. Every headache causes me a moment of panic, what will I do if this one never goes away, but now, Six months after it started, four months after it stopped. I am beginning to feel normal again.

I never wrote about this headache before, I liked to pretend that if I didn't voice my concerns about loosing myself, loosing my intelligence, it would just go away. That it wouldn't be true. That if I never said it out loud it would magically go away. But I don't think that's ever the case.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Dating: A writers school

A while back I signed up for OKcupid, a free dating site. I was heavily intoxicated at the time. I mean heavily intoxicated. This was the night that I invented a new yoga pose, called the drunken child. Its a very relaxing pose that involves passing out where ever you are, on the floor. Needles to say this account makes little to no sense, and I went back mildly sober and cleaned it up a bit. I still very rarely use it, but I've been single for a while, and after reading some blogs by Obsessions of a Workaholic about the horrors of online dating I felt inspired to give it a go. Seriously, she mostly posts about the horrors, but I am a messed up person and decided, hey if she is going on these horribly awkward dates, maybe I can find some horribly awkward dates to go on too. Worst case scenario I end up dead, slightly better case scenario I end up with decent material.

The problem with this site is that it involves talking to people, and I dont like talking to people much. I grow quickly board with email conversations and typically stop replying. So I've not had much luck with that, well at least with the horribly awkward dates. I've had a few horribly awkward email conversations, after all these guys have very little to start a conversation with, aside from my drunkish ramblings. So a common way for them to start a conversation with me (I don't start conversations...this probably goes back to the thinking horrible dates are good writing fodder and not liking people) is to ask about my writing. As those of you who have read Why? you probably know how that goes, for those of you who haven't read it, it doesn't go well.

But the other day a guy asked me a different writing question. He asked me if I went to school to be a writer. And while this didn't help him out at all, it did make me think. I actually don't think I ever replied to that email because I was so busy thinking about the question (I might be the worst online dater in the history of online dating). Now, you might be wodnering why such a simple question requires so much thought. I mean, I did take a few creative writing classes in college. But I was writing well before then. I actually turned in a poem I wrote in seventh grade for something and got an A on it, and I'm not sure if that says more about the University of Georgia Public School System or my seventh grade poetry. I don't like poetry. The classes definitively helped, but what did they teach me?

Well, they taught me the definition of some useful terms that help me sound smart, like "Show don't tell" or like "plot" or "rising action" They taught me how to critique and how to handle critiques because we critiqued one another work. They helped me understand the value of having friends who are also creative, and it helped me develop thick skin. I don't necessarily believe any of those skills are mandatory to be a writer.

Helpful yes. Mandatory no. In fact there was very little I learned in those classes I couldn't have taught myself by going to writers groups and reading books on writing. But then again I don't know I would have ever sought out a writers group without having been in a college class about writing. But then again, if someone told me they wanted to take a few classes on writing I don't think I would try to talk them out of it.

Here's the thing. Some people don't have alot of confidence in their own ability. I don't always have confidence, but I very rarely let that show. Other people have tons of confidence.But if your one of those people without confidence in your writing and a piece of paper saying you have a certification in it or you have studied it or etc will give you the confidence you need to go out there and say "Hey I'm a writer too." you should do it.

Writing isn't something you have to study in a classroom (although perhaps you should study by reading at least one book) but it is something you have to do. I'm more apt to agree with someone who says they are a writer, who writes every single day, than someone who never writes but has an MFA in writing. So I guess my answer is, school is fun, and helpful, but, you get out of it what you put into it. And it doesn't make you a writer. Now I am off to make more people feel useless when I stop emailing them out of the blue.

p.s. If you know any single guys it would make my grandparents really happy if I started dating. Even if they are really bad, then I can just write about them.

p.p.s If you judge me, please do so behind my back. My confidence is really just a mask, or something.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Insecure Writers Group Post: Procrastination

"Never procrastinate today what you can put off till tomorrow."

Wise words of wisdom from my father (also one of my parents many trivia team names, they also have "My couch pulls out but I don't" and "I'm wearing woman's underwear, and it feels so good") Where was I? Oh, procrastination, and insecurity.

It seems a good topic since I am a day late on my insecure blog post, and because I've been procrastinating writing my blog, and because I've been procrastinating on writing a post on procrastiantion ever since Bobby my nemisis over at Wildy Urban wrote Procrastinators Anonymous .

Now you might be wondering what the P word has to do with writing, or perhaps the I word. Well back in October when I first found out about the Insecure Writers Group, I wrote a post about the difference between trying and failing (or something like that), and the P word in my opinion is basically based (like the alliteration)on the fear of failing, and if you never try you can never fail. Remember the insecure steroid guy? I'm gonna relate to that or well, I am going to try to.

I think there are a few things that lead to procrastination to me.

Lazyness
Fear/Insecurity
Stress

I've been procrastinating alot lately. Alot alot. I've also been under more stress than normal lately, work has been intense, I have a dance show this weekend (five hours of practice a week takes up alot of time), I am broke (dance show prep costs lots of moneys) and general life is stressful stress. So, because of that stress I've been doing other things that trigger stress relief, reading/knitting/running/watching tv.

But, those are all excuses. I know they are excuses, but I do them anyway.

Then there is the lazyness element, but I am not sure if lazy-ness is a true cause because a lot of the things I do to procrastinate writing are harder than actually writing, running/dancing/knitting (maybe not knitting). They are lazy in one aspect though, they dont require alot of thought.

But then there is the fear. Fear of sucsess, fear of failure. Insecurity. You procrastinate doing something if you are afraid to do it. But still. I don't think that is actually the root of the problem.

I love to write, I have fun crafting a perfect scene, or listening my characters bicker with one another in my head when I write their dialogue. Just me, my netbook/laptop/pen and paper, music and a cup of tea, sticking my head in a world where anything goes because its MY WORLD. Spending time thinking up what motivates my characters etc. Don't get me wrong, its work, but its fun. Here's the wrench though. The second you call yourself a writer, or make friends who are writers, writing is not just something you like doing. Its something you should be doing. Its something you have to do, or you are failing. Then there is stress, then their is worry, then their is insecurity.

The joy gets lost in everything else. So to me, the way to shake procrastination is to make it not something you should be doing, but make writing be what you WANT to be doing. If you are not a writer, but instead someone who likes to write maybe then you cannot procrastinate writing since its not something you should be doing, and if its not something you are doing for any reason other than you want to, you can also shake that insecurity from failing away.

This month, I'm gonna try to remember the joy, and see if it helps.

Do you procrastinate?

p.s. When I joined the Insecure Writers Group, I was the 173rd member, they are now up to 230 members? How many have you checked out?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Tryptophan Poisoning Day!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It might have something to do with the awesome food, or the ability to seriously overeat and not face much judgment (which is important for a fat chick), or the fact that its always close to my birthday. It could also be that we don’t celebrate Christmas. But the real reason is my family.

I know I talk a lot about how crazy they (we) are, even on occasion how potentially fucked up I am because of my family. I’ve told stories about my sister getting pulled over after buying drugs, or how if you get my mom drunk enough she will explain why incest is okay in Memoirs of a Meth Family. Or about how my mom lit my neck on fire in Storytime: Medications of the Abi Somethings. I’ve written a short story about the youngest sister running away. Or about my mom hiding my sister’s drug stash to bribe her to clean the house, and delay her so that she gets free lunch.

I’ve told people stories about my mom hitting people with a rolled up newspaper for making the dog bark, I’ve held my tongue in polite company while people tell me about how wild their younger brother is for smoking pot. And the truth is we are crazy, every single one of us. We are Abi something (a joke from one of my favorite movies as a kid, young Frankenstein, and a play on my last name).

I’ve done things with normal (if there is such a thing) families, where there is awkwardness, and angst and stuff. But I wouldn’t trade all the pain and other crazy stuff that happened to me as a kid for that, ever.

My family might be functionally dysfunctional; we might drink too much, do to many drugs, or be loud, or different, or completely off the rocker. But at least we are interesting. And they give me great writing material. So I love Thanksgiving, because it is a great excuse to get together with my family, and just hang out. I am thankful for them, and all of their crap. I am thankful for the baggage they have given me, and for making me who I am as a person.
What are you thankful for?

Happy thanksgiving, and hopefully I will have some awesome stories to bring back after the holiday.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Smart Mouth

I have a smart mouth. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say I have a very stupid mouth, and a smart brain, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say I have an average mouth, an average brain and a very stupid filter that connects the two.

I have a true skill at talking myself into trouble. In fact, most of the lessons that I learn, and promptly forget have to do with talking to people. Things like, don’t talk to strangers, because talking to strangers leads to them following you, and misinterpreting being friendly with flirting. And stalking you, and breaking into your house, and murdering you in your sleep. But that might just have more to do with being friendly, and growing up in the south where it is perfectly acceptable to be nice to strangers, and waving at people (like cops). Did you know if you are in a city and you wave at a police officer they think you need help? I sure didn’t not when I moved here at least.

Living in DC can be challenging sometimes, and not just because of the city thing, and the talking to strangers thing. But for its own special thing. DC is full of people that think they are important, and people that are actually important, like the President. The President comes with secret service, and they come with road closings and general obstruction of people trying to get from point A to point B, especially when the President departs from his normal routine to do the unthinkable, go out to dinner. Imagine three city blocks in your neighborhood getting shut down, one of these being the street you take every day home from work, because someone wants to eat at a restaurant. This happened the other day as I was on my way to dance class. Luckily I was on foot; un-luckily I was letting my smart mouth have fun.

The roads in the DC/Arlington area do not make sense, to walk from the metro to the dance studio I have to cross what I like to call the scary intersection. Its where five roads intersect, normally this would be a perfect place for a traffic circle, except their isn’t one (see previous comment about roads). One of these roads had been blocked off by the DC/Arlington/METRO/Secret Service police people. They had also roped off the sidewalk on this street, but this street runs alongside a park, which was not blocked off. So I cut through the park on the way to class, even though I don’t have too, but I am curious as to what was going on (I learned later it was because the president). So when I get to the crosswalk to leave the park, and cross the street, away from the blocked off area, I am met by a police officer. The exchange went as follows:

Police Officer: “You are not allowed to be here. You have to cross the street now.”

Me: looking into oncoming traffic, “Can I at least wait until the cars stop coming.”

Police Officer: “You have to cross the street as soon as it is safe to do so. You are not allowed to be here.”

Me: “You know, this side walk isn’t blocked off.”

Police Officer: “It will be blocked off as soon as you cross the street.”

Me: “What is going on?”

Police Officer: “You must cross the street here.” (The light still hadn’t changed)

Me: “Really? I had planned to cross over there,” I reply pointing into the middle of the intersection. (there is no other place to get out of the park, without walking straight into the intersection of death).

Police Officer: (not detecting my obvious sarcasm) “You have to cross the street here. Perhaps if you told me where you are trying to go, I could give you directions.”

Me: “Look, I am just trying to get to my KKK meeting at the coffee shop over there.”

Police Officer: “Cross the street now” (the light had still not changed, but she walked into the street to block oncoming traffic)

True story. I’m not sure where KKK came from, perhaps it was my brain saying, don’t say Al-Kida(sp?), say anything but Al-Kida, so when thinking of groups as hated and as evil as Al-Kida, not Al-Kida, the KKK jumped to my head. Perhaps it would have been better to not say anything at all, but I couldn’t help it. My response to people not getting sarcasm is just to get more sarcastic. It’s a vicious cycle.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Tights are not pants!

Skinny jeans are a conspiracy designed by boot companies. Really the only thing they are good for is showing off your boots. And perhaps looking at other peoples cellulite, but really, who wants to do that, in public, there are websites for those kinds of fetishes.

I am not a very fashionable person. I would live in sweats if I didn't have an office job. I would never wear shoes unless my office job supplied me with a handbook about appropriate footwear (yes, I did go barefoot in the office for about two weeks before the HR people brought me a copy with the "appropriate footwear" thing highlighted, then I switched to flip flops).

I do,however pride myself on one element of fashion. I am very good at dressing for my body type. So good in fact, that people often guess my weight as being about 50lbs less than it is, 20-30lbs I give up to kindness, but that means I can successfully hide 20-30lbs of extra weight that I carry around, mostly because I live a sedentary lifestyle, that I blame on having sedentary hobbies, and working 80 hours a week. In fact I have been surprised in finding out that people I am friends with wear the same size clothes as me.

That being said. I think skinny jeans area conspiracy designed by boot companies, to sell more boots. And, tights aren't pants. You see there has been alot of talk in the news and apparently in squatters, and maybe even on this blog about the 1% vs the 99%. Well, in my opinion, approximately 1% of people look good in skinny jeans. (I might go up to 15% but 14% of those people wear them poorly). This is a fashion trend that drives me crazy, for three reasons.

1) It doesn't look good on most people, and I don't want to ever see other peoples fat.
2) Because its a trend all the stores carry skinny jeans which makes it impossible to find regular jeans that actually look good on the majority of people (this directly contributes to #1 since people who look bad in skinny jeans, and need clothing, will buy skinny jeans if they have no other option)
3) They are uncomfortable.

Then you get the people that take the trend to a bizarre extent. Like, the other day, I was running some errands in DC and there was this woman walking in front of me, her pants were so tight I could see every ripple and fat bubble in her ass, I was transfixed, mostly wondering how much skin she lost getting the damn things on. Then, how she could look at herself and think, damn this looks good...she must have more self confidence than me.

Or, the girl I saw wearing pantie hose outside, and her top wasn't even long enough to cover where her underwear was showing.

Now I also get, that guys like looking at asses, especially of people of the opposite sex, or perhaps even of their sex. So I want to suggest some equally wearable options, that show off the ass. Pencil skirt, jeans that fit tight on the ass but are loose in the leg (wide leg jeans). Are probably my two favorites.

If you haven't given up already, you are probably wondering where I am going with all of this. #3 of my list as to why skinny jeans were created by the devil, is they are not comfortable. And to write, you have to be comfortable (at least I do).

This past week the company I work for celebrated its 40th Anniversary, we had a party on Capitol Hill, lots of important people were invited. I had to dress up. It sucked. But I went out with my co-workers afterwards, there was an open bar at the party, and then there were more drinks at the bar. There was a girl (not with our group at the bar) wearing leggings, and a tight sweater. She was being rude and loud to our server, and I was very drunk. By very drunk I mean, I was four beers, two glasses of wine, and a shot into the night. So I decided to tell her she was dressed inappropriately. "Excuse me, tights are not pants."

p.s. I also learned that night that, pencil skirts with but zippers get guys to ask for your phone number.

p.p.s. Wide leg jeans are making a come back in stores!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Get Your Stats out of my Edumacation

And now, for something completely different. Some of you might know that writing and blogging is not my full time job. My full time position is Lacky. Not really, but it works, I put it on government forms and everything. Never ask for me to fill out a reference form for you, especially if you are applying for some sort of government clearance. I mean we've already established that I am addicted to sudaphed, play with bomb dogs, tell police that I am going to KKK meetings, and do u turns in front of the CIA, I digress.

Sometimes I wish writing was my full time job, I doubt the pay would be much worse. Anyway I work at a civic education foundation, called the Close Up Foundation.

I describe my job about as vaguely as I describe my writing. I do stuff. Lots of stuff...but its easier to tell you what the foundation does.

We bring kids, mostly high school students, from across the country to DC where we teach them about government and current events and other important political stuff in a non partisan way. We break down the barriers. We try to get them to see each other, and through each other the issues.

You see, a student from Orange County California might not ever have seen a gun, and only know about gun violence from tv, while a student from Chicago might have lost a brother to gang violence, and a student from Hiawassi Georgia might go hunting once a week. These kids know people exist that dont believe the same thing they do, but if they have never met them, seen them, talked to them etc, these other people become mythical creatures, stuff of legends and newspapers, and yes I believe those are the same thing.

But we bring these kids together, make them room together, hope they become friends, then get them to talk about gun control (or other important issue, like the economy, I hear that's important).

Maybe your thinking, whats the point. So I'll throw in some statistics:

Families that make above $75,000 per year are twice as likely to vote and six times as likely to be politically active as families that make below $15,000 per year

Only one-third of Americans can name all three branches of government

Less than one-third of 8th graders know the historical purpose of the Declaration of Independence

Despite the highest level of voter turnout in 40 years in the 2008 election, only 56.8% of eligible voters voted, that means on hundred million Americans failed to vote.

African American and Hispanic students are twice as likely as their white counterparts to score below proficient on national civic assessments

These were taken from the September 2011 Civic Mission of Schools Report.

Are you scared yet? If not I'll throw a bit of an analysis in there for you. Follow me for a minute (I have logic and I'm not afraid to use it, you should be though):

Wealthy families have more opportunities to help educate their children, for example, they can afford private schools, tutors, extra curricular activities, college, etc. Upper middle class families who might not be able to afford private schools might be able to afford to have a parent work part time, or from home to provide assistance with their child's education. This parent most likely is college educated. Middle class families can probably afford extra curricular activities, and perhaps tutoring, odds are one if not both parents graduated high school with some college or technical school. Blue collar and lower middle class families rely on public school systems, but maybe they belong to a union which gives them health benefits, etc. Immigrant families and families that live below the poverty line, have kids in public school, with limited assistance, who may or may not drop out by the time they are sixteen so they can get a job to help out the family.

Most public school's get their fund's from property tax collected in the area they are zoned in. People can typically afford to live in area's with other people earning about the same as they do, you dont typically see a trailer park next to the McMansions. This means that the schools where your lower earning families live have less money than the schools in the higher earning neighborhoods (although not always). And your middle class/upper middle class families have a bit more flexibility in where they live, they can look at the local schools before deciding where to move.

Now, consider that families earning $75,000 plus a year are more likely to vote and be civilly active, write letters, call politicians, donate to campaigns, go to town hall meetings and more, than families earning $15,000 or less. Who do you think these families will advocate for? What do you think they will advocate for?

Now lets look at the recent government "entitlement program" spending cuts, you know, that bill they passed to end the deadlock that faced congress last winter, when the government shut down for a little bit. Here are a list of programs that lost some, if not all of their government funding.


Center for Civic Education

Communities in Schools

Council for Economic Education

Close Up Foundation

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards

National History Day

National Writing Project

New Leaders for New Schools

Project GRAD

Reach Out and Read

Reading is Fundamental

Teach for America

VSA

Yep, that's right. Extra curricular education programs were cut, across the board. As I said at the beginning, I would eventually get to the point, and here it is.

Higher earning families are more likely to vote. Children of high earning families are less likely to need educational assistance provided by the government. People with high education are more likely to get high earning jobs.

People keep complaining that the rich are getting richer and the poor and middle class are staying the same, if not getting poorer. People seem to forget the role education plays in this. Don't believe me? Want proof.

The Civic Mission of Schools Report identifies six proven practices that overcome these statistics:

Provide Instruction in government, history, law and democracy

Discussion of current events and controversial issues

Service learning/applying what is learned

Extracurricular activities

Simulations of democratic process

Some of the Benefits of civic learning (also from the same study)

81% of high school dropouts say they would have been less likely to do so if there were more opportunities given for experiential learning

Civic Learning in middle school with a focus on civic responsibility is directly tied to a students propensity to drop out of high school.
Now, I have two questions for you:

Do you think democracy works when only 58% of eligible people participate in it?

Do you think all people from all economic classes are given equal opportunities when they do not have the same access to education?

I will end with a quote from Thomas Jefferson.

"Now let us see what the present primary schools cost us, on the supposition that all the children of 10. 11. & 12. years old are, as they ought to be, at school: and, if they are not, so much the work is the system; for they will be untaught, and their ignorance & vices will, in future life cost us much dearer in their consequences, than it would have done, in their correction, by a good education."
1818 January 14. (to Joseph C. Cabell)

Sorry for the political rant, we will return to our regularly scheduled programing on Monday Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Green Suede Shoes: An Insecure Writers Support Group Post

I have a pair of knee high boots. They are green, suede, I don't wear them all that often, because they are not that comfortable, and they are falling apart. The oddest thing is that the right boot is ALWAYS harder to get on then the left boot. Its obnoxious. its weird. I think it's because the right boot is made of slightly thicker swede than the left boot. I ripped the tongue on the left boot shortly after getting them. The right boot keeps my legs a little warmer, and it doesn't slouch quite as much.

They are the same boots they came in the same box, and I've had them both the same amount of time. I've never worn one without the other, although I wouldn't put that much past me. They are just different.

When I was a kid, I think I was around nine or ten, I was taking horse back riding lessons at this barn with woman named Ms Darby. She was a great teacher, she challenged me all the time, she gave me riding gear when we couldn't afford the real stuff. There was another girl in my class, she was a better rider than I was. Her parents bought her a pony, and she had all the right equipment. I envied the hell out of her. Then one day, we were doing some basic jumps. I was on the ugliest horse in the world, named Honey, and she was on her pony, and something happened. Her pony spooked and she fell, she wasn't hurt but she was scared. She was crying, and Ms Darby had to stop the lesson and take her up to the barn. She never came back. I couldn't understand it. Here was this girl who was so much better than I was, who was willing to throw it away because she hit the ground once.

When I grew up and started teaching horse back riding lessons, parents needed a to sign a special waver to get their kid in my class. I could guarantee they would advance. I would also guarantee they would fall off at least once. There were two lessons I took from the girl in my class ( I dont remember her name), one if you've never fallen off you've never pushed yourself hard enough, and two, if you've never hit the ground to see if you will get up again, you dont know if you will.


Writers deal with a-lot of different types of rejection. There is the social sort that everyone else deals with, and then there are the other kinds. The is this good enough sort you ask yourself. The kind that comes from friends when you tell them you want to be a writer, or you are a writer, and they think you will be rich, or are crazy, or will be poor. The kind you ask yourself when you are feeling seven kinds of overwhelmed and wonder why on earth you want to do this. The kind from agents, the kind from editors the kind from other writers. The kind when someone tells you "writing isnt hard/work/creative, cause anyone can do it"

The worst part of all of it is that it's not something that you (for the most part) put some sort of half assed effort into. Writing is hard work, mayhaps not the physical kind, but still, hard work none the less. The search for the perfect word, turning creativity into words and putting them on the page.

Someone on another blog (and I WISH I could remember who) asked the question, does creativity directly link to insecurity, and I do not think it does. I do think however, that because creative people, who need/want to share their creativity face a certain amount of rejection, and that rejection causes anxiety which leads to insecurity. But just like in horse back riding you have to get back up and try again, and you've never pushed yourself until you've hit the ground.

And just like boots, no two things are exactly the same. I might have stretched it a bit to make those two metaphors work. But, I signed up for the "Insecure Writers Support Group" with Alex J. Cavanaugh. And today was the day to talk about insecurity.

p.s. GO check out other blogs on here. Its an order.

How do you deal with insecurity? What kind's of insecurity do you face?

And I will end with a "Sara and Bobby" just to lighten things up.

Sara and Bobby on Judaism:

Bobby: I made up a new word!
Sara: uh huh
Bobby: Jewnicorn! Though, I wonder what that would be.
Sara: A kosher unicorn. A unicorn without cloven hoofs.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Were All Mad Here

Alice: But I don't want to go among mad people.
The Cat: Oh, you can't help that. We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad.

I have an orange tutu.

I bought it because I wanted to dress up for the Mad Hatter for a costume event, and because its otherwise awesome. I was thrifting with my friend Abby, Abby is that friend from college, you know, the one that you get in the car with to drive somewhere (in this case target) and end up in New Jersey for no good reason? Yeup that's Abby. Abby is also the friend that called to tell me about her "Dragon Problem" Abby and I meet at the University of Northumbria on a study abroad program, we were both from different schools in Georgia, and to this day we have only hung out once in that fine state.

Abby is actually the one who found the orange tutu. I took her out thrift store shopping when I was in Philadelphia in August and I was looking for a skirt, she was sitting down by the shoes, when I walked over carrying a tulip skirt made out of track suit material. All she did was point, at the manikin on the shelf. It was wearing the tutu. I immediately found the clerk, had them take it down, and tried it on. I was expecting it to be too small, but it fit! So I bought it. All the store clerks seemed a little sad to see it go, but happy that it was going to a good home. They asked for pictures, I brought them a few.

I carried the tutu out of the store in a plastic bag that it was a little to big for, orange overflowing out of the top of the bag.


People stopped us in the street, and in stores. I took it out, and showed it off a bazillion times (have I mentioned I love Philadelphia). Abby didn't blink an eye, she admitted the skirt was perfect for me...of course I would have an orange tutu. Why not?

This past weekend I went up to Philadelphia to visit Abby for Halloween. We were supposed to go to the Renaissance festival, but it was canceled since apparently people cant have fun with trees falling and power lines down. So we came up with a backup plan. On the fly. We would have a dinner party. A Mad Hatter tea party. A Mad Dinner party. Bobby and another friend braved the storm and bought food. I had the liquor already. Abby and I sent out texts and cleaned, kinda. We were goofy, we were weird, we had fun.

Writers tend to be, at least the ones I know, supper creative people. And that creativity occasionally lends itself to being weird. I know I am weird. I know Abby is weird. Bobby is weird too, but pretends not to be. And sometimes its nice to go off and have someone you can be completely bizarre with. Someone, who will just be as "Mad" as you.


p.s. If you haven't figured it out yet, I have a thing for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

p.p.s. Sorry this was a bit more mushy than normal. Check back in Thursday so you will be really surprised by something COMPLETLY different.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Holy netbook batman!!!

Holy netbook batman!!! Where did November come from?

Sometimes I feel like there is a major disconnect in my brain. I know its almost the end of October. I've solidified my Halloween plans, and bought my plane ticket to go home for thanksgiving. You know, those normal things that go with the end of October...but apparently I forgot that November comes after October. So I was completely taken back by seeing all of these "Advice for NaNoWriMo" posts show up in the blogerspher (I love this word, mostly cause I dont think its a real word and that makes it awesome)

So, needless to say, I will not be doing NaNoWriMo this year. I might re-avow my vow that I routinely ignore, to write every day though. You see, I have this problem with goals. I like to make them, like outlines for stories, and then shove them into my sock drawer where they get forgotten. My sock drawer is my equivalent for a safe. I keep lots of important things in there, like sudaphed and my passport and tickets to shows, and my goal to one day be more organized.

The truth is, I don't find the NaNoWriMo version of novel writing very useful, even though at the same time I find it very useful. I know. That doesn't make any sense, but then look around, how much of this blog has made any sense? I find NaNoWriMo very useful in the fact that I get words down on paper, I create characters and concepts. I write. What I write is completely unusable.The last few time's I've done NaNoWriMo I've ended up with a 50,000+ word character sketch. So, its great because I write, it sucks because I dont write anything that I can use. Perhaps I will come back to it some day, but not today.

See, I think in order to get something remotely useful out of NaNoWriMo, you have to do something that I dont do very well. Plan. If you have a story before you begin, then well, you should have a story when you end, maybe.

My family has an awesome motto for procrastination, and I thought I would share it with you. "Why procrastinate today what you can put it off till tomorrow."

With that I will end with some of the things I learned this week, that I hope to one day turn into full blog posts.

DC Police do not get my sense of humor.
Don't talk to strangers (I learn this like once a week, and promptly forget it)
If a CFO and a Vice President get into a fight, dont get involved. Run away. Screaming. Cry under your desk. In the fetal position
If you give a group two very different openings to a novel, expect to get equal numbers of opposite opinions.

What have you guys learned this week?

Anyone doing NaNoWriMo?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Story Time: Medication for the Abi somethings

One time, when I was a kid, my mom lit my neck on fire.

I give out drugs, the legal kind, at work. This started because I am responsible for tracking our stock of medicine. Which means I know where everything is. Most of the time I give away my personal medication, and in case you didn't know from "Oh The" I get headaches. My standard solution to what ales you is pain medication + sudafed. I think my obsession with sudafed began with my father. He took it all the time, he gave it to me all the time, and to my sisters. We said our knee hurts, he would give us a pain killer and a sudafed.

I think this started, because everyone in my family has allergies and the allergies manifest in the form of sinus headaches, and if you've ever had a sinus headache you have probably taken sudafed. As of now, I am fairly certain I am on at least one federal watch list, because of my sudefed consumption, and perhaps because of the U turn I made in front of the gates for the CIA headquarters, and then there was the time I tried to play with a bomb dog. Again I am off topic, this is why I should not take a sudafed and drink a red bull, with an Excedrin migraine.

All of this came up at work the other day cause we were talking about butter, or burns, or alcohol. I think. Or because someone told me they felt feverish and I offered them a sudafed, which prompted the question, "does sudafed lower fever." and no, it doesn't. Its just a family remedy, like putting butter on burns. Or ways to remove a tick.

Apparently I have this obnoxious habit of beginning stories in ways that catch people off guard. Like, back when my sister was using meth, or my mom is an alcoholic. This isn't normal, or so I've been told. But these odd phrases are typically important background for the story I'm gonna tell. Like, my mom lit my neck on fire, which has everything to do with removing a tick.

It started sensicaly enough, first she tried to pull the tick out without killing it and leaving the head stuck in. That didn't work. They she tried to soak it in vodka, I think your supposed to use rubbing alcohol, but she was drinking vodka so it was what we had on hand...well that didn't work. So the next thing we tried was to hold a dead match at the tick, you know how the rest went.

And if you cant appreciate the humor in the horrifying well then. I dont know what to tell you. The thing is, I am full of stories like this, stories that most people probably find rather horrific. I deal with these situations by laughing at them. Laughing is better than crying, and why cry about something you cannot change. Its a funny story, or at least it would be, if it wasn't so sad.

What are your family remedies?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ready, Set...

Announcing the first annual blog off! Not that it will ever happen again, its just when you put annual on something it makes it sound more official. Not that there is anything official about this.

In fact I dont even really remember how it came about, except perhaps that I might have told Bobby McDaniel that I was a better blogger than he is because I post more often, or have more followers...or something, so to defend his pride, he challenged me to a blog off, duel style. The person with the most followers/page views at the end of the blog off wins. And the prize is nothing more than bragging rights, between the two of us.

I am hopping that this will inspire Bobby to blog more often, and in turn inspire me to blog more often. Kinda like the vicious cycle of NaNoWriMo. See I tried to do NaNoWriMo without him, and I didn't do anywhere near as well as I did with him. When I would check my word count online at the end of the day and see that he was 200 words ahead of me, which was just unacceptable.

That being said, you should go over and check his blog out at Wildly Urban, I also link to it on the side. And if your lurking on here, just go ahead and hit that follow button (just make sure you follow me first). I wont hurt you much, unless of course, you continue to lurk, then no rules apply.

All of this kinda went to my head this morning, when I decided I really need a buisness card with my blog on it. So I can give it to people who might then check it out, or probably not. Like I've mentioned before, all of this self promotion stuff is very new to me. So I spent a good bit of the morning looking at buisness cards at Vistaprint. I finally decided on a style and then Bobby (he is a marketing person so I kinda trust his judgement on this) suggested I put in a quote at the top.

I almost went with a few Luise Carrol quotes I was trying to decide between:

"Why is a raven like a writing desk?"

"Begin at the beginning" the king said gravely, "and go on till you come to the end; then stop."

Or--I am not sure if this is Louis Carrol "If you don't know where your going, there is no wrong way to go"

But then I started thinking about it, and realized it makes much more sense to quote myself on my own card. Since I am trying to market myself as a writer, so the quote I decided on is:

"All the following is true, except for the parts that are lies" Which actually came from my post Flash Fiction Friday.

What about you guys? Anyone have personal buisness cards? What do they look like? What quote would you put on a buisness card if you made one?

Monday, October 17, 2011

The sound of

Right now, I really want an apple. Not one of those stupid electronic ones, but the real ones that grow on trees and you eat. Did you know people were leaving apples with bites out of them in front of apple stores for that Jobs fellow.

Anyway that's a tangent off what I think I am trying to say. I dont like apple products, and I certainly dont like wasting apples. In all fairness, I've only ever owned one apple product. An Ipod Touch 2nd Gen. It was a good mp3 player, I enjoyed it until I got a smart phone Android X, at that point I'd been using it for two years, and the battery life was starting to suck, so I figured I would just start using my phone for everything.

Here's where I ran into a problem. Apparently Apple, in the interest to prevent piracy made it impossible to transfer your music (with exception of the music you bought on i-tunes) from your device to your computer. This makes sense, kinda. Unfortunately there are alot of legitimate reasons why someone would want to move their music from their I pod to their computer. Like, their old computer died, and all of their cds from high school were on that computer. Luckily before the computer died all of the music was transferred onto their I-pod. Or so they thought.

So, according to the interweb the only way to get your music off your I-pod touch is to hack the I-pod touch. Something a more honest person might be hesitant to do.

To sum up, Apple made something where honest people loose all of their music, and less honest people keep all of their music, including music they might have downloaded illegal. Great policy. Then their is the idea behind it, we are going to make something, sell it to you, and design it so you cant do what you want with it without breaking it. Say what?

As a writer, music is really important to me, I write while listening to music, almost exclusively. In fact I have Pandora on right now. So the thought of loosing all my music because a company is ridiculous makes me really sad. Much more sad than wasted apples. I am still hoping I have a friend who is tech savvy enough to get it back for me. I am most definitely to scared to do something like jail break an ipod. That being said, when my current netbook dies, I am sticking to PC products (probably get another HP). I know there are plenty of people out there with Macs who love them. I really wish I could put Scrivanger on something, but I doubt it will fit on my netbook and I dont own a laptop. I am just not comfortable buying another product from a company that thinks it should tell me what I can and cannot do with it. Maybe Apple should take up Googles moto "dont be evil"

Friday, October 14, 2011

Falling

Have you ever stood on the edge of something high up, holding something in your hands, it doesn't have to be something precious, something simple, like a hair clip, or your glasses, and look over the edge. And wonder about what would happen if you drop it. Partially wanting to, wanting to let it slip, and crash to the ground, a few heart beats later. But you dont at the same time. So you hold it, in your hand. Not clutching, because clutching will make your hands tired, and perhaps sweaty, and then it might slip. But lightly like an idea. So that it stays in your hand, safe yet not. Poised, in a dangerous position so you could wonder what it would be like if it would fall. To embrace the idea of it falling, floating, in a few minutes of freedom before it hits the ground and shatters. And you wonder how many pieces will it shatter too.

Thinking about running down the stairs to pick it up, gather and attempt to reassemble. Knowing that it will never be quite the same again. And its that knowledge that keeps the object in your hand. After-all why would you drop something from high up, why would you intentionally break something? But sometimes things need to get broken.

Have you ever watched the clouds and wondered what it would be like to float like a leaf pulled free from a tree?




I've had a bad day. So rather than write about it. I wanted to write something mildly nonsensical, something about nothing. Hope you liked it. If you didn't, too bad, get your own blog.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Voicemails of a Writer

I dont think voice mails begin with “I have a dragon problem” in real life. They certainly don’t end in, “Text me when I can call back to brainstorm solutions to my dragon problem. Cause I’m on my way to work.” That’s just not normal. And its definitely not normal to think, hmm that would make a great opening to a blog post, or short story after it happens.

I can’t imagine how boring normal would be; luckily I have better things to be imagining. Like what kind of dragon problems my friend has. She was way to calm to be facing a dragon attack. Although freely maraudering dragons would definitely be a problem (and interesting), especially cause she lives in Philadelphia. I recon they would wreak havoc on all kinds of important things they don’t know anything about. Like independence hall. Do Dragons have a taste for colonial buildings? I imagine they burn quite well, old wood and all.

Of course she could have uncovered an illegal dragon egg smuggling ring, and be wondering who to report it to. DEA, Customs, FBI, CIA, NCIS, NSA, NASA, PETA…and I think I am out of acronyms. Or maybe she has been caught raising dragons for dragon fighting. Perhaps it’s that some misfit band of Dragon Lords were discovered by lay folk and now face a disastrous choice, make public the existence of dragons and magic, or just destroy the city and everyone who was potentially exposed.

The truth is it could be any of those things. The friend who called, and left a message on my phone, that began with “I have a dragon problem” is a fellow writer. Although, I still don’t think voice mails begin with “I have a dragon problem” in real life. Writers seem to live in a subset of the real world, or at least I do. And that subset seems to be in my own imagination.

I don’t know what it takes to be a writer, although I do have some theories on character traits that most have. The first is an overactive, or just an active, imagination. We create worlds in our head, and then fill these worlds with people that we create, and sometimes destroy. Then mourn over the people we’ve destroyed, they weren’t just made up, they lived. Even if they lived inside our heads. I’ve cried over killing a character. I am sure most other writers have too (even if you haven’t, can you just lie to me about that).

The second, is slightly harder to admit. Arrogance. We all have something to say, and think what we have to say is worth other people’s time to read. And that is a bit arrogant.

Anything else you think someone needs to be a writer?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Insecure Writers Support Group

So, I found out about something kinda cool today through LG Smith over at Bards and Prophets. The Insecure Writers Support Group

Which Alex J. Cavanaugh is running. Although I am coming a bit late in the game, I figure I aught to catch up for lost time and write a Thursday post on this...since my Wednesday post was on magic, or something.

One night at a friends birthday party, some two years ago, two guys got into a fight. It started out innocent enough, they were arguing over the definition of "try" and "fail", they were very drunk. One guy was saying the word's meant the same thing, you were failing while you were trying to succeed, but until you actually succeeded you were failing. The other guy was saying that trying was not failing, it was trying. And while you might not succeed while you were trying, you were making positive steps, so how could you be failing.

If neither of those arguments make much sense to you, I understand. Did I mention they were very drunk? One of these guys was letting his insecurities get the best of him. I think he used steroids. Why bother trying, if its only failing. The other guy's argument was much more optimistic, trying isn't failing, its trying...and you will keep having to do it until you actually succeed.

The problem with insecurity is that its easy to use as an excuse, lets face it writing is hard, and its scarey knowing that you might not ever succeeded. It looks like an insurmountable wall. I can just say, well, I will never do that, so I might as well give up. I am not good enough so I should quit now.

"Why cant your fiction be more like your non fiction. Your fiction prose is stiff."

Say what??? I am paraphrasing, but I am not joking. I had a friend tell me this. Not just a friend, a writer whose opinion I respect. And I've gotten a lot of positive feedback on my creative non fiction. It's the only stuff I've ever sold, and when I put a piece up for workshop I am told, "this is my favorite thing you've ever written".

So whats the problem? Creative non fiction is not fun for me to write. Contemporary fiction, is not fun for me to write. Its easy. The words come out. But its not fun. I am left feeling insecure about the writing I like to do, and confident in something that I dont like to do. I know I should just let this go, I know my fiction needs work. But for some reason, this particular comment has left me feeling insecure.

And these insecurities have me locked up at the key board, paralyzed with a form of doubt that I seem to have a hard time shaking. Just as another persons comments about my character drove me to post yesterdays post...but that's another topic for another day. This is just ONE persons thoughts. I have other people asking me when they will get to see the rest of the fiction novel that I've been working on. I've been complemented on my fiction prose before. I should just shake this off. The problem is that it is contributing to my self doubt.

Someone once told me, and I cannot remember who, that in order to call yourself a writer you have to actually write. That seems like a no brainier right? But maybe its easier to wrap yourself up in doubt and insecurity and not write. Its easier to think, if I never try, I can never fail.

Life is full of people who tell you, you will never make it, you will never succeed. Living is about learning to ignore them.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fortune Cookie

I believe in magic, but I am not sure how I feel about fortune cookies. I received one the other day, well, stole it from the kitchen table in my office, but it was sitting there and lonely, under a note that said EAT ME. I know, if there is one thing I should have taken from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland its not to eat food that says "eat me"...but I have a hard time learning lessons.

So this fortune cookie had a fortune in it, like most do: "You have a quiet and unobtrusive nature"

Which is hilarious to most people that know me, or think they do. I am not quiet, and I am fairly obtrusive. I actually have a reputation for it. Upon first introduction most people find me obnoxious, and that is a fairly vanilla word for it. I like to act like things dont matter, I say what I mean, and I mean what I say, but I very rarely act seriously. Life is to short not to have fun, and who can have fun when you are being serious all the time?

And I am great at acting happy go lucky, but the thing is, I can be really quiet, and really unobtrusive, it comes easily to me. Just as being dark and angsty can come easy to me too.

My personality is a bit like a jigsaw puzzle and I am still trying to make all the pieces fit. The bubbly obnoxious me is a shield. Its still me, but when you get way down past it, I cant be bubbly all the time. I dont have the energy for it. And that seems to surprise people.

I think most people have shields, things they do around strangers, things to keep them at arms distance, ways to test people to make sure they are worthy before you really let them get to know you.

But not that many characters do. Maybe its because its to hard to write. Maybe its because the reader is taking the place of the characters friend, or the character themselves.

Lately I've been trying to tone down the obtrusive aspects of my personality, I want people to take me seriously, but how can they when I am never serious?

I met a woman at a bar and told her I was hard to get to know and near 'bout impossible to forget.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Why?

"So how do you know So and So"
"Oh, we go to the same Writers Group."
"So your a writer? What do you write?"

I hate this question, a lot. Perhaps its just me, it probably is just me, it seems most things are. But the "What do you write question," I never know how to answer. What do I write? You might as well ask me my sexual history, or my religion, or...well, those are all bad examples because I would share that stuff with a stranger.

If forced I normally give standoffish answers, like "Fiction," or "Everything", or "a bit of this and a bit of that." Yet that never seems to satisfy an audience, its a bad plot, leaving you with more questions then when you started "What kind of fiction?" "Or do you write...?" and then I have to try to explain. Although what I really want to say is "Why do you want to know? Do you want to read it?"

The mature part of my brain (yes it does exist) knows these people are just trying to make friendly conversation, I have a bizarre hobby to them, much like I would probably be fascinated by someone who told me they play with explosives for fun, okay, again, probably a bad example. And what is life other than trying to make small talk with strangers you dont care about, looking for a connection.

I dont know what my problem is, I dont know why this question makes me defensive. Even with other writers I joke, or give very vague answers. Its easier to make a joke and say "I am actively not writing a YA novel".

Perhaps its because I feel like a slacker. I dont feel like a writer because I write very little, although I am still defensive when I write every day, a habit I need to get back into. Perhaps its because I put so much work into something that I think might get misunderstood. That people that dont write think writing is easy, and they will not be impressed. Perhaps its because my writing is so close to me that when I share it with strangers, that are not writers, I dont trust them.

Maybe I am just crazy and it is an example of my neurotic lack of trust in strangers that's preventing me from feeling comfortable sharing.

I do know I need to write more...but I feel like thats a subject for another post.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Is it hard yet?

"Wasn't the plan, to not have cable, so that we would actually write?" My roommate askes me as I put the second DVD of the night in.
"Yes, but I am working." I reply as I pick up my knitting needles. So what if I'm not writing. Writing isn't my only interest, and it certainly isnt my only deadline of this month.

Deadlines are as follows:
Steam-punk Knitting Swap: Ship Date 8/31
Dragon Con Costuming Stuff: 9/1
Short Story Submission: 9/1 (actual submission deadline 10/31 but I want to have it finished so it can be critiqued and edited well before then)

Knitting is in alot of ways, much easier than writing. It is creating something, basically from nothing, but you almost always have a pattern, which tells you what to do when. If you dont, there are easy rules to follow, its all math. A few simple stitches to memorize, and the techniques are all pretty standard. Breaking the rules results in a finished object results in a object that doesn't stay finished for long, as it unfurls back into the state of yarn.

Stories are similar, there are rules, but those rules are a bit more flexible. I feel that I am both blessed and cursed. Telling stories comes fairly natural to me. Writing it down is a bit more difficult. Writing a good story takes work, and sometimes, even though I enjoy it, sometimes I dont want to do work.

Lately I've been in a bit of a funk, I haven't wanted to do anything. And once you let yourself have a break from doing, well, anything, its not easy to convince yourself to do something. So for the month of June/July I did very little, aside from paint, and unpack, and read and knit. Now its August, and I have a month left to finish a bunch of projects, and very little time, but more importantly, very little drive.

Dont get me wrong, I still believe I will quickly loose my sanity if I stop writing, I have a few scenes rolling around in my head, which I have written down. But I seem to have no motivation to really write. Maybe its the summer and the heat. Maybe I'm just feeling burnt out. I know I've gone through these periods before, and typically I just have to force myself to do something, anything and then I will get back in the rhythm of it.

Maybe I need to pick up the Jamie Todd Rubin--Red Bull a day habit and see if that kicks my ass into gear, and you should check out this mans blog, because he is inspirational. He seems to never have an unproductive moment.

I'm sitting here, trying to catch up on reading blogs and I saw that LG over at Bards and Prophets is pushing people here, which makes me feel wholly unworthy, since I haven't posted in over a week, far from my three times a week goal.

I have been very unproductive, hopefully I am pulling myself out of my slump, and can convince myself not to watch TV but actually write, that being said. I think its okay, to be unproductive on occasion.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Demo What?

Dear Congress,

I will not vote for a single incumbent if you dont get your shit together and work WITH each other. Thank you.

You know, as smallish children in preschool/kindergarten/etc we are taught some basic things, like how to write our names, and the alphabet, depending on your generation you might also be made to memorize things like your home phone number and address.

Sharing however, is pretty universally taught. And for good reason to. Throughout your entire life you are asked to share things, idea's, food, money, crayons...even fictional characters occasionally share things. Often times the bad guys are characters who are actually people trying to avoid sharing things, or deliberately going about and trying to make someone else look bad. Take for example Sauron, he was definitely not good at sharing, as his parents made him skip preschool, and jump right into first grade.

I am not sure if I could successfully fictionalize what the American congress is doing right now, but you know its bad when the Onion doesn't really have to make things up.

I know this isn't exactly "writing related" but damn.

Over and out. Working on two real posts right now.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Harry Potter

Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone was published in 1997, I was thirteen years old. At that point, I had just finished the Lord of the Rings for the first time, and was reading Feist’s Serpent War Saga. I was at that weird stage of adjustment from preteen to teenager, where I took myself too seriously and was “too old” for kids books. So I scoffed at Harry Potter; for two years.

I did not jump on board with the series until I was 15. Too many people told me that the series was worth reading for me to ignore it. So I picked up the books (at that point the first three were out), and I read them all in about a week.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was the first book I ever bought at a midnight release. Not because I really couldn’t wait. But because I was working at a summer camp at the time and I always had Friday nights off, since I was “barn staff” and it got me off camp, so I could eat real food, and go to my second favorite place in the world. A bookstore. The trip involved an hour drive (two hours in the car), and copious amounts of time in a bookstore, typically I would hide from the kids in the history section.

So in that way, Harry Potter became a tradition. Every summer, I would be at camp and go to the midnight release party with the lucky coworkers who could get the night off (and all of the barn staff) and we would read our copies, and talk about the book. It gave us something to bond over, and it was fun. I cried when I finished the sixth book, I absolutely bawled when I finished the seventh.

It’s odd to think about how this book corresponds with important dates in my own life (or really that of the people in my generation). At 16, I went to my first midnight premier (possibly because it was the first time I really had the money to spend). It was also my first summer as full time camp staff, and the year I moved out of my parent’s house.

The last book in the series came out, my last year at summer camp. The year I graduated from College. Harry Potter is an adult, with kids at the end of that book. I am an adult with bills, facing a serious injury, that needed surgery, without health insurance at the end of that summer.

And now, the series is over. I went and saw the last movie (twice) this weekend. Normally I wouldn’t go see a movie twice, but I am glad I did. I caught a lot more the second time, as there was a person bawling behind me for the entire movie the first time.

I have read a lot of speculation as to why/how Harry Potter became as much of a popular culture phenomenon that it did. It certainly was the only book I could walk up to anyone at the summer camp I lived in at the time it came out, and ask anyone about it, and they would at least know what I am talking about.

Maybe it’s the underdog story. When you start out, Harry is an eleven year old boy, who is smallish, bullied by his cousin, who lives under the staircase, meant to defeat the ultimate evil. Or the fact that he is a bit of a rule breaker, with a good heart. I don’t think anyone has the answers. There is no hard and fast rule as to what will make a series a great success.

I am not sure how much I can learn from these books as far as a writer goes. They don’t do that much right. They are entertaining. They tell a good story. They are easy to read. They have an evil villain who has no real reason for being evil. There is a lot of stuff randomly thrown into the last book (where did that wand lore come from).

Harry Potter has been around for half of my life. I was thirteen when the first book came out, and am 26 now, and it is with a great deal of fondness that I say goodbye, perhaps until one day when I can pass the books along, with Lord of the Rings, and the Dealing with Dragons series, and maybe the people I pass it on to will get as much out of it as I did. Or maybe they will wonder whats the point. Perhaps its like Star Wars, you have to grow up with it for it to mean anything at all.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Are you chewing on a stick?

"The one place I did not expect this party to go was animal bondage, but here we are." No animals were hurt in the making of this blog post. So, this weekend I went up to Philadelphia to celebrate my friend Abby graduating from her MFA program. Mischief was had, a monkey leash was involved. No one debated the value of an MFA (that would have been exceptionally rude).

This included a visit to a farmers market where I bought licorice root, which is where the title of this post came from, since I am now, still walking around chewing on a "stick". But I come home to find a few pleasant surprises. Including a blog award from Libby Heily my first every blog award!



Now, I have been told this blog comes with rules. I am not a big fan of rules so I will do my best to follow them, most likely as ungramatically correctly as possible so that I can be breaking rools while following them.

The Rules:
1. Thank and link back to the person who passed on the award. check
2. Share 7 random tidbits about yourself.
3. Pass on the award to others (the number can be from 3-10) and link to their blogs.
4. Let those people know you’ve given them the award.

Seven Random Tidbits:

1. I quite like licorice root

2. I bought my friend Abby a monkey leash backpack for her graduation present, cause she is a big girl now, but still runs off in crowds of people. And told her I would get her one months ago--but she forgot so when she was asking for clues about her present I would keep saying, "I told you I was going to get this for you." and she couldnt remember, till she saw the card.

3. I write, not because I think I am any good at it (although I like to pretend that I am) but because when I have tried to kick the habit I had mini nervous breakdowns where I would write things like:

"I feel like I am trapped somewhere in between sane and ity. And since my lip was bitten off some three miles ago, Im gonna go ahead and guess that I am closer to the latter. My bed is made out of kitten claws and lipstick, bu I have to open my eyes to get a blanket, or else risk perpetual blinding by things I would never like to see. Darkness is an absence of light rather than an absence of knowledge of whats in it."

which I wrote in my sleep, and have no recollection of writing.

4. I used to train horses, and still love horse back riding although I dont get to go much anymore.

5. My entire room is furnished from either things from Ikea, heirloom pieces, or random junk I have found.

6. I dont believe in "normal"

7. I went to 6 different Elementary schools in 5 years, but never moved.

And the winners are:

Bards & Prophets : Her blog is super entertaining, and very informative

Multiculturalism for Steampunk : Its a good research blog, especially if you are looking for steampunk ideas. Its also very well written.

Author Michael J. Sullivan : Although he is neither sweet or stylish(you can be stylish if you want to Michael), and probably wont participate, I do enjoy reading his blog.

Wildly Urban : An interesting blog about all things nerdy/yuppy and otherwise entertaining.

I'm off to chew on more sticks.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Pride and Dialouge

Mr Darcy: I have fought against my better judgment, my family's expectations, the inferiority of your birth by rank and circumstance. All these things I am willing to put aside and ask you to end my agony.
Elizabeth Bennet: I don't understand.
Mr. Darcy: I love you. Most ardently. Please do me the honor of accepting my hand.
Elizabeth Bennet: Sir, I appreciate the struggle you have been through, and I am very sorry to have caused you pain. Believe me, it was unconsciously done.
Mr. Darcy: Is this your reply?
Elizabeth Bennet: Yes, sir.
Mr. Darcy: Are you... are you laughing at me?
Elizabeth Bennet: No.
Mr. Darcy: Are you *rejecting* me?
Elizabeth Bennet: I'm sure that the feelings which, as you've told me have hindered your regard, will help you in overcoming it.

from the 2005 Pride and Prejuduce movie.

One of my favorite parts of writing is dialouge, especially if you have two characters with good chemestry. And they bicker. I think it comes from having so many sisters, but I tend to write characters that bicker extensivly with each other. I often, in rough drafts never use dialouge tags, which tend to annoy the crap out of people that read my rough drafts (See below)

Damien paused, “You called me Dai.”
“Not the point.”
“What if I have a problem with you calling me Dai.”
“Do you?”
“You don’t let me call you Lens.”
“Fine call me Lens, but answer the question.”
“I don’t really care if you call me Dai or not.”
“Not the question I wanted answered.”
“I know.”
Leni stared at him for a moment, “will you stop me if I try to leave.”
“Depends on where you are trying to go.”
“Away from you.”
“Could I follow you?”
“I think that might be trying to stop me.”
“No, it would just be following.”
“And the point of that would be?
“To keep you out of trouble.”
“I can keep myself out of trouble.”
Damien shrugged, “maybe.”
“I have so far.”
“I know.”
“So why would you follow me.”
“Why don’t you want me to?”
“Stop answering my questions with questions.”
“I forgot your original question.”
“Will you stop me if I try to leave?”
“Do you want to leave?”
“Damnit Damien!” Leni shouted, pushing him away from her. “Just answer the question.”
“I think I already have.”

Anyone struggling with Dialouge should watch Pride and Prejudice though, the dialouge in that movie is amazing. You can see the scene above here

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Flash Fiction Friday/Kinda

So this isnt as short as I would like it to be, and a litle later than I would like it to be. I would have finished earlier if I had'nt gotten sidetracked by a really nice old man, who asked me to write his memoir. His name was not Michael.

The following is all true, except for the part that is a lie:

It didn’t do for ducks to be brooding, but Michael had little choice in the matter. He was, after all a teenage duck, and a vampire, and a pirate. So he stood on the bow of the Meridian, the sea breeze pulling at his dark feathers as he looked out into the emptiness around him, brooding.

A half discarded suduko puzzle sat off to one side, he had been working on it but had found it hard to concentrate his thoughts kept turning to what brought him here. He didn’t go out looking to become a pirate, or a vampire. Those things just kinda happened to him, as he set off to make his fortune so he could provide a house for his true love. He originally had been a Ferrier, but there wasn’t much money in shoeing horses, especially if you were a duck. So he went into the city, where he was attacked by a vampire, but since the vampire really didn’t have a taste for feathers, so instead of killing him, he just turned Michael into a vampire as well.

Then there was the issue with the popular conception of Vampires. Everyone seemed to assume they were rich, or something. And then there were the hours, it was nearly impossible to find a job that would only let you work at night. But the Somalians had no qualms with giving him a job, as long as he could be ruthless, they didn’t even care that he was a vampire. The horn of Africa had its own perils. Especially for his crew mates, who were significantly less undead, and by that Michael meant that they were quite alive. Now that the UN had started patrolling, piracy just wasn’t what it used to be.

Michael sighed, there was also the other thing. Michael knew He would catch up to him soon. That was one true advantage of piracy, when you were a pirate you could spend long periods of time at sea without ever docking. And if you never docked He could never find them. Some people would consider Michael lucky, I mean not everyone had multiple fathers, but Michael had two. His true father, who had long since died, and had been turned into a mummy, and was now sleeping safely below deck. And his father’s twin brother, who insisted that Michael was indeed his son, and had been chasing them for leagues, trying to convince Michael to return home, and to stop shirking his duties.

Almost on que, Michaels fathers twin, Michael showed up on the deck of the boat, landing in a flurry of black feathers.

“Michael” Michael, Michaels fathers twin, quacked.

Michael fluffed up his feathers, slowly standing up off the eggs he had been keeping warm.

“Michael,” Michaels fathers twin continued. “I know you’re here.”

Michael stood perfectly still, as his fathers twin started walking up and down the boat, although the bag of gold at his side squeeked.

“he’s found us” the bag squeaked.

“Not yet,” Michael whispered to the bag, stroking it carefully (the bag had once been his true love, but Michael, using vampire powers, turned her into a bag of gold so that she could live forever, without being a vampire) “and he wont if you keep quiet”

“Michael!” yelled Michael again. “I know you’re here, you stole something from us. And you need to come home, or at least give it back to us. The village is starving.”

“Oh no.” the bag squeaked.

“Shh.” Michael snapped at the bag.

“Michael, I see you!” Yelled his father’s twin, walking purposefully towards them, “you need to give me the bag, so I can buy food for our village,”

“Our village?” Michael asked, his fathers twin, Michael. “Our village has been gone for a hundred years, old man!”

“Just cause you’ve been gone for a hundred years doesn’t mean the village has.” Michael yelled, lunging at Michael.

Overhead, the clouds began to rumble, turning over one another, as Michael jumped out of Michaels grasp. The water started lapping around the bow of the ship. Michael flapped his wings at Michael as he tried to regain his balance, Michael grasped at the bag.

The boat began to pitch as the lighting lit the sky. Michael flapped away from his fathers twin, ignoring the scuffle to run and grab the helm, as a wave crashed down on the ship.

“Michael,” Michael yelled at his fathers twin. “Enough already! Why cant you just leave us in peace.”

Overhead, more clouds started to attack the first set, which caused the boat to pitch and hurl even more. Michael struggled to hold onto the helm as his fathers twin approached.

“Because, you stole her from us. She was mine, after you left, and then you stole her from us and left us to starve, we need that gold” He yelled lunging.

Michaels feathered hands slipped around the bag, which screamed. At the same moment, a giant wave came crashing down, washing Michael and the bag overboard.

“No.” Michael yelled, letting go of the helm and jumping overboard after the bag. As they hit the water, the storm began to die out. The clouds calming down as the sun started to rise. Michael hit the water at the same moment as the first rays of the sun, and promptly turned into a Toyota Prius.

Michael, Michaels fathers twin watched in amazement from the ships deck, managing to hold on when the bag went overboard. As Michael the prius rev’ed his engine and powered down after the bag. Not noticing the door to the deck opening behind him, and a cloth wrapped figure emerging.
“Michael?” The mummy asked.

Michael, Michael’s father’s twin, turned, “Michael? What have they done to you?” he asked the mummy. “Your all mummified.”

“Well you’re a ghost.” Michael, Michaels father answered.

“Im not a ghost.” Michael, Michaels father’s twin replied.

“Yes you are.” Answered the mummy. “You’ve been dead for one hundred years.”

Meanwhile down below, Michael the prius, vampire, pirate duck caught up to his ex true love, who is currently a bag of gold and managed to get it/her inside the car, before transforming into a Smart Car so that he could rise to the surface. And with one great push, managed to land on the deck of the somolian pirate ship. Crushing both Michaels, which didn’t really do anything to Michael the mummy, cause he really was a ghost, however, Michael the ghost was crushed, cause he really was a mummy.

And they all lived happily ever after, except for the clouds, who were really controlled by space, and blamed the earth for everything.

I hope you enjoyed my Somolian Pirate workout VHS. Please turn over for side two.

p.s. I am 90% sure none of this makes sense, however it was quite fun to write.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cutest Landing

I have recently started publicizing my blog. Not in a real way, but in a hey look I have a blog too, kinda way. My method of "promoting" my blog is by telling friends that it exists, and giving them the URL which of course leads them to the blog. And the Question:

Cutest Landing?

That is because my blog title makes no real sense. I chose it because I like it, and because when I decided to create a blog I couldn't think of a witty title. So I decided to go through my Facebook status updates, and I found a Facebook app, which I have sense lost, that would tell you the most commonly used words on your status updates. My first two were, Cutest and Landing. And a blog title was born.

I feel like the title could have a deeper meaning, if you chose to think hard enough about it, although this might require you to think like me.

The landing part is easy, mostly cause I am almost always falling down, and you cant land if you dont fall. I also constitute falling as other random things that happen, where the end result is me landing on something. For example, getting hit by a car. So I am pretty good at landing, because I have a decent amount of falling practice.

Although if you go deeper, you could perhaps find more meaning in this. Everyone has a past, and I started this blog to deal with some of those issues. A friend of mine once told me that its a miracle that I am kinda normal, so I consider that to be one big landing.

Cutest...well I dont really have an in-depth analysis of this one, unless you take it to mean, clean or neat and neat as in precise like the The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Writing Fiction: Funny Guide

I was at my desk, doing my normal morning brain warm up: ie shopping online. I bought my Dragon Con ticket, which is exciting. And then I was cleaning out my email and I came across today's Groupon: 10$ for 20$ worth of knitting supplies at this store downtown. So of course I bought it. I actually bought two. One for myself and one as a gift (most likely I will give this gift to myself too)

After I bought the groupon(if your unfamiliar with groupon go here, its a website that allows companies to offer discounts so that people will come to there store, hopefully get hooked and then keep coming back). I scrolled to the bottom of the page where there is normally a Groupon Guide to:..... today's groupon guide, was to Writing Fiction, I pasted it in below:

The Groupon Guide to: Writing Fiction

Instead of being based on real-life events, many of today's best-selling books are composed of what are conventionally known as “lies,” although the publishing industry prefers the handy euphemism "fiction." Because they are entirely made up, writing fictional books is extremely easy—just follow this handy guide:

Use at least three characters:

Protagonist: The hero. In all books written thus far, the protagonist has been a sullen teenager, a swashbuckling duck, or car that can transform into a smaller car.
Anti-gonist: The bad guy. Always the protagonist's twin father.
Love Interest: Either a person or bag of gold that must be rescued by the protagonist.

Choose a type of conflict

Man vs. Man: A man fights another man
Man vs. Himself: A man fights his clone
Man vs. Nature: A man fights some angry clouds
Nature vs. Nature: Two angry clouds fight each other

Finish with a twist:

It was Earth all along! Or conversely, it was space all along.
All the characters were ghosts! And the characters that seemed like ghosts were actually mummies.
It wasn't a book at all, but a helpful exercise VHS! That's why it was so fun to read!

So as a challenge to myself. I am going to write a short story: Less than 750 words and include all of these things, for Free Fiction Friday.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Memoirs of a Crack Family.

All good stories involve cops. This is not true. Although it is one of those things that popped into my head, when I opened my laptop to find a word document titled “Random Family shit”, a file I vaguely remember writing, under the influence of gin and my family.
The first excerpt read:

“And I was like no F***ing way,

“And they were like, yes f***ing way, cause he f***ed his way across Europe and into Asia” (my mom, on Charlemagne, Incest, and Midgets)

This is not that funny, till you get to the midget part, which I am still uncertain of its relevance. Although the entire thing came up cause I was giving my mom a hard time for getting so drunk the last time I saw her that she peed herself while trying to explain to me and my sister why incest is sometimes okay, cause everyone is related to Charlemagne (but don’t worry we don’t believe her, we might be from Georgia but even we aren’t that messed up)
Apparently I agreed to write “Memoirs of a Crack Family” on this trip, which I do admit has some potential but I honestly doubt I could ever do it. I fear that we would all be too ashamed. Which brings me to another point.
I often feel guilty of things more rational people tell me I have no business feeling guilty for. For example, I was sexually assaulted when I was 14. I never told anyone (related to me) till I was in my early twenties.
One of my younger sisters was sexually assaulted when she was 14. She never told anyone either, we didn’t find out till she tried to kill herself. I have always felt responsible, not because she was assaulted. I know I have no control over that.
I feel guilty cause I never opened up. My sisters never saw me struggling, and when it happened to her, she felt so alone, and so afraid to share, that she shut down. She tried to kill herself. I never said, you are not alone. I was never an example.
There is this entire, “It Gets Better Campaign” for GLBT kids who get bullied, which is great, its empowering. But what about all the other groups who suffer silently, who slip through the cracks of society. What about the kids with alcoholic parents? What about the kids who are abused, what about the runaways and the vagrants?
I wrote a post on a forum explaining why I don’t think I could ever write a memoir, it would hurt too many people that I actually care about, in spite of, and because of their flaws. And one of the responses was. You should write one, think of all the people you would help. And perhaps this is true. Perhaps I could help people, but at what cost. And is it selfish of me to even ask this question. How much harm is it worth to save one person? Am I responsible to tell these stories?


Second excerpt:

It was 5am

“So I was driving this black guy home that I just bought coke from, but I didnt really know him, back to south side…and I got pulled over, and they asked me if I had been drinking, and I had two beers, so he had me blow, and I blew a .09, 1 point above the legal limit, so the cop said ‘let me tell you what, you leave your car here, have your friends come bring you back tomorrow, and I’ll drive you home.’

So we get in the car and were driving, and the cop asks me “Ma’am have you ever been arrested by Baldwin County Sherif’s department before?”

“Yes sir, a few times”

“Were you ever arrested with a guy who was crying?”

‘Yes sir.”

“I think I arrested you before”

"I think you might have."

Then we pull up to the house, and all of these people are outside, and they scatter like cockroaches into the dark, when they see the cop car, and he tells me to have a good night and be safe.