My writing is finally official

Oct 27, 2013 at 11:01 PM
My writing here wasn't official. Here's my first officially published - in print - story. The rest were on websites or under another's name.

Here is the announcement!

http://inkslingersguild.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/the-authors-of-into-the-abyss-presented-by-the-ink-slingers-guild/

It was as much of a heartbreak to be published as I thought, and the editorial process on something that has my name on it and is fiction is a new process for me.

I do feel we reached a great compromise, as the story was nearly 28000 words originally, much longer than a short story. But in the end, we got it down to a short enough length to qualify for the anthology.

Buy it, and let me know what you think here!

Quick as a Wink

Sep 13, 2013 at 4:57 PM
I have poised and industrious, dignified, competent children. I should be completely over the moon. And honestly, I am. Don't get me wrong. But a really big part of me wishes they'd go back to being 6 again so we could do the last ten years over again. (Maybe this time with money.)

They're sixteen. I know I've done my job. If I died tomorrow, they'd be just fine. And I think that's the problem, They just don't need me as much as they used to. They are doing exactly what I hoped they'd do - they're looking OUT now. Driving, dual enrollment in college and high school, tests, babysitting, developing relationships and skills they'll need as adults.

And while I'm very proud, I am also feeling the melancholy of it. I'm not getting empty arms syndrome in the usual sense, or depression. I'm not craving a new baby, nor am I in need of medication.

I just didn't have long enough. I recall like it was yesterday when these girls were little bouncy headed things that bashed into my legs when they ran. Now they are taller than me.

I need more time with my babies.


A biracial family still being controversial in 2013?!

Jun 30, 2013 at 3:25 PM

Apparently, there has been a month of controversy, with thousands of people freaking out about a biracial family in a cheerios commercial.

Comments and even likes or dislikes had to be disabled. Because this adorable child had two colors of parent.

SERIOUSLY??

I have been raising biracial daughters for sixteen years and in all of those years, I can count on my two hands the total number of assholes people who have brought it to their attention or even cared.

I say this: Cute commercial concept. Glad it didn't MATTER what race the family was. I'm sorry there is still enough hate, bias, and prejudice in the world to generate this kind of momentum, that enough people believe that biracial families are shocking.

Adorable kiddo. Kudos to cheerios for breaking this barrier, although I'm shocked it existed still to be broken.

Psuedo-heroes

at 10:49 AM
There is a famous quote from Washington that I see posted regularly.

"Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master." - George Washington 

This quote was researched by a team at Yale several years back. It is entirely apocryphal, appearing in none of Washington's written works or known speeches and first appearing in 1902. It might be a worthwhile statement, I don't care to argue it. My point is that it did not originate with George Washington.

As with so many other false but timely quotes, it ran past me again in my facebook feed today, and got me thinking about the origins of the adage it obliquely quotes. The ancient adage goes:

 'Fire is a useful servant, but a fearful master'

It has long contained a critically important maxim to pass along. These days, fire is rarely a part of a child's life.

In any case, this was consistently passed down through western Europeans since the beginning of civilization there, originating probably elsewhere and earlier. Who knows, probably a hundred generations or more. However, today, at least in the Americas, nearly no one of western European descent knows it, or thinks on its importance. Perhaps we must invent a replacement for electricity, since most houses burn down from electrical fires. Amazing how only a few generations can completely wipe away ages of learning, just by ceasing to pass along the old adages. There were dozens of offshoots of the master/servant theme of adages, such as love, curiosity, imagination, etc... but fire is where it began, as with many things.

  • A stitch in time saves nine,
  • Honey catches more flies than vinegar,
  • Your eyes are bigger than your stomach,
  • Everything in moderation,
  • A watched pot never boils,
  • Idle hands do the devil's work,
  • A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,
  • You must find a way or make one,
  • Well begun is half done,
  • All's well that ends well,
  • There is honor even amongst thieves,
  • Beggars cannot be choosers,
  • Don't judge a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes,
  • Actions speak louder than words,
  • Better a certain enemy than a doubting friend,
  • The same sun shines on us all, (and it's corollary)
  • Hard rain makes everyone equally wet,
  • Penny wise, pound foolish,
  • Look to the past, look to the present, see the future,
  • Cut off one's nose to spite one's face,
  • The remedy is worse than the disease, 
  • Act well, fear nothing,
  • Never rob Peter to pay Paul,
  • Many others lost with time...

I could dig into each of these is great detail and come up with fascinating depth. There are infinite variations, messages and sometimes polaric meaning depending on who used it. 'Stitch in time' alone is often interpreted to have three rather different meaning. Without digging deeper, (although I recommend you do, if only to comprehend the ancestral wealth of proper scolding in its concentrated form), there are useful bits of knowledge in there that we've lost touch with completely as a culture, simply by dropping out the habits of passing along adages. The concept of the passing down of a moral code (oral or otherwise) has practically disappeared in this passive/recessive age. Aside from a few holdouts, we mostly leave television in charge of informing young minds -- an entirely foolish practice.

Thus they have completely disappeared from use. The notable exception exists of using these colorful turns of phrase as idiomatic seasoning in similar communication. Something along the line of 'Season new food with old spice'. (Yes, that's where the brand name comes from.) A practice that apparently was used by the unknown originator of the above quote from pseudo-Washington.

What I understand from seeing so many false quotations from our apocryphal heroes is that we, in America, are desperately seeking truth, heroics, common sense, and idealism in our leaders and finding none. A sad thought, and I hope my musings have lead me to the wrong conclusion.

Unnecessary Kindness

Feb 28, 2013 at 11:28 PM
I am so touched to receive the below. I have no words. See my previous post to understand what I did that she's thanking me for.

I can't make out the name, but in case you can, I've blurred it out.




Pollen, Life and Death

Feb 25, 2013 at 5:48 PM
I live right on a beautiful park with a lake and a dog park and a ton of trees, which is normally a good thing, but not right now. Right now, I'm looking out at a beautiful idyllic landscape and cursing it hoarsely. I'm dealing with insufferably bad allergies. I can't take allergy medications, so I'm stuck with the full force of it.

Oak pollen season has struck with a vengeance. Huge piles of oak pollen on the windshield, everything coated a nauseating shade of goldenrod. My front yard is indiscernable beneath huge massive pollen drifts.

I feel it might be necessary to become an oak tree vigilante.

But If I do become an oak tree assassin, it will have to be at some other time of year. As of right now, the trees win. I don't dare step out of doors, and a knock at the door is dreaded. I sweep constantly, as there appears to be some secret way that pollen is entering the house, piling up under the dining room table and by the doors.

I've got a pot of water bubbling on the stove for humidity, an ionizer, an ozone machine, an air purifier, aromatherapy, and all-natural household air spray going. Nothing helps. I'm in migraine land nearly all the time, constantly dealing with sinus issues, and every breath is a chore.  The allergies used to be just sneezing, then coughing, but now it has devolved into a terrible wheeze, and my throat feels coated in chalk.

I find sleep evades me. So, early yesterday morning, I was up early. Very early.

A knock at the door. Damn. Urgent. An appeal through the closed door for help. I peek and it's a woman who is frantic. Crying, panicked. Her dog collapsed in the street outside my house, on the way back from the park. Having seizures or something, and she can't lift it alone, needs to get it to the vet in a hurry. I couldn't see a dog, I could only see a mini van. All the childhood memories of being warned about walking up to a van flashed through my head, of shows with cheesy black/white cutaway shots and shaky camera moves designed to make you feel nervous, talking in deep tones about side-of-the-road killers and their penchant for pretending to be in distress to lure victims. All this flashed through my head but I still said, Give me a minute, I'll go get my sweetheart, he's strong.

I though this because labs are large, and collapsed, unconscious or dead life forms are oddly far heavier than live ones. Without a soul to lift it up, a body is a tremendously heavy thing. Makes me wonder how much a flower weighs before you pick it.

I ran for Isaac, but he was sprawled out and totally asleep. He had somehow taken up the entire bed in the short time I'd been away.  I woke him carefully. He's not fond of surprises. I tried to express both patient kindness and extreme urgency, so as not to upset him. Early morning Isaac isn't my favorite Isaac. He's a very particular and methodical day-starter, and life shows up behind the eyes in the morning at exactly the speed it will, clothes go on at one speed only.

As Isaac very slowly began to show signs of life behind the eyes, I quickly realized the dog would be dead before I could get Isaac out there to help.

And suddenly it dawned on me. Oh yeah! I'm fucking search and rescue trained! How could I forget? I took courses in triage, I moved an "unconscious" 350 pound firefighter 50 yards! I was drilled and drilled on how to get injured and sick over to medical help. I ran through smoke and fake fire to find fake dead people and fake injured and triage them.

So, I dashed about the house, created a home-made stretcher made primarily of my favorite table cloth - the only thing in the linen cabinet that wasn't an antique or the wrong size, meanwhile, Isaac's head had mostly cleared from the morning fogginess that strikes hardest when woken unexpectedly.

I heard him talking the devil's advocate on my actions, reminded me that I put myself at risk of a lawsuit if I help. I pondered that, but decided I couldn't leave the dog to die. Which actually was against my training. I'm supposed to refuse to help a stranger outside of specific situations, and this was one of them. Had it been a person, I could have been charged with manslaughter upon the death of the person, even if I helped. Oddly, the fact that it was a dog was what made it possible to help. I'm not likely to get in trouble for being a good samaritan, end up in jail or sued for all I'm worth, when it's a dog. I gambled, right or wrong, on the side of doing what's right over what's legal. As I usually do.

I told Isaac I'm going, so either help or leave me be. I've got it.

Isaac wasn't nearly ready, so I told him not to bother, but he did put in one more useful thought, reminding me to don gloves as he sat back down on the bed.  I grabbed up a pair of latex gloves from the kitchen - one thing about Isaac, he's a bit of a dirt-o-phobe, so there are hospital-style latex gloves in drawers all over, in case of dirty chores like gardening or changing the oil.

Panic freezes the mind, makes people shabby useless versions of themselves, and I've seen plenty of it. People panic easily, but for some reason, I don't. I keep my head and start taking charge. So, when I arrived, I took in the pollen-soaked scene. Pollen was splattered everywhere, all over the dog, who had fallen into a gutter that was lined with pollen siz inches deep. I sighed, resolute. With firm commands, I helped the woman move about, and prepare her dog for the stretcher. The dog, an obviously well-cared-for, well loved golden retriever who was having seizures, onto the stretcher beneath him and then heave him into her car.

Afterward, I remembered so many things I did wrong. I didn't ask names, or calm her down first, or anything. I handled helping her with the dog just fine, but I stuck to work, more like a busy field medic or Joe Friday. "Just the facts, ma'am."

As she hovered over her dog, panic stricken, I was struck at how incongruous to see such a sad sight painted onto the canvas of my bright, cheerful tablecloth. I firmly reminded her to drive straight to the vet, but she said, "I think he's already dead."

And at that exact moment, the dog was. I am not certain that it wasn't her saying so that made the dog give up, but it did, right then. Death is such a curious thing. No backdrop makes it seem congruous. Suddenly what usually might just appear to be a slight tangle or muss in fur sudden turns into a grotesque mat of fur, twisted and wrong, not the way a dog would have arranged itself. He was very dead. No matter how many times I see it, it always seems so absolute, so HUGE. Nothing is just dead. It's very dead. I've seen plenty of death, and it never ceases to be extreme, and difficult. I wasn't upset by the dog's death, but I did recognize that there was no longer any reason to be wading in a literal puddle of pollen.

I know it seems as though perhaps I was being heartless, and I was not interested in imposing myself onto her moment of grief, and, let's face it, there was no further help I could be...  I chose not to force the grieving owner to experience with me the impending inevitable sneeze fit that was looming. I booked it.  I left her to take the dead dog to the vet, and went back home fast.

Well, despite that the whole thing took less than five minutes, yet life rolls onward here in this house, and I'm still paying out the nose. Too much pollen during that experience has left me with deeper migraines and more sniffles.

The sudden arrival of unexpected death into my life, and an emergency that was not quite as close to home as it could have been did serve to remind me that I am good under pressure, and that I want to get a new batch of search and rescue training.

Whatever help I can be, whatever ready I can be, I'd like to try. It's better than being incapable under stress.

Published Again

at 12:59 PM
Here's a link to the place where I was published.

http://theneumanpost.com/flash-fiction-friday-volume-xvii/

Second time. :)