Friday, March 26, 2010

...I'm Taking the High Road...

I've been sick for a few weeks now.
  1. I’m sick of “bad” news. (Bin Laden pops back up, and the world's longest hanging starring Kwame Kilpatrick as the dead man drags on)
  2. I’m sick of “stupid” news. (Endless updates on Tiger Woods, Jesse James, or anyone else that can't keep it in their pants)
  3. And then there's the news where the “bad” and “stupid” meet in the middle (Death Before Health Care?)

And I’m sick of just being sick. I’m not exaggerating when I say my only pain-free parts right now are my toes. And we’re going on week three of Angel held hostage.

But I refuse to complain. I’m going to talk about what’s good these days. I’m going to follow the advice of obnoxious new age jerk-offs everywhere and “choose” to be freakin’ happy.

This won’t be easy. My experience has been that actively expressing my love or appreciation for something is the fastest way to lose it. I can’t ever allow myself to openly love something because it ends up going away. That might sound cliché or just unbelievable, but this is a lifetime of experience I’m talking about it. The exception to this rule is that if it doesn’t go away, it just gets hurt really badly.

But since I’m trying to learn to not be ruled my fears (which we all know by now are mostly irrational), I’m going to step on out there, and express my appreciation for all the small things. Small things add up. Every blessing should be counted.

Stuff I’m happy to be blessed about. (in no particular order):
  1. I am clean, dry, indoors and will sleep in a bed later tonight.
  2. In the morning, if I’m lucky, I’ll wake up to start another day.
  3. I have a job that’s quirky sometimes with interesting people, and reliable transportation to get there and back home again.
  4. I’m able to write this.
  5. I’m able to read this.
  6. I’m grateful for books.
  7. I’m grateful for beautiful music.
  8. I’m grateful for wonderful friends who are thoughtful enough to send me beautiful music. (If you read this, thank you. You’re one of the coolest people I know.)
  9. Cookies and/or ice cream
  10. We have a fitness room at my job, so I’m happy to have free access to exercise equipment (see #9)
  11. I’m happy that my toes don’t hurt.
  12. Oatmeal, olive oil, lavender oil, raw cabbage, and honey.
  13. Time.
  14. Family.
  15. Friends.
  16. Indoor plumbing.
  17. Art work
  18. Talented people that share their talent
  19. Kind or funny words when you least expect them but need them the most.

Not bad. It was hard to do that without adding in “except for” or “but” comments, but I’m glad I did it. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get to one hundred items before the end of the year!

Song stuck in my head this week: After a bout of "big-fish-in-small-pond" syndrome, they moved to Def Jam.
Where they were eaten by sharks.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

...I Will Always Be That Nerd...

I am a total nerd who enjoys any learning opportunity, good or bad. As such, this has been a particularly educational week for me after an experience that should have left me upset instead made me excited.

Even though the bulk of my professional experience is in journalism and public relations, my dream in life is to be a published fiction author. I’ve been writing fiction my whole life, but usually it ends up sitting in a box or a drawer somewhere. I have been working to recover some old things that always got a great response and I’m always doing new stuff that I’m looking to sort out and then send out.

So this week when I sat down to take an old idea and rework it into a fable, I was suprised by how well it didn't go. I have never had writer’s block. Usually, I’m running to the computer to try and get the idea out before I lose it, but never have I sat and stared at a screen and thought, “Jeez, this sucks.”

Four (okay seven) pieces of chocolate and a couple of bad paragraphs later, I arrived at the following conclusion:

 My writing is a gift that comes to me in strange and unexpected places, but runs from me if I try to wrangle it.

 Sure, I could see this as a negative thing. What kind of writer can’t just sit down and write? Isn’t imagination the first tool of fiction writing? Perhaps. But years of feedback to my work based on ideas that just came to me versus things I tried to "squeeze out" has shown me that Imagination may not be a free spirit you cannot hold with your hands, but it's pretty to watch it fly.

 Whenever I just write whatever comes to me, I’ve always found the feedback to be positive. Even if the reader doesn’t like it, their reasons for not liking it let me know that they were absorbed by the story and cared about the characters—and that’s positive!  I have been reminded that there is an audience for everything. And I have to not let everything I do or think about die under the weight of scrutiny, perfectionism, or insecurity.

And now, the Top Ten Other Cool Things I Learned this Week

Friday, March 12, 2010

...Sometimes I Just Wonder ~ "Bad Ideas" edition...

Dog Sacks
This is a real ad from the June 1936 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine. If they made these for kids, I might reconsider my stance on motherhood.

A good argument for forced sterilization
Sometimes I see people with kids who are so stupid, I wonder how they even figured out how to have sex. This woman says she’ll name her kid “Megatron” if her brother can get 1 million fans on Facebook before the August due date. When I checked on 3/10/10, he was up to almost 900,000. Let’s hope she was just joking.  But if she wasn’t, and if you enjoy encouraging idiots, you can join in the calamity here:

Junk in the Trunk. No, really.
There’s a bunch of stuff on me that I would just love to nip, snip, lift, and tuck but I refuse to touch anything. One, because even if it doesn't look great, it works wonderfully; and two, because your surgeon might be buying his medical supplies at, oh, I don't know, Walmart.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

...My Heart Goes Out to the Cruise Ship Waves Victims...

Ms. Russell was drawing lines on the chalkboard for a handwriting lesson when the giant tree came crashing through the window.

I was seven years old but I remember it like it was seven minutes ago.

My elementary school was of pretty good size, stretched far and went up several floors. We were on the top floor in a class on the front of the building. And on the ground below, workers were cutting down a very large, very old tree to avoid “potential hazards of a tree that size.”

To this day, I still don’t know why they didn’t cut it down several pieces at a time rather than trying to cut across the bottom like it was out in a wide open forest somewhere. The school faced a very busy main road, and I guess they took every precaution to make sure the tree didn’t land in traffic. Too bad they didn’t take that same precaution with the school building full of children in the middle of a sunny autumn afternoon.

Those of us that cared, leaned forward in our seats straining to hear Ms. Russell yell simple cursive writing instructions over the sound of the buzzing chainsaw. “The capital ‘Q’ looks like a large number ‘2’.” I remember that. I remember her gray turtle neck under her gray and burgundy argyle print jumper dress and burgundy shoes that looked to me like tap shoes.

I remember the sound of the saw fading, and then the eeriest silence you can imagine. Then a slow snapping sound.

...If These Songs Were People, They'd be Related...

They're not twins, but they could at least be cousins.

Everytime I hear one I want to hear the other.

Produced by Timbaland and the Neptunes, respectively. Must be something in the water in Virginia. :-)