Category Archives: inspiration

I gave up Facebook, and I feel fine.

Yes, at first the habit of signing in and seeing what everyone I know (knew?) had been up to while I slept, made itself felt.  But I was spending far too much time there, so I stayed away.  After approximately two weeks I forgot about FB, except when something I’m interested in wants me to sign in through FB, or worse, my favorite local nursery’s website is a FB page.

Posting on FB had ups and downs.  Do I always post happy stuff I wondered.   I survived lectures about posting protest types of comments.  One was said with a little laughter at my expense, suggesting that I wasn’t enlightened enough.  A lot of my acquaintances were in the realm of woo-woo, which can be wonderful, until it isn’t.  Until they tell you the things they see in your aura without having been asked, and it’s never good.

Every time the news posted something about the lack of privacy on FB my inner Ron Swanson would go on high alert.

Do I care how many people “Like” a particular post?  Sometimes, and I questioned that and was not thrilled with my answer.  More frustrating was the lack of human responses beyond a “like” or an emoji.  I also don’t appreciate seeing other people’s food that doesn’t involve a professional food stylist.  Don’t they see that it looks like dry vomit or fresh road kill?  If it’s delicious, tell me about that, with words.

I’m happy to say I never developed an inner grammar police.  I’d see the typos or errors, stop, double check I understood the meaning and keep going.  Not everyone got an A in English.  Some folks speak several languages, but English wasn’t their first so naturally, there are mistakes.

Then there are the comments I didn’t post because, well, family.

It wasn’t just my family, it was his family too.

FB was useful for instant messaging, but then I found myself using that more than the main page.  Don’t I have a phone that can text?  Why yes I do.  And all the while FB is prodding me to update photos, to post a new comment.  It dawned on me that I had more acquaintances than friends.  I started a new job and life got busier.  My writing time dwindled.

Finally, someone shared that FB is keeping tabs on my account by having a “friend” hiding in the shadows.  One I could not delete.  It is, after all, their service, I’m just the squirrel trying to get a nut.

It’s been since the end of February.  I write more, I call or text friends, I read the newspaper when I want to know what’s going on in the world, and I feel fine.

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An Equal Rights surprise

This morning, as I was in line to exit the drive-through where parents drop kids off for school, the driver of the car in front of me got out and sprinted in my direction.  My first thought was she was going to tell me a brake light was out, or something to that effect, as she had been in the loop first and at some point was behind me.

Anyway, there I was, glad I had put a baseball cap over my bed head, and was wearing actual  clothes instead of a coat over pajamas, when I saw a small book in her hand and felt my warning hackles rise a little.  I do live in conservative-ville, where people think hypnosis is how I steal souls for the devil.  The strangers I see regularly in my day-to-day activities invite me to attend church with them, and after I say no, they never smile and wave again.  If this woman was going to invite me to ‘worship’ with her, it would be my first drive-by invitation.

She got close enough that there was no mistaking she wanted to talk to me and I let the window down, trying out a good morning smile.  She thanked me for having a Human Rights Campaign sticker on the back of my car.  It’s a blue equal sign, and it’s on the back window so it can’t be missed.  Now, all too aware of my coffee breath, I nodded, smiled and said something along the lines of “Sure thing.  Thank you.”  She fast walked back to her car and I’ve been happily stunned ever since, imagining this town populated with people who believe in equal rights for all.

I have seen other cars sporting the sticker here, it’s rare, and one time I was so thrilled to spot one, I honked and waved.  Sure that driver probably thought I was high, and had mistaken them for a brownie, but I had to show my solidarity.  Today I was on the receiving end of that same idea and it felt good.  Happy Wednesday.

When the universe says, “read this book”

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak was recommended to me by two different strangers.  One was while I was browsing in a book shop, and the other came online.  I looked it up, saw that it was set in WWII and thought, “I don’t feel like being depressed” and I let the idea of reading the story go.

My local library had a used book sale, that we almost missed because they haven’t been putting up early notices like they used to.  Only because my voracious-reader-twelve-year old really wanted a requested book, did I drive to the library on a Friday night.  It was the ‘members only’ preview of the books for sale.  Of course I joined up right then and we took a nice leisurely look-see of what was on offer.

I’ve been keeping an especial eye out for a Ken Follett book, in paper or hardback, and my daughter has been jones’n for Rick Riordan books.  No such luck.  No Follett, no Riordan, no good biographies (in my opinion), and blammit only the kind of cookbooks I have zero interest in.  When lo, The Book Thief winked at me from a low shelf of paperbacks for grown ups.  Turns out a lot of YA fiction was in the wrong place, but that was the only one I wanted.  You see, three hints is the charm.  Two suggestions and a lone copy in a sea of books I didn’t want, it was like a nudge to the back of the head, and the admonition, ‘Didn’t you hear the first two suggestions?’

How many books have had Death as the narrator, done so cleverly, and with a perfect lilt of poetry?  I admire Liesel, the main character, and how resilient she is.  I find myself swimming in the ebb and flow, feeling the cold, the bite of hunger and the humor of Rudy Steiner.

I havent finished the story yet, it is not an emotionally easy read, and I want to savor the parts I like.  Not just the characters, but the artistry the author has composed around them, and not lose their flavor to any disappointment that will come if it ends badly for Liesel, Max and the rest, as it probably will.  After all, when Death is telling a story, no matter how beautifully, do I really expect it to end happily?

I recommend it.  I am thanking the Universe.  I absolutely will pay closer attention in the future.

The elusive moment of feeling a written work is finished

I’ve talked with other writers, read their blogs, and many say that when it comes to editing their work, they’re never done.  I agree, I can’t ever seem to open a piece of my own work and not make some kind of change, until it happened.

I wrote a short story during the last ice age.  Since then it’s been sitting around, occasionally taken out, dusted off, and tinkered with, only to be put back.  I would always feel as if it wasn’t quite finished, that the voice of the character was not consistent from start to finish.  Or critiques showed readers were confused where I thought clarity reigned supreme.   At the beginning of summer I told myself to finish it once and for all and send it off.  You know, just do it.  I did make changes, and then, nothing.  I felt as if I’d read this story enough, too much even, and kept ignoring it on my list of recently worked titles.

The other day something different happened.  I opened up the document, swallowed my previous notions with a figurative vitamin C, for clarity, and made cuts.  After, I slipped into the character and wrote a little more.  The additions were small, maybe four lines total, but they were striking enough to send chills down my arms.  I rushed to save the piece, and closed it before I messed it up.  Less is more in my book, especially with a short story.  I hadn’t read it through, but I was certain if I changed one more thing I’d jinx it.  I considered the idea of a jinx to be a little over the top, so I swapped it out for one along the lines of the story needing to rest, like dough for yeast bread.  (Yes, I recognize that I need to get out more.)

Thursday I printed it out for writers group, still unread, arrived and promptly decided I wasn’t going to read it.  Thankfully it was an unusual evening, a new member read some striking poetry that kicked me into action.  If she can be brave and read poetry, which is so much more personal somehow, I think, then I can read this story for the umpteenth time.  I did, and it felt, right.  I used to get that feeling with college essays, that sweet, inner surety that clearly said, ‘this baby can be put to bed’.

I looked around the table at the others and their faces reflected the story.  I quieted the excited cheer rousing in my head, and waited for their words.  I’m happy to say the audience was moved, and today I’m going to the post office to mail it off to my favorite literary magazine.  My mind is changed, that moment of feeling a piece is finished can happen.  Excuse me while I kiss the sky.

Why the world needs Superman

One Nerd thing I’ve been dying to officially say for ages …  During a ceremony where the late Christopher Reeve was honored for his portrayal of Superman, it was said he was great because he made us believe a man could fly.

Not so.  The special effects made us think a man could fly.  What Christopher Reeve did was take someone who is technically an alien, and make him very human in his love for the people of his adopted planet.  He didn’t care for us by use of his given abilities only, yes he saved people from crime, disasters and accidents, but there was also a quality that’s not scripted.

Whatever this element is, it’s something earlier actors didn’t convey.  It could have been the time and direction, when strong men were silent, stony faced and one-dimensional.  And damsels in distress constantly bit their knuckle in a recurring expression of fear.  You know the one I mean.

With Reeve’s Superman, the world was shown someone with unlimited strength, who also wore his soft spot for a physically weaker people, with humility.  He was a man willing to learn from anyone, any situation, even his own mistakes.

Let me put it this way, everyone has power over someone else, adults over kids, bosses over employees, you get the idea.  How do you wield the power you have?  Have you had a real life example to emulate?

A nerd finds inspiration

When it’s time to pick myself up and dust myself off and get back in the game, I often like a little theme music to go with it.  I’m partial to Dory the fish singing “Just Keep Swimming”, but that’s because I have kids.  The nerd in me looks to the last Star Trek film, how in hell did Kirk keep getting up?  I know, I know, it was scripted, plus it had marvelous music.  More times than not the soundtrack is playing, okay, blasting in my car, especially track five.

There’s also the part of me that needs to go a little deeper, and that’s when I read how other people in real life manage to continually get back on their feet, literally and spiritually speaking.  I very much enjoy reading “Eat Pray Love”.  I won’t compare it to the movie, because I’ve never seen all of the film.  And to be truthful, I haven’t read all of the book, yet.  However, from what I’ve seen and what I’ve read, there are simply many thoughts the movie cannot convey.

I’m near the end of her time in India and frankly, I look at this book as full of Spring days (that make me crave pizza) and I’m parceling them out for when I need them.  Why you might ask?  The answer also happens to be my favorite thing about the book, the humor a very close second.  My favorite thing about this book is that she never gives up.  Yes she gets bogged down a bit here and there, but overall she continues to ask herself, how do I get out of this and keep going?  And that’s really all any of us can do, is to keep using the tools we have, or try new ones, so we can untangle whatever we’ve gotten ourselves tied up in.

Lately, as I spend a lot of time with my mom, she got a brand new left knee a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been her helper, I’ve found myself needing reminders to take deep breaths as my patience gets tested.  I pull out the book, which I can relate to on many levels, and read a bit, and remember to not give up on finding love and compassion in every moment, for myself as well as everyone else.  And now I have to dash, she has a physical therapy class to attend.