Archive | September 2013

You’ve Put Your Evil in my Pasta

Oh, Barilla Pasta. How I love your multi-grain thing spaghetti. I have a partial box in my cupboard, which I will finish and savor, BECAUSE IT IS THE LAST TIME I CAN HAVE IT.

The controversy is that the CEO of the Company Guido Barilla says some pretty anti Gay things. He's pro gay marriage, but not pro gay adoption.

So...this is a foolish misstep on the part of Barilla, who probably shouldn't have talked about families and commercials and anything like that. He should talk about, you know, pasta. However, just like the Chick-Fil-A, which WAS one of the healthy ways I could enjoy fast food, I can't support this kind of foolish, not only for the public good, but also because of Lisa. What would my best friend, who is pretty BI think of me if I kept eating anti-orientation pasta? Okay, what would I think of myself, if I kept eating anti-orientation pasta?

Look, guys, advertisers, in this time, you're going down if you can't get the changing social program. Eventually old paradigms go away, and new ones take their place. You should be thinking about PR very seriously.

So, I have regrets. I hate whole wheat pasta. I have tried many kinds. Multi-grain was my compromise. And now, now I am at sea. I must experiment, and there's gonna be a WHOLE lot of bitter pasta in there. Oh, sure, I can't get a decent chicken sandwich (with crucial pickles) anymore, but time has kind of healed that wound (sob!)

Get with the program, you guys! Be open and caring and anti-discriminatory, and then, again, pasta.

Koch Brothers, you're different. You funded neo-con principles and helped an administration kill thousands of people. I'm never going back to Northern. Not even if you come out as pro-gay as Harvey Milk. Just so you know.

ETA: Mr. Barilla has issued an apology.

Self-Improvement Homework (Type A Stretches Out)

What I have learned today:

1. I need to be mindful of what I'm doing when I'm doing it. I don't need to worry about the future or ruminate about the past. I need to breathe, and I need to remind myself of what it is where I'm at, right now.

2. I need to live now, not live for some point in the future. (As in I am HERE for you.)

3. I should stop writing should statements. 😀

4. I should also develop a sense of humor about myself.

5. Mistakes are cool. Try some out. And be okay with them. (AAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!)

6. Look at all the cool things I am. And shut down the negative talk. (Oh, the Midwest culture doesn't like this one. At all. But I promise. My bragging blog. Just to prove to myself I can. Sometime soon.)

7. No longer will I feel guilty for not doing what I think I should be doing, or not finishing what I think I should be finishing (work in progress here. Seriously. Work in progress)

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Jay Lake and the Story a Week Experiment

Jay has often talked about his story a week experiment, and I was intrigued when he went into greater detail last year at Paradise Lost. Here, Jay shares what he learned about writing during that time.

Tamago: Can you explain what the short story a week process is? It may seem obvious (ie you write a short story a week), but how did you decide when you'd done a story? First drafts? Multiple drafts? Give us an insight into the process.

Jay: My definition was a first draft complete every week. I didn't place word count limits, so it could be anything from flash to novella length work. All I required of my self was to type "the end" by
midnight Saturday night every week. I did this for several years.

Obviously (or perhaps not) I needed to allow time for revisions, edits, workshopping, marketing stories, and so forth. But for me personally, the basic discipline of generating first drafts led naturally to those other steps.

Tamago: Why did you decide to embark on the short story a week challenge?

Jay: It was kind of an accident. In December of 2000, I decided to write a story a week for the month, as I had recently begun attending a weekly workshop, the Wordos in Eugene, OR. That was mostly an effort to kick start myself after the disruption of an interstate move to Oregon earlier that year, and the general chaos of having a small child in the house.

December went pretty well, so I set a similar goal for the first quarter of 2001. That went pretty well, so I double dog dared myself to do it for the entire year of 2001. Eventually, it just became a habit.

Tamago: Under what conditions did you complete a short story a week? For example, some writers might say, "Sure, I could do that if I wasn't working full time?" Were you? What other responsibilities and obligations did you have? Given those responsibilities and obligations, how did you find time to complete a short story a week?

Jay: Working full time in a white collar job with a high travel commitment. Also having a pre-school age child at home at that point. So, yeah, a lot going on. How I found the time was by not watching television (I cut off my cable in 1994 when I realized it was distracting me from my ability to write), not playing console or online games (gave that up in 1998) and not going to a lot of movies, concerts, plays or parties. I stayed home and wrote whenever time allowed, and I used my downtime
for writing.

Honestly, I think most people would have plenty of time to write if they gave up an hour of television or gaming every day. Usually when I say that folks get pretty irritated with me. That is *not* a value
judgement about television or gaming. It is a comment on personal priorities.

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Waiting

I am at home waiting for Frank the Tree Guy to call. One of us had to do it, and today is a day that I don't have contact with students and the man does.

It is my secret hope that Frank will come, clear away the debris and I'll be able to get into the office this afternoon. It is more likely that I will be at home all day. So this, this is my writing time this week. I will try to work from home a bit, and then get it together and do some research.

My fear this week is that Frank won't get my car out in time for me to drive it to the conference in Chicago I'm presenting at on Wednesday, and tomorrow will be a scramble to rent a car.

BTW, I'm not happy about any of this. Like the rest of you, I prefer it when life goes in its accustomed manner. I had things to do at the office today that needed to be done at the office today.

Windstorms. Feh.

A Woman Walks Into a Counselor’s Office

Stop me if you've heard this one.

So. A woman walks into a counselor's office, and she talks about not getting to check things off her list, and how frustrated it makes her when she can't get things done at work.

And the counselor says, "Well, change the focus of your list from what you don't get done, to what you do get done."

Hmmm. That works. "But," says the woman, "what if you find all the lists competing. You know, like you plan to write, but you've worked hard, and you don't get to, and that makes you feel quite poor about your lack of accomplishment."

And the counselor says, "Well, try this. My vision of today was that I would revise chapter 12, but what I really need or want to do with my day is eat this cheese sandwich and take a nap."

Hmmm. That doesn't work so well for the woman, and she says so.

And the counselor asks why.

The woman suggests that while she appreciates that other people like her for just being her, in her own mind, she's still weighing her worth against her accomplishments. And that makes her cry a little bit.

And the counselor suggests that it's okay to slow down. He tells her to think about a mindfulness practice, like meditative walking or yoga or tai chi.

"Well," said the woman, "I already do tai chi. I've mastered three forms."

"I think I would stop that," said the counselor. "Did you hear yourself say you'd mastered three forms? I was hoping you'd say that I have a tai chi practice."

"You know," said the woman, "meditating in ways only the type A can."

***

I am to return in three weeks, and I'm to give some time and thought to these things:

1. Enjoying myself and relaxing.
2. Being in the here and now.
3. Resting when I need to.
4. Stop worrying about what I'm not doing.

I've had to route myself several times this weekend, but I will say that it feels a lot better listening to yourself and your needs rather than bashing yourself on the head with stress.

At any rate. Expect less.

Treeeeee!!!!!

The nature of existence is chaos.

We had a sudden wind flareup from a brief violent summer storm that took out a tree last night. The good news? No house damage, no living being damage, no car damage, no garage damage for ourselves or our neighbors. The bad news? We have a medium sized tree that we have to have taken away by the tree fairies, who usually look like overall clad men with a chipper. That is currently in the process of being set up.

And curses! Foiled again! I continue to try to save money for our roofing project, and things like tires and apple trees and storms keep happening. I've pretty much decided home equity loan's gotta happen. We have so many things that we need to fix, but the most urgent?

1. Leaky roof from seams of house that split due to additions (around 6K estimate with possible underneath damage that could raise the price. Let's try 10K)
2. Dining Room Ceiling. Dry wall is beginning to crack. Spackle is peeling off. (no idea. I'm gonna say 3K).
3. Upstairs Bathroom. Waiting forever, deciding to wait no more. I'm guessing 7K, as we must hang dry wall, and replace toilet and tub.

So, soon, after double checking these estimates, I will try to procure a home equity loan of about $25-$30K. Hurrah. After we get that paid off, we'll move on to the other tasks and see how much we get done before we move.

I don't know yet what this does to my projected trip to Vegas in January, but I'll try to have that puzzled out too.

Meanwhile, this weekend, look for me in the yard doing work, checking papers, or doing household errands and clerical stuff. I'm not even going to pretend about the writing this weekend. It looks grim. Well, sometimes you have enough life, and sometimes you have more than enough life.

I hope you all have great weekends.

Egyptian Gods

Once you get outside the Ennead, or the core of gods in Egyptian mythology that most of the stories seem to be about, you then get into many, many, many minor gods that perform many functions. For example? Anpu and his brother Anubis, who are gods of embalming. Bast who is responsible for temple cats. Ptah who is responsible for a variety of things, depending on the region of the country. Ammut who devours your soul if you are found wanting. The anthropomorphic Egyptian gods and numerous.

Some anthropologists feel that what has happened is that the Egyptians are great absorbers. In order to integrate their country, one way they found to do that was to absorb the regional gods into one massive religion, which might be why Ptah has a creation myth, and Ra has a creation myth. Contradictory? Only if you think about it too hard.

One of the reasons I appreciated and am using the Egyptian pantheon in the Klarion Scroll series is that there are just so many of them. I don't have to pull out a lot of repeat names as I work with familiars.

Next research topic? Venice

Once More Unto the Breach, or Type A Rears Its Ugly Head Again

Hey cats and kitties.

You might remember my very vague post about guts last week. So, here's what we got. After the colonoscopy, which is, by the way a great way to lose about 4 pounds overnight. Scratch that. It's actually a really horrible way to lose 4 pounds overnight. Well, after the colonoscopy, we discovered that I have a tiny ulcer in my intestines. These are usually caused by foreign bacteria (Vietnam?), and this one is already healing, thanks probably to the foresight of Dr. Banks and some antibiotics. Several biopsies were taken, and we'll see if the weird bacteria needs another kick in the teeth. All is well. I see Dr. Qiao again in December to see how I'm doing.

So...cool. Contrary to popular belief, ulcers are not caused by stress. Which was my first fear. BUT there is this--the digestive difficulties I've been having should not have been caused by this teeny microscopic ulcer. The bacteria could play a role, if we find it. But stress does affect that sort of thing.

It occurs to me that around the stressful times of the semester (beginning and end) I have suffered some sort of digestive issues or breathing issues or anxiety issues for the last, oh five years. Not to over-dramatize (would I do that to you?), but the problems seem to be getting worse, not better. Pills manage anxiety, increased medication manages heartburn, and other issues of digestive function we sort of live with until they go away. This was by far one of the most stressful periods of beginning a semester, with new college rules and regulations. I cannot detach like I would hope, and I stay wound up, and ta-da! issues.

There's a lot to unpack here. I'm going to cut this, because you know, maybe TMI or disinterest on your part.

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