Spooky Days

After a couple of errands, tonight will be helping Bryon finish his Halloween extravaganza, handing out candy, and either checking papers or continuing to edit my novel. A nice quiet evening.

I’ve finished 109 pages of the beta edit. But those were the easy pages.


I’ve seen some really interesting criticism of the president for “taking advantage of the incumbency” during the Hurricane Sandy crisis. I dunno. I guess I’d rather have a president who’d do his job without taking the campaign into account. Kudos to Chris Christie as well. I gotta say, I’m kind of respecting him at this moment. Yeah, it’s unlikely. No one is more surprised than me.

All righty. I’ll be back when I have something interesting to say. That could be tomorrow.


Religosity, Bullying and the Vote

Stay safe out there, East Coasters! My God, the weather can humble us all. Perhaps my favorite news item of the day is Chris Christie praising Obama for his handling of Super Storm Sandy, a reminder that leadership matters for both men, and when the chips are down, taking care of people matters more than taking sides.


Recently, an Iowa minister made the news for writing an anti-gay letter to his small town newspaper, suggesting to people who they should vote for. The controversy in this case is that the church where the Pastor serves is a polling place in the small town of Dunkerton, and now people are not certain this is an appropriate polling place.

This isn’t the first I’ve heard about something like this. A friend of mine in Texas stopped going to her church because clergy in the church were telling people how to vote based on candidates’ views on birth control. My mother-in-law recently stopped attending her church based on a similar maneuver on the part of her minister censuring gay marriage in their local paper.

It would be incredibly naive of me to suggest that the church has always stayed out of politics, but it’s been a long time some clergy have pushed their congregations toward certain agendas. I think that might technically violate some non profit status or something. Equally cringe-worthy this campaign are the employers who suggest to their employees that there “might have to be some changes around here” if one candidate wins. I’ve not seen a pro-Obama memo on the part of the employers yet, by the way.

While free speech is something we respect in this country, we’re not terribly wild about coercion. And we’re not into the idea of telling people how to vote. Both of these trends tend to smell like yesterday’s cod. Which parties seem to be benefiting from these corrupt tactics, or are trying to? Could I suggest that this might be conservative bullying?

There’s another facet of this. While the above tactics suggest to people that they must be careful to protect their own interests and beliefs, another tampering tactic seems to be this idea of prohibiting voters by vote monitoring, or the passing out of false information that targets voters you don’t want to vote. This is a rarefied technique that can’t even try use “good morals” or “self interest” as its justification. The only thing that’s going on, pure and simple, is that the parties involved want to stack the cards in their favor as “concerned citizens” who have no official capacity in a process comprised mostly of volunteers.

One of the ideas about our democracy is that people get to vote. The popular vote doesn’t always win the day, but people need to vote, and have the chance to sway the electoral votes in their state their way. Anything that meddles with that decision, regardless of how convinced the meddler is that it must be done, is less than American.

Potpourri for $200

Let’s just take a moment to appreciate that I did make my deadline, and I am through Abigail Rath draft 3. I will now go through some smoothing and some correcting, and I should have it out to betas no later than November 9th. While they have it through the 7th, I’ll be reading it out, making editing changes, and getting my materials around for submission.

It’s nice to have met that goal.


Of course, the biggest news of the day is Hurricane Sandy. Please stay safe and stay inside. It’s no laughing matter. We had flooding in Cedar Rapids in 2008, and this is much, much worse than that. If you’re an east coaster, please post something after as soon as you can, so we know you’re safe.


I have taken two xanax so far, one on Saturday. That one wiped me out, although I may have been wiped out and the xanax made me rest. 🙂 Today I took one at work. And here’s what I did–I sat down and finished Abby Rath at work. Hey, I reasoned, I spent all last weekend on papers. I can take a couple of hours. Apparently, xanax makes me fight authority while being easy going about it. Woot.

So, yeah, I gotta get some Kirkwood work done. And I’m on track to get the new orientation format under control. Expect, soon, some commentary about Paradise Icon (this weekend) and religion and politics.

Stay cool. Stay dry. Stay safe.

The Great Give Up Conundrum (or Cath’s Anxiety Post)

Boy. Wouldn’t life be easier if you gave up the whole getting published thing? Wouldn’t that just be one less thing for you to worry about? Well, what do you think, Professor Girl? One less thing on your plate?

I went in to talk to the doc, yet again, about the heartache of ringworm, which, for the uninitiated is really fungus, not worms. More cream, more aggression. More laundry! As part of that, you always drop some random health stuff. Yeah, I’m dieting now. Clean eating. Note the pounds I’ve lost. Yeah, my blood pressure is always high at urgent care. Nothing to worry about here? Good. Oh…sometimes I’ve been having incredible moments of stress when I feel overwhelmed by the amount of work I have to do. My chest gets tight, I get angry.

Cue the screeching halt. The word xanax is mentioned.

Xanax? Hey, that’s more medicating than I want, right? ‘Cause that’s not Wellbutrin, which is my personal Jiminy Cricket. That’s like a name brand with a big ad campaign medicine for people who have…issues. That means that the Furies have their claws more in me than I thought, that I can’t just will it away. I am not that person! I mean, I’m okay with other people being that person, but I’m the person who supports people, not the person who needs help. (Cath finds out where her biases about depression and anxiety, and where her insecurities about not being perfect and in control, really begin.)

No, says the doc, moving me away from my biases and prejudices. It’s not addictive, you don’t have to take it all the time, only when you need it. Here’s a super low dose. You can choose when you take it. You seem like a person who is very concerned with what you put in your body. I know you won’t abuse it. But see how you do with it

And just like that, I have the modern mother’s little helper in my medicine cabinet. Just in case my life gets too rough and I can’t get my worry and anger under control. And I have to say it makes me think about the amount of stuff I’m doing and the pressure I’m putting on myself.

Continue reading “The Great Give Up Conundrum (or Cath’s Anxiety Post)”

Expertise Hour Update

About two years ago, I pledged to myself to write twelve hours a week, so I could continue to work toward the 10,000 hours of doing something that would get to an expertise level, a la Malcolm Gladwell. I used to post periodically about this. You may be asking yourself, during those sleepless moments around 3 am, how is Catherine doing on that project?

Well, steadily would be the right answer. Right now, I am not keeping up with my twelve hours a week. I am currently a little under 30 hours behind. So, what’s up with that? Well, let me tell you.

1. Two writing classes. That’s about, I dunno, twice as much checking time as one writing class. 🙂 Also, a writing class is about 2 times as much time as a grammar class. It goes without saying that I’m doing more teacher stuff this semester, and that will continue into next semester.

2. The whole arthritis lifestyle shift. You would never guess how much time shifting your eating habits takes. I mean, really doing it. You tell me where I can find amaranth in Cedar Rapids! All joking aside, cooking better and eating better means menu planning, longer shopping hours, and more food prep time. And this is also a wise thing for my future, but yeah, that’s about 5 hours of time that I no longer have a week, and that’s at a basic level.

And those two things are about it. I’m happy to report that I haven’t allowed anything to creep into my life that I can’t avoid, so I am more or less about to get in about 7-10 writing hours a week at this point. There is one more thing that will eat my time as I work my way back to it, and that’s more exercise, again, important.


This means a couple of things. I expect the amount of time I can spend writing a week will really vary from year to year. I also expect to still make my goal of achieving those extra 6000 hours I need (really closer to 5000 now) for expertise by retirement. While I hope to retire earlier than the standard 30 year career, changes in the state pension my husband has will mean that I am solely responsible for my own retirement if I outlive him, so I must plan to make sure I have what I need. I am saving hand over fist at this point, so I am hoping to get a little of that time back. What this means though is that I’ll be working longer, so if the writing slows down, that 6K is still doable.

Unless the commercial god of writing smites me with her magic money wand, in which case retirement will come much earlier. The only way I would leave my job to write is if writing became more cost effective than my job. Behold my pragmatism!

So, that’s where we’re at. Writing steadily, working hard, eating well. How’s about you?


STILL trying to get that last scene written in Abby Rath draft 3. So close! STILL want to get that to betas in November. That’s my goal. Yours?

Canceled After Four Episodes

That is, if you also count the vice-presidential debate.

When I went to Russia, we visited with the mayor of a small ‘burb outside of Moscow. This guy was a nuclear physicist, but in the new Russia, not as many physicists were needed. So, many scientists went into business or politics. This guy was actually a celebrity on an expert think tank show, and that helped him win the election.

The group of professors I was traveling with had many questions for the mayor, including a question focusing on whether Russia was a better place now that Russia was exercising the right to vote someone into office, rather than having people in appointed positions. What the mayor said stayed with me. He wasn’t sure that elections were better than appointments. Elections meant you had to get people to like you. You had to put on a show. You couldn’t always say what you thought. You had to appeal to popularity. And you couldn’t always do what you thought of as the right thing.


Pluses and minuses, I know. But that swings us right into talking about Wrestlemania Smackdown IIIthe debates. No wonder Romney is confused. And no wonder, especially in last night’s debate, Obama is occasionally this person I feel is less than presidential.

Continue reading “Canceled After Four Episodes”

Cucurbital 3 AND Cucurbital 2

Paper Golem would like me to alert you to some exciting new developments.

Both Cucurbital 2 and Curbital 3 are available electronically, as well as in hard cover and soft cover. Here’s where you can find them.

Cucurbital 2 at Amazon

Cucurbital 3 at Amazon


Amazon has these exclusively for 90 days, so when there are other electronic links, we’ll post ’em.

If you’re like me, and you don’t do Amazon, Barnes and Noble can also help you out.

Cucurbital 2
Cucurbital 3


Watch for a book contest soon.

The Next Big Thing: Catherine Evleschin

My roommate from Taos Toolbox, adventuress and academic Catherine Evleschin, is kind enough to let me host her Next Big Thing.


What is the title of your work-in-progress?

The title is Rivers Still Run.

Where did the idea for the book come from?

I’m terrified by the impact of the population bomb on the environment and on society, and of the possible solutions that may be considered or implemented.

What genre does your book fall under?

Post-apocalyptic science fiction with a sociological slant. The main characters are biracial, Latino, Native American, and Eurasian (reflecting the predicted demographic in Western USA).

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

See #3. No black-face.

What is a one-sentence synopsis of the book?

In post-apocalyptic Cuba, an archivist unearths a conspiracy that has saved the planet from environmental collapse, and must decide if humanity is ready to learn the truth of the Pandemic that destroyed three-fourths of the human race.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m watching the way the wind blows in the publishing world.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Four months. I am currently on perhaps the seventh rewrite.

What other books would you compare this story to in your genre?

Many wonderful novels of the world altered, each with a different take. I have been influenced by the quiet power of Mary Rosenblum’s Water Rites, David Brin’s The Postman, George R. Stewart’s Earth Abides, Octavia Butler’s Parables, Pat Murphy’s The City, Not Long After… so many visions of humanity struggling with and surviving collapses of societal infrastructure.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Bill McKibben’s and James Hansen’s warnings about our planet imperiled, and Kim Stanley Robinson’s bold visions of future’s that are based on science, not fantasies to save the select few.

What else about this book might pique your readers’ interest?

I am an ethnologist of African Diasporan and Latin American expressive culture, so each of my five settings reflects where I predict those cultures will be in fifty years after upheavals yield winners and losers in the fight for political and economic survival. Class warfare and exploitation, reflecting my West Coast anarchist upbringing, education, and lifestyle.


I wanted to call this entry “Slimeball.” But then I thought much too obvious.


Last week, Jerry Sandusky made the news again with his final statements in the court room just before he was sentenced. Both he and his wife Dottie are convinced that they are victims of an immense conspiracy, and just this morning on the radio I hear that Sandusky plans an appeal.

You do that, Jerry. You do that.

Meanwhile, the rest of us might be interested in watching Aaron Fisher, also known as “Sandusky Victim 1” on 20/20 tonight. Fisher endured Sandusky’s obsessive abuse from the ages of 12-15 before he tried to get some help. And he and his mother were betrayed by a town in which obviously corruption was pervasive. The high school Aaron attended tried to sweep the case under the rug. Aaron was gifted with a persistent, protective parent who was not part of the problem.

Aaron waited for even more years to get justice. His case wasn’t enough for prosecution. Until evidence solidified en masse, irrevocably, the system would not move forward to see justice done. Justice is slow, very slow.

What I admire the most about Aaron is her persistence. Even though he was depressed and he relived this experience over and over, he kept telling his story. How many more victims of sexual abuse stay silent after that first attempt of confession fails? How many more of us have been betrayed repeatedly by the adults in our lives who are supposed to protect us? Too damn many.

Jerry and Dottie believe that they did nothing wrong. They believe that they can pretend that the victimized boys had it out for them, and in this town, where no one has previously made waves and let a predator get away with what he wanted, they can continue to live the life they lived before.

No one, no one believes that you and your wife are innocent except you and your wife, Jerry. I expect nothing better from you, because you are the lowest form of life, much much lower than mold spore. You are a man that takes advantage of children AND abuses power to do it. You aren’t just the scum wad that abuses his children, although believe me, that would be bad enough. No, you’re the man who believes he’s invincible and you can do what you want. You saw those boys as objects, and by God, in University Park, Pennsylvania, where the sun is shielded by a giant Goddam football, you were untouchable.

I can’t see what’s to be gained by keeping you alive, Jerry. You have no remorse or penitence. You’re a mad dog. We shoot mad dogs don’t we?

At least those boys know you’re done. Those boys know, like I know, that the piece that’s not broken is them. You’re not getting out. The case is shut, closed. We loathe you. Not just former victims like me. The whole of the country. We LOATHE you.

You have done one good thing–you have made real people all over the country understand more what happens during sexual abuse. You have helped remove some of the stigma for those of us who have suffered. Because you’re such an obvious villain, no one confuses any of this as the victim’s fault. Except you and your wife. Delusional.

University Park, I have visited you once, when my friend Diana went to school at Penn State for a short year in 1988. I shake the dust of your town off my feet. Your penance should begin right away. What will you do to make sure this never happens again?