Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Courage!

So I am back at the point where I am leaning towards sending in some work to a publisher.  I have two children's stories that have been done for ages that are just sitting on my computer gathering electronic dust.  But here is the truth...it scares me to do it so I have a hard time taking the next step (who do I send it to?) and following through.  So I keep making excuses not to do it.

It's weird because I honestly think the stories are good.  I think they are cute, I think they work, I think they lend themselves to more stories featuring the same little girl.  But I am slightly terrified to send them out in the world and be told over and over again that they aren't good.  That nobody wants them.  I have watched friends who are authors go through this time and time again and I know how discouraged they got.

I need a shot of bravery.  But since that sort of thing has to come from inside yourself I am not sure where to find it.  Ugh.

I will let you all know when I get brave enough to put them in the mail. And then you will hear what happens next.  Because I tell you all everything...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

It's all about the Planning...part two

Okay, so here we are back again.  I've told you what I think about Rush and Maher and that whole debacle. But why did it play out so large? What was the main debate that led up to Rush opening his yap anyway? Birth control. It's a hot issue in the 1972 election cycle...I mean in the 2012 election cycle. Though I didn't just pull 1972 out of thin air, did you know that single women couldn't be prescribed the pill in all 50 states until 1972?  Ridiculous right? Now why are we having this discussion again?  And again?  And again?

There seem to be two sides to the birth control debate right now, those that frame it as a religious freedom issue and those that frame it as a women's health issue.  As a non-religious woman you know which side I see the debate from. The whole thing blew up when it was recommended that women's birth control, the pill, be a baseline offering from health insurance companies. Now religious institutions, catholic religious institutions specifically, made the claim that it was against their religious beliefs to use birth control and therefore they should be exempted from this ruling. This is where things got tricky in my opinion, if you are a church offering private insurance then I think you have a valid point. People aren't going to work for you if they don't believe your religious teachings and so they should understand what they are getting in to.  If you are, on the other hand, a hospital or a college and you were founded on a catholic stance but you now accept federal funding ( Pell Grants, Federal assistance, medicare, etc...) and you hire people outside of the church and religion to work for you  then you are no longer a strictly religious institution and I think you fall back under the baseline guidelines. As a hospital or college you are not free from taxes as a church is so why should you be free from other federal guidelines?

But the freedom of religion argument is that they are a catholic school or hospital and as such it is against their beliefs to use birth control and so they are offended that they should be forced to offer it.  There is a loophole, of course, there always is, they will cover it if it is not prescribed for birth control but for other medical issues, you just have to ask permission.  Friends of mine who were adamant that discussing end of life options with your doctor was the same as a death panel are in favor of this discussion.  That puzzles me.  When is it okay to have a private health care decision be taken out of the hands of just you and your doctor and when is it not?  Apparently it's okay if you have a vagina and not any other time.

So as we argue about women's reproduction again...I have to swing back around to the recent flair up with Susan G. Komen and Planned Parenthood.  Now we all know that PP is the bugaboo of the Right , up to and including a Senator lying about the services they provide on the Senate floor. When Komen got caught up in the middle of the scuffle, everyone has an opinion about what happened there, I have one as well but to give the short version I think they got caught not paying attention to the agenda of a member of their board shame on them. I also think it shocked a few people how strongly people felt about Planned Parenthood. On both sides of the aisle and the issues.

When I was a sophomore in high school I started a volunteer program with the Crisis Pregnancy Center. I'm going to share my training experience with you. They had come to speak at our church, looking for volunteers, especially young people. We were going to save the unborn babies. We were going to be heroes! Now, I have mentioned before that I am anti-abortion but pro-choice. Back then I was firmly pro-life. Until this organization gave me a taste of what that meant to them, and to many who are staunchly pro-life.

The first thing you need to know is that at the time if you looked up Abortion Services in the yellow pages that is where you would find Crisis Pregnancy Center listed.  Part of the little write up mentioned that they offered free confidential pregnancy testing as well. So a woman would call the center and your job was to get them to come in for the pregnancy test. If they asked about prices, times, procedures for receiving an abortion you weren't to answer those questions directly but let them know you would discuss everything with them when they arrived at the center. Once the woman arrived at the center you took her in to a room and had her fill out her personal information and gave her a pregnancy test.  While you were waiting for the results of the test you started the film...you all know the film I am talking about.  The one they show to depict what an abortion is. Using late term footage. Which is not at all what the cluster of cells this woman currently had looked like, but that didn't matter, we needed to show her what she was doing.

Let that sink in for just a bit. Without her knowledge of what she was about to walk in to we were to  trick her into giving up her private information, give her a pregnancy test, though there were no doctors on site and force her to watch a pro life slasher film. Usually a young scared woman who had no where else to turn. What would Jesus do?  Probably throw these people out on to the street and hold the young girl while she cried. Or at least that's the Jesus that I thought we were supposed to be living like...

Yes, I never made it to actually being a Crisis Counselor.  I asked inconvenient questions of the training staff and showed too much concern about the hussy who got herself pregnant instead of the unborn innocent she was carrying.  Keep in mind at the time I was still very strictly pro-life and I didn't pass muster.  Because I couldn't understand the need to be deceptive to help women make what I felt was the "right " choice. Shouldn't we have been just as concerned about her health and well being as we were about the child she was carrying? Apparently not.

I will say it again, in case you missed it, I am anti- abortion but pro-choice. I wouldn't have one, but that's my choice. I have had friends who have had them and that was their choice. And let's just put it out there right now that the woman who casually uses abortion as a birth control method is also a rarity. Everyone that I know who has made the decision to terminate a pregnancy has done so after much thought and contemplation, it's not an easy decision for anyone. For pro-lifers to throw out the multi-abortion receiver as the standard bearer for the pro-choice movement would be the same as saying everyone who is pro-life throws bombs at clinics.  I am also very pro Planned Parenthood.  Want to know why? Because I have a son who is going to turn 20 this year instead of one that is going to be 26.

I waited until Brent to become sexually active, but I did not wait until we were married. I knew I didn't want to be pregnant and I also knew that condoms were not an effective form of birth control.  If they were I wouldn't have been born. I also knew that I couldn't go to my parents about birth control. The only acceptable form of birth control before marriage was abstinence. This was a religious belief for them. No ifs, ands or buts. I also knew this was not an effective stance to take. I had been to too many weddings of good Christian girls who had their first babies just a little bit early...say 6 month premies who weighed in at a healthy 8 pounds..so weird.

Anyway, I knew I wasn't going to stop having sex, I knew I didn't want to get pregnant and I knew condoms weren't completely effective so what next?  My best friend recommend Planned Parenthood.  Now to someone from the church this was like saying, "how about the abortion factory?" Was she high? What was she thinking? But she told me that they also did birth control. So I made an appointment with the Great Satan and off I went.

I met first with a counselor who talked to me about getting on the pill and asked me why I felt I couldn't talk to my parents about it. She recommended that I do so. She then explained what all I would go through that day. I had to have an exam (my first of that sort...oh joy) and what it would entail.  She told me all about the tests they would run.  She gave me information on the pill (I am old and there was only one choice back then) and what I would need to do to get my prescription filled and how much it would cost. She recommended that I quit smoking, not only for general health but because of the side effects from the pill.  She let me know that I would have to come back every three months to have my blood pressure tested to renew my prescription. She recommended again that I talk to my parents. She told me all about how the pill prevented pregnancy but not STDs. Then I met with the doctor who went through all of that information again, including talking to my parents. They also let my best friend stay with me through all of these talks and through my exam.

Contrast that with my experience with Crisis Pregnancy. Which organization would you rather your teenage daughter turned to in a time of need? Yes, I know there are those out there who think that a 17 year old girl shouldn't be able to get birth control without her parent's permission. But put that aside and think about the choices here. I was having sex. I was going to continue having sex. I didn't like condoms and knew they weren't effective anyway so what were the odds I was going to be consistent about using them? Honestly, you want to reduce the abortions in this country?  Stop preaching abstinence only programs and start letting people know what options there are for birth control.  I didn't start having sex because I was on birth control, I started having sex because I was in LOOoOOOOoooVE.... I started using birth control because I was smart enough to know that though I loved Brent and planned on marrying him I wasn't ready for a child.

Two months before I got married my mother took me in to our family physician to get me on the pill so I would already be established and regular by my honeymoon. When I told our doctor I had already been on the pill for 8 months by that time she said that she was sorry I didn't feel I could talk to my parents about it but was glad that I had been responsible enough to take care of the issue myself.

So now I have a son who will be 20 this year who was raised by two people who had a chance to establish a life together and grow up a little bit before he was born. And trust me when I say I know he had better parents than he would have had if he were turning 26 this year and was raised by two people who hadn't figured out how to live with each other let alone each other and a baby when he was born.  Isn't this a better goal than to make women feel dirty and cheap and like sluts because they want access to the best form of birth control out there?

For those of you that are going to bring up federal funding for Planned Parenthood and how that shouldn't happen, please know that I have one true believer Libertarian friend. One. For the rest of you, you believe the government should fund programs I don't believe in, I believe the government should fund programs you don't believe in. That's the way it works. Balance. And healthcare (PP doesn't use government funds to pay for abortions, but if they did it wouldn't be any of your business anyway) for women who cannot afford it otherwise is something I believe in.  Planned Parenthood provides that option.  Which is why, along with my tax dollars, I send them a little extra as well.  To help women live their best lives. And managing when or if they get pregnant is part of that for me.

So I wandered here and there with this discussion but that's how it's been played out in the news lately.  Freedom of Religion is all well and good until you start to force your religious choices on me. If you want to be independent from Federal guidelines then do not accept Federal funds. If you don't support a program, then vote for someone who doesn't support it and try to get your voice heard that way. And I will do the same. Freedom of Religion also means Freedom FROM Religion.  My birth control choices are mine. The only person who gets a say in them is Brent. Then the only other person who needs to be involved in the choices I make is my doctor.

Planning...I'm all for it...

Oh it's a two parter...

This blog (edit, now it's blogs, this just turned in to a two part discussion) will discuss politics and religion. You can back out now and I won't be offended. If you stay though you might be. Just remember it's my blog so my opinion is the one I am representing. If someone wants their opinions represented then they should write their own blog.  Just saying....

Okay all of that out of the way let's get started. It's political season which is the worst season in the United States. Every four years we get the worst of the worst of political season. This is one of those seasons. And honestly I think it has gotten progressively worse each year. I'm going to touch on a few things that have been in the recent news cycle and then move on to the blog I've been planning on writing since the last round of failed budget talks.

You all know about Rush and his latest incident. His three day rampage against a woman who dared testify before congress. You know he called her a slut, a prostitute and demanded that she put up the videos of her having sex on YouTube so we could all watch. After he started losing advertisers he apologized. Sort of. Dear Prudence actually did a lovely breakdown of his non apology letter. I know, I know, my more conservative friends are right now bemoaning the fact that the link goes to Slate.com so of course we can't trust it! Get over it...my blog...my links...and it's well done.

I wrote on Facebook that my issue with Rush was not just that he was attacking a private citizen who testified before congress but also that he was spreading misinformation. And I keep seeing this over and over and over. Let's just make it perfectly clear for a moment, ensuring that insurance covers birth control is not the same thing as giving away birth control for free. I am covered under Brent's insurance plan.  Which means we pay a premium for my insurance. Then when I get a prescription filled we pay a deductible for that. (technically our insurance works a little differently but I don't want to get in to all of the varieties of insurance plans that are out there, but suffice it to say, it's not free at all). This is not a government program. Your tax dollars are not covering birth control. This is an insurance issue.

And even if the co-pay portion for the pill is waived (one of the options being discussed) over all insurance companies save money (it costs a lot more to cover a birth and then the healthcare expenses for the child then it does to cover birth control in the first place). As do tax payers. How you ask? Well who do you think foots the bill for an unplanned pregnancy when the parents can't afford that child? If you are really and truly concerned with your tax dollars being saved you should be in favor of free birth control. (I'm going to swing back to this in a minute bear with me as I have one more rant to dish out before I move on.)

Then the next wave of Rush issues came up when it was revealed that *gasp* Bill Maher is a giant tool! Yes, that was the defense of Rush. That Maher said bad things about Sarah Palin so it was only understandable that Rush could say bad things about Fluke. Then the Right Wing Press Machine, or  Fox News, raised the fevered pitch that Maher was being given a pass by the Liberal Media because he is a comedian! They actually said, "He's being absurd, but that's you know an entertainer can be absurd."  Oh wait...that's not what the Liberal Media said about Maher, that's what presidential hopeful Rick Santorum said about Limbaugh. Hmmm...  There was even a little video clip put out about Maher sending money to a Super Pac for Obama showing all of the headlines that hit when Maher used the "c" word to describe Palin, while at the same time the video was decrying the fact that he got no flack for doing so.  You just showed all of the headlines from the time of people being offended! Pick a line and stick with it.

Where do I stand on the issue? The scale is different between what Maher did and what Limbaugh did. The target was different as well.  I am not talking about conservative versus liberal, I am talking about public versus private citizen. Testifying before congress does not equal running for office, starring in your own reality show, working as a commentator on the news and playing will she won't she with the media for months at a time. It's not the same for a political humorist (I really use that term loosely as I don't find Maher to be funny) to use a shocking word to emphasize his brand of humor during an act as it is for a political commentator to go on a three day rampage against a woman who dared testify before congress. I'm sorry, but it is different. All of that being said, I think if you are offended by Bill Maher you have (had? after all it was a year ago he said it) the right to talk about how offensive you found it.  BUT and here is the GIANT BUT...it does not excuse Rush Limbaugh.

I've said it before and I will say it again. There is very little in the political world that drives me as crazy as justifying bad behavior with, "They do it too!" You don't put up with it from your kids, you shouldn't put up with from your politicians or your pundits. When anyone tries to justify their bad behavior by pointing out someone else did the same or worse, or similar or what ever your response should be..."And your point is? I am not Jimmy's mother, I don't care what Jimmy does." Sound familiar?  Don't let yourself get sidetracked by justification for bad behavior. And one more quick point, if Bill Maher is where you set the bar for acceptable behavior, bend over pick the bar up from the floor and move it up a bit would you? He is offensive. He is a douchebag. He is misogynistic. All my opinion of him.  And as he is a public citizen I feel very free giving my opinion of him.  See how that works?

Okay now back to birth control and the issues that are surrounding it in this election cycle.  But I seem to have reached the end of my space for this blog...hmmm..maybe I should have Planned a little better....

Monday, March 19, 2012

Four words and a story....

Jackie sat on the floor of her new kitchen crying.  It wasn't supposed to be this way.  The big move to the heart of the city was supposed to make her feel complete, happy, powerful.  Everything she had been working towards wrapped up in a new downtown condo with great views.

She had earned every bit of her success.  The blood, sweat and tears it took her to make it through college on a combination of scholarships, student loans and work study programs. The unpaid slave labor internships she did through her early 20s. The entry level job she took just to get her foot in the door. The extra hours a week she worked to make sure she was the best, THE BEST at her job. Now at 35 she was at the top of her game. She was in charge of three accounts that brought in 70% of her firm's revenue. She brought in two of those accounts herself.  She was featured in this year's edition of 40 under 40 for Portland Monthly Magazine. She sat on the board of three different professional organizations. She was a highly sought out mentor for young women just graduating college. And right now, crying on the floor of her kitchen, she felt like the world's biggest hypocrite.

Years of preaching that her career was her focus and that there was nothing wrong with that caught up to her in a series of improbable events that might have been comical if they had happened to someone else. To something else. Or maybe on a TV show from the 70s where all could be fixed with the crinkle of a nose or the crisscross arms of a genie...but this was real life and instead of raucous laughter she was left on the floor of her kitchen holding a broken dream she hadn't even realized she had.

Moments before she had been listening to music and unpacking moving boxes. Thinking about what fun thing she might do later. Now that she lived downtown where would she go? Dinner out? Drinks at which club? She was looking at her new neighborhood not just through the eyes of a new resident but as a business opportunity. Which club would be the best for taking out of town clients to impress them with all that Portland had to offer? Which restaurant had the best food? Who would remember her and call her by name when she arrived, impressing her clients with her status? These were all part of the show of advertising and she played her part well.

For the past 10 years she had lived with a series of roommates in a lovely rental off of Hawthorne. It had been perfect for networking with creative people at the beginning of her career as well as fitting the image she was actively cultivating as a young junior advertising gal on the go. It also gave her time to pay off the balance of her student loans and save up for just the right car and just the right downtown condo. She had a plan and she worked that plan relentlessly. This new place with the stunning views and the extra bedroom that wasn't for a roommate but just for her all fit within that plan.

As she signed the paperwork and received her keys she felt like she had reached the pinnacle of her journey. She had no urge to ever own an agency so from here on out it was just more of the same, bringing in new clients, mentoring people as they entered the field, more boards and more events. To some this might not seem like enough but to Jackie it was everything she had ever wanted. She had grown up the middle child in a house full of children. Her parents did everything they could to keep a roof over their heads, food in their bellies and opportunities to pursue interests at hand, but truthfully with 5 children there wasn't ever enough to go around. Not enough time, not enough money. Not enough attention. 

Jackie's two older brothers joined the military like their father and their grandfather before him. They were well on their way towards their retirement. Raising their own broods and enjoying their own chaos. Her two younger sisters had married young and had children of their own now as well. She was the only one who decided that what they had wasn't for her. She adored her nieces and nephews and loved the chance to visit with them all, but was glad when it was time to go home. To get on the plane and fly away from the noise and the chaos back to her orderly world. 

Her orderly world which was right now reduced to her sitting in the middle of a pile of packing papers crying. Playing the "what if" and "if only" game over and over in her head. What if she hadn't put her telephone on vibrate instead of just letting it ring? If only she had put it on the counter after she hung up her last call instead of on the edge of the shelf.  Jackie had been putting away her "not everyday" dishes on the top shelf in the kitchen, standing on a footstool, or more precisely, balanced precariously on the edge of footstool as she struggled to reach the highest shelf.  Just then she got a phone call. Looking down to try to catch the caller ID she noticed that the vibrations of the phone were carrying it across the shelf it was sitting on and it was about to crash to the granite counter top below.  Reaching out to save her phone she lost her balance on the footstool. She went one way, the footstool went another and her phone went sailing off the shelf on to the floor below. As Jackie fell her arm caught the edge of the box she was currently unpacking and off it sailed as well.  

This is where Jackie's world turned into a slow motion movie. She saw her phone falling, the footstool tilting, and then the box falling and the only thing left in the box to unpack flying out of the box in the opposite direction Jackie was going. She tried her best to reach out and save the paper wrapped bundle but knew she didn't have the arm length to catch it. She started chanting, "Please don't break, please don't break" even as she knew the odds of hitting the ceramic tiles of her kitchen floor and not breaking weren't good. Maybe she had packed it with enough paper to protect it from the fall...then the crash as the bundle hit the ground and she knew...

When Jackie had left home for what she thought of as "for good" in the move to Portland after graduating from college her mother didn't have much to give her. The older boys and the younger girls had set up households of their own and Mom and Dad had helped each of them out in their own way. Jackie had told her mother that she didn't need anything. It was just her and two roommates and they had just enough thrift store finds to fill in the gaps in their furnished apartment. But Jackie's mom wouldn't hear of sending her child out in to the big bad world without something from home. So she handed Jackie a box and told her it was all wrapped up for the move and she could unpack it when she got home. Jackie had smiled and kissed her mother and thought it was a sweet but completely unnecessary gesture. Until she unpacked the box later that week. It was the Honey Bear. The big ceramic cookie jar that had sat on her mother's counter for Jackie's entire life. And it was filled not with cookies, but with all of the cookie recipes her mother had used over the years. That night she and her roommates made chocolate drops and mint marvels and filled the jar again. For every potluck from that moment forward Jackie brought the Honey Bear filled with one of her mother's recipes.

Cookies of every shape and flavor had made their home in that jar. Jackie couldn't remember a time in her life when it had been empty. It was the miracle bear. She never knew when her mother made the time to refill the jar but there were always cookies there. And they always seemed to be just the flavor she was craving. The Honey Bear had been the perfect gift from her mother. And now it was shattered in to more pieces than could ever be repaired. And as it broke Jackie's first thought had been...What will I share with my children? and then she sobbed...

She didn't even want children. Why would she even think of them when the jar broke? And as she looked around her new condo, the one with two bedrooms, just for extra space, the one in the best school district in Portland, she had checked just to make sure for resale value, the one that was near the park, she thought maybe she would get a dog. Knowing that she had been checking her phone hoping to catch the caller ID not of a client but of her long time and long distance boyfriend she realized that maybe she hadn't finished her climb just yet. That maybe all along she had been setting herself up for the next step in her life without even being aware of it. Maybe, just maybe she did want a marriage and children and a full cookie jar on the counter.

Right then her phone began buzzing along again.  Her first inclination was to pick it up, it had landed on the floor in one piece, no worse for wear, and heave it across the room.  But a quick check of the caller ID changed her mind...

"Oh, Mom...I fell down and I broke the cookie jar and I think I might want kids and to get married and I am a mess........"


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

There is no I in team....but there's no we either...

I have never played on an organized sporting team in my life. I have never played an individual sport in my life. I am what is politely referred to as co-ordination challenged.  Or I am a klutz. You can choose. But that doesn't stop me from referring to the sports teams I follow as mine or using we when describing a win or loss.  "We had a hard time on Sunday against Tricities because the refs seemed to have a dark shirt bias.  Two of the goals scored against us were while they were on the power play for ticky tack calls though in the last minute of the game the obvious trip was ignored preventing us from scoring and allowing them to win the game." All of that happened while my skates were at home in the closet. "We came so close this year to the Super Bowl.  Just one game away.  But we did much better than we thought we would and so I am looking forward to seeing what we do next year!" Spoken while knowing full well if I caught a football thrown at me it would be only by the luckiest of coincidences. "We had a rough race last Monday.  The engine was hot all day, I'm not sure what happened but it could be because we had to park the car overnight." Even though I can't drive stick shift.

I come by this naturally.  My mother was such a huge Dallas Cowboys fan that she couldn't watch late games.  She got so amped up she couldn't sleep afterwards.  Which I always thought was a little silly...until the kitchen cupboard slamming incident of 1992 when Duke lost a basketball game to a team they had NO business losing to!  After that little outburst I curtailed my sports viewing for awhile.  I've never regained my passion for college basketball.  I watch here and there but I know I can't be trusted to really follow it non-passionately.

College football was the same.  I used to be a huge Notre Dame fan, then C got older, I got busy on other things and stopped watching. I drifted farther and farther from caring what happened in a game with them. My allegiance started to shift more and more towards the University of Michigan (what used to be a hated rival until I married in to the fold) and now I will actually say, nay shout, Go Blue! on a good play not as a mock for a bad one...

When we started watching the NHL in Colorado it was only natural to root for the Colorado Avalanche. They were the home team and got a lot of coverage. It also helped that they went on to win the Stanley Cup that year. Nothing like rooting for a team all the way to the championship game! After moving back up to Oregon it's been tough to keep up the allegiance to a team we get to see so little of. Technically Brent should be a Red Wings *spit* fan since he is from Michigan but having started out our hockey watching with the Avs it's impossible to like the Dead Wings. *spit*  Finding we were missing watching hockey though we picked up the WHL local team the Winterhawks here. We had been half paying attention to them for a few years and finally stepped up to season tickets this year. So. Much. Fun.  Now they are my team and we hope to win the Memorial Cup this year.

There are people that don't understand the "we" aspect of rooting for a team. I have one friend who will flat out mock people for it.  "We? Do you play?" Oh so funny... At the motivational speakers bonanza I went to last summer one of the speakers got down right condescending towards people who watch and cheer for professional sports. Which I found to be really interesting...he was mocking someone for admiring a person for playing a sport better than they could while at the same time hocking a product based on the fact that we should admire him for making more money than we did.  Hmmm...interesting.

Here's the thing, I understand if you aren't a fan or if you are only a slight fan where you can watch and not become invested in the outcome. Sadly I have watched most Super Bowls with this feeling  But let me let you in on a little secret, it's not as fun that way. If you don't care who wins or who loses then it stops being a game and starts being an exhibition match. Preseason.  Bleh.  If it doesn't count, it doesn't matter. See?

I also got a little bit of a SEE! moment on Saturday after the game during a Season Ticket Holder's event  held for the Winterhawks. As the office suits were speaking to the crowd they emphasized how important the dedicated fans were to the team. And it's true. We buy the tickets and the gear and watch the ads so the advertisers give money to keep the team going. I might not put on my skates, put on my pads or gas up my car but it's my team. And I hope we do well.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Nerd Adjacent...

Last night at the hockey game C called me a dork. Now, granted, at the time I was dancing in my seat to the bumper music they play to amp up the crowd, but still. A dork. Me? Nah...well...maybe.

I've written before about some of my geek-like tendencies. I read comic books. I play a Facebook game with enough dedication that I have flown across country and even gone to a foreign country to meet people I play with. Canada totally counts as a foreign country so stop snickering. I have a favorite captain.  I have friends that are geeky enough to know what I mean by saying I have a favorite captain without any need for further clarification. I have the White and Nerdy sweatshirt from the Weird Al video. I will sigh audibly when Captain Tightpants comes on screen. I use the term Whedonverse un-ironically. I know that Darth Vader never says, "Luke, I am your father." Things like that...

But what else I truly know is that my geek-like tendencies really make me geek-light. For instance I still call them comic books, not graphic novels. I play a game on Facebook, not a fully immersible create your own world say goodbye to your family for a week game online.  I have a favorite captain, might even have a favorite episode but I can't quote season and episode numbers. I have a White and Nerdy sweatshirt but not the ring tone. I love Captain Tightpants but do not own a brown coat. I know what the Whedonverse is and have spent a lot of time there, but folks, let's face it, Dollhouse was weak. I might know that Darth Vader never says "Luke, I am your father," but I also know that the line, "Play it again, Sam," is never spoken in Casablanca. There are levels of nerddom, of geek heights, that I will never reach.  I am nerd adjacent.

I was reminded of this last month when an online geek book club I am in (yes, geek-like tendencies) read Ready Player One. If you are a child of the 80s I recommend it for sure. If you were a geek in the 80s it's sort of a must read. And if you were like me, nerd-adjacent, you will enjoy it as well. A lot of the nerd touchstones the author talks about though were where I have to own up to not being the nerd/geek/dork people sometimes give me credit for being. Yes, I am fully aware of Dungeons and Dragons, but I have never played a game. The only 20 sided dice I have ever thrown was done just to watch the way they moved when they landed. However, I have had D&D characters named after me.  And I am enough of a nerd to know to ask the people that play the game if the character that was named after me was a compliment or an insult. My favorite was being an elf-warrior. She was bad-ass.

I blame my middle brother for my nerd adjacency.  He was a true nerd. He collected comic books.  He wrote computer code for fun. He works on satellites now. He also drug me to Star Wars when it first came out. I did not want to go. I watched Star Trek because I had to, being the youngest you rarely got to choose what was on TV, but I had no love for the series until Next Generation. I had no urge to go see a stupid science fiction movie. But he was paying and wanted company so I went. And I loved it. I also read all of his comic books. I am a reader, always have been. I am the person that reads the cereal box at breakfast and the signs on the Max car because they are there. So when he brought his comics in to the house, I read them. Some of them I loved. Some of them not so much. But I know my old (70s and early 80s) Marvel and DC stuff. I also have mentioned before that as much of my moral code as the church instilled, Elfquest did that and more.

So I will still go to a comic book movie today. I am super excited for The Avengers this summer. And I am enough of a nerd that it made me mad, like actually seriously angry, when Spiderman 3 changed Peter Parker's back story to suit their narrative. Though I haven't had as much of an issue with the reboot of the Batman universe or even the Star Trek re-imagining from the last movie. Could be a bad movie makes it unacceptable to mess with canon and a good movie allows leeway...I also use words like canon...nerd alert there as well.  Though I won't get all up in your face about it...nerd adjacent.

You know there was a stretch in high school where I ate lunch with the chess club. Smart guys are more fun to talk to. But I didn't bother learning more than the fundamentals of the game. That wasn't the important part for me. The conversation and the safe place to hang out were. And though I can recognize when someone says something like Rook to Queen Bishop 4 they are using one of the forms of chess notation, I couldn't actually move the piece to the correct location.  Nerd adjacent.

I was in drama in high school. I think about acting still to this day. Community theater might be fun. I like to go to the movies. I enjoy talking about a film I have just seen with friends.  But ask me who won Best Picture at the Oscars and I might MIGHT be able to tell you who won this year and maybe last year...but other than that?  Not a film geek either.  But I have friends who will debate performances and line deliveries, and genres, and directors and on and on. Film geeks.

So back to the game last night...though I was dancing to the music during the game and I might rightfully be called a dork for it....the person sitting next to me on one side was carrying a hand held video game, one of two they brought home on Spring Break and I know for a fact that they could quote you the lineage of the Nintendo systems and any number of games that were created before they were even born.  The person sitting next to me on the other side makes me consider things like the future value of money when I am deciding if the bigger size of Tide is a bargain or not and reads economic books for fun and will correct me on my superhero knowledge when I get it wrong, which I do...yeah...I would say I am still nerd-adjacent.  I would also say that smart guys are still more fun to talk to.


Friday, March 2, 2012

Old story new story...

Driving out of the neighborhood earlier this week I saw something that made me wish I wrote scary stories.  It was raining outside, thick clouds in the early evening so it was that starting to get dark feel.  There were four people all wearing dark coats holding black umbrellas standing in a semicircle around a man in a dark hooded jacket, no umbrella, who was obviously giving them some sort of instructions.  The rain, the color of the day, the dark clothes...it all just screamed out that it needed to be a scene in a horror story.

The problem is I don't write horror. I always thought I would.  I tried for years to write spooky stuff.  I read a ton of Stephen King growing up and thought, THIS!  THIS IS WHAT I WILL WRITE!  Yes, I sometimes think very loudly...just ask Brent...  Anyway, I tried my hand at it a few times and it's just not really there for me. I can get a little creepy every once in awhile. Maybe even eerie.  But flat out horror?  Just have never found that voice.

But that doesn't mean I only write strictly normal things.  Sometimes the inspiration will hit and I will have a story that is just a little off.  Zombie, witches, fairies that live in the garden.  There are all there in my head.  Too many books and movies and TV shows with those sorts of characters in them for them not have found a way into the stories I tell myself.  And sometimes tell others....

So today your story time story is one I wrote for a friend for her birthday last year.  The funny thing is as I was writing this story I came to the realization that I was writing a story I needed to tell her.  Not one she needed to read.  The feel and the flow of the words were different. It was meant to be read out loud.  So I did.  Some of you saw it when I posted it for her last year, it might be new to some others of you. It's sort of cheating as far as new work goes, but well...you know I am not so good at rule type things.  Even when I try and make them for myself.

Here you go...my Zombie story....

video

Oh and for an extra added bonus treat for you this week you get a link to Stephanie's blog.  It might explain the story about the Border Crossing a little more...might.