Saturday, March 24, 2018

March for Our Lives

Today young people across the country stood up, marched together and demanded action. For too long their voices have been obscured. Their lives have been lost, marred or forever changed by the proliferation of guns in our country. Unchecked political power in the hands of the National Rifle Association has eclipsed common sense gun regulation and our children have paid the price.

Today I was proud to stand in Columbus, Ohio and hear these young people speak in their own voices about the friends and family members they have lost, about their insistence that gun violence cease and about their determination to be drivers of change.

Lawmakers take note: change is coming. Be on the right side of this one or this generation will render you obsolete.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Beyond Netflix: Remembering to Live Our Own Stories

Some weeks I watch too much Netflix. It's so easy to slip into an episode of some show and binge watch my way to not caring. Lately, I've been thinking about this kind of distraction and whether I can afford it quite so often in my life.

Sometimes, it seems like the fate of the entire country is up in the air. While I inhale television, living someone else's story, people are suffering. Guns are proliferating. Racial inequity is infusing institutions and hunkering down. Sexism and harassment is toppling a woman's life. Children are dying of hunger, being sold as slaves or working in sweat shops. The world spins on its access while I sit in warmth, a bowl of ice cream in front me, shoveling stories into my mind. It's sobering.

I love living a story-- through a television show, a movie, a book, but I can't help but wonder if the never-ending, addictive quality of Netflix episodes are making me less active, muting my energy to use my voice to bring about meaningful change in the world. I could be writing my own story instead of watching, obviously. I could also be writing to Congress, showing up to protest more, organizing with others to change or simply learning more about issues through meaningful questions and fact-based research.

The responsibility to balance the stories I live in my own life with the ones I consume through media is something I want to be more mindful about in the future. And I want the stories I write to have some meaningful connection to the conversations going on in the world, as well as being fun and entertaining.

Balancing my time between consuming stories, writing them and living them out by making a difference in the world is something I'm thinking about a lot these days. This picture reminds me to get out there and make something happen. 

A super hero unicorn is a great symbol for getting out there and making something happen!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Why keep trying

Today was one of those days. Not the kind of terrible, tragic day that shatters you. More the kind of hollow, not going my way kind of affair. I worked. I gave it my all. I sacrificed for a long time.

And in the end it came to nothing.

Piles of rejections paper my ten years at this writing dream. The reason I haven't been writing much hasn't gone the way I'd hoped, recently.  Even still, I don't think of quitting the writing or the work. I keep my mind focused on the future. If I have to get that much better to get that much further than that's what I will do.

Why I keep trying is because I believe someday this crazy dream is going to become something real and viable. Just like I believe one day, one week, one year can't and won't ever define one lifetime.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Romance versus Love Stories

I listened to an interview today with a famous author who carefully explained why he wrote love stories instead of romances. He said people read romances when they want to know what's going to happen, and people read love stories when they want to be surprised. He explained to the interviewer that he follows no formulas, wherein romances are predictable and formulaic.

I've read some of this author's books and though they can be romantic, they truly aren't romances, thought I disagree with his reasoning as to why. He believes because you know that the book will end with an emotionally satisfying ending that there aren't any surprises in the book. 

But he's absolutely wrong. 

Romances can thrill, twist, turn, surprise, engage and inspire through unexpected plot turns and endings you could never in a million years predict. I've read paranormal romances that knocked me out of my chair with the unexpected, historical romances that widened my eyes, contemporary romances so funny they kept me guessing page-to-page and young adult romances that break all the rules. 

This author likes to feel a sense of superiority over romance writers, but in the end every book is unique and every story is a familiar arc with unexpected surprises built into it. A dead heroine at the end of a book is a hardly a surprise when reading this author, it's more just the formula he uses. The result of that formula is that I find his books depressing. Anything that's more depressing than the news is not going to make my To Be Read list and that's why I rarely read this author's books. 

I want to be shocked, surprised, terrified and brought to tears. 

But, I also want to know that in this one small world, at least, everything is going to be okay. I'll take my romances over love stories any day of the week. 

Thursday, August 31, 2017

To a good friend...

I wish you were here. I'm running around, like usual, chicken-with-my-head-cut-off style, too busy to think most of the time. Then at some odd moment, I do. I press the elevator button and I take a deep breath in and there you are your eyes dancing, laughing like it's all you do.

I miss your sense of humor. The way I could tell you anything and you were never, ever shocked or appalled. And, I can be damn appalling. I miss your sweetness and the way you felt things, deep and true. Most of all I miss knowing you were somewhere on the planet existing. I miss that the most.

Love and love and love. Hugs and hugs and hugs.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

It's too late, Barbie, I can't take you back now

Barbie and I spent a lot of time together. She and her army of blonde clones dressed, arranged furniture in the town house (we never could afford the actual dream house), and struck poses for Ken.

I only had the one Ken and his head constantly popped off. Sometimes he was the headless boyfriend and Barbie just had to make do with his head on a platter on the pink plastic table. She had a pretty good sense of humor about and it and she and I stayed close through several long years of elementary school.

Barbie's tiny waist and out of whack bust line didn't bother me at all. I didn't even care that much about her high heeled feet, which never went flat. She wore shoes or she went on tip-toes. My Barbie just didn't worry about footwear all that much. However, it bothered me that she was so blond, so pale and so blue-eyed. She looked like the girl society loved.

And, I was not that girl.

I complained to my blonde mother about my jet black hair, chocolate black eyes and olive skin all the time. "How could I make myself look like Barbie?" I could dye my hair, but what about my eye-lids? What about my skin? Could I get contacts for my eyes? I dreamed of one-upping Barbie and turning my eyes light purple.

My mom responded first with a garage sale Wonder Woman doll with slightly chewed feet. She stood taller than all the Barbie's, her suit painted on and her face odd and out of proportion. The only non-blonde doll I owned was also the ugliest. My self esteem did not improve.

Not to be deterred, my mom, who is nothing if not a stubborn woman, struck again with Marie Osman. Marie was roughly the same size as the Barbies, with chestnut brown hair and pale skin. I had no idea who she was and my mother explained she had a talk show with her brother and something like ten children. Marie Osman just never lived up to Barbie's cool standards. She was not an astronaut, a doctor, a dentist or a space scientist homemaker. The Barbie harem had the pretty clothes and Marie couldn't date Donnie Osman, he was her brother, so Ken still ruled the roost.

My mother's last attempt came in the form of a Barbie's Hawaiian friend, Miko. She looked the most like me, but not quite. The clothes fit her and she was pretty much able to keep up with the Barbie girls. But, she just didn't fit perfectly. She wasn't even a Barbie, she was a Miko. No one ever talked about Miko on TV. She just couldn't fill the gap.

Not long after Miko joined my doll collection I started to drift away from Barbie. All the dolls became relics of a different life. I focused on real life people-- mostly boys-- and lost interest in Barbie. We broke up slowly and one day I just packed all the dolls away.

Recently, Matel announced a new diverse round-up of Barbies and Kens. Hopefully, these dolls will connect with a new generation of girls, who will see themselves in these plastic shells and decide to make friends with their own images. It's too late for me, though.

Barbie and I broke up a long time ago and I'm at peace with that.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Layers of writing and plot

Sometimes I read a book and the layers of writing are gorgeous, inspirational, unbelievable and awe-striking. I taste. I see. I hear. I feel. I am in every way, through every moment of the book, enthralled and engaged with the words slipping through my mind.

I so want to love it because the writing is almost hypnotic. But, I just can't. The plot meanders. The characters shift from one foot to the next, but never step forward. All the beautiful words, creating all the engaging images, only add up to a total immersion in a world that's just, well, not that interesting.

American Gods ended up being one of these books for me. I followed the main character, Shadow, through a long and winding trip across an entire book of well-written passages and perfect descriptions. After all that shared experience, we never really got anywhere. At least not anywhere worth going.

Neil Gamon is a genius. This book is beloved by many. Don't get me wrong, I'm no Neil Gamon, but that's why I'm so disappointed. Shadow is a multi-layered, deep and likeable character who I want to spend time with. Unfortunately, most of the other characters, and there are so many it's difficult to keep track of them, were mere moments on the page. They faded. I got them confused. And, the road trip that lasted forever, was essentially beside the point.

All through the book Shadow traveled, but he never really got anywhere. I hung in because of Shadow's depth and because the writing itself was so delicious. In the end, the book left me stranded and confused, unfulfilled and uninspired.

Writing is critical, but plot, as it turns out, matters just as much.