Monday, November 25, 2013

The Cold, Common & Bond, James

Hello, good people, and welcome to my blog. Recently, I’ve been sick. What a way to avoid beating around the bush, eh? That’s me. I’m a tough pill to swallow sometimes. Oh, gosh, let’s not talk about pills… or that dreaded word “medicine.”

On Friday morning, I woke up with the first signs of my sickness. Did this keep me from going to work? Nope. I hung in there and worked my scheduled five hours, but I became sicker as the day progressed.  Yay, me. I never realized I was the moaning, groaning kind, until Friday afternoon and most of Saturday. I couldn’t help myself, really, because this sickness brought a lot of pain. Okay, okay, maybe moderate pain. I’m not a wimp. I know what pain is. A fiery throat with ears that feels like a ceti eel (Star Trek, anyone?) has moved in, with family in tow, is definitely painful.

Long story short, my sickness devoured my weekend, which included my chance to write.  Early Saturday evening, while watching the sun go down from my bed, I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t going to win NaNo this year. I am behind in my word count, because I need to write 57,000 to win this year. My dreams were somewhat entertaining, though, because I dreamt about zombies most of the time I was “out.”

Saturday night, I watched the newest James Bond movie with my Dad. It’s not fun watching a movie with someone who blows her nose every two or three minutes. Surprisingly for me, and my snot-filled brain, I was able to follow the plot pretty well: Bond gets shot, survives, goes after messed up bad guy (who really likes M), Bond meets Q, Bond meets exotic Bond girl, exotic Bond girl dies, bad guy dies, M dies, Bond gets formally introduced to Moneypenny, and Voldemort becomes Bond’s boss. Oliver Warbucks is in this movie too. Yeah… adding Voldemort was already too much for me to handle, much less Warbucks.

On Sunday morning, I had enough of the sickness. I was like, “Screw this!” I got up, washed my bed clothes, and rid the bedroom of germs. I managed to stay out of bed for most of the day, and even participated in a strange game that my sister and her hubby brought over. Regardless of my intentions to stay up and about, by Sunday night, my head was pounding (undoubtedly from sleeping off and on for 48 hours—oh, and, don’t forget the snot… we must not forget the snot). Although I enjoyed watching a sugary-sweet & sentimental Christmas movie with Momma, I realized around about 9:30 that I wasn’t going to be able to stay up longer.

The key motivator for Monday was going to work and creating a report using Excel. I’m such a happy geek… when I’m well, that is. *cough, cough* *sniffle, sniffle*

Friday, November 22, 2013

Normal. Pfft!



Every time I think of “normal” all I see is a husband with a steady, suit and tie job, two kids (a boy and a girl), and a nice dog that never bites the mailman, all living in a little white house, surrounded by a little white picket fence in suburban, neighbor-wants-to-give-you-diabetes hell.

Again, I say: Pfft!

Society tells us not only to accept normal, but to be normal.

This year, two of my sisters got married. I won’t go into the details. I still love them, but I feel like they’re in a world completely different from mine. I see through the glass above me towards their lives, but can’t find anything to make them fall back down into mine.

ALSO: What in the world is up with all those stares?

I’ve read a lot of books in my time that mention the “sacred language of lovers” and all that bullshit. But, come on! What person in her right mind would think she would be witnessing the actuality of that phrase? Sometimes, I’m a hopeless romantic who swoons when she witnesses the endless love between two people. Other times, I’m a raging, cynical curmudgeon who doesn’t want to see the sacred language displayed in my own living room. Regardless of what I think, lovers are the normal ones, even if the couple I’m referring to can be abnormal at times.

Come to think of it, society isn’t the only one that says couples are normal.

Nature does.

The survival of our species relies on fertile couples to produce screaming, slobbering babies. I feel like I’m window shopping for a puppy whenever I see a baby. Sometimes, I go, “Aww! I want one.” When they start crying and wailing in a decibel you wouldn’t expect someone so small can hold, I feel like I should be wielding a cross or something and shouting, “Back, demon! Back to the pit!”

Maybe my idea of normal (working, learning, writing, reading, etc.) isn’t what society wants, but that’s what I’m giving. After all, I’m sure there were introverted Neanderthals that spent more time drawing on cave walls than searching for a mate. I just happen to like drawing on cave walls more than searching for Prince Charming. Plus, with the way they’re always remaking things in Hollywood, I doubt I’d know him when I saw him, provided I even took a second to divert from whatever I’m doing.
"Aren't you afraid to be alone?" I hate this question. Honestly. If I wanted company, I can always call up someone and chat away for an hour and a half. I did that recently. How can someone be alone in an over-populated world? That brings to mind another thing: I’m not too worried about the survival of this species...well, population-wise, anyway. There are over 7 billion people on this teeny tiny planet. So, ha! You can’t use that reasoning on me! Neener! Neener!



Aligned for Education

Hello, good people, and welcome to the fourth entry in my blog. The topic today is Adult Education.

Yesterday, I felt as though something aligned.

This alignment started when I received an email from my boss about how Adult Education is being threatened by budget cuts. She asked for those she sent the email to if they would write to our congressman. The letter attached to the email (from the state office) declared the purpose in our fight—our reason for sending the letter: “to reject any proposal that protects or prioritizes funding for defense programs at the expense of nondefense discretionary (NDD) funding—which includes adult education funding under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA).”

Since I have been working on creating several social studies presentations this year, my mind first turned to the Congress of old, the Continental Congress, which existed before America truly ever formed. What would these men think about our fight? I think they would be damned proud, but then I’m sure they would say, “Wait. You’re fighting for education? And this is happening in the country we are fighting to form?” Ok, ok, they would probably use more eloquent words, but you get my meaning. Education is a crucial piece in the backbone of society.

Although I wrote a poem yesterday and sent it to our representative’s legislative assistant, I felt as though I barely scratched the surface behind how inane fighting for education seems to me. I mean, come on, that’s like fighting for fresh air. I didn’t want to throw out a lot of f-bombs at work, but… wow… did I feel them! I unleashed my actual viewpoints on this crazy notion to my siblings, because the second alignment really popped my calm bubble of lovely gooey gushiness for humanity.

The part-time instructor in Adult Education handed me a book titled “High School Self Taught.” I haven’t seen a book this old, and on the subject of education, since I lived in Maw-Maw’s house (she was my great-grandmother on my dad’s side, who used to be a teacher). I will admit the first thing I did was sniff the book. Not like you needed to know that.

After I took in the dark yellow age of the pages, I started reading where all books are meant to be read—at the beginning. The paragraph that caught my interest:

No one doubts that knowledge is power, but it is equally true, as the essayist William Hazlitt said, that knowledge is pleasure. So in these pages [over 900 of them] of world history, of literature and the arts, of the various sciences and the languages, there is both the inspiration of self-improvement and the down-right fun that comes from the acquisition of knowledge.

The introduction goes on to say that those who wrote the book have taught somewhere before, and that they leave out “the classroom detail that is unnecessary for adults.” Look at the words in bold. Really look at them. Words like these rings so true to me, sitting here in 2013, reading them. I am moved by the love for humanity that belonged to those involved in creating this book in the 1930’s, even more deeply that they created it with the adult in mind.

At this point, I’ll bet you’re curious to know when the GED test started. Well, according to Wikipedia (not much of a reliable source sometimes, I’ll admit):

In November 1942, the United States Armed Forces Institute asked the American Council on Education (ACE) to develop a battery of tests to measure high school-level academic skills. These tests gave military personnel and veterans who had enrolled in the military before completing high school a way to demonstrate their knowledge. Passing these tests gave returning soldiers and sailors the academic credentials they needed to get civilian jobs and gain access to post-secondary education or training.

I’m sure you’re tempted to ask me (maybe telepathically), “What are you trying to say?” I admit: I have an issue speaking in broken English because I don’t speak much, nor do I like to speak. I don’t think that I have much of an issue with writing, just that I wanted provide evidence behind what I’m planning to say before I actually say it. (I just now realized that I’m stating my case without really needing to… oh, well.)

I doubt the men who wrote “High School Self Taught” in 1939 could see into the future and find the GED invented with books like theirs obsolete. If they could, good for them! BUT, answer me this: what did they see? THEY SAW THE IMPORTANCE IN ADULT EDUCATION.  If we let Adult Education fall into the cesspool created by this outrageous debt, what is the POINT in having a great defense? As I said earlier, education is a crucial piece in the backbone of society. Without it, society is like that commercial where the guy builds the swimming pool, and wonders what to do with the bolts afterwards.

Yesterday, I felt as though something aligned. Today, I can only hope that this alignment rings true throughout the vibe of America; because, if not, a second opportunity—a second chance at education might never happen for the adults of tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

American Life

I have always been strongly vested in America. Of course, there's the basic reason of simply being an American. That's not what I mean. There's more to being an American than such a straightforward answer. There are values that you live up to, drawn on your bones by those who came before you, striving for a better life. These values are represented by a flag waving in a gentle breeze on a summer's day of fresh-baked apple pie and a cold Coca-Cola; an eagle soaring high above all, seeing all; and the numerous memorials dedicated to those who've fallen fighting for it all... for us all.

During the earliest years of my life, I found myself astounded by history. I used to be able to name the presidents of the United States better than I could spew out my times tables. I was deeply touched by the words and actions of those who did something notable enough to be mentioned in a history book. To me, if you were in a history book, you didn't have to look anywhere else for fame or fortune. A history book was, simply, it.

I spent a good deal of time today simmering in deep thoughts, which is just what I tend to do in cold weather, regardless of how busy I am. I can't help it, nor can I help that I often get really angry or depressed while in this often-dreary realm. Today, I thought about our country with the attitude of Rhett Butler: "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."

I hate feeling that way about my country. Regardless of my feelings, though, I know many who find themselves unable to trust this or that about the government. Sometimes, for some crazy reason, I find myself defending the entire establishment, almost like it's my child. "Oh, he didn't mean to do that. He's just going through a phase." Yeah, right. Still, the child in me won't surrender. She's sitting in the back of my brain, shining a flashlight of hope through my eyes, and singing patriotic songs as long and as loud as she can. I fear that the light and the sound of her voice are fading and she's drifting further and further back. I cry for her, and the many children of our great nation who are losing hope before it can even begin blooming.

On top of all my negative thoughts, I read a student's paper today that stated her disagreement about the continued use of the presidential office. She didn't elaborate, but it didn't stop a part of me from asking the paper, "Why?" while another part thought about the disagreement between Congress and the president - one that could have sent us into an economic shutdown. I won't bore you with the details, because I know there are people more qualified that can tell you about it. Still, when I mentioned the Era of Good Feelings while I was teaching today, I couldn't help but think, "Will we ever go through one of those again?"

The American people deserve such an era, instead of the one we're all witnessing now. In this cold, nasty weather, we all deserve a warm place to call our own - not living in a tent, wondering where our next meal will come from, or if we'll live to see tomorrow. We need a brighter tomorrow. We need our hope. We need the fundamental foundations of our lives to remain in tact. Most importantly, we need our country - for it is, and hopefully will always be, our home.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Publishing, Pancakes, & Payne

Day two of my blog.

Today, well, a little past midnight, I checked my email and found a lovely rejection letter. This marks the first since I started this poetry-publishing gig. I write poetry for fun, but the publishing part is still very new to me—I’ve only attempted three times this year. So far, I have one rejection, one acceptance, and one stuck in limbo. Since I’ve been on writing sites for over a decade, and entering into contests on them, I’ve become very familiar with rejection. Because of my determination and support from various people, I woke around 5:30 this morning and start looking for other places to attempt publication. After finding a few, I decided I would attempt them later, and slept for another two hours.

I woke up when my sister’s Chihuahua started licking my face, which was actually a very sweet awakening. The family cat (though I love him dearly, the lazy furball) just comes in and knocks my stuff over to get in the window. I chatted a bit with two of my sisters, Sherry and Natalie, and teased Austin, Sherry’s hubby, about his watch, because he said it cost $90 and could do a whole slew of things. I asked if it could check the temperature and he said it could check his, since it was around his wrist. This, of course, led to me asking, “Why don’t you wrap it around a tree branch?” I value those who can handle my teasing, then return with their own.

After they left, I made breakfast. I love peanut butter on my pancakes. I don’t know why. I just do. I’m not much of a cook, but I can do pancakes, pudding, meatloaf, and—well, let’s face it, that’s just about all I can cook. I can read boxes or Google other stuff, but I’m not an extraordinaire about anything, much less being creative with cooking, and knowing how to use each spice. Because I am notorious for daydreaming, or getting lost in the lyrics of a song while doing something, I consider it a miracle that I haven’t burnt down the kitchen.

I have been playing “Max Payne 3” with my dad. I am a sore loser, I’ll admit. I don’t like to lose, much less get killed over and over and over. I have a tendency to “get into” things because I find something interesting—or worth raging about—in everything I do, especially videogames.

On a writerly note, I hope that I’m able to complete 1,900 words today for NaNo.

We shall see. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Of Batman, A Baby, A Betta, & A Banging Headache

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the very first entry for my newest blog "The Balance Between." In this blog, I intend to bore you with my ordinary life, but hopefully tell it in such a way that you don't find it as boring - though I don't promise your experience will be extraordinary, either. The balance between the two is what I'm aiming for, and I hope that I hit it right on target.

Without further delaying your life to read about mine, let me start with telling you about my week, which started with several hours of Batman Origins with the main interruption being my Muse, who kept saying, “Hey, it’s NaNoWriMo. What are you doing?” I promised my Muse that I would write 5,000 words on Friday and Saturday. Batman will have to wait, I guess. After all, a promise is a promise, and I was becoming slightly delusional anyway. The only thing keeping me from truly believing I wasn't Batman was because I'm a woman; maybe it's a good thing I don't own Wonder Woman. (This is all tongue-in-cheek of course. I'm not crazy. I'm probably the most normal out of my siblings; then again, that's not saying much.)

What other stuff was I able to do? Oh, yeah: I watched almost all of my shows, with the exception Revolution and Vampire Diaries, which I intend to watch tonight. My favorite show right now is "The Originals," which comes on Tuesday nights at 8pm on the CW, followed directly after by "Supernatural." I’ve only watched "Haven" once this season, but I’ll catch up on it sometime or other. I don’t watch anything by myself anymore. I don’t know what that’s a sign of? Probably a busy life?

As for as writing goes for this month, I am going to finish my “Reuben: The Fangless Terror” for NaNo, which I started earlier this year. For some reason, I find it easier to write poetry. I guess it’s because I’m having a poetry-writing fixation—and I’ve written over 100 poems this year. People keep saying, “Why don’t you turn your poems into a volume of poetry and sell it? Individual poems don’t sell.” I wouldn’t know how to go about that, without turning it into a self-published work. I tried that route for a few months with my other work and found it distasteful, so I would rather keep my poetry between myself, family, and friends before I turned my work into street-corner nonsense again. Besides, there’s Fjords Review, who accepted one of my poems for their Public Poetry Series, and a sensational lady by the name of Dee Thompson who posted my work on her blog this week. I find it odd that I was directed down these paths by the same eccentric person.

On a side note, I might as well admit that I’ll always be a hopeless romantic—with an ISTJ personality. Imagine Spock as a hopeless romantic. Funny, right? Right? *crickets chirping* Ok, then, and we're going...

To be honest, the idea of entering a relationship on such a private level irks me, but when I see others in love I’m like, “Oh. How sweet!” Still, the sweetest scene I saw this week wasn’t between a man and a woman. It was between an almost one-month old baby and a man who, moments before, said that if it was up to him mankind would be extinct. Suddenly, there he stood in my office, holding a baby and kissing its little bald head—I was moved. I don’t care if he is reading this; I’m still vastly enthused by the coming of a day when he can be a grandfather with candy in his pocket. No pressure!

Personally, I love animals more than people. This week, I lost my friend, Goo, who was a pale pink betta that I owned for a little over a year. He took possession of my heart, just like his brothers and sisters before him, and I will miss him dearly. Still, like I was saying to a student this week: I'm just glad he's a fish, which means he's far less expensive than a cat or a dog, and I don't have to worry about getting him fixed or anything like that. It doesn't mean that I don't love bettas... or goldfish. I've been a fish person for years. They are less expensive and demanding, which makes them all the more a joy to keep. I love my oldest and dearest sister, Audra, for doing this for me, which made me cry:

This week also saw me slumped down by a migraine. I was like, “What is this? What’s happening to me? Am I dying?” Thoughts during the night, of course, are always a little too extreme. I stayed awake all night Wednesday and called in on Thursday to say I would be coming in late. To be honest, I felt like a weakling. Still, the headache wasn’t completely gone when I went into work, but I wasn’t going to miss out on welcoming new students into the program. I felt like a zombie halfway through orientation, and, as the day progressed, I felt more and more like everything was moving in slow motion, with the lights around me zoning in on me as if preparing to blow me up. During this time, though, I still couldn't find it in me to say, "I feel bad. Can I please go home?" THE STUDENTS, as always, GIVE ME STRENGTH - and then some.

I woke up feeling good on Friday, made myself some breakfast (mmm-hmm… coffee, coffee, coffee) and now I’m going to delve into the realm of “Reuben: The Fangless Terror.” Gotham City will have to wait.

What do I rate this week on a scale of 1-10? I rate this week as a 7.5.

What am I reading this week? "My Perplexing Complexities" by Susan Henry (I fully intend to blog about her book once I complete it.)

What's my favorite song this week? "All that matters now" by Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite

What fictional character do I find intriguing this week? Elijah on "The Originals" (I swear, though, every time I write that name I want to write Ellijay.)

What's my favorite Bible verse for this week? Proverbs 17:17: A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

Care to read an excerpt of something I've written lately? This is from "Reuben":
Briefly, my attention turned to somewhere else, wanting to calm myself before his inaction shattered my demeanor. This wasn’t a time long ago, where conversations about slayers and witches clung to the air like acrid smoke, suffocating any hope of tranquility for my kind. Because of the countless clauses about anti-discrimination these days, I knew the old days no longer existed. Modern society accepted everyone, which caused the slayers to keep their distance while we kept ours. Phrases like, “You’re a monster!” were obsolete in this era, where mortal monsters existed in a greater number than the immortal ones. Still, two sides to every coin existed—and as sure as any anti-abortionist wanted to end abortion forever, slayers lurked in the shadows with the same kind of malice towards vampires. The only thing that stopped them rested in not having the power to carry out the action.