Blog Re-Organization

Yes, I took a day off my blog here due to a massive sinus headache but also because I’ve been pondering where I want to go here.

I’m proud that I’ve gone this long before taking a break. I’ve proved to myself I can push and write every day if I choose to. And I’m proud of myself that I didn’t kick the crap out of myself either for skipping a day.

So going forward, I’m going to throttle back to just three days a week minimum with the option to do more. Also, I want to try and keep to certain topic-categories as those are my projects that I want to focus on, too.

Main topic-categories:

– Breaking Radio Silence

– Writing

– Poetry

– Fiction

– Uber Tales

– Extras (not any of the above)

I love writing out blog entries but some days they took a while to come up with and in turn that took away time from other projects. Time management is a big issue with everyone, and not just writers so this is me trying to find a way to make better use of my writing time.

Making and Taking

Last night I was talking with a passenger in my car and he mentioned the phrase ‘makers and takers’. This is something I’ve heard over the years from people who identify their ideology as conservative. Based on what I’ve heard about this ‘makers and takers’ ideology it’s thinking people are basically one or the other and that being a ‘taker’ is a bad thing with no regard for circumstances.

Insert my first thought here: bullshit.

And I call bullshit on this first because the people who use this ‘maker or taker’ thing are for the most part shall we say, in an upper-middle class socio-economic category money-wise. To them, because they had various advantages and opportunities and live in nice houses and nice areas and have a lot of money to spend, they’re makers. In reality, they’re mostly white-collar desk jockeys who don’t really do much that’s useful. I mean, how many twits do we need to market and promote products and services that most people don’t need, or need a lot of?

What this ‘maker or taker’ idea deserves is a good hard drive into the toilet bowl of shitty human philosophies. Why? Because I’ve begun to realize this bullshit categorization of either/or is a fear that if someone who is a ‘taker’ starts to get a tiny bit ahead in this world through an increase in wages and such that they’ll become a ‘maker’. That realization came to me when my passenger referred to his gated suburban cookie-cutter neighborhood as where ‘the help’ lives.

It’s a good thing I was driving, it was dark, and he was sitting in the back and couldn’t see my face. Because it took a lot of energy for me to keep a completely straight face and not burst out laughing at how fucking stupid that sounded.

The Help. Yeah, I’m sure he probably thought of me that way though he had tried to butter me up a little by saying he admired the hours I put into the job I do when I answered his question about that. I let him run his mouth because I smelled that condescending bullshit a mile off. And no, don’t even think I’m being too hard here. I know arrogance when I hear it because truly arrogant people don’t really hide it too well.

I will also freely admit here that a lot of my antagonistic feelings towards this ‘maker or taker’ arrogant bullshit is because of all the shit I took working the phones. A lot of people thought that was an easy gig but trust me, it wasn’t And if products and services were better designed and implemented, and also if some people in corporate America weren’t corrupt assholes, my job could have been made a hell of a lot easier. This is why I like ‘disruptor’ companies like the one I drive for. They’re not totally perfect either and they have their share of corrupt assholes, too, but they also know there is someone waiting to pounce all over their ass and shred them to pieces. It’s a form of cutthroat capitalism that I hope will actually be turned to become a force for good by defying corporate bullshit of low wages, shitty benefits, and Hawaiian-shirt wearing corporate loyalty (for the Hawaiian shirt reference see the movie ‘Office Space’).

Now, to get a little serious here: I don’t see people as either/or. I see every person as an individual with a story to tell and living. And deep down, I believe what my father used to say: there are only two kinds of people in this world, good guys and jerks. Then he’d say don’t let the jerks ruin it for you.

So I didn’t let this guy ruin my night last night though I didn’t get a tip or a five-star rating out of him like he said he was going to give me.

Instead, I got tipped on eight out of twelve rides last night with the biggest tip being ten dollars. I’ll take the tips over any ratings any day of the week and if that makes me a ‘taker’ instead of a ‘maker’, so be it.

Because I’ll make my way in the world how I can and want to, and I’ll take the money and keep my mouth shut because as my late father also used to say to me, too: money talks and bullshit walks. And I can walk away from bullshit if I have to and have no regrets in doing so.

Why I’m Not Sad to be Single on Valentine’s Day

I’m noI’m not sad to be single on Valentine’s Day for several reasons.

1) I have two valentines in my life already. My dog Darcy and my cat Ronan. Of course Darcy is more affectionate and loving but Ronan can be, too. And I know they can’t talk in words but considering all the drivel humans tend to spew out, barks and meows are a lot better sometimes.

2) I can buy my own chocolate and food. I had pizza for lunch today as a treat and if I want chocolate I can get some later. Of course, if someone did buy me food I’d say thank you very much and eat it. But if I had to put up with a bad date to get that free food or chocolate… I’ll spend my own money instead.

3) I believe in love and am genuinely happy for people who have successful relationships. But I do not see myself as a personal failure for being single. As I once told my father: “I can be just as miserable on my own as I can be with someone. But I can also be just as happy on my own as I can be with someone, too.”

4) I’ll always find a good romance novel to read even if I hat sad to be single on Valentine’s Day for several reasons.

5) I can write my own romance novel, and maybe get my own version of happily ever after someday.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Coming Together In Revisions

I love it when a plan comes together.” –

Colonel Hannibal Smith, ‘The A-Team’

(television show originally created by Stephen J. Cannell)

Over the last three days I’ve begun to get a handle on the ‘Breaking Radio Silence’ project and damn it feels good. Granted, I’m only into the first chapter but I can see where it’s going. The writing is rough and there will be a lot of editing down the road but since I’ve never written book-length non-fiction before, it’s a good start. I’m not feeling the twinge-thought of ‘Oh, I’m not too sure about this’ and here’s why:

It’s not just the fact that I’ve got some structure points to use as writing prompts, but also because I’ve told myself length doesn’t matter. I know I shouldn’t have thought about length at all in this early stage of writing but sadly, the dumb thought crept into my mind and stayed until I kicked it out again.

The writer Annie Lamont wrote that you have to give yourself permission to write crap sometimes. I take exception to the word ‘crap’ because I don’t feel the need to label rough and unedited writing as crap. Because as my favorite romance writer Nora Roberts said, ‘You can’t revise a blank page.’ And because you have to have words to revise, I don’t believe all words written are crap. They just need to be revised and edited so my saying here is this: ‘You can always revise later.’

I also feel like I don’t know if a particular direction in my writing will work until I write it out. Because last night I was looking at my first chapter on my novel and realizing the way I’d worked the first scene wasn’t the way to go. I saw that when I thought about what I needed in the next scene. So needless to say I deleted lots of words and now need to write it back to what I’d done before. This happened because I’d let doubt creep into my mind and thought I had to do something a certain way. But in the end, I know my initial instinct on this was right.

So why do writers get doubts like these in our minds?

We’re human, and prone to messing up like everyone else would be the first line of defense-answer here. Which is why I know of writers who try to isolate themselves as much as possible from any outside influences when they’re writing. We sometimes refer to this as retreating into the writing cave and with good reason. But retreating there won’t get you away from the thoughts pinging around inside your mind. Hence the reason for thought-cleansing mantras that are more than just good advice.

I’ve said this before but I won’t apologize or call myself ten grades of idiot for saying it yet again. I honestly don’t think I was mistaken in writing stuff I’ve later deleted, because I wouldn’t have known if it was good or not until I wrote it. You can’t judge whether or not something will work if there isn’t something there in front of you to begin with.

For something to come together, you’ve got to do the work, make mistakes, and go off in directions that don’t always work for you. And if anyone, even if it is the doubt-demon in your mind says otherwise, don’t listen to them because they’re not the ones doing the writing and revising.

Or to reply to Colonel Hannibal Smith above: they’re not a part of your plan and they’re not going to make it come together.

You are.

The Power of Three

(and I’m not talking about the excellent ‘Doctor Who’ episode here)

As I’ve written here, a little over a week ago I put together a three-part structure for my book ‘Breaking Radio Silence’. Yesterday I started a concurrent project called ‘Call to Writing’ because I wasn’t certain I could merge it into ‘Breaking..’. Today I found the third part of this: conformity.

When a certain word or phrase keeps coming to my mind and sticks to the wall in front of my mind, I look at it more closely. And the word ‘conformity’ has been coming to mind more and more often lately.

I’ve been labeled a non-conformist since I was very young, and that wasn’t always meant as a compliment. In fact, it was more of a put-down and a way to hurt me. It was a way of letting me know that no matter how hard I tried, I would never fit in anywhere. Because sooner or later, someone would take issue with me guilty or not of doing something wrong and turn it against me.

Writing about this is hard, possibly the hardest thing I will ever write about. But since it keeps coming up, I know I need to face it once and for all. I’ve accepted that I’m different yes, and have been all my life. I know I’m not a bad person as flawed as I am at times. Yet I know what it feels like all too well to be on the outside looking in as the old saying goes. I know what it’s like to sit in a room perfectly still and silent and not be noticed. And I know how uncomfortable I still feel at any attention given to me.

The difficult thing with writing about feelings like loneliness, alienation, and ostracization is trying not to wallow in self-pity. As my grandfather said, if you want pity you can find it in the dictionary between piss and puke. So the challenge for me is to articulate my feelings and experiences and showing how I dealt with them. But I will warn you, this is an emotional minefield. Yet I will walk through that minefield because I know other people have been through similar.

Because writing like this isn’t about stroking my ego, or wanting people to bow down and kiss my ass, or to get even or any of that bullshit. It’s about helping people understand that us shy types aren’t stuck-up snots. That line of thinking has always baffled me because how in the fucking hell could silence be seen as snobbery? I know people will say that silence was a choice. It was when people acted totally shocked whenever I said something, then held me to an impossible standard and made it harder for me. It’s like telling someone they should talk more then telling them they’re full of shit before they say all they have to say. I mean, if you don’t want to hear what someone has to say, then why ask them in the first place?

So the third part of my story has finally begun to come into play. And I don’t think it’s battle to conform on my part, but learning how to navigate the world when you’re shy, fat, and clumsy like I am. I just needed the word to help illustrate that.

In the end I will say this about conformity:

Fuck conformity. Because if conforming means that I can’t be myself, that I can’t care about things (I’m a cynic yes, but it seems my timing in revealing how much I do care is shitty), and that I’m a mean person for calling bullshit on things that deserve that, then I’ll stand alone. It’s something I’ve had to work through to get to this point and try to edit for in my writing.

Now to just integrate all three things together in one book….

My Relationship Status With Writing: Complicated

Yesterday I sat down here to blog about the time I contemplated becoming a nun (this was way back in my late teens/early twenties). I thought it would make an interesting story and I’m sure I’ll go into it at some time in the future. But as I working on the post I had to look up something and that sent me down a rabbit hole that only stopped when I had this thought:

My relationship with writing is complicated.

First, I was looking up the title of a book I read that effectively put the kibosh on me wanting to be a nun. The book was ‘Through a Narrow Gate’ by Karen Armstrong. This was her memoire of the seven years she was a nun from the time she entered the convent at the age of seventeen and left seven years later. It was in the 1960’s when she was a nun and pre-Vatican II reforms so it was really brutal in spots. But in the end she realized she’d become a nun to run away from life and that’s not a good reason to become a nun. And that made me realize that I was contemplating becoming a nun because I thought if I did I could get around the whole not-fitting-in-anywhere thing I was up to my eyeballs in at the time.

After I looked up the book title to make sure I got it correct, I read an interview with Ms. Armstrong I hadn’t read before and I realized her memoire was probably the first I’d ever read by a woman that really stuck with me (before that time I’d been reading mostly fiction and history books). Then I thought back to an article I read in last week’s ‘New Yorker’ magazine about Joyce Maynard. Years ago she published a memoire of the year she lived with J.D. Salinger (the asshole who wrote ‘The Catcher in the Rye’) and all the shit she got for that. I then read a first-person essay she wrote in ‘Vogue’ about going back to Yale to finish her degree forty-seven years after she’d dropped out to live with Dick-Head Salinger.

Thinking about these two women (I haven’t read Ms. Maynard’s memoire yet but will get to it when I get a little money ahead) got me thinking about my desire, no really, calling to write a memoire-like book as they did. And it wasn’t the potential shit-storm or criticism that’s been stalling me. It’s the fact that writing like this is deeply, intensely personal, and it’s opened up a can of worms inside me as I think back over all the years I’ve been writing.

Because when I started writing in earnest I honestly thought I’d stick with fiction. I love fiction writing with a passion but I’m called write to non-fiction now, too. Yet it’s been a huge challenge for me to just blog every day and ‘Breaking Radio Silence’ has had more fits and starts than I have fingers and toes to count on. But I keep coming back to it and yesterday I began to think that I may have a companion project to ‘Breaking…’ in me.

The working title of the file is ‘My Call to Writing’ and right now I’m going to run it as a separate project. I’m thinking there might be a possibility of merging it into ‘Breaking’ but I won’t know until I get into it. I’ve been dancing around this complicated relationship I have with writing for a very long time and yesterday I just finally found the words to describe this long, drawn-out dance.

And yes, writers’ brains are this convoluted in their thinking but sometimes you just have to go down that rabbit hole and know that it might be trippy as hell at times. I’m just glad I didn’t meet up with the Red Queen or the Cheshire Cat.

Pictures Now, Words Tomorrow (hopefully!)

I’m really struggling to write and need more time to work out what I have been trying to do since this morning. So I thought I’d post some pictures from the media file here.

This was taken at the Japanese Tea Garden like the one yesterday, and yes the plant was growing from a hollowed-out part of the rock.

This was taken at Phil Hardberger Park and I wonder when this hitching post as I call it was made. If it’s recent then that’s okay. But if it goes back a long way… that would be way cooler.

And no, that’s not snow. This was a few years back and I know it looks snow but it was actually little balls of ice. We called them dipping dots. Yes, Darcy was quite puzzled by them.

Warmth and Doggy Smiles

As it’s cold, wet, and rainy, and or snowing in a lot of the country, I thought I’d brighten the day with some sunshine and a doggy smile.

This was taken at the Japanese Tea Garden in Brackenridge Park here in San Antonio. This is one of the most beautiful spots in the city and I highly recommend it weather-permitting. There is a walking trail and a covered pagoda you can sit at, too.

This was taken at Phil Hardberger park here in San Antonio. There are some really nice walking trails here and it’s very quiet considering it’s in the heart of north-side suburbia.

Finally, this is Darcy taken the day we went to the Japanese Tea Garden. She was a bit hesitant to enter at first (lots of new sights and smells) but once she got used to it, she became a bundle of energy. The park ranger told me there was a colony of feral cats living in the gardens and that’s what Darcy was scenting. And taking this picture was pure luck as I was holding her leash and trying to get her to focus on me despite all the people around and the cats that were hiding.

At Last It’s NOT the 1950’s

Last night in the car I had two college girls talking about how one of their boyfriends was pressuring her to dress-up. Her friend thought she may have been blowing it up a little until her friend explained why she was not comfortable with her boyfriend pressuring her on how to dress. She explained that growing up she was raised very strictly and was told exactly how to dress and not wear anything too tight or too loose. Her friend then said she understood and agreed with her now. The girl being pressured said she told her boyfriend, ‘What is this? The 1950’s?’

I had to say I smiled at that and wanted to tell her she was doing great for standing up for herself. And I loved her comeback to her boyfriend, who by the way sounded like a jerk (pressuring her on how to dress and not seeing her too often yet wanting her to be at his beck-and-call).

Personally, it’s no one’s business how someone dresses and if anyone pressures someone to dress a certain way they’re full of shit. Yes, I’m a slob by nature but in my life I haven’t had a lot of need to spiff up. Also, I’m crooked as all get out so most clothes don’t fit me too well. Hence the reason I prefer long baggy shirts and leggings or shorts. If I do choose to spiff up, it’ll be my decision and I’ll be comfortable no matter what. Life is too damn short to dress and feel uncomfortable.

I’ve always thought that I would have made an absolutely terrible 1950’s housewife and been really bad at being a single-girl-about-town in the 1950’s, too. Because conformity has never fit on me due to the way I look and the fact that I’m a shy weirdo. So I’m glad I wasn’t alive in the 1950’s because I probably would have been banished to a deserted island or a convent. I believe this conformity is what led to the women’s movement of the 1960’s, and why bras were burned (back then those dang things were nothing but boulder holsters).

It does pain me to know there are a fair amount of people who seem to think the good old days like the 1950’s were ideal and the world’s been going to hell ever since. As my mother used to say, the good old days sucked. She told me growing up like she did in a strict Catholic household that it was God forbid you had an original thought in your head. Also, if you didn’t dress a certain way you were a slut out looking to get raped. Because back then, and like now according to the assholes of this world, if you dress a certain way you’re fucked in more ways than one.

But here’s the really shitty double-standard: if you wear something baggy or loose you’re a prude with something to hide. To me, it doesn’t matter. I don’t care about seeing muffin top, or flat bellies, or if you have a fondness for wearing oversize sweatshirts like Arianna Grande. And though I’ve talked about not wanting to see boob or butt cleavage, if I somehow see that my world won’t come to a screeching halt nor will my eyes be seared raw.

I’m glad women don’t feel the need to wear pearls all the time but I also wonder how many women feel pressured to still look a certain way. Case in point: I see women at the grocery store in perfectly put-together workout ensembles with perfect hair and makeup. For me, it’s okay to dress like that if you want to. But if you’re doing it because you’re worried about what people might think if you didn’t look like that, don’t waste your time on the hair and makeup. Because five minutes after someone’s looked at you in the store, they’ve already forgotten about you.

So to all the women reading this: dress comfortably and if someone doesn’t like that then use my young passenger’s excellent comeback: “What is this? The 1950’s?”

No, it’s not. And thank God, the Goddess, and The Universe for that.

Uber Tales: Random Edition

These are short bits from my Uber days so far. Basically, this is if I can’t come up with anything else.

Uber Tales: Comeback Edition

Yesterday afternoon I heard a great comeback: I’m eating a sandwich, you want these leftovers, too? This was in response to one lady in the car who took a call from a chick dating her ex. Younger lady in the backseat came up with the leftovers bit because that’s what she says to chicks dating her exes who try to start shit with her. It’s better than one I would recommend using: what part of ‘he’s my ex’ do you not understand, and why the hell are you talking to me in the first place?

Uber Tales, Morning-After Edition:

I actually told this story last night to my passenger and he mentioned ‘The Hangover’ before I did.

When I do early-morning runs on Saturday and Sunday, I do get what I call ‘the morning after’ pickups. These are people who obviously haven’t been to bed in their own place, if you get my meaning. Yesterday, I get a pickup at a motel and guy says he wasn’t really sure how he got there in the first place. I said there must be a story behind that. He said he’d been out visiting with friends and family and then after that… the motel. It was on the tip of my tongue to say this: “You do know ‘The Hangover’ was just a movie, right? And not what you should do in real-life? I mean, what if there had been a tiger in the bathroom your buddy was missing?”

Uber Tales, God-I’m-Such-a-City-Slicker-But-It-Pays-to-Be-Nice-to-People Edition:

So I get a notification of a 45+ minute trip, and the rider texts me it’s to Bandera. Okay, not a bad ride though going up was in the dark. The actual destination was about 15 miles outside of Bandera to a wilderness area where there was an extreme marathon being run (it’s a marathon that’s run in the wild). It was a good-sized fare in no traffic so I was totally chill there. And the lady told me about the time she ran one of these marathons in Alaska and encountered two bears along the way, one of which eyed her up a little. But when I got there I was stuck for about 45 minutes till the runners set off and the road out re-opened. Problem was, there was no place to get a breakfast taco or coffee (I bet these extreme-marathon folks probably don’t do breakfast tacos). But when I got back to town, the lady tipped me $40 through the app, which is double my previous record ($20). So lesson here: be nice to people on long rides out into the boonies.

The illustration below was done by a very dear friend of mine because trust me on this one, I would never look this good in a superhero costume.

Writer and Poet