Drive by blog

The CD Celtic Woman is just
the most beautiful thing ever. Like Enya and Clannad turned loose. It
may be a little cheesy to some, but you know, they have my number.
Also, iTunes now has my money.

More than just New Orleans was blown away

I was net surfing tonight and came across this
from the BBC, which cites world press response to the US response to
Katrina.  It’s not at all favorable.  Mostly they seem to
think we can’t handle ourselves and have fallen not just in our own
opinion, but even further in theirs.

From Kenya:

My first reaction when television images of the survivors of Hurricane
Katrina in New Orleans came through the channels was that the producers
must be showing the wrong clip. The images, and even the
disproportionately high number of visibly impoverished blacks among the
refugees, could easily have been a re-enactment of a scene from the
pigeonholed African continent. “

And Hong Kong wants to give us some tips, since we clearly seem to need them:

Even if our money may not be needed, at the least we
should be offering moral support. Our skills in dealing with storms may
be useful to help Americans prevent other such tragedies. We should be
offering this help rather than shrugging off what should be our
humanitarian duty.”

There’s also an incredible list of countries donating money.  I wasn’t impressed with Rice’s somewhat condescending response:
“it is very valuable for people for being able to give to each other
and to be able to do so without a sense of means.”  I don’t know
what she means, but then, I rarely do.  We’re
getting oil.  We’re getting $100 million from Qatar.  How
many Americans knew Qatar was a country?  I admit, I thought it
was an airline, then remembered that was Quantas. 

We’re getting more than just oil and money and geography lessons and
tips on how to deal with/prevent storm crises.  We’re getting
hubris, and it’s unquestionably a Meal Ready to Eat.  I think the
fact that we only barely can grasp how much public face we have lost
only makes it that much worse.

How did we get here?  And no, don’t say Bush.  He’s one
guy.  We’re a country full of people who should be smarter than
this.  Really — all of us, how did we get here?  More
importantly, how the hell do we get out of here?

New Orleans, I’m very sorry

I’ve become a bit paralyzed today. On the one hand I’m overcome with sorrow for the victims of the hurricane. On the other hand I am seething with rage at my country’s ineptitude and its inability to rescue its own citizens. And then I am numb with horror and shock at how it’s now day six and still, mostly it’s alot of people talking. Day six and we still have people there unrescued, held in pens like cattle while guests from the Hyatt move to the front of the line. Day. Six.

We have given money. We will give more, but I can’t help thinking that I need to give water. Except I’m also very sure I’d only be in the way to go down there now. I don’t have a bus. I also have a toddler. I have few skills that would help. I plan to keep an eye out for ways to help the 5000 that are supposed to come to Iowa — of course, first they have to get out of hell. I’m going to go get supplies and take them to the drop off point. I’ve written scathing letters to all my congressional representatives telling them to GET OFF THEIR ASSES and at least yell a lot. Beyond that, I think I should probably spend some time in meditative prayer for peace and action to reach those who need it, and that’s about what I can come up with that I can actually do.

The rage isn’t going to help anybody, so it needs to be spent. If I had somewhere for it to carry me, I’d do that, but mostly I’m left here with this well of sorrow and a sense of disbelief that this is happening. It’s not the natural disaster blowing me away, it’s the disaster of response.

If anybody can think of something else to be done, my God, I’d love to hear it.

Gay Rights and Baba Yaga

So, I’ve been doing a lot of myth reading lately. Specifically I’ve been reading The Maiden King
by Robert Bly and Marion Woodman.  Loving this book for so many
reasons.  I can tell I’m going to have it spinning in my head for
years, plus it’s already nudged me into new directions in my writing
and sent me into new research veins.  Good times.

But mostly I have fallen in love with Baba Yaga.  Weird, I
know.  But actually, no, I think it makes a lot of sense, if you
look deep down.  While I’m writing this blog entry my three year
old is watching a disgustingly saccharine Disney princess video, some
hastily slapped together montage of badly storyboarded kid candy. 
I hate it, and I hate that my daughter is watching it.  What this
world needs is not Disney saccharine.  We need to start looking at
the Baba Yaga.  The underworld-dwelling witch who eats the naive
and the either/or disciples of the world will get us whether we believe
in her or not, unless we prepare for her.  So I want to turn this
show off and show my daughter the shadows so she knows they’re there —
except, well, she’s three.  And she’s not stupid either — in a
lot of ways she already sees the shadow.  The Huns in Mulan are
shadow enough to scare her pants off.  Strangers in Target
greeting her are shadow.  Adults on the playground who try to
engage her scare the living shit out of her.  If ever there were a
child who could inspire you to believe she had come to you from a past
life of heinous abuse and terror, this is the child.  So, perhaps
saccharine is due. Today’s saccharine for her may be tomorrow’s shadow,
after all.

The rest of us, though, especially we adults, need to quit looking for
the adult versions of the Disney princess seires.  Baba Yaga is
out there, and you won’t defeat her by sending American troops to Iraq
and putting a magnetic ribbon on your car, just as my HRC sticker on my
Mazda and $10 a month to the same (HRC, not my Mazda) aren’t solving
the inequeties of human rights in the United States.   Baba
Yaga wants your blood and bones for dinner, and unless you convince her
you’re of better use alive, she’ll make good use of you in her
belly.  Towing a party line of any sort isn’t going to defeat her
either, something I wish either a Democrat or Republican or some
independent group would figure out.  Baba Yaga is gorging on this
country right now, this country which is locked in bitter battle over
blue or red, black and white, liberal and conservative, hawk or
dove. 

But you know what I think is going to yank us out of this?  Or at
least the issue that will force us to look at the third, silenced
option, whatever it may be?  Gay rights.

Yeah, go ahead and laugh or roll your eyes or whatever.  But it’s
true — the homosexuals will lead us over the rainbow after all. 
Because that’s where you can’t scream, “A or B!” no matter how hard you
try.  Gay or straight?  Hardly.  Oh, sure, most of us
sleep with either the same sex or the opposite, not both, so there you
could make a distinction.  But down deep, unless you are an angry,
fearful person determined to exorcise part of yourself, you will be
experiencing your own masculine and feminine within, your own personal
yin and yang, every day.

I like to tease my husband that he’d make a really great gay man, if he
weren’t straight.  And actually, I don’t know as much about
lesbian culture, but I’d probably be able to hold my own, except you
know, I can think other women or pretty, but it’s just not my
gig.  But I do have a pretty strong sense of my yang.  It’s
okay culturally for me to do that.  The fact that my husband would
flunk most of Focus on the Family’s masculinity test
is less okay culturally, and I think it’s actually less okay now that
it ever has been.  I feel for young boys growing up now, with
their clothes and toys so starkly gender defined, with everyone raking
them pre-puberty for “signs” they’ll be gay.  You know, I think
the sign your child is gay is when they say they look at the same sex
and are attracted.  Period.

In attempts to “defend marriage” and “protect children” the anti-gay
camp is pushing us to a cultural choice they will inevitably
lose.  Unless the choice is made on a fundamentalist Biblical
interpretation, we’re going to have to face the fact that there are
Americans who want to protect marriage and children and want to do it
while having a sexual relationship with someone of the same sex, and as
soon as we stop listening to the mad ravings of people doing a
fantastic job of killing Christianty by associating it with hate and
exclusion, we’re going to have to give homosexual couples the same
legal rights the rest of us have.  And on that road we’re going to
discover you really can’t have gaydar, you can’t look at your eight
year old and make a checklist to see if they’re gay and send them off
to a reprogramming camp.  Someday that will be considered child
abuse.

Until that day, Baba Yaga is feasting.  When you face Baba Yaga
she asks, “Do you come of your own free will or are you
compelled?”  The answer that gets you eaten is to chose one or the
other.  The answer that sets you free is to admit that it’s both,
and not in a nice orderly percentage of blame.  If you face Baba
Yaga and you demand a black and white, you die.  If you face her
and admit there isn’t just gray but that you desperately need it, she
might just send you away uneaten but with great gifts.

So hold hands, kids, put on your ruby slippers and head for the
rainbow.  If you hear someone filing their teeth, head fast for
the middle and start looking for the gray.

Stuff, stuff, and stuff. And then a riff about pacing.

Right, so descriptive. But you know, when I’ve been as lax with the postings as I have been, there’s just no catch-all topic quite as accurate as “stuff.” So, here’s what happened.

1. We sold our house. It was dicey, actually, because there was yet another money snafu, but it all worked out in the end and I only own one house now. That’s good stuff.

2. We took this really great day trip to Iowa City, and honest to God, I meant to blog about how fun it was, but I got busy. And now it’s just sort of a collage of niceness floating in my head. There was a great moment where Anna played in the ped mall fountain in her street clothes which I should blog about eventually.

3. Been writing. Lots. More later.

4. Dan has been uber childwatching husband. He gets gold stars. (Smooches, honey.)

You know, that’s all that’s sticking in my head. Except to go to the back yard, I cannot remember when I last left the house. Saturday, I guess. Wow, that’s impressive. Yeah, I think that may have been it, though I think I maybe went out for something Sunday night. Mostly it’s me in my office and my laptop.

So, about pacing. Because honestly, I’m so single minded for writing these days that not much else lingers in my brain. And tonight I”m thinking about pacing. Specifically, I’m thinking about how nicely the beginning of the WIP is shaping up. Allow me to babble about it.

I haven’t actually written the first two scenes yet, but they will be heroine, then hero, respectively, in their “special worlds,” setting up their conflicts. There’s a scene with the two of them together, and it may be a little chatty, but she does pull him out of a lake and drag him towards the abbey until he passes out, so there’s some action.

And now I’m taking a small risk and slowing it down. I really haven’t done the inciting incident yet, but I’ve got two more POV characters to introduce, which is the next two scenes, plus I really think I have to get the antaonist and the hero head to head, and THEN, in scene seven, we get the inciting incident, or the start of it.

Or that’s just a turning point, and the inciting incident is in scene three. Really, at this point it just seems to be working, so I’m not going to dig too hard.

I am, however, amazed at how I’m bopping all over the map in this revision. I started at the end this weekend, wrote/revised eight scenes in the climax, then jumped to scene three. It’s interesting to work that way, because there’s stuff in the end that I”m putting in the beginning now — not always consciously, but I often write something and think, “Hey, that echoes the end!” Which is cool.

And it occurs to me now that anybody not intimately interested in writing process may be asleep by now. Well, now you know why I’m not blogging much these days.

Positive Thinking: An Attempt

Okay, I said I wasn’t going to blog this until it happened, but after
yesterday I’ve decided to go for broke.  Because yesterday a bunch
of hell happened on this same subject, and my husband said, “I KNEW
this would happen!” which makes me wonder if he was secretly sending
negative energy behind my back.  So today I’m going to be positive
as Polyanna.

Today I’m going to sell a house!

We used to live in a small town that has many good attributes, but few
which remained evident to us, and so in what really was kind of a
spur-of-the-moment thing moved two and a half hours away.  (Both
towns are in Iowa, so I got to keep my moniker.) It was classic
Us.  We sat down in January of 2004 with legal pads and
spreadsheets and soberly decided that we could afford to move in five
years.  Then in February we moved anyway. 

It all worked eerily well — Dan applied for a job, thinking it was a
long shot, then got an interview so we checked out the town and a few
houses, then he got the job so we came back and bought one.  We
settled right in, and we love our new town.  Everything worked
great, except that house I’m selling?  That’s the one we left 18
months ago.

It’s not fun to pay two mortgages for eighteen months.  We’ve had
exactly two offers on the house: one that had so much bad juju
attatched to it that we let it go, and a second one that we
accepted.  We’re officially losing $12k on the house, which is so
much better than owning two houses, let me tell you.  Yesterday’s
hell came in trying to get that $12k to the bank holding the mortgage
on the house we’re selling.  I think it worked out.  I’m
really not sure yet, but people kept telling me not to worry, so I
stopped.  Today I have a new motto: Everything is going to be
great!

So, today the money I need to get there will get there.  Today I
will sell my house.  Today I will dance in the street and sing
kumbaya.  And, I guess, today I will start paying down that $12k
we borrowed to sell the house.  Hey, better than double mortgage.

Positive thinking.  It’s either going to work, or it will be a
higher place to jump from and kill myself if this doesn’t go
through.  See?  Always thinking ahead.

THAT’S IT

I’m issuing a proclamation.  People are going to stop being stupid RIGHT NOW.

Very well, that’s not only unrealistic, it’s non-specific.  Let’s
try that again.  People will stop pretending their selfishness is
actually concern for people they “love.”  Because that isn’t just
stupid, it’s mean, and it hurts.

Examples of what is selfish and stupid, not loving:

  1. When a bright, capable and happy young woman is graduating from
    dental school, you do not ignore her accomplishments and happiness and
    life full of promise and ask her if she is seeing anyone.  You
    know, I bet if she is, she’ll tell you.  Probably while gloating,
    because she’s been listening to you nag her for years.
  2. You do NOT ask people when they are having another child. 
    If you must, you ask politely, openly, and when they say, “I don’t
    think I’m ready now, and I may never be,” your answer is not, “But
    you’re such a good parent.  I hate to see you waste
    yourself.” 
  3. If a friend is unmarried or no longer married and is not actively
    soliciting you for advice in their love life, you do NOT see them stand
    next to a member of the opposite sex for five minutes and then assure
    them you’re so glad they “finally found someone.”

We could be here all day with examples, because there are a lot. 
But the bottom line is that somehow it’s still socially acceptable to
nag people into fitting into a preconceived ideal.  When I wasn’t
married, I was asked who I was dating.  When I was dating, I was
asked when we were getting married.  When I was married, we were
asked when we were going to have kids.  I had one kid, and they
wanted to know when I was having another.  I was doing fine, until
I said, “Maybe I’ll just have one.”

Alert!  Alert!  She’s breaking the mold!  Expectations are AWRY!  Alert!  Alert!

Why are we not allowed to have our own lives?  Why is it “loving”
to nag family and friends into doing what we want them to do, instead
of letting them do what they need to?  I’ve been told, “They mean
well.”  Thank you.  That helps so much.  So they’re just
stupid?  Or blind?  Because I thought I was being
clear. 

I understand people are afraid people they love are missing out. 
Taking the wrong road.  Heading for heartache.  But here’s
the catch: if I did everything people wanted me to do to avoid hurting,
I wouldn’t be me.  I’d also most assuredly be depressed.  In
fact, I look back at the first thirty years of my life and see all
kinds of times when I did things just to please others.  You know,
it didn’t pay well.  The best times were the risks.  Some of
those risks I wish I would have taken further.  Because I might
have gotten hurt, yes.  But I’d have a lot more of my own living
under my belt.

So everybody, STOP.  Stop telling other people what they
want.  If they ask, that’s different.  But if they aren’t
asking, you’ve just got to button it, because you may see what they’re
doing as a mistake, but it’s important to them. 

Laundry, dishes, phones, and socks

This is just a rant.

Okay, in the above list, laundry and dishes I have made some begrudging
peace with.  I still don’t like them, and I think they’re unfair
in that you are never finished with either chore– just as soon as
you’ve put the last pair of pants in the closet and underwear in the
drawer, you walk past a hamper and there’s a t-shirt and pair of jeans
in it.  Or a dirty towel.  Worse, a diry towel you somehow
missed on the intial laundry pass.  Same for dishes — no sooner
do you drape your flour sack dowel symbolically over the drying rack to
bump into someone coming to put a glass in the sink. 

It’s futile to get ranty over laundry and dishes, because like so many
irritating things, they just are, and it’s a waste of time to get
ranty.  But I’m not giving up on phones and socks.

Phones.  I hate and love them.  I have a very short list of
people I love talking to on the phone, and sometimes people not on the
list surprise me and I enjoy talking to them, too.  I would say
that I could be fine if my phone never rang, if I could only use it to
call out, but that’s not true either, because I’m grumpy about phone
calls today that I have to make.   There’s a LIST.  A
phone LIST.  The worst list ever was when we moved here, the whole
set-up-utilities-take-down-utilities list.  Ack.  Hated
it.  Well, this list is shorter, but not better.

1.  Call the bank.  Say, “I need to give you a really big
check, but I don’t know for how much money and won’t know until
Monday.  Except I’ll be coming there today.  I live two hours
away.  How should we do this?”

I mean, I have no idea how I’d answer me.  I’m sensing either
overpaying or an electronic transfer on Monday.  But we have to
verifiy that just having the money in our checking account will be
enough for them to draw on it.  Arg.

2.  Call the water softening joint and make sure they took out the
water softner we rented.  And that they gave our realtor the
key.  Okay, that one’s not so tough.

3.  Call the lawn people and tell them to stop mowing the lawn
because I won’t own the house past Wednesday.  Except I fear
jinxing the sale and want to call them, um, Wednesday.

4.  Call the insurance guy and figure out what he needs with this
paper he sent us and what we do because our insurance expires the 16th
but the closing is the 17th.  Pray for no fire?

5.  Call my friend the doctor who we’ll visit while we’re down for
the day, and try to strike the balance between concerned and
too-chipper, because her daughter, who is my daughter’s age (3), has
just been diagnosed with leukemia.  Because of course the leukemia
depresses and scares me, but like she needs any more of that.

Is it any wonder I’m still in my pajamas at 10:30, blogging myself into
insanity, hitting refresh on my email, and wishing someone I DO want to
talk to would call?

Okay, so the list doesn’t sound so bad to people who don’t hate the
phone.  I can respect that.  I still hate calling. 
Especially since three of the five involve more than just, “Hey, you
should know this/please do this.  Thanks.  Bye.”  The
rest are stuff.  And the latter is someone I enjoy calling, but I
have to get my head straight first.  Don’t want to bug.  But,
don’t want to not bug.  Arg.

And we haven’t even covered the socks.  Let’s get to them.

Socks.  You know, they suck.  First of all, they’re expensive
as hell.  REALLY expensive if you have big feet like me and don’t
want to wear guy socks.  And even the guy socks can be expensive,
unless you get them at Wal-Mart, but then you have the whole
supporting-the-retailer-of-Satan thing to feel bad about, not to
mention wondering what two year old stitched her finger together so you
could have cheap socks.  And you know, I could handle expensive
socks if it weren’t for all the reasons socks SUCK.

1.  They get lost.  All the damn time. 
2.  They wear out way too fast.
3.  They SHRINK, the little sneaky bastards.
4.  They get balled up in the laundry basket, then don’t get clean
in the washer, set the stains in the dryer, and — wait for it — are
still balled up and DON’T DRY.
5.  They’re boring.  Really fucking boring.  Unless you
have cute petite feet and can shop at novelty sock stores and buy the
socks for “shoe size 9-11.”  Well, baby, I wear size 13.

So you know, soon here I’m going to just make my own.  If I’m
going to pay ten dollars for a pair of socks, I’m going to have them be
in beautiful pastel sock yarn, will have sweated over their creation,
and will love them eternally because they not only fit and don’t shrink
because I will wash them tenderly — I will also wash them together,
unballed, in a sock washing ceremony, and all will be good.

Except this will only work for my socks.  I don’t think I’m going
to convince my husband to wear pastel striped socks to work, though
personally I think it could be a good conversation starter.  I
could make my daughter socks, but her feet grow fast.  Of course,
they are a third the size of mine, so the sock making could go
faster.  And SHE would appreciate socks worth fussing over. 
Hmm.  This could be a plan.  Because her socks are really
crazy expensive. 

Well.  I’m not cranky anymore.  I’m going to go finish
laundry, take my shower, ignore my phone list and do the dishes in the
sink and plan my Sock Revolution. 

power color

Found this rumaging around the net.

Your Power Color Is Teal

At Your Highest:

You feel accomplished and optimistic about the future.

At Your Lowest:

You feel in a slump and lack creativity.

In Love:

You tend to be many people’s ideal partner.

How You’re Attractive:

You make people feel confident and accepted.

Your Eternal Question:

“What Impression Am I Giving?”

You know, I dunno. I’m not sure what I was hoping for, but I’m feeling kind of meh about teal. I mean, teal?

Got zen?

Not I, said the fly.

Last night I sat down ready for an indulgent night of surfing, writing,
emailing, maybe even writing, though I’m not slated to pick that back
up until next week.  I did some surfing and emailing for awhile,
and then I twitched.  I thought, “I’ll go to bed.  Dreaming
— that’s it, I’ll go dream.  It’ll be great.”

I twitched.  Lay awake until three — really, there was a thunder
and lightning storm, so I have some defense — and didn’t sleep, let
alone dream.  I did have one of those bizarre
stream-of-consciousness epiphanies that are the Answers to the
Universe until you are lucid again, and then you simply think,
WTF?  Last night’s epiphany was that the state of zen, of ultimate
clarity is not deep within me, but a thin layer around me, like an
onion.  At 1:30AM this seemed profound.  This morning, WTF?

I did dream, though, eventually.  I dreamt about houses, which I
do a lot lately.   I had a moment where I could have sat up
and written it all down, but I didn’t, I just lay back down and
slept.  And dreamt more, this time about a friend of mine who in
the dream was pregnant (is not in real life, and if it were suggested
to her that I had dreamed she was, she would freak) and for a joke
drank so much water that she blew up like what’s her name on Willie
Wonka.  Except she got bigger than the house, and I became really
concerned.

Oh, wait!  There was this part where “we” (I have no idea who else
was in the collective, but there was a collective) were working late at
this huge, big theater, and I really wanted to curl up in this booth
that could not possibly be a booth — it was more of a lounge, but in
the dream it was a booth.  All soft and pillowed and theater
red.  I believe I made some comment about how when I was in high
school I would have made good use of those pillows, and there was
sexual innuendo there.  It’s completely not something I would say
in real life, because I would have done little more on those pillows
but take a nap. 

And this morning I still don’t have zen.  But I do have a dirty
house, and company coming.  Nothing gets me to zen quite like
making order from chaos.  Also, I have a mss to rip into. 
Two, if I count mine.  Lots of zen harvesting opportunities.