Friday, September 21, 2012

I'm Cheating on My Novel

You read that right. I'm cheating on my novel.

I knew this had to happen eventually. I've been getting closer and closer to this day, flirting with other ideas and taking time away from Delaney and More Blessed. By now, I think this could officially be called a full blown literary affair.

The problem with MB is two threefold. A) I've plotted too much of it out in advance so now I don't feel compelled to finish and B) I'm not that excited by or interested in it anymore and C) I hate technology and that idea calls for too, too much modernity with its trains and air conditioning and DNA tests.

This is more my style, technology wise.
This other shiny new [and by new, I mean not worked on] idea took the chance to make its move. It whispered in my ear, "Look, this story happens in 1950ish! None of that pesky technology! But we still have trains! You love trains, don't you!"

Yes. Yes I do.
And with that, I was a goner. Before, it had just been snapshots of tense moments. Then I wrote the opening scene, and kept going, and kept going after that. Tentative title Cells. It's about spies. I love me a good spy caper. It's also got some treason and some conspiracies and some revolutions and some moles and some almost-Russian mobsters. All things that I DO find super exciting.

And fake passports for everyone!
[And when even that seems to modern to me, I can always take a break with my witchy Victorian-ish England-ish novel that I also started recently. No reason to stick to one genre, now is there?]

To top it all off, I'm toying with the idea of doing it in dual-POV except still third person. Just to make things more confusing for everyone :)

There's also a cute little multilingual kid. Just for the cuteness.
On a semi-related note, I've also discovered that hand-writing works better for me. Microsoft Word is not so great at keeping me on task. Even with the Internet turned off. Hence, the amount of time it takes to get a single blog post written. Also, the ridiculous number of games of Hearts...and Spider Solitaire...and Minesweeper...and Freecell...and Spades that I play. Thank goodness for all my scrap paper. So take that, computers!

[Actually, don't take that comment to heart, laptop. I really enjoy you working again.]

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Finding Meaning in the Modern World

Confession: I spend way too much time on the Internet.

I'm pretty sure I've referenced that fact here before. It's been a recurring problem, except for that glorious and tragic stretch of time that my charger was still broken and I had access to computers only as long as the campus computer labs were open. I got so much reading done during those two months.

But recently, I've had excess access. I can't even feel guilty about turning my laptop on to check one little thing because there is always a computer on in the house. Usually at least two, now that we got a replacement for one that died. And the one likes to wake itself up so the screen is always inviting, always tempting. [I know, it's a terrible American thing of us to be so wasteful and it drives me insane.]

I am not very good at resisting that kind of temptation.

If only my cat weren't so fat and lazy, he could do an intervention for me.
And so I spend all this time, doing...stuff? I follow all these blogs, read all these articles, laugh at all these memes, and then? Forget most of the content the next day.

I have this weird, OCD habit when I start to follow a new blog, that I try to read through all the previous blog posts. The entire archives. Sometimes years and years worth. There are still a couple I haven't even finished yet. The other day, an author was deleting a bunch of posts, all of which I had gone back and read, and I was relieved that I hadn't missed my chance. I was thinking about it later, and I couldn't remember what any of them were about. Why had I needed to read a hundred something posts? And sure, they were wildly entertaining when I did read them. But did it matter?

That's what I'm coming back to more and more these days: does it matter? As I sit in this comfortable little big house and eat my privileged meals and drive my efficient car and use all this water and electricity. What am I doing to matter?

It feels like most things on the Internet are so temporary, so meaningless. The social justice parts of it, I really love. The sharing of ideas, spreading of open-mindedness. The ideals of what being online could be. And there's lots of places that aren't like that at all, places that I try desperately to avoid because they just make me sad for the future of humankind. Then there's all the art on display. The authors, the painters, the musicians, the filmmakers, the actors, the dancers, the photographers, the people doing crafty things because they love it. There is meaning to be found in art, a deeper connection across all of us that I long for.

I found this image and proceeded to read 5 pages worth of comics.
I'm still struggling to rectify these two ideas, filling a life with campaigning, raising awareness, spreading healing and also with beauty, entertainment, suspension of reality. I have to remind myself that all the reading and TV watching and gossip following that I do is not wholly in vain. My brain needs a chance to relax, unwind, rid itself of all the garbage that gets into it every day.

And I am not embarrassed to acknowledge that sometimes, the best way to do that is to watch a movie where nothing makes sense and everything blows up.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Email! Disability Update! Romania?

I have had a super fabulous week and I'm not going to gush on and on about how nice it was, but it was very nice and finally kind of busy. Which I LOVE. I need to be busy busy busy because I get bored really easily.

[While typing that, one of the busies almost became busty...erm, not quite the same thing.]

I'm still getting that last bit of summer mode out of my system and settling back into sort of a routine of job searching - which I will not talk about much here because I talk about that with everyone in real life - so this is not going to be too meaningful or soul-searching.My brain is quite obviously too spastic for that at this moment.

First, after a couple of comments, I made an email that I don't mind making public and where I can be reached if anyone wants to contact me. If all I get is spam, I'll be deleting it, but I'm hoping that this will both make me more accountable in actually getting posts written AND make me some new friends. I'm trying to figure out how to add this in its own line to my profile description, but I am decidedly not blog-layout-savvy. Also, I am having trouble deciding what I really want this email name to be.

For now, you can contact me at:

[Side note: I always wanted a pen pal and finally got my parents to sign me up for an international one. I got matched with a girl from Romania, oddly enough, and wrote her this long, detailed letter about my life. Which I never mailed. Thus ended my only pen pal experience.]

This is totally relevant because having Internet friends is kind of like having a Romanian pen pal, right?
Secondly, there is this petition that so closely relates to my last post on disabilities. Apparently, and sadly I must say it doesn't surprise me too much, the state of Florida is sending kids with special needs to nursing homes instead of providing the assistance their families need to care for the kids in-home. So the kids, who have loving and non-abusive families, are being taken away so the state doesn't have to pay for services. Even though the state does have to pay a lot for the kids to be institutionalized.

You would've thought that institutionalization would be universally recognized as NOT IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE KIDS by now.
[Today is apparently a Romania sort of day. Too bad this didn't happen a couple of weeks ago when I realized my church attire was the Romanian flag. Not even on purpose! Red shoes, yellow dress, blue sweater.]

So even though this might not actually get much accomplished, Stacie Lewis [writer of the Amazing Half-Brained Baby blog I linked last time] started a petition to get these kids back with their families and receiving services because she realized how little media attention the issue was getting.

You can read more about it and please take the time to SIGN HERE.

Who wouldn't want to live somewhere that looks like this?
[For one final bit of Romania tying-in, the book I've been thinking about lately is primarily set in an alternate-world version of Romania so yesterday I was reading about Bucharest. Coincidences are my favorite things ever.]

Saturday, September 1, 2012

We Should Talk About Disabilities

Lately, I keep seeing articles popping up in the news and on blogs about people with disabilities. With my degree, I took a bunch of classes that either directly or indirectly discussed how disabilities - the ones we usually think of as terrible curses/burdens and the ones we don't think about at all - affect the family and the educational system and the workplace. So I have been well-versed on the topic and still there are new things out there every day for me to consider.

It's interesting to compare how disability, and the various types of disabilities, is treated in the media and in different countries. It seems to me that the poorer the country, or the family, the worse off the people with major disabilities are. Not necessarily through any fault of their families, but due to the inter-generational transmission of ignorance or lack of services or the often astronomical cost of caring for children and adults with different needs.

But then there's a difference we don't usually hear about here, between the U.S. and Europe, because national health care and social services take better - and cheaper - care of people with disabilities than for-profit companies in the States. Of course, they're worrying about funding cuts now too.

[Not that there aren't good people doing good work for people with disabilities at home too. There are. I just see the vast difference in what is provided in Europe and what has to be sought out here. In fact, I briefly toyed with the idea of going into Early Childhood Intervention because I think they're brilliant for Americans when it comes to children accessing services.]

No matter where or what magnitude it is, it's sad for me to see people with disabilities so marginalized by society. We wouldn't like to think it, with our legislated equality and whatnot, but we're failing them.

We fail them when we call them "the disabled" rather than a person, who happens to have a disability. We fail them when we focus on what they can't do, rather than what they can. We fail them when we pity them or offer sympathies without offering solutions or help.

We fail them when NBC doesn't give any useful coverage to the Paralympics.

We fail them when a school demands a boy get his name changed because it violates their policy.

Instead of comic relief for a tragic about cuteness relief for an angry rant?
Another one that means a lot to me - and I would say this is technically related more to illnesses/medical conditions rather than "disabilities" - is when we fail to acknowledge the invisible sufferers. The people who don't "look" sick but suffer from chronic fatigue, or fibromyalgia, or depression, or cystic fibrosis, or anxiety, or...or...or. The ones who, on top of living with this extra burden, have to explain to people that they aren't faking being sick. They aren't looking for your criticism or your advice or whatever. They just want to live as normally as possible for them.

It astounds me that, as much of a capacity for kindness that humans have, we are so quick to fall into this blaming-hurtful-ignorant-critical mentality. A person who is living with blindness, or deafness, or paralysis, or a cognitive impairment, or...or...or, shouldn't have to deal with that kind of crap. They are inspirational just as every single one of us is inspirational in our unique way. No one gets away with having it all in life. We each have our own personal issues to struggle through.

And no one, no matter what, should have their journey trivialized or marginalized. [Although I must admit, there is certainly a limit to my empathy for sociopaths.]

So please, be aware of how you talk about disability. Technically, it's called person-first language. It really does make a difference in terms of attitude towards the individuals we so often described [and still sometimes describe] as a group. Be as aware as you can about policy and current issues, or be ready to listen if someone explains them and their effects to you. Really, I think everyone should be like this about everything, but especially for the more sensitive parts of the human experience.

Some great articles and blog posts I've read about normal people who are also impacted by disability:

The Greatest Sporting Event You've Never Heard Of

It's a Shame Paralympic Opening Ceremony Wasn't Seen By All [If anyone knows where to find the whole ceremony online, I would appreciate the link!]

School Demands Deaf Boy Change His Sign Name

Mama Lewis and the Amazing Adventures of the Half-Brained Baby [I couldn't think of one post that I wanted to share more than others, so if you're interested, this is the author of the first article. Her little girl is the cutest thing ever.]