Saturday, December 28, 2013

My Year in Review

Three days left for 2013.  I’m one book short of my reading challenge.  I have bookmarks in, like, 6-7 books though.  Ha ha, not all of that is going to get finished, and I don’t want to take the bookmarks out.  I’ll just subract them from next year’s reading challenge when I DO finish them.

I have a 12-15 page paper due when I return to classes in February that I really, really need to get started on.  Not to mention a presentation due the second week I’m back.

I’m still working, although I hate working and being in school at the same time. It’s hard, and my writing and reading has suffered for it.

The first six months of this year were employed by taking care of the animals, reading, and general job-hunting, and the closest thing to an existential crisis I can have.

Come July, things started looking up.  I got a job.  I know since I’ve started working, I’ve bought over 100 books. Over 100 books in six months.  Feeding an addiction is tough, man.

I started school in August, and turned 21.  I’ve gambled and drank.  I’ve settled back into college life as well as I can manage.  I guess I’m happy where I am now.  As happy as can be expected.  I’ve written and read a little something-something.

My New Year’s Resolutions are

1, and most important:  Keep track of just how many books I buy & how much I spend in a calendar year.  Meaning, come January 1st, I shall start keeping a log, just for the fun of it.  Because I’m curious about my strange addiction to buying books.

2, and also important:  Quit procrastinating.  But I’m waiting till after the first to do this.  I’m putting off putting off.

3, and very, very important too:  Find a church or ministry to get plugged in with so that I may tithe.  I’ve tithed here and there, but not much, and it’s not as if I can’t afford to tithe.  I shouldn’t be able to afford not to.  So, I shall find a church, or a ministry that needs funds.

4, not so important, but here you are anyway:  To read more classic books, and less romance. It’s not that important, and I’m not ashamed of my love for all things historical romance.  However, I’ve only read a handfull of classics, and that’s sad for a self-proclaimed bookworm.  At the same time, while I know other kids had an understanding far surperior to mine as it is now, I’m kind of glad I put off reading the classics till adulthood.  New adulthood, at any rate.  See here.

5, again not important:  to lose weight, get healthy, and, oh my gosh.  Thank you for laughing, because that’s a big fat joke.  Pun intended.

Digressing Rant:  Seriously, why wait until the New Year for that?  Because you wish to indulge during the holidays?  Do it.  Doesn’t matter. To my mind, it’s all about your breaking point.  When you really want to make that change, really, you will do it.  If it’s important, you make time.  If not, you make an excuse.  Going on with the cliches, when you hit rock bottom, there’s nowhere to go but up.  Maybe when I’m morbidly obese.  Maybe when I feel the need to attract a husband, or just one date before I get myself to a nunnery.  I don’t have a reason to want it badly enough, not right now.  I want it, yes, but not that bad.  Not as bad as I need to support my book habit.  Not as bad as I like ice cream.  Maybe someday.  But not today.  A healthy choice here and there spaced out between months at a time is still good.  For now.  I haven’t gone up a pants size this year, but I haven’t lost one either. Oh well.  Okay, rant over.

6, again, not as important:  to read and write more.  Obviously I have my good and bad days, but I try to do this all the time anyway.  I mark my calendar and everything now.  I didn’t do as well as I would have liked between work and school the past six months, but I’m learning.  Regardless of whether it’s a NYR or not, it’ll always be something to strive for.

So, my year’s been full of ups and downs.  It’s been a lot of growing up.  It’s been working.  It’s been getting a car, and having to pay bills.  It’s going into debt because I took out a student loan.  It’s been reading a lot and writing a lot.  It’s been emotional trauma between the Dresden Files and the Valisar trilogy.  It’s been realizing things about myself I don’t like and things I can live with.  It’s been twists of heaven and hell into that complicated thing we call life.


Bring it, 2014.  I’m ready as I’ll ever be.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Sweet Validation


It my least favo—rite time of the year!

(To be sang to, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”)

I hate when I read something in a wonderful book, and then can’t find it later.

I was doing my year-end scramble, trying to finish up all these books I have bookmarks in, you know.  One was What On Earth Have I Done? by Robert Fulghum.  You know the guy.  Everything I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.

He spends time in Crete, and the Cretans go way out for Easter more than they do for Christmas.  Fulghum’s not a Christian, but heaven help him if scandal is attached to his name because he didn’t celebrate Easter with them!

Their reasoning is that birthdays are common.  Everyone has a birthday.  Not everybody dies and comes back.  

I wish I could find the passage!

I’d never thought of it that way.  Christmas is a fomality.  Easter is a celebration.

I have my own views and thoughts about the world, about myself, near about everything that’s ever crossed my mind.  When I find something that shares my opinion, or  confirms what I thought I knew, it makes me feel like I am not alone after all, and that maybe I do have some of the intelligence everyone claims I have.

My other favorite moment of validation was looking at a list of famous INFPs (which is my personality type most often).  I’m the same personality type as Hans Christian Andersen.

HANS.  CHRISTIAN.  ANDERSEN.  It’s also the suspected personality type of Tolkien, Lewis, Rowling, Woolf, Milne, Watterson, Warhol, Van Gogh, Antoine Saint Exupery...

That’s all great too.  I know I’m a writer, a dreamer, sometimes even an artist.  I knew all that.

But I’m the same freaking personality type of Hans Christian Andersen.  It was encouraging.  Not that I ever have any doubts about what I’m meant to be (oh dear, my pants are on fire), but it’s a source of validation.  It’s in me, all I gotta do is believe in myself (and now I feel like puking for the triteness).  And follow my heart (gag).

 Validation is also my way of getting out of things.  I’ve been on the fence about the Fifty Shades of Grey books since I've heard about them.  My thing about popular books is that if it didn’t catch my attention before it was popular, and I check it out now, just to see, and it’s not something I want to read, I fail to see why I should read a book just because it’s popular.

Life is too short to read books you’re not certain you’ll care for.  Life is also too short to pass a possibly good book up.

But I don’t like BDSM.  I’ve tried to read it in the past.  I didn’t like it.  I quit.  I’ve heard things about Fifty Shades portraying an unhealthy relationship.  I don’t like those either.  I can forgive a lot in a heroine, but I will not forgive an a-hole hero.  I don’t make a habit of reading serious literature.  Give me healthy relationships, and dragons, thank you, please, ma’am.  I save the dysfunctions for real life.

I spend a lot of time on the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books website.  It’s a great resource for romance books.  “All of the romance, none of the bullshit.”

Fifty Shades got reviewed there, and they gave it a “did not finish."  So...

“Sweet validation!  Now I don’t have to read it!”  Really, those were my thoughts on the matter.

But the truth was, like anything else, I was looking for excuses not to read it.  I don’t do contemporary romance.  I don’t do popular fiction (why no, I haven’t read the Hunger Games, nor do I ever plan to).

I think it would be different if they were in genres I actually have any dream of writing.  I don’t want to write YA.  I don’t want to write BDSM Erotic romance.  Or dystopia.  Or contemporary romance.  My genres are historical (Regency) romance and fantasy.  Those are my thing.  Had it been those genres, I would have picked them up out of sheer duty to my genres (although that still doesn't explain why Game of Thrones has been sitting on my shelf since late 2011, still unread).

And I don’t like jumping on bandwagons for nothing.  When I looked up the Dresden Files, I wanted to read them.  And I only have 2 books left.  I was on the fence about Kingkiller, but I regret nothing.  Those are some intimidating books, but they're awesome too. The same went for Riyria Revelations.  Well, actually, I just saw those and wanted them once they popped up in my recommendations.  How could I not?  I finally got them, and I read Theft of Swords.  Good stuff, that.  Good, good, GOOD stuff.

I shouldn’t need validation.  I shouldn’t have to explain my actions, nor feel guilty for not liking Jesus’ birthday (but in my defense, it’s really not his birthday, as he was born in the fall), or being an insecure about my writing destiny (I’m in good company there), or even skipping a book everybody else loves (I probably won’t like it, I know I won’t, I know!).

Still, it’s human to want to be part of a group, I think.  No man (or insecure college girl) is an island.  Nor would I wish to be.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Other Divine Comedy, part 2: The Best Lie Ever Told

"Life is fair."

I am usually one of the first to say that life isn't fair.  And nowhere in any religion does it say life is fair, or that it should be.  You might find it in Marxism, but we generally don't like that in this part of the world.

And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.”
Genesis 2-16-17

~~~

“No! You will not die,” the serpent said to the woman. “In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Genesis 3:4-5

Uh huh, hm, well that's interesting.  ...  Fairness is often thought of in the same vein as equality.  The old snake made it sound like it was a good thing to be on par with God, at least on this level.

So apparently, this has been tripping us up from the beginning.

The Lord God said, “Since man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil, he must not reach out, take from the tree of life, eat, and live forever.”
Genesis 3:22

And don't forget, Cain killed Abel in a fit of jealousy.  It wasn't fair God favored Abel over Cain.  Cain gave God the leftovers, when Abel had given God the best of his flock.  But they both still gave something, right?

The idea of fairness, really, is dangerous.

If you've never read "Godfather Death" by the Grimm Brothers, pick it up.  Death makes all men equal.  Not everyone's born, not everybody really lives, but everybody dies.

Yes, yes, God will be fair:  everyone dies.  Death is life's great fairness.  Death is life's great certainty.  Taxes aren't a certainty anymore, but death still is.  Rich, poor, white, black, Mexican, Chinese, Christian, atheist, Buddhist.

Sometimes I wonder if God has a dark sense of humor.

You will certainly die.  Even Jesus died once.

This is really morbid stuff, I know.  I tell my nephews all the time, "Life isn't fair."  But I think, once you realize that, it kind of opens up new stuff.

“Life is never fair, and perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not.”
― Oscar Wilde

Just imagine if everything you ever did came back to bite you in the butt.  Some people get what they deserve.  But turn that inward:  what if you got what you deserved?

Even the most successful people won't attribute it all to hard work.  There was a little luck involved.   There was a lot of hard work, but a lot of hard work can come to nothing.  If life were fair, it wouldn't be so, but it's not.  Case in point:  most writers put their heart and soul in their writing.  Do they deserve to hit the best-seller list?  Probably.  Will they?  They might only sell a few hundred copies.  Hard work will only take you so far.  Work hard, but sometimes it's not enough.

Life's a lot of work, some blessings, some curses, perhaps some luck thrown in for spice.  But it is not, nor is it ever fair.  And perhaps it shouldn't be.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Gilmour Article, Romance, and My Pet Peeves

I have this developing misanthrope.  And I'm starting to feel it even toward my fellow readers.

First, because I'm just going to say a few short lines on the matter:  the way the book world responded to the Gilmour article was returning douchebuggery for douchebuggery.  So an academic had an opinion.  Big whoop.  I read the article.  The guy's an a-hole.  Period.

Being a reader means being open-minded.  It means understanding and accepting that people are going to have different opinions than you.

The guy's not a reader.  He's a professor.  And guess what?  The guy teaches short fiction.  Guess what else?  The Americans and the Russians dominate that field in classic literature.  Any lit teacher will tell you that.  You can't change history.

I was ashamed of my fellow readers when I heard the outcry.  Y'all know better.

To quote Christina Dodd from her Read-A-Romance-Month article, it's about romance, but it goes for all book-bashing, really:

"It’s become an internet standard that if a psychologist/book columnist/writer of “more important” fiction, wants attention, s/he posts a “Romance is stupid” article. Frankly, the organ that creates my outrage is exhausted. I can’t get excited (again), when someone I don’t know, don’t care about, will never hear of again, bashes my genre. [emphais mine]

....

So it’s time for us romance readers and writers to pull up our big girl panties and stop arguing with the willfully ignorant, and stop worrying about whether we are respected.

....

— According to a study cited by Dr. Joyce Brothers, women who read romance novels make love seventy-four percent more often than women who don’t read romance novels.

— According to special research from the British Medical Journal, the more orgasms you have, the longer you’re likely to live.

Assuming those studies are true, we don’t need to “read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.” We romance readers are going to outlive all the critics anyway.


Full Article HERE

And on the topic of romance, I hate when I see books gave me unrealistic expectations about men.  I mean, I have a special hatred in my heart for that crap--right there with my special hatred for reality TV.  Girls, you've obviously never read a romance, WHICH ARE ACTUALLY ABOUT LOVE AND RELATIONSHIPS.

Those guys aren't perfect.  They're screwy, stupid, dominating/posessive, afraid of committment, you-name-it.  In some cases, misogynistic.

But that's why we love them.  I will admit, romance books probably gave me unrealistic expectactions about sex (I'm a virgin, what do I really know anyway? and even romance writers will say it's unrealistic), but not about the male of the species.  Men will be men, and women will be women.  We're different, but we complete each other.  Yin and yang.  The two become one.  All that.

Frankly, I think it's mostly girls that are into YA saying it/making the memes.  Girls, that is NOT where to look for your standards for a relationship/husband.  And you're too young to be thinking about that anyway.

Maybe I'm being overly critical.  Maybe because I'm terminally single and I don't even think an idiot out there exists for me.  However, probably more because I read a lot of adult romance, and I don't have a long list of things I'd want in a potential husband.  Because I don't read YA and am not sensitive to the matter.

If I learned anything from romance novels, it's that you never wind up with the kind of person you thought you would, or what you thought you wanted.  He'll annoy you.  And you'll have to learn to work as a team.  You might even hate him at first.  He might be a little dense.  He will not, under any circumstances, be perfect.  He will be a guy.

And this, because I love it so:




Saturday, September 7, 2013

Reading Habits and On to Narnia


I'm not overly fond of the classics.  This is what led me to drop the English majoring.



I'd never read Narnia or Lord of the Rings (or past the first book, anyway), and yet I wanted to be a fantasy writer.

It always struck me as a little...well, not exactly hypocritical, but perhaps a little, well, as unpreparedness.  I always had the intention of reading them.  I always knew that someday, I would have to.  Because really, you can't be a fantasy writer unless LOTR or Narnia captured you so hard that you wanted to write fantasy for the rest of your life.

It's required reading, like Austen is for romance writers--or at least Regency romance writers, anyway.  Like H. P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe and Stephen King are for horror writers.  And Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley.

I got into the Dresden Files.  If you've never heard of it, it's like Harry Potter for adults.  I've never read Harry Potter (I wasn't allowed, although they ARE on my to-read list once I'm out from under my parents' roof), so I don't know the accuracy of the statement, but there you are.  I always said it was like Sookie Stackhouse for men--and women with better taste.  O.o.

Like everything else, I'm late to the game reading them.  There's 14 books out now, and 15, while I haven't seen cover art, has a title.  I started them earlier this year, and I'm pretty in love with them.  They're great stories.  I just finished book 8 yesterday.  I've been running around all week with school and work, and I had yesterday off.  I napped.  You work part time and go to school part time, and still manage your K a day and maintain reading habits....  It sucks being an adult.  I can't imagine what it must be like for people with kids.

...then I had a dream about people summoning up demons.  This happens fairly often in the Dresden Files, and I've been mainlining them, really.  And when I woke up, I was a little shaken.

Time to take a break.  So, I took a step back.  Okay, time to find something else to read for now.

I read The Magician's Nephew in June.  I picked up an omnibus edition of Narnia earlier this year, so I'm reading them in the order they're placed in the book.

I don't want to go back to reading romance, and I need a fantasy, and none of the fantasy books I have bookmarks in right now probably aren't going to help me...

So I pulled Narnia off my shelf.  I read about half of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe yesterday, and the other half this morning.

I've seen the movies, so I already had an idea of what was going to happen.  And, I think I felt this way when I finished The Magician's Nephew, I'm kind of glad I didn't read it as a child.

I didn't read much as a child anyway.  My childhood was pretty normal up until middle school.  I was an outside kid.  I ran and played and stank of the outside a lot.  I think it's the glasses.  Once you're dependent upon them completely (which I've been since 6th grade and still am to this day) the physical side really takes a lower spot on the priority list.  It's a little limiting. I began reading The Fellowship of the Ring in 6th grade and finished it sometime the following the summer.  I've been in The Two Towers ever since.

All that being said, I don't think I was ready to read Narnia as a child anyway.  I mean, I read Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde my freshman year of high school, and I barely remember it.  I remember liking it, but nothing really stuck with me about it.  One day, I'll re-read it.

Which is what I tell myself about most the books I read. 

So, yeah, like everything, I'm late to the Narnia reading game, but I'd rather read it late, and really appreciate it and remember it, than have read it years ago--like back in elementary school--and then not remember it as an adult.

And since I'm not certain I'm ready to go back to the Dresden Files just yet, I may take another Narnia book.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

And Still No...

I turned 21 yesterday.

I'm proud to say I did get a job before I turned 21.  I also am back in college.  (Yay for staying on my parents' health insurance!)  I'm double majoring in Criminal Justice and Psychology.

I know.  I'm just as shocked as you are.

We always make jokes about what we'll do when we hit a milestone year.

Guess what?  I didn't buy a pack of cigarettes till I was 19--almost 20.  And even then, they weren't for me.  My sister sent me buy her cigarettes.

I've drank before--please don't tell my mom--but not in the last 24 hours.  I didn't go to a casino.  Matter of fact, I did the same thing this year as I did last year, sort of.

I passed some bookstores, got some books, went out to eat and called it a day.  I got SRL's new one...and read it in something like 5 hours.  And now I get to wait a whole year before the next one in the series comes out.

I found a What People Accomplished When They Were Your Age Generator.  So I typed in 21.

And here it is.  My remarks are in italics.

At age 21:

Italian violinist and composer Giuseppe Tartini had a dream in which he sold his soul to the Devil. The piece he wrote upon waking, the "Devil's Sonata," was the best he ever wrote, though far inferior to the one he heard in his dream.   Does that mean he really did?  I mean, dreams are important, man.  I had a dream once when I got a text message from the devil.  Different times we live in.

American novelist Herman Melville jumped ship and spent a month as the captive of a cannibal tribe. This became the source of his novel Typee.  Awesome.  Just awesome.  And he survived.  Glad I'm not him, though.

Jack London went to the Klondike with the first rush of gold-seekers, returning home a year later as poor as when he had left.  That sucks.

English chemist Humphry Davy discovered nitrous oxide ("laughing gas"), and suggested that it may have use as an anaesthetic.  Now I'm just intimidated.

Thomas Alva Edison created his first invention, an electric vote recorder. After it failed to sell, he decided to devote his energy to inventions for which there was a market.  Wow.  Holy crap, don't think too long on this one.

John Dillinger robbed a grocery store, was caught and spent 9 years in prison. He later became "public enemy number one," before being gunned down by the FBI.  Sppt.

Luther Burbank purchased 17 acres of land near Lunenburg, Massachusetts and began a plant-breeding career that would span 55 years.  Impressive.

Pablo Casals made significant modifications in cello playing technique and was acclaimed as a master.  Impressive.  Child genius, I guess.  Never heard of him, though.

Pittsburgh songwriter Stephen Foster wrote "Oh! Susanna!" which quickly gained great popularity.  That's cool.

Future robber baron Jay Gould began investing in the leather business and speculating in railroad stocks.  Wow.

Robert Browning publishes his first poetry; it is poorly received.  No duh.  Of course.

Alfred Tennyson publishes his first poetry; it is poorly received.  No duh.  Of course.

College dropout Steven Jobs co-founded Apple Computer.  Look, something I'm famliar with.

French mathematician Evariste Galois developed group theory (and many other theorems) before his death at the age of 21.  Depressing.


Jesse Ball of New York stayed awake for 129 hours. At this same age, he had a dream that seemed to last 13 years.  THAT is impressive.

And what have I accomplished?

I survived to adult, legal age, and I self-pubbed a book last year.

According to Goodreads I've read 665 books & short stories (all hail Kindle shorts).  My personal print library consists of 922 books.  I've written a few stories and novels.  I've kept an inconsistent blog.  Blogs.  Plural.

And I can still use Spreadsheet and can make a pie chart of my book stats:

"N/A" comprises books that are either regferences, or story collections.  Books you don't exactly read cover-to-cover.

Eh, not bad.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Introversion and People

I got a job.  Part time.  At the local Fred's.  Minimum wage.  My first day was Tuesday.  I worked yesterday (Thursday), today, and am expected for the next few days.

I think I understand the "introverts gain energy by being alone" now.  I don't feel it at work, but after, I feel drained.  Not tired, but drained.

But a little human interaction is good, right?  Right.

But after, don't talk to me.  I'm not on the clock, and I don't feel the need for intelligent human interaction.

It's weird, like I'm supposed to be a grown up now.  I'm not certain how I feel about that.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Goals


Today, during a job interview, I was asked for 2 short term goals, and a long term goal.




Get a job, hire an editor, get an agent, become best-selling author with a fame to rival Stephen King's.  Or, get a job, hire an editor, self-publish and gain fame to rival some self-pubbed author.

Like heck I was going to say that.

Get a job, build up credit, possibly go back to school is what I said.  I had no idea.  My life's my writing.  Everything else is....everything else.

"I don't know.  I kinda try to take it one day at a time.  Why do you think I applied to fast food places?"

That would've gone over well.  Now, that I've had my adult moment of applying for a job, I'm going to watch Whisper of the Heart and re-capture my misspent MG years.

What will you bring to this job?  "My awesome sense of humor."  That would've gone over even better.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

If I Didn't Spend Time Alone

I used to feel bad about spending a lot of time by myself. I could be out there doing all sorts of good toward my fellow man and all that crap.

I don't feel so guilty about it anymore.

I don't get lonely when I'm alone. I get lonely when I'm in a crowd and no one talks to me. When I try to get into the conversation and I'm ignored. I really get lonely when I'm surrounded by non-readers (which is the case in any social situation), because what else am I supposed to talk about? My writing? They don't understand. The farm? Most people don't care about that. Or the other ways my life sucks? Complaining won't get me anywhere either.

No thank you.

I prefer being alone. If I didn't spend time alone, I wouldn't be able to do the things I really like to do. Like read. Like write. Like watch TV shows or movies that my friends and family won't.

Writing is the only thing close to a calling I'll probably ever have. If I didn't spend time alone, I wouldn't be able to write, or read, so I can become a better writer. I wouldn't be able to read blogs. I wouldn't be able to day dream new scenes for my stories or how I wish life was.

I love reading. I love stories. I also agree with this, only I'm a chick, so masculine company, or companionship of any kind:

“Books are a poor substitute for female companionship, but they are easier to find.”
― Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man's Fear

I've found I'm easier in the company of books than I am than when I'm with people.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

It's a Wonderful Li[f]e

*Yes, this is somewhat in response to the athlete coming out, but really, it's about a general attitude of people, and even with my own issues.*

People are on this kick about being honest about not having it all together.  The problem with that, I think, is that I get the impression some people don't try anymore.

I know people say, "You don't have to be perfect."  However, behind that, there's supposed to be, "You're supposed to do your best."  I don't hear it and I don't see it.

It used to be, you pretended you had it all together, and people believed it.  And everybody was like that.  This person had it all together, so the next person had to too, and then so on...  And certain things just weren't done and talked about.

In that, I don't think following the crowd was bad.  Tradition is its own strength.  And just because it's traditional, doesn't mean it's wrong.

My point in all of this is, Clean your closet before you come out of it.  Everybody has struggles.  That's fine.  It's when you're okay with your problems and you stop caring and then people who are watching you stop caring because you don't care, and then nobody cares...   See my point?  There's plenty of different types of people in the world.  People who are open about not having it all together have reached their quota. The world needs people who at least give the illusion of having it all together so we have some kind of standard to live up to.

Nobody's perfect.  If we think that of you, that's on us, not you.  We all know better.  But keep it together.  Put on a brave face.  You're better than this, and can do better.  Stand up straight.  It does wonders.

And I'm saying that to myself too.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Maybe There Is Some Accounting For Taste

My favorite singer is Rich Mullins.  He said, and I've posted this before, is that when you're writing a song, you take sentiments, and market them.  "But no matter how cheap my words become to me, the truth is still the truth."

Every hit song that ever topped the charts, if it wasn't one of the funny songs, had some deep truth to it, set perfectly to some chords of music.  At least, in country and Christian radio.  I don't listen to pop or rock or rap, so I don't know.  But for those two genres, it's a sure thing, or it always seemed so.

I think back to some overplayed songs.  "I Can Only Imagine."  "Who Am I."  "Grace Like Rain."  I feel a little bad I can't think of more.  At any rate, I couldn't stand the first two.  I still don't care for "I Can Only Imagine."  I'm also not a big fan of MercyMe or Casting Crowns.  I love Todd Agnew's music though.

I don't know why I always liked Rich Mullins, but I know why I appreciate his music now.  First of all, the compositions--the music itself--is beautiful.  The blend of instruments and the rhythms.  I'm pretty sure I could just listen to the instrumental versions of those songs.  And then you add these lyrics of the reckless raging fury that they call the love of God.

Enter in the Ragamuffin Band.  Rick Elias sings of the Man who loved the weak with relentless affection.  Mark Robertson sings of this man who the whores loved and the drunks proposed a toast to.

As I've said in my last post, I've lived a pretty good life.  I think a reason I don't like a lot of singers/songs is that I can't relate to it.  I've never been hurt so hard I've held a grudge for years.  I had a happy childhood.  I grew up in church listening to Revelation sermons.

Overall, a pretty peaceful existence, in it's own chaotic, everyday way.

...and then I started reading and not caring what other people thought.  When I was younger, it wasn't cool to read, so I didn't.  Still not cool, but I do it anyway.  Then my uncle got me three books for Christmas one year, seventh grade, late 2004, and then I just stopped caring what other people thought.  Well, I don't think I ever did, but that was asking to get picked on, and I don't think I had friends that really approved of it.  Anyway, I stopped giving a darn.  I wanted to read about dragons and ghosts and fairies and all that fun stuff.

...and then I figured out I liked writing.  I wrote stories before then, but sporadically.  Something clicked through September-November of 2005.  It probably had something to do with being bumped from baby of the family into middle child limbo.

That's when the unbalance started, or maybe I was always unbalanced, and I just didn't know it until I started reading and writing.  There's still a debate on whether writing makes you unbalanced, or your unbalance makes you write.  For the record, crazy runs in my family.

Anyway, I like songs about people who have lived through struggles, but they don't speak to me on a level that they would someone who had lived through it.  And as far as country music...I've never been in a relationship and a lot of country music is love songs, and I have my fair share of favorites.  There used to be a time where I didn't care.  They are beautiful sentiments.  Now it just bugs me because I have no one to think about.  I don't even crush anymore.  Thus, I don't listen to it nearly as much as I used to.  (Which is funny, because I still read romances.)

With Rich Mullins, it's not something you have to relate to.  Or you can, but it's universal.  It's Everyman.  My friends don't care for him.  He puts them to sleep, he's too slow, you know.

-Cesar Cruz
That's what I like about him.  He's peaceful.  I have enough going on in my own mind without listening to a song that's supposed to be entertainment anyway.  I need peace.  It's fine to listen to "Do Something" by Matthew West in the car.  If I'm comfortable, I need to be disturbed.  But when I'm writing/thinking about my story, which is most of the time, I want to be comforted.

Rich Mullins [and the Ragamuffin Band] is probably the only singer I can really write to.  (I can write to instrumental music.  There's something about trying to keep up with a tune by one of the masters that gets the words out.)   Rich Mullins was my first foray into Christian music, and you never forget your first.  I've listened to country my entire life.  I've known the words to "Should've Been A Cowboy" and "Ten Thousand Angels" for as long as I can remember.  I've been listening to Rich Mullins since I'm six or seven, and this was after his death.  That doesn't seem like a long time, and it's not, but that's still most of my short life.

At the beginning of Paul's letters in the New Testament, he says, "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." (HCSB)  Those are some of my favorite verses.  Rich Mullins has a song called, "Peace."  It's a communion blessing.  Sometimes I think the entire song was based upon those verses.  The intro has a full minute of music.  And the lyrics do what it should to a disturbed person:  they calm.

And may peace rain down from Heaven
Like little pieces of the sky
Little keepers of the promise
Falling on these souls
This drought has dried
In His Blood and in His Body
In the Bread and in this Wine
Peace to you
Peace of Christ to you

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

It's Because I'm a First World White Girl, Isn't It?

Job hunting in this economy is

1) a job in itself

and

2) depressing.

Not to mention I listened to my parents when I was in high school and didn't work then.  So, there's the no-experience issue too.

I hate the assessments.  Hello, it's a fast food place.  Most people get their starts there.  IT'S FAST FOOD. Really?  An assessment?

Why yes, I can say, "May I help you?"

One thing that always knocks me out are the "These will not affect your application."

Sex:

Female.  Strike one.  I don't care how far we've come, I still think it's harder for females to get jobs than it is for men, unless it's teaching/nursing, whatever.

Race/Ethnicity:

I'm white.  I'm actually more Native American than white, but I'm no longer registered with the former tribe, nor do I look it.  I look white.  Strike two.  We're all about diversity and the white people are no longer allowed.  Sometimes I put Native American.  I never hear from that either.  Wait till I get registered with a recognized tribe...  Then it's tanning, and I'm dying my hair black, keeping it straightened, and I will look Indian, gosh darnit.

Military:

I haven't served in the military.  I need something that pays my bills, thank you.  God bless our military, but not for me.

Have you ever received SNAP benefits/Welfare/are you a bum?

My dad actually did something with his life.  I've never known need or want.

While I'm at it, I come from a traditional family with a mom and a dad, some property and a dog and some cats.  Still, I would like to move out the house some day.

Would it help if I was a teen mom or on WIC or something?  Single parent household?

Criminal background?

No.  Please, I'm still a virgin, never smoked a cigarette (I'm old enough to now and still haven't), don't drink, and never even had discipline problems at school.

Again I wonder, would this help if I did have a criminal background?

In the meantime, I've been writing and reading and applying.  I'm considering going back, but college is expensive.  I fall into the "too rich for financial aid, but too poor to pay for college" section.  Daddy's tax dollars sends other people to college, can't send own daughter to university.  Screwy.  Don't get me started on that one.

Anyway, as Naren's wont to say, life's not fair.  And since it's not, well... here we are.

Welcome to America.

Friday, March 29, 2013

L'amour de Dieu est folie!

Easter, I've said many times, is my favorite holiday.  Today is Good Friday, and I finally got the idea for my Easter post.  Like usual, it spurns from my current writing project, the same one that gave me the idea from two years ago.

Adam came, betrayed God in Eden, fell, and so on.

Jesus is often referred to as the second Adam.  He came, lived, got betrayed in Gethsemane, died, and came back.

This isn't backed up by any Scripture that I know of, but I've read (in a fiction book {in a Christian fantasy book, while we're at it}) that Adam ate the forbidden fruit because when he knew Eve did, she'd have to leave.  He did it to be with her.  He left Paradise.  Even if it meant death.  

It wouldn't have been Paradise without her anyway.

You can say it's crazy.  It is.  

Jesus left Heaven, lived a normal human life, and died for His bride.  Would it be heaven for Him if His bride wasn't there?  Even if He had to die to be with her?

Still sounds crazy?  Yep.
"Should you ever have the opportunity to celebrate Easter in France, whether it be a large metropolis such as Paris, Bordeaux, or Lyon, or a small village such as Saint-Remy (where I lived for six months), you will see one phrase written on the walls of buildings or the sides of buses in script or black print.  You will hear it exchanged as an Easter greeting as people pass on the street:  "L'amour de Dieu est folie!"--The love of God is folly."
-Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel

Thank God.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Four Creations - A Hopi Creation Story

I'm reading Creation stories for a writing project.  I'll be reading other stuff too, scientific theory, history, and all that, but I love my myths.  I'm not entirely sure I'll pursue it, but I will let you know if I do.  It depends on whether I can organize it enough and if I can dedicate enough of myself to it to do it.  It may get its own blog.  I may have a running series here.  Who knows?

Stories have a way of speaking to us in ways other things can't.  Whether it's by way of a paintings, movies, books, fairy tales, songs, or one of Grandma's recollections, story appeals to us.

So, I found a whole page of Creation stories.  This is the first one I've read.  It reminds me why I love stories.  It's something to chew on.

(source)
"This story comes from the Hopi people of northern Arizona. "Hopi" means "People of Peace". The stories here were recorded in the 1950s by Oswald White Bear Fredericks and his wife Naomi from the storytelling of older Hopi at the village of Oraibi, which tree-ring dating indicates has been inhabited by the Hopi since at least 1150 AD." 
    

The Four Creations

      The world at first was endless space in which existed only the Creator, Taiowa. This world had no time, no shape, and no life, except in the mind of the Creator. Eventually the infinite creator created the finite in Sotuknang, whom he called his nephew and whom he created as his agent to establish nine universes. Sotuknang gathered together matter from the endless space to make the nine solid worlds. Then the Creator instructed him to gather together the waters from the endless space and place them on these worlds to make land and sea. When Sotuknang had done that, the Creator instructed him to gather together air to make winds and breezes on these worlds.

      The fourth act of creation with which the Creator charged Sotuknang was the creation of life. Sotuknang went to the world that was to first host life and there he created Spider Woman, and he gave her the power to create life. First Spider Woman took some earth and mixed it with saliva to make two beings. Over them she sang the Creation Song, and they came to life. She instructed one of them, Poqanghoya, to go across the earth and solidify it. She instructed the other, Palongawhoya, to send out sound to resonate through the earth, so that the earth vibrated with the energy of the Creator. Poqanghoya and Palongawhoya were despatched to the poles of the earth to keep it rotating.

      Then Spider Woman made all the plants, the flowers, the bushes, and the trees. Likewise she made the birds and animals, again using earth and singing the Creation Song. When all this was done, she made human beings, using yellow, red, white, and black earth mixed with her saliva. Singing the Creation Song, she made four men, and then in her own form she made four women. At first they had a soft spot in their foreheads, and although it solidified, it left a space through which they could hear the voice of Sotuknang and their Creator. Because these people could not speak, Spider Woman called on Sotuknang, who gave them four languages. His only instructions were for them to respect their Creator and to live in harmony with him.

      These people spread across the earth and multiplied. Despite their four languages, in those days they could understand each other's thoughts anyway, and for many years they and the animals lived together as one. Eventually, however, they began to divide, both the people from the animals and the people from each other, as they focused on their differences rather than their similarities. As division and suspicion became more widespread, only a few people from each of the four groups still remembered their Creator. Sotuknang appeared before these few and told them that he and the Creator would have to destroy this world, and that these few who remembered the Creator must travel across the land, following a cloud and a star, to find refuge. These people began their treks from the places where they lived, and when they finally converged Sotuknang appeared again. He opened a huge ant mound and told these people to go down in it to live with the ants while he destroyed the world with fire, and he told them to learn from the ants while they were there. The people went down and lived with the ants, who had storerooms of food that they had gathered in the summer, as well as chambers in which the people could live. This went on for quite a while, because after Sotuknang cleansed the world with fire it took a long time for the world to cool off. As the ants' food ran low, the people refused the food, but the ants kept feeding them and only tightened their own belts, which is why ants have such tiny waists today.

      Finally Sotuknang was done making the second world, which was not quite as beautiful as the first. Again he admonished the people to remember their Creator as they and the ants that had hosted them spread across the earth. The people multiplied rapidly and soon covered the entire earth. They did not live with the animals, however, because the animals in this second world were wild and unfriendly. Instead the people lived in villages and built roads between these, so that trade sprang up. They stored goods and traded those for goods from elsewhere, and soon they were trading for things they did not need. As their desire to have more and more grew, they began to forget their Creator, and soon wars over resources and trade were breaking out between villages. Finally Sotuknang appeared before the few people who still remembered the Creator, and again he sent them to live with the ants while he destroyed this corrupt world. This time he ordered Poqanghoya and Palongawhoya to abandon their posts at the poles, and soon the world spun out of control and rolled over. Mountains slid and fell, and lakes and rivers splashed across the land as the earth tumbled, and finally the earth froze over into nothing but ice.

      This went on for years, and again the people lived with the ants. Finally Sotuknang sent Poqanghoya and Palongawhoya back to the poles to resume the normal rotation of the earth, and soon the ice melted and life returned. Sotuknang called the people up from their refuge, and he introduced them to the third world that he had made. Again he admonished the people to remember their Creator as they spread across the land. As they did so, they multiplied quickly, even more quickly than before, and soon they were living in large cities and developing into separate nations. With so many people and so many nations, soon there was war, and some of the nations made huge shields on which they could fly, and from these flying shields they attacked other cities. When Sotuknang saw all this war and destruction, he resolved to destroy this world quickly before it corrupted the few people who still remembered the Creator. He called on Spider Woman to gather those few and, along the shore, she placed each person with a little food in the hollow stem of a reed. When she had done this, Sotuknang let loose a flood that destroyed the warring cities and the world on which they lived.

      Once the rocking of the waves ceased, Spider Woman unsealed the reeds so the people could see. They floated on the water for many days, looking for land, until finally they drifted to an island. On the island they built little reed boats and set sail again to the east. After drifting many days, they came to a larger island, and after many more days to an even larger island. They hoped that this would be the fourth world that S√≥tuknang had made for them, but Spider Woman assured them that they still had a long and hard journey ahead. They walked across this island and built rafts on the far side, and set sail to the east again. They came to a fourth and still larger island, but again they had to cross it on foot and then build more rafts to continue east. From this island, Spider Woman sent them on alone, and after many days they encountered a vast land. Its shores were so high that they could not find a place to land, and only by opening the doors in their heads did they know where to go to land.

      When they finally got ashore, Sotuknang was there waiting for them. As they watched to the west, he made the islands that they had used like stepping stones disappear into the sea. He welcomed them to the fourth world, but he warned them that it was not as beautiful as the previous ones, and that life here would be harder, with heat and cold, and tall mountains and deep valleys. He sent them on their way to migrate across the wild new land in search of the homes for their respective clans. The clans were to migrate across the land to learn its ways, although some grew weak and stopped in the warm climates or rich lands along the way. The Hopi trekked and far and wide, and went through the cold and icy country to the north before finally settling in the arid lands between the Colorado River and Rio Grande River. They chose that place so that the hardship of their life would always remind them of their dependence on, and link to, their Creator.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Here's Some Thoughts for You:

1 - It seems to me that the people who are for gay marriage are also the ones for abortion.

Gay couples can't have kids naturally, and it's okay to kill a naturally begotten child (rape notwithstanding).

Pardon the harshness, but no respect for the natural balance = no respect for life.

2 - It doesn't matter how "enlightened" we think we are.  If you look over the course of America's history, we were at our happiest (read:  prosperous) when we were one nation under God.  Not happy because we were selfish or put our own needs above our own, but because we did what was best.  No wonder we're in deep crap.  We turned away from God, and He turned away from us.

I'm a big fan of the Enlightenment Era.  While I was doing some reading up on what the Enlightenment did to Christianity, I came across this:

"If, for example, personal happiness is our overriding goal, what will happen if we decide our spouse is making us unhappy? What will happen if our children are making us unhappy? What is likely to happen when a pregnant woman decides that her pregnancy has come at a bad time? We should not be at all surprised to find a high divorce rate, countless neglected or homeless children, a low birth rate and a high abortion rate in such a society. This is the natural consequence of making the right to be happy the supreme right."
-David Quinn, "Did 'the Enlightenment' K.O. Christianity?"

It's actually an interesting article all the way through, but I like this point here in this paragraph.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

So, While the World's Going to Hell...

Disclaimer:  I don't know my Bible that well.  These are just some thoughts.  Expect some tongue-in-cheek.

I'm trying to recall a time when Jesus said, "Fight for what you believe in," or something along those lines.

What I do remember:

The meek will inherit the earth.

When are we ever taught to be meek?  I don't recall meekness lessons.

Love your enemies and pray for those who torment you.

This goes against every human impulse we have.

Whoever tries to save his life will lose it, but who loses it for Me will find it.

Christianity loves its martyrs.

Suffer the children, and have a faith like theirs.

Must I?  I dislike children, and I'm far too cynical to have a child's faith.

God appoints world leaders, and you are to submit to their authority.

What?!  No!!!

Given the state of affairs of the US today, part of me says, "Well, we should be fighting against gay marriage and abortion and socialism..."

Another part says, "Well, the sooner the world gets worse, the sooner God can come back.  Do nothing.  Why save a world God said He'd end?"

The last part goes in with the previous part, "Well, the sooner the world gets worse, the sooner God can come back.  Pray.  Evangelize, et cetera."  Homosexuality isn't the problem.  An unwanted pregnancy is not the problem.  Laziness is not the problem.  The human heart, the human mind, sin is the problem.

You are born "bad," you must be taught to be "good."

We're taught about the power of prayer and why it's important to share Jesus (this must be where they forgot the meekness lessons).  For those of us who grow up in church, we understand this from an early age.

Come boldly to the throne of Grace.

I can't find where it says, get in someone's face and call them a sinner and tell them they're going to hell.  There's a part about reprimanding your brother in private.  (Private?  What's that?)

“We do not find happiness by being assertive. We don't find happiness by running over people because we see what we want and they are in the way of that happiness so we either abandon them or we smash them. The Scriptures don't teach us to be assertive. The Scriptures teach us—and this is remarkable—the Scriptures teach us to be submissive. This is not a popular idea.”
-Rich Mullins

Oh, don't act surprised, you knew a Rich Mullins or Brennan Manning quote was coming.

So, my question is this:  Do I fight against gay marriage and abortion and gun control or do I get on my knees and pray for a change of a person's heart, and while I'm at it, a change in my own heart?

Just something to think about.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

By Darkness Revealed by Kevin O. McLaughlin

Goodreads Synopsis: Ryan Blackwell thought to escape his magic by burying himself in the military college at Northshield, Vermont. Instead, he finds himself in the midst of a deeper and more dangerous sorcery than he has ever encountered before. Suddenly, only Ryan's wit, will, and the talent he once hoped to leave behind stand between a nightmarish creature and everything he cares for.


By Darkness RevealedBy Darkness Revealed by Kevin O. McLaughlin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I bought this book several months ago--or downloaded it because it was free.  At any rate, I saw it, was interested, and had to get it.

When I finally sat down to read it, I was not disappointed.  It's not a long book, and it reads fast and the action stays moving.  It met and exceeded expectations.


I cheated and did my Goodreads copy-paste thing.

Now, this book is a load of OH MY GOODNESS, THIS IS FREAKING AWESOME.  I don't know.  There weren't many typos and it's kind of creepy, but it kept my attention.  I read it in two days.  One hundred twenty pages isn't a lot, so the length was an added bonus.

And, I'm a sucker for a good ending, and it ended splendidly.

Did you hear the one about the masochsitic insomniac?

I scare really, really easy.  I've never even seen a horror movie.  I don't read a lot of horror novels either, which is pathetic considering the amount of Stephen King books I have.

There's this book I got for Kindle several months ago.  It's been sitting there, on my device.  I've been wanting to read it.  I liked the cover.  I liked the synopsis.  It looks like everything a book should be.

And then I started reading it tonight.  Last night?  I started it before midnight, and it's a little after 1am here in the Central Time Zone.  I got a quarter of the way through, granted there's not extras at the end of the Kindle book.  I don't know if it was self-pubbed, although I do think it's a debut novel.

It's freaking scary.  I thought it was a fantasy novel--which it is, but it's scary.  You know that part in the scary movie when the music changes?

That's the part where I run out the room crying.  And this book is one long, scary-music song.  Actually, it's not that long, but that's beside the point.

I've come to grips with the fact I'm a masochist.  Reading horror is just one of those things.  I'm terrified, but I can't look away.  And the book is really well written.  I haven't noticed many--if any typos.  And that's been a problem with self-pubbed and trad-pubbed books alike.  I like the character and the problem that's risen up.

And, because it's so good, I can't stop, but it's scary so I want to, but I really, really really want to read, but I got to get up tomorrow morning--in a few hours--to put the trash by the road and...

And now it's 1am and I can't sleep.  I've been off the melatonin since November and this is the first time I've had trouble sleeping since then.

Stupid insomnia.  Stupid scary awesome book.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Make It Count

Ever wonder what people did before social media, television, mass agriculture, fitness clubs and WalMart?

I did.  Sometimes.

And then I realized, people were too busy trying to farm or make a living.  They didn't need social media, television, or the grocery store.

They broke their backs making their living. They didn't live long.  Usually between 30-40 is the average.  Would you have known your grandchildren?  Grandparents?  How old would you have been when you lost your parents?

Every day counted.  Every day you worked was a day you got fed.  You went to church on Sundays, probably.

It's easy to say, "Oh, I'm going to do such and such and such before I die."

Jesus only had thirty-three years of life on earth.  By the standards of the day, it was a full life.  During the Middle Ages, you had about forty years if you were a serf/peasant.

If you knew you were only going to live between thirty and forty years, because it was the average of the day, what would you do?

Someone made a comment last night that kids were getting pregnant younger and younger.  I said that it's going back old school.  People are getting married and having babies at thirteen, and dying at thirty.

Sometimes I wonder how bad of an idea that really is.  If you were only going to have a short amount of time, you're too busy trying to live to think about dying.

I wish I had the book with me (I'm at Amanda's), but in Stephen R. Lawhead's The Spirit Well, a character asks why the Egyptians were so obsessed with death.  You're familiar with the mummification process aren't you?  It's a long, drawn-out process, and it works like nobody's business.  It's in preparation for the life after death.

The character being asked the question answers, it wasn't about death.  "They were obsessed with life."

THAT made me stop.  Life.  Not death.  Life.

“Seize the day, whatever's in it to seize, before something comes along and seizes you.” 
Lloyd Alexander, The Arkadians

So happy New Year!  Make your years count.