Wednesday, January 30

Only You Can Save Mankind

The title of this post is also the title of a YA book by Terry Pratchett. It's been on my mind this week because it's been an especially busy week at work.

It's a matter of pride for me to do the best I can in return for a regular paycheck. I sometimes grouse because I know there are people who do decidedly less and get away with it. But I guess it's just how I'm wired ... I know what I'm capable of and I can't lie to myself and justify doing less than that. My boss has gotten used to the idea that I am capable and efficient and she can safely put matters in my hands, knowing it will get done. She's gotten a little too used to it. Her immediate response whenever there is a project that needs doing is "McB can do that." I don't think she even considers whether I have the background or training for whatever, the words just come out. I can see it now: aliens invading, nuclear holocaust imminent, volcanic activity under our office building. And what will her reaction be? "McB can handle it." Next job I'm going to start screwing up right from the beginning and save myself some stress and anxiety.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go save the universe. And then do my filing.

Sunday, January 27

Listening to the voices in my head

I have a good life. I have good people in my life and I've made some good decisions in the past. From the outside I think it sometimes appears to other people as if I've just been lucky. I think we make our own luck. And I think most people could be 'lucky' if they listened less to their ego and more to their inner voice.

So much of life is timing. Too many people are in a hurry, as if having everything now will bring them happiness. Nuts. Happiness has little to do with what you have or don't have, it's all about appreciating the now. Having a new car is fun; it has nothing to do with happiness. And if you rush out and buy that new car with no patience or planning, you could come to regret that rash purchase down the road. Where would that leave you? Decidedly less happy.

I've been there. I've jumped on bandwagons and rushed into decisions that ultimately were not in my best interests. Chalk that up to life experience. And from those bad decisions I've learned a few things. I've learned that it's okay to want those nice new things as long as I'm willing to be patient. If I listen when that inner voice says "not yet" instead of listening to my ego say "oooh, shiny" I might wait longer for what I want, but I'll be happier with it in the long run. Because eventually that inner voice will reward me by saying "now." The ego might get me into trouble, but the inner voice hasn't steered me wrong yet.

The ego is tricky and tempting. It will always be pushing you towards the quick fix, the easy way out, the immediate gratification. Ego is the serpent in the garden, seductively waving that apple in front of Eve's nose and hissing "why not?" It's been a few, what, millenia? And you'd think we would have learned something from that, and all the other snakes and apples that have come along. I've always wondered about that story. I've wondered what would have happened if Eve hadn't listened to the serpent and in turn tempted Adam. I think it's possible that, if they had resisted, God would have let them have the apples eventually without punishment. Maybe, if they had just been willing to wait, they could have had the apples and been able to stay in the garden too. We'll never know, but you have to wonder.

Or maybe I'm the only who hears that voice. I hope not.

Sunday, January 20

She's Gonna Blow!

I have PMS today. Oh shut up.

It's been coming on for a few days, but I realized in the grocery store today that it was here, big time and in living color. There was this little kid behaving the way little kids to when forced to endure really boring grown up stuff like grocery shopping. He was a normal kid behaving normally. So why was part of my brain convinced he was the spawn of satan? PMS.

I'm the only one who is allowed to say it. That's the rule. If it is "that time of the month" and anyone other than the woman affected dares to mention it, they get their faced ripped off and fed to the neighbor's schnauzer. I think it's a schnauzer, anyway. It's some kind of annoying little .... deep breath .... better.

PMS makes me feel schizo. Even while I'm envisioning grabbing the neighbor's yipping little fur ball and doing my version of an Olymic discus throw right over the rooftops, I know that what I'm feeling isn't logical. I like dogs, really. And the little &&^% was just expressing his perky little personality. I know this. And next week I will be at peace with the little *&^). But that's next week. Next week I might run into that same kid in the grocery store and realize that his eyes aren't actually glowing red and, no, those aren't horns he's sprouting.

But this week it's best if you don't look at me the wrong way. In fact, just don't look at me. No matter what expression you are wearing, I'm going to take offense. No matter what you say it will be the wrong thing. And even while I'm envisioning just how to go about feeding you to Fifi, or Fido or Frank or whatever the little &^%#'s name is, I'll know that you don't really deserve that. And I'll feel guilty as all heck about it. Next week. This week, not so much.

Thursday, January 17

The Laugh Line Revolution

I'm supposed to be working right now. I've even got a list of Things To Do. I'll get to, really. I just need to work up a little enthusiasm first, get my head together and aimed in the right direction. So I don't really consider this procrastinating so much as a kind of stretching exercise before getting serious about my list.

I'm in my 40s. Like anyone else my age when I look in the mirror I notice that there are things about me that just aren't quite the same as they used to be. Overall I have been very lucky in the genetics department. I have no grey yet. As my mother, at 67, has very little grey herself, so little in fact that's it's barely noticeable, I feel fairly confident that I won't need to worry about covering my roots for a while yet. My jaw line is ever so slightly softer than it used to be, the skin on my face, in general, not as tight as it was perhaps 10 or 15 years ago. But I comfort myself with the thought that these things might not be so apparent to other people.

I do have a few faint lines. The ones that bother me are by my upper lip and make me look like I've spent my life with my lips puckered around a cigarette. I don't smoke and never have. In my case it's the result of 40-some years of scrunching my face up in my sleep. They used to disappear when I'd been awake for a bit. Then it was okay because a little face powder covered them. Now, well now they're just there. But like the softening of the jaw line, I tell myself that nobody else notices. Really it wouldn't bother me at all if they didn't look like the result of a 20 year, 2 pack a day habit. I hate it that, to someone who doesn't know me, they might give that impression. Otherwise I really would be okay about it.

If that sounds like I'm protesting too much, please take note that I also have those little crinkles at the corner of each eye. Slight yet and perhaps not obvious to anyone else, I know that over the next few years they'll slowly become as much a part of my face as the shape of my nose.

Those little crinkles are laugh lines. When you laugh, if you really put your whole heart into it, your face sort of spreads out and causes the skin to crease, usually up by your eyes where there's less 'give' in your face. Don't believe me? Go head, take a piece of cloth, pinch on either side and then pull apart. See how the fabric between your fingers creases up? That's what happens to your face when you smile really big. If you smile a lot, especially as an adult, they become more obvious and even take up permanent residence.

I know some women are bothered by this, although I've never understood that. Our faces, over time, reveal to others who we really are inside. And even with botox and plastic surgery, you can't escape reality completely. Something about you, the look in your eyes or the set of your shoulders, will give you away. Personally, if I have to carry some symbol of my life around for all to see, I don't want the first impression I give to be one of bitterness and fear of aging or, almost worse, a complete lack of emotion. This is why those little creases by the corners of my eyes don't bother me at all. In order to achieve those, in order to have them be a permanent part of my features, I have had to laugh and smile a lot in my lifetime. Hell, those lines are a badge of honor ... I've earned them. I only hope that, as I put another decade behind me, people will see them for what they are. Signs that I've laughed a lot my life.

As I said, I know that some women fear those first tell-tale lines. This is just so wrong. We should celebrate those little clues that ours has been a life well lived and filled with joy and humor. Rather than pouring money into magic potions and creams to delay or hide that evidence, we should be emphasizing it. If the world was more logical, young women in their 20s would be devouring magazine articles on the art of creating laugh lines. They would be penciling in fake crinkles in an effort to convince the world that they, too, have laughed and enjoyed life. And then the rest of us could sit back, smugly superior, because we have the real thing.

Wednesday, January 16

The Big Brouhaha

You've heard, I'm sure of the big storm over the books of Cassie Edwards who allegedly - although there doesn't seem to be much doubt - committed plagiarism. If you haven't heard about it you are probably a member of an obscure tribe on an obscure island in an obscure ocean ... and possibly living in an obscure cave. As I said, there doesn't seem to be too much doubt about it, but I'm not going into all that because, to paraphrase Honest Abe and the Gettysburg Address, it's been discussed far beyond my poor powers to add or detract. Plagiarism is bad. It is theft of someone else's work, their words and their research, their efforts. So it's just wrong. But I think there is a larger issue here that everyone seems to be missing.

Although Ms. Edwards sin seems to include several of her books, it first came to light when someone read a passage in her book Shadow Bear and noticed a discrepancy in the narrative tone. A little sleuthing was done and it turns out that she took whole passages from a story (nonfiction) by nature writer Paul Tolme on the plight of ferrets. Yeah, you read that correctly. Now, Mr. Tolme had every right to be angry over this issue. It was his words, the results of his research, that she took and used as her own. That's bad. But as I said, there is a larger issue here that has yet to be addressed.

As Mr. Tolme himself said, "Wow, that is some bad dialogue. It stands out as clunky and awkward even by the standards of romance novels. " And that, my friends, is the problem. As a result of this tempest millions of people who have never read a romance novel before ... well, okay hundreds ... a lot? Somebody, anyway, somebody who has never read a romance novel before, is going to take a look at Ms. Edwards' book to see what all the noise is about and will assume her work to be an example of the entire genre. In other words, they'll skim a few pages and decide that they were right all along to avoid them.

*Sigh* The genre has come such a very long way towards legitimacy that this kind of bad publicity is almost physically painful. However will we get serious readers of serious books to take it seriously now? We shall have to choose, oh so carefully, a few authors whose books truly do shine as an example of the progress the genre has made and do our utmost to move their names and their books to the forefront. How to accomplish this? Fight fire with fire. We should launch a counter-scandal that will have academia scrambling to research the issue, thus forcing them to read and, hopefully, become fans of romance fiction. It will have to be something big though, something that can top the ferret story and steal the limelight from it.

I can only appeal to big names in romance fiction to put aside their personal concerns and do their duty to their genre. Go forth and sin. And make it a big one, huh? Time's a-wastin' and we need to catch this wave before it moves on.

Friday, January 4

Something To Look Forward To

The year is only a week old. This means the 51 weeks to come are still a clean slate. That's the thing with beginnings; the possibilities are still out there. I'm not one for resolutions, but I like the idea of a fresh start. I don't have a list of things to attempt, I have no specific goals. Instead I'm going to focus on simplifying, decluttering, streamlining. Life got overwhelming and I am so ready to ditch all that stress. This, I hope, will be the year of finding some peace of mind, some inner peach.

I'm going to put some of what I've learned from Fly Lady to good use. I'm going to try to declutter my life, get rid of stuff that's just taking up space and making my life more complicated. I'll hopefully get some drawers and closets cleared out, and maybe do something more useful with the finished basement. Um, that last one might be overly ambitious.

I'm going to bring more color and texture into my life and I started this past weekend with a visit to a local yarn shop, WoolWinders. I was very wary of visiting this store because I know how dangerous it can be. This is not yarn you find at your local craft store or Walmart. To be fair, it wasn't all exotic stuff either. But there was a wealth of color and texture that just made my fingers itch for my hook. Imagine for a moment that you have just come upon a conference table covered in one long sheet of pristine white paper. And in the center of that table is a brand, spanking new box Crayolas, the big 64 colors box. You can't resist, you just have to draw something. That's what it felt like when I walked into this store. Overall I behaved, indulging in just one skein of a lovely cotton/wool blend in eye-popping magenta. Gorgeous. It's just one skein because I have two more projects lined up before I get to this stuff, and I figure in the meantime I can play with it a little and figure out what the possibilities might be. It's nearly 200 yards, so I can have a lot of fun with it before I get down to a serious project.

I'm taking my youngest nephew to Disney World. His older sister and brother have already been, and now it's his turn. It will be just me and him and the exciting thing about this is that for a few days I'll be living in his 10yo world. Hey you, over there, sitting in your corner and scoffing at the idea. You don't know what you are missing. I've been to Disney World numerous times, but not for a few years now, and I can tell you that it doesn't matter what your age is, there truly is something there for everyone; and if you come away from a visit still jaded, there's clearly no hope for you. And maybe I'm alone in this, but I rather enjoy an excuse for acting like a kid again.

There's been talk of a biggish CB meet this summer. There's also been some debate over exotic locales to hold it in. The issue is Moot, really because we tend to spend so much time talking we probably wouldn't get around to seeing or doing anything other than eating, drinking, talking and buying books. My people. :sniff: I love my people. :~) Wherever we end up, I really hope we can make this work. Where there are CBs there is love and laughter.

So, no goals or lists. But maybe some good times, some small pleasures, some fun. Something to look forward to.

Wednesday, January 2

10? I dunno.

Happy New Year.

This is a time for reflection and for looking ahead, for making lists. Lists of things accomplished or goals to achieve. I got through the year; that's what I accomplished, and it was such a big accomplishment that it's the whole list as far as I'm concerned.

For some reason 10 seems to be the default number for lists. Why is that? Why do we have to struggle to come up with ten of anything? If you can't think of ten does it make you a loser? If you've got more than that, should you be embarrassed? This doesn't seem right to me. It's like setting the bar too high, you're pretty much planning to fall short. So I'm not going to set a number, I'm just going list a few of last year's highpoints (no need to list the low ones, is there?):

  • I met a lot of CBs. Not all, but a good chunk. And I adored each of them just as much in person as I have online. I'd like to say here that CherryBombs are strong, intelligent, responsible people ... I'd like to say that, but it would ruin a hard earned reputation so I won't. What I will say is that behind the zaniness, the snarky humor, and the bad puns is an incredible group of people who probably could TOTW if they put their minds to it, and the world would be better off for it.

  • I got hooked again on crocheting and accomplished a number of projects, most of which I've shared with you here. I need to continue doing this, continue putting aside the time to just quietly sit and ply my hook, perhaps listening to some music or an audio book, but nothing more stressful to the mind than that. It would be easy, in the bustle of things needing to be done, to let it slide. But I know that I need that quiet time and I need the soothing methodicalness of handwork. So I'm going to let other things slide here and there, and make sure I do this for myself.

  • I tackled a few small chores around the house and confirmed to myself that I am capable, and can still learn a few new things. Anything needing strength and size might require assistance; but for the most part I know I can do pretty much anything I put my mind to.

  • I did read a few good books this year. Mostly I did a lot of rereading, needing the comfort of old friends. But here and there were a few new ones that proved up to the task. Books and friends - new or old you can never have too many good ones.
As lists go this one may not seem very long, but sometimes it really is more about the quality than the quantity. And as to goals for the coming year, that's another list for another blog. Stay tuned.