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Archive for March, 2015

There are times in every partnership when you look at your significant other and just go: WTF??? This reaction crosses gender, racial, religious, cultural and whatever other delineation you want to think of, throughout the world. Your spouse is alternately a hero, a genius, a mystery, a confidante, a lover, and sometimes just the biggest dork you could ever imagine.

My husband and I have been together for fourteen years. We came to each other later in life than most other people do, but it was certainly worth the wait. He is a brilliant man in so many ways. If he can see a picture of something, he can build it. If he can get his hands on it, he can figure out how it works. He can repair just about anything as long as he has a t-shirt, duct tape and a paperclip. He is MacGyver in the flesh.

He’s also blonde.

Okay, so I’m going to apologize in advance to all the blondes of the world out there for continuing the pseudo-myth, but stereotypes exist for a reason. And every now and then, that stereotype shows up in spades and all you can do is stand there, dumbfounded. Because sometimes that person you love most dearly, whose intelligence is usually the rival of the greatest minds, can be the most airheaded of airheads.

So, as you know, I’ve been dealing with a bit of an eye thing since October. The last visit with the retina specialist saw me being declared stable (okay, my eyes – we all know I’m not really stable), and released back to the care of my regular ophthalmologist. He also said I could go get the new prescription now. The left eye has significantly changed and updated glasses will get me back to almost “normal,” which means I can get back to driving, and spend more time reading, writing and doing detail work with less crazy headaches from the strain. I schedule the appointment with my optometrist for late in the afternoon, so my husband can pick me up on his way home from work. Said husband is informed of said time and date and confirms his orders.

The day of the appointment begins on a frustrating note: I wake up two hours before my alarm and can’t get back to sleep. Then the Wi-Fi doesn’t want to work. I get that taken care of and make the mistake of reading the news. Just when you think politicians can’t get any more stupid, they prove you wrong yet again. And it’s going to be hot – hovering around 90F. I schedule a taxi to take me the mile and a half to the doctor’s because my fat ass will not survive a walk in that heat. The taxi ends up being 40 minutes late, arriving to pick me up ten minutes AFTER the supposed start of my appointment. Yes, I called them. Five times. Each time told, “He’s pulling up right now.” Yeahno he’s not. No good Yelp review for you.

Thankfully, the doctor is having a slow day and let’s me come in late. The check up goes smoothly, until the doctor sits down with a sigh. That’s never good. The change in my left eye is drastic. Much more so than I had anticipated. Prior to the detached retina, my eyes had been pretty much interchangeable regarding prescription. That was a real plus in the days when I could still wear contact lenses, because I didn’t have to worry about which lens was for what eye. No annoying little black dot at the edge of the right one to distinguish it from the left. But now – now the left eye is going to require one and a half times the correction of the right. That means different lens materials in each lens to try and balance the weight. It also means smaller, rounder lenses with progressive bifocal to try and keep the magnification between the two eyes closer. And if that doesn’t work, we may need to get insurance approval for a “medically necessary” contact lens just for the left eye. All I’m hearing throughout the doctor’s drone is $$$…

We’re lucky in that we have pretty good insurance through my husband’s work. But it only covers the basics for vision– special lens material is extra, progressive bifocal is extra, contacts are extra. And when you’re wondering how you’re going to get enough money together to keep the only working vehicle fueled until payday, digging up several hundred dollars for a single pair of eyeglasses seems nearly insurmountable. Depressed more than usual, I wander off to the main lobby to wait for my husband, wishing I had thought to bring some dark chocolate to drown my sorrows in.

I wait for a while. I play games on my phone. I wait some more. I read (one-eyed!) several short stories in the latest edition of the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. I wait yet even longer. Normally my husband calls when he’s on his way home from work, just in case I need him to pick something up on the way. Most of the time his cell phone isn’t on, so when I finally decide to call him, I don’t think anything of getting his voice mail. After two-and-a-half hours and two straight-to-voice-mail calls, I begin to wonder if something has happened to him. There is a measure of danger to his job – he does carry a gun, after all – and my warped little depressive mind starts firing off all sorts of terrible scenarios. When the medical clinic starts shutting down for the evening, I decide it’s time to start walking.

It’s not a hard walk. But it’s still warm out and I’m in flip-flops – not exactly the best footwear for long distance hiking. I’m thankful I’ve made a habit of carrying a full bottle of water with me everywhere. I take my time, and take a break at the park that’s about halfway home. I’m just a couple blocks from the house when I get a call from my husband. Thinking the worst, I ask him if everything’s all right. He’s fine. He got off work early and just headed home without calling me. When he got to the house and found everything quiet, he just thought I was upstairs napping. He didn’t bother to check. He’s been home the whole time.

HE’S. BEEN. AT. HOME!!!

If I hadn’t been so tired by that point, I probably could have shot lasers from my eyes. He’d forgotten the appointment. The man that remembers every bit of minutia he’s ever encountered, forgot. Then he didn’t call. And, the final strike – he didn’t actually check to see if I was upstairs. He swears he heard me moving around, so that’s why he was convinced I was home. I think it was the spirit of my most recent familiar, but that’s another story.

So, three hours and a mile-and-a-half later than it needed to be, I was “rescued” by my husband. Yes, he’s still alive. But he’s also still blonde, so there’s bound to be more WTF moments to come…

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The 21st century has brought us many wonderful things: dark chocolate M&Ms, Hugh Jackman, the iPhone, and the 24/7 news cycle. This brave new century has also given us some not-so-wonderful things: selfies, Kim Kardashian, ISIL, and the 24/7 “news” cycle. Yes, it’s a blessing and a curse, that 24/7 instant connectivity thing. In seconds, some old broad sitting at her computer in Southern California can read about a plane crash that happened earlier in the day in the French Alps, watch a video of the Pope performing a miracle a few days ago in Italy, or listen to a modern Australian orchestra accompany an instrument that is arguably thousands of years old. Alternatively, she can also find millions of cute cat pictures, play Internet Solitaire, or use HuluPlus to watch every episode of every TV version of Star Trek ever made. Ah, the wonders of technology.

But as great as being able to find just about anything anywhere anytime might be (gerbils in tutus, anyone?), the down side is having to deal with the overwhelming amounts of crap that floods from millions of sources in every second of every day. And that’s just from the so-called “news” sites: the Hysterical Doom Sayers; the Pants-On-Fire Politicians; the We’re Being Persecuted Because We Can’t Force Everyone Else To Do As We Say Fanatics. It’s an inundation of negativity and raging nut-ballery of epic proportions and we have to filter through metric tons of it to weed out even the smallest kernel of good news.

Last week I mentioned that I had a rant brewing and had every intention of standing high and loud on my soapbox this week, until I came to realize that I would just be adding to the madness. In the 24/7 world, if it bleeds, it leads; the crazier, the better. With everything distilled down to a ten-second sound bite or a 140 character Tweet, we get nothing but the most vitriolic bullshit or frenetic exaggeration of dire consequences imaginable. The world is being destroyed by global warming/gay marriage/fluoridated water/Harry Potter/sex ed/black cats/Jerry Springer/Wallstreet/the Koch brothers/the Liberal-Commie-Fascist-Socialist Left, as a punishment/reward from God/Gaia/Stephen Hawking/Obama/the Queen Mother/aliens. Anything even remotely good is lost in the shuffle.

And you know what? It’s our fault. We’re the ones with our nose pressed to the monitor watching the latest train wreck (actual or metaphorical). We’re the viewers/readers/listeners that can’t seem to get enough of all the crap, like we’re horseflies reveling in the latest equine deposit. It’s up to us to change what we’re fed.

When you see nothing but doom and gloom and the ugliness of humanity, you get discouraged and depressed and wonder if you’ll ever know happiness again. But the truth is, there’s plenty of good stuff going on in the world, done by bunches of good people. The maniacal talking heads don’t want to admit it, but we own the remote. All we have to do is change the channel.

As a Wiccan, I follow a tenant known as the Rule of Three – what energies you put out there will come back to you threefold. With all that negative being spewed about everywhere you look, it’s no wonder we have so much MORE negative invading our lives. So with that in mind, let’s turn our focus back to the positive. Let me give you some examples of what I consider good news, snippets that show what humans can do when allowed:

 

“VIRAL PHOTO: Hand in hand, police and race participant cross finish line together”

http://www.wave3.com/story/28581784/viral-photo-hand-in-hand-police-and-race-participant-cross-finish-line-together

 

“Bullied ‘Dancing Man’ Is Getting the Party of a Lifetime – and Even Pharrell Wants In”

http://www.people.com/article/dancing-man-getting-dance-party-pharrell

 

“Basketball players defend Kenosha cheerleader targeted by bully”

http://www.jrn.com/tmj4/news/Basketball-players-defend-cheerleader-targeted-by-bully-295810851.html

 

“Muslims form ‘ring of peace’ to protect Oslo synagogue”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/denmark/11427713/Muslims-form-ring-of-peace-to-protect-Oslo-synagogue.html

 

And here are some sites that try to focus on the good news tidbits out there:

 

GoodNewsNetwork: http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/

Sunny Skyz: http://www.sunnyskyz.com/

Daily Good: http://www.dailygood.org/

Positive News: http://positivenews.org.uk/

 

Then share this article with all your friends. After that, go find your own good news and share it in the comments below. Let’s make this a circle of positive energy that can’t be ignored. Maybe we’ll even manage to tip the world back into the light. At the very least, we’ll have a few minutes of positive today. That’s almost as good as dark chocolate and Hugh Jackman.

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A few weeks ago I posted my to-do list for this year (“Ass Kicking Needed”). Well, I’ve actually accomplished a couple things on that list already. Okay, so they’re not big major things, but, hey, it’s a start, right?

First off, as I’ve become more educated and less paranoid about the Internet and blogs and e-publishing and social media (sometimes my age shows too much), I’ve come to learn that having people share your stuff is not a Bad Thing. On the contrary, you want people to share your stuff. Especially if you’re an artist. Agents, managers, editors, perspective employers, all want to see what you’ve been up to, how you represent yourself, and – most important – how you market yourself. Okay, so I’m still pretty lousy at the marketing part especially, but I’m working on it. So with sharing (and, hence, greater audience, more comments, bigger pool of awesome people) in mind, my original material is now licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Share away. I’d really like to break that long-awaited 200 followers mark.

Secondly, I’ve updated my About page and added an e-mail address for those who might want to contact me directly. Since I don’t have the funds yet to develop my own actual website with my own actual domain, I felt adding an e-mail would make me a little more accessible without adding a lot more expense. Please don’t make me regret that decision.

And thirdly, I’ll be returning to lurking at FanStory.com, while also checking out Critique.org. I dabbled on the first site a few years ago and had a mixed experience, but I do think it offers a place for writers of all flavors to get and give feedback and support, as long as you understand that all communities have their issues. The latter is a new venture for me, but gets the stamp of approval from Writer’s Digest, so I thought some exploring was in order. I’ll give you a report on both of these sites at some point in the future.

As for my usual weekly rant, the one I have boiling around in my head is still far too much raging nutball, and not nearly enough reasoned argument supported by evidence, to be allowed out of the box, so you’ll just have to wait until I can calm down. Instead, go back to Ted Talks and watch some more really cool videos. Or go to YouTube and watch some cute animal videos. At the very least, I hear you’re not really legit unless you have cat pictures on your site. So here you go:

IMG_0107 IMG_0535

My two most recent mascots. RIP, boys.

If that doesn’t guarantee success, nothing will…

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As we get older, we seem to hang on to our childhood memories with fondness or angst greater than they probably deserve. The retold stories get exaggerated along with the emotions. What was once a simple family picnic by the river gets turned into a jungle expedition along the Amazon. That unfortunate disagreement with a relative over a piece of china turns into the Civil War to End All Wars. It’s a never-ending game of Telephone; a new detail added or changed with each retelling, until the end result bares almost no resemblance to the beginning. All of us are convinced the way we remember it is absolutely correct. And we are all absolutely wrong.

But the details don’t really matter. It is the emotion attached to those memories that makes or breaks us. Sadly, negative emotions seem to be stronger and longer lasting than positive ones. The Kennedy assassination is still with us fifty years later. The Challenger explosion is a permanent part of our collective memories. And everyone knows exactly where they were when the towers came down on 9/11. We remember pain far more readily than we remember joy. Psychologists probably have some sort of flight-or-fight reasoning for that: pain sticks in our lizard brain and reminds us not to do that again, whereas joy doesn’t really have a primal survival use and therefore gets pushed into the background. It’s too bad, really. The world would be so much better if joy was the strongest part of us.

My childhood memories are largely benign, if listening to the stories of my friends’ childhoods is any measure. Two parents, three kids, dogs, cats, parakeets, fish, turtles, rabbits, girl scouts, boy scouts, homework, schoolyard crushes and schoolyard bullies. No drunken stepparent, no abuse, no empty cupboards. We had the occasional bit of drama, like all families do, but in the grand scheme of childhoods, mine was pretty normal.

Our childhood is the foundation to the rest of our lives. A stone is set with each problem we solve, each victory we amass, each love we win or lose. We take those small pains and joys we experienced as children to aid us against the big pains and joys we’ll face as adults. Our moral compass is set in that foundation. How we look at the world, deal with people, handle stress; all of it comes from those few stones laid in our early years. Some foundations are better than others, but no foundation is perfect.

Many of those stones have a material component to them, something that we can touch or read or hear to remind us of those building blocks. Our baby shoes. A toy horse given to you by Great-Grandma. A shawl crocheted by Grandpa. Award patches from all those music festivals. Sometimes that component is an actual person, like a crazy aunt or a celebrity. Your foundation is secure as long as that person is alive.

I used to think that when I lost someone or something from my childhood, I also lost the stone laid in relation to them. Every little loss chipped away at my foundation, making me less and less whole. But as I’ve matured, I’ve come to realize such losses actually make those stones stronger. I’m more aware of them, and more protective of the lessons each represents.

One of my favorite shows as a child was The Monkees. It brought all the elements a young girl could want together – cute boys, good music, fun adventures, positive messages. It was a joyful experience that left a solid foundation stone for my love of music. Critics were not kind to the “Pre-Fab Four,” but over the years the appreciation for what they accomplished has grown. They had sold out concerts, Top Ten songs, and led the race into music videos. I had the pleasure of seeing them live (all four of them!) at the Greek Theater in Hollywood during one of their reunion tours in the late 80’s. It was one of the most fun concerts I’ve ever been to. And, yes, they played their own instruments. While Mike Nesmith was my favorite (I always seem to go for the intellectual ones) I was heartbroken when Davy Jones passed. I initially mourned another shattered piece of my childhood. Then I came to realize that the gifts they gave me were still with me, and would always be, regardless of who or what was attached to those particular foundation stones.

Davy Jones is the reason Walter Koenig was added to the Star Trek cast. The producers wanted to cash in on the hip, longhaired heartthrob Davy represented. I certainly didn’t object. But I was already a Star Trek fan. That show is another of those strong foundation stones of my life. It showed me a future where everyone was welcome, and diplomacy and logic and science held sway. After my initial crush on Chekov, I went back to my beloved Spock, bastion of reason. He was exotic and cool and even though my parents were trying to teach me that sound reasoning and solid evidence were much preferable to allowing one’s emotions to run rampant, it’s largely because of Spock that those lessons stuck. I am who I am today because he gave me an example to emulate that everybody seemed to admire.

I was camping in the wilds of Arizona when I heard the news of Leonard Nimoy’s passing. He had been admitted to the hospital already when we left for our trip, so I was somewhat aware that his 83 years on this planet might be coming to a close. But you never really want those kinds of things to come true. Here was yet another piece of my childhood leaving this realm, abandoning me. The little kid inside that wants The Monkees and Star Trek to still be whole is throwing a tantrum.

But the adult has come to realize that the foundation they provided still remains, despite the passages of time and people. We don’t lose those pieces, we simply file them somewhere else, use them to shore up those parts that weren’t built all that well to begin with. It’s our job to keep hold of the wonder and joy we experienced, and to pass it on to the next generation. We may no longer be a child, but our childhood is forever.

 

© 2015   Cheri K. Endsley   All Rights Reserved.

 

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