Writing is a Journey, not a Destination

Writing is a Journey, not a Destination

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Monday, September 19, 2016

The Layers of Friendship

Growing up, I was a one friend per year kind of person. I had one specific friend in school, and one specific friend outside of school (only because she attended a different school). I ignored most other people, and tended to ignore my friends except during those specific "school" or "play" times.

I was not a nice child.

In college, I learned about variety in relationships, specifically proximal friendships, meaning you're friends because you're in proximity to each other. Most friendships fall into this category, btw. Close when physically close, and separate when separated. These can be intense relationships, but they rarely outlast a change in distance.

I've made deals with several friends since learning this. We will never recriminate on why we've fallen out of touch. Each meeting will begin with the enthusiasm of a dog greeting an owner, no matter how much time has passed. It works great, as long as you really mean it. Which I do.

When I think the word friendship, though, I think of something more. That C.S. Lewis definition of "What! You, too? I thought that no one but myself..." A similarity that goes beyond working in the same office, or attending the same Sunday School class. A similarity of worldview.

I have tried to expand my friendship base as an adult. To be friendly with those not like myself and enjoy our differences. It is useful to measure life against a different viewpoint, and one of the benefits of a true friend is enough difference in perspective to keep conversation interesting.

However, some perspectives are just too different. I may love, admire, respect a person, but if the differences in our worldviews are too pronounced, they move out of the friendship circle into the proximal friendship circle. This may be a sudden shift or a gradual decline.

I have heard friendship likened to a well (although maybe a money jar is more accurate). A friend must contribute to the well before drawing out. If more is drawn out than put in, the friendship cannot last.

In a perfect world, I could be friends with everyone. I could handle all differences and never find opposing viewpoints toxic. I do not live in a perfect world, and I am far from perfect. I do not find comfort in contention. I will do my best to minister daily to the world around me, but my friends enjoy a special, peaceful, pleasant place in my heart, and I will seek them out for that reason.

Push button. Receive bacon.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Finish What You Start

I can't say this enough.

It isn't an issue for all writers (or people, for that matter). Some exist who write a story, give it a good once-over and publish that sucker. I can't rightly say I admire that, but I can say they're on the right track.

Some of us agonize over every word. We neglect story for the art of implementation. Every day, sometimes in mid-sentence, we see ways the story could be different, better, deeper, more lyrical, whatever. Yes, my daily experiences add layers to my thoughts like rings on a tree, but that doesn't mean every story has to be the sum total of my entire being. It's not possible.

A newspaper is old news before it hits the stands. A story is the same. It's a snapshot of my desires at the time of writing.

Make an outline. Write quickly in whatever style you prefer. Follow the outline when the muse isn't musing, and make something happen when you're bored. The goal is to finish this story. I recommend stuffing as much melodrama as you can manage into your first draft because emotion is what makes most readers read, and it's nearly impossible to add emotion later.

The young writer laughs at the thought of not being able to write. When I was a youngster, you couldn't keep me away from the keyboard. But you also couldn't make me finish a single story because I got bored and wandered off to the next exciting thing.

Now I am old. An old woman with a dozen half-finished ideas that keep getting in the way when I'm trying to write something worth reading. Had I finished those when I was young, I would know them for garbage and move on. As it is, I keep puking them up and stalling on the chunks.

Sorry. Hope you weren't eating breakfast.

Finish what you start. It is worth the effort.

Push button. Receive bacon.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Cats and Litter Boxes

When you wake up at 3:38 thanks to a full moon, and check FB on your phone app, and see that a Friend posted something meant to be funny that instead triggered your uptight-over-zealous-cat-mommy gland, you don't comment on the post and ruin the joke. That's rude. You write a blog post to relieve your angst.

Here it is.

If a cat pees outside its litter box, either 1) the cat is sick, or 2) something in the environment is causing severe stress for the cat and needs to be addressed.

Cats are generally fastidious creatures who prefer cleanliness more than you do. This is why they burrow into clean laundry, sprawl on freshly opened newspapers, and plant themselves in sanitizing sunlight. It only takes one or two tries to litterbox train a kitten, and if they miss, it's because they were too far away when they realized they had to go or they couldn't manage to get into the box.

Make sure the cat isn't sick. Cats generally don't drink enough water, so urinary infections can happen, requiring antibiotics. It could also be a sign of kidney failure, and that means the death of the cat, and you should treat them with respect until their last breath, you callous scum. Keep lots of clean, fresh water available in different sized bowls at various heights in the house (and NEVER put food and water next to the litter box. Would YOU like to eat where you crap?). I always use glass bowls because some cats can get "black acne" from plastic. I use wide bowls, brandy snifters, fish bowls and plant cache pots. I like the shapes and all of my six cats seem to like drinking in different ways.

The easiest solution for most peeing issues is to add a litter box to another area of the house. Older cats, like older people, have to go NOW, and they may not make it if the box is stashed away in the basement or a door gets closed accidentally. It's also nice when you clean the box regularly. If you're having trouble getting all the clumps out, imagine how hard it is for the cat to cover its business. A smelly box is generally an overflowing box. The general rule of thumb is one box per cat, plus one. This is because some cats will guard the litter box and not let other cats use it. Where would you go if a bully blocked the bathroom?

Cats are sensitive to their environments, and when a cat gets upset, peeing can be the first sign. New people or pets in the house, a change in schedule, a change in litter or food: just about anything can cause anxiety depending on your cat. Do some research and find a way to help the cat adapt. My Cat From Hell offers a lot of advice on this subject (I can't watch much of it because I want to beat most of those owners to death for being selfish morons).

Use your brain before you start screaming. Cats, like people, don't come right out and tell you what their problem is. They expect you to figure it out. A good cat parent does, and fixes the problem rather than the blame. A bad cat parent takes the cat to the shelter to die, or kicks it outside to die. I hope all bad cat parents burn in Hell, but I admit I am not rational on the subject of cat care.

Applaud the jellyfish.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Too Adult?

I've often complained about how dead my inner child is. I blame graduating from college, and all that "life" that happens afterwards. You know, the part where you work really hard to improve your circumstances until you can afford all the things your parents used to pay for (for all the lemmings out there, that's how it's supposed to work).

Anyway, I've noticed a trend in my TV viewing habits, possibly because I'm watching things that went off air before I was born or hit puberty. Rather than just watching the show, I want to know about the making of the show. I'm going to IMDB daily for research. Was The Virginian shot in Wyoming? Where did they get the cattle? Were they used multiple years or did each batch go off to slaughter after filming? Did they boast in line about getting hog-tied by Doug McClure or James Drury? Were the same cowboys or cowboy footage used in Bonanza? The High Chapparal? The same guest actors show up in all the shows, oftentimes as different characters in different seasons, so the same could happen with the horses, too, right? Although, the horses seem as distinguishable as the wardrobes. Does anyone else get tired of the men wearing only one set of clothes for 9 to 14 seasons? The coats I understand, but the same shirts and pants? Was that a budget decision?

What was NASA's position on I Dream of Jeannie? They can't have been pleased with Roger Healey.

Are these adult musings? I used to be able to watch a show and follow the story. Or maybe these shows don't have stories, so I look for the stories about them. Maybe this is the resurrection of my inner child and her relentless questioning.

Push button. Receive bacon.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Pain Is Pain

I've kept my pain comments to a minimum this year (if you don't think so, you aren't living in my body). Until this morning. This morning I received permission (in an odd way) from a Friend I identify as the most long-suffering of the chronic pain sufferers among my Friends (although I doubt I know how many such Friends I have).

She started a conversation about how pain is different for everyone and there's no point comparing pains. It had an Apostle Paul quality to it. I haven't posted this year because of all those Friends who hurt far more and far more often and far longer than I have (according to FB, this is Year 3). It feels insulting to them to gripe about my pain when theirs is likely worse.

However, there is no comparison. Pain is pain. The same way I would never mock someone grieving the loss of hamster because it isn't a person (my inclination with such mockers is to punch them in the throat). The grief is the salient point, not the supposed worthiness of the cause of the grief. Besides, I would grieve a hamster more than most people.

So I'm going to write about my pain this year this once, and then fall quiet again.

Here's something I also grabbed from my Friend:

Four years ago, I fell on my left knee on my driveway in early Spring. It began bothering me at the first Realm Makers conference in St. Louis. I believe that was four years ago. I remember clearly because the 4 hour drive there set it off, and I prayed I had enough ibuprofen to get me home. The drive home was torture, even with ibuprofen.

The knee has flared ever since, but two years ago, my left jaw began to hurt in a way my tooth splint didn't correct. Although not debilitating, I was desperate enough to seek physical therapy, which cost over $800 and failed to help in any significant way other than to confirm I'm too rigid and need to relax.

I began Classical Stretch last autumn, which did help me relax, but has not lessened my pain. It taught me to keep moving through the pain, and that was valuable because the pain increases. In addition to my knee and jaw, my back has joined in. Nearly all the time. I cannot lie down for any reasonable length of time. I've found myself considering the purchase of a recliner, which I hate, because it might hurt less than my bed, which is adjustable. I'm grateful for insomnia because it means I don't wake up in more pain than I laid down with.

January was the last time I wasn't in pain every single day, and I suspect that was because January had no weather fronts to speak of.

Have I exhausted every medical recourse? No. I haven't even sought an official diagnosis of arthritis because I don't know where to start or how much money I want to spend to get one. Do I take meds every day? No. Some days I'm willing to power through because the pain is only a 3 or 4, and I don't want to ruin my liver or become victim to the law of diminishing returns over that. Some days, I have to take drugs to keep the pain at a 3 or 4.

I find myself wondering if OxyRub or OmegaXcel really work like the infomercials say, or whether there'll be a lawyer commercial in 5 years telling me to call for the payout because of some horrific side-effect the FDA didn't know about. Then I wonder if the side-effect is worth it for 5 years of no pain. I wonder if my insomnia is really night pain I've almost gotten used to.

Have I become a chronic pain sufferer? I guess I have. Grandma Turtle lived the last decade of her life with debilitating rheumatoid arthritis, and never once did I hear her complain or snap at anyone. I hope I can live up to her example.

Mom heard about a stem cell pain treatment center in Manhattan, and I've requested an application for consideration. I have plenty of fat cells for them to harvest. We'll see how it goes.

That's all I have to say about that. For now. For all of you who hurt, too, I'm sorry. I'm praying for us.

Push button. Receive bacon.