Writing is a journey, not a destination.

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Sunday, June 27, 2010


For my vocabulary-challenged readers (in case I have any, which I don't think I do) that means giving human characteristics to non-human things. I do it a lot. I name printers (mine was Bruce, after the mechanical shark in Jaws). I miss cars when they're sold (not the Pontiac, but it had the unpleasant duty of replacing my beloved Subaru GL-10, Cricket). I keep my toys, even though 40 is closer for me than 30. Ironically, I tend to de-humanize actual humans, but mostly 'cause I think most of them are stupid most of the time.

I watched Toy Story 3 today. Paid $11! Buck fifty of that was for 3-D glasses that, as far as I could tell, did nothing. Maybe it's my own glasses that got in the way. Or maybe it's that I closed my eyes anytime somebody fell from a height. I don't like heights. Whatever. The price means I will no longer be attending movies in the theater. If everything switches to 3D, which seems to be the case, I'm not paying half the price of a DVD to keep my eyes closed or risk motion sickness.

Anyway, walking out of the theater, one of my companions said, "It's not true, you know."
"What isn't true?" another companion asked.
"Toys don't come to life."

Shows what he knows.

Perhaps it isn't true, but any child who has loved a toy the way the little boy loved his Velveteen Rabbit knows Toys Are Real. How could they not be?

My toys were my best friends as a child. I know...Shocking! We went to other planets. They helped me develop story lines I hope one day to write. They were by my side when no humans were to be found.

Driving home from the theater, still wiping away tears as I thought of my beloved stuffed bear Puff, who was saved from landfill disaster by the grace of God, I thought about how toys become real in the imagination of a child. That creative spark placed within us by the Creator plays itself out in our play. Which led to the wondering, are we the toys in God's mind? What creative urge within Him spun us out to weave our story? Praise Him He doesn't lock us in the toy box.

Please don't misunderstand this as a teaching on doctrine. It isn't. It's just a turtle trail, sparked by a movie that made me happy and sad at the same time.

I highly recommend Toy Story 3, but I also highly recommend taking some tissues. If you ever loved a toy, you'll need them.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Has anyone else noticed the lack of follow-through in today's young people? I know. I don't have much wiggle room to complain about lack of follow-through, but, conversely, if I've noticed, it must be bad.

In my quest to connect with The Flash, I joined her in Club Penguin a few times years ago. Okay, I liked herding those puffle-things or whatever they're called, but I was trying to have fun with my niece, too. I was playing a game of Mandala with some child somewhere. She started to lose and wandered off. That's right. She just left in the middle of a game. Had she been in the room, she would have gotten an earful. As it was, she logged out and disappeared from that virtual world.
That's when I decided not to play with anyone other than The Flash on Club Penguin anymore.

But I see it in other young people. The impatience, the boredom, the inability to work for gain. It is a problem, and it will cause problems for all of us.

I read an article a few months ago that showed todays' young people, when applying for first time jobs, expect far more benefits and far less work than really happens. They want the two weeks' vacation, fully-funded insurance plan and vested 401K from the start. They seem surprised to find out you have to put in the time and effort to earn all that stuff. It took me 5 years to get two weeks of vacation.

On FV, I've seen younger players "wander off" several times now, wanting the coin and XP but bored with the planting and the waiting, impatient with the fertilizing and publishing rewards. As I've posted before, you have to put in the time to get the XP, and if you want friends, first be a friend.

We've blamed our microwave culture for a lot, and this seems to be one more thing to lay at its altar. There is no accountability in a social networking game (okay, a person can be shunned or bullied virtually, but it's not quite the same as a face-to-face encounter). There is no accountability in a text message. There is no accountability in a TV schedule that drops a show in 4 episodes for not making ratings. Culture teaches children to wander off as soon as things stop "being fun."

I'm going to do a little parent-blaming, too (to be fair, I really have no specific parents in mind. This is a pervasive problem I've noticed in nearly every child I've met). Follow-through must be modeled but it must also be taught. As adults, we tend to shrug when a child wanders off. It's just a game or a show or whatever. No big deal. Except it's a habit that will carry over into things that are big deals.

The old saying "finish what you start" needs to be pulled out of the proverb box and posted on some walls.  I suppose the next generation will bring it back when they have to diaper themselves because their neglectful parent wandered off to find something more interesting to do.

Maybe a better proverb would be "count the cost before you build the house," but that's a whole other post.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Prayer Works

I keep thinking I've posted about this before, but if I have, I can't find it.

Prayer works.

What does that mean? Well, it doesn't mean you hand God your laundry list and walk away. It doesn't mean your life will be easy and materially wealthy (although it could happen). It doesn't mean you'll always get to park right in front of the store you must enter.

Let's back up a step. What is prayer?

Boy, howdy, how many 1000s of books have been written on that question? Even on Jesus' answer to the disciples when they asked, "Lord, teach us to pray." (That answer was the Lord's Prayer, by the way).

I've always thought of prayer as a conversation between me and God. I do a lot of talking, He does a lot of listening, and somewhere in the middle, we get along.

I recently heard a definition of prayer that made a great deal of sense. Prayer is learning to align myself with God's will. When I pray, I deliberately submit to my Lord's authority over me. I allow the Holy Spirit within me to reach out to Father God and Brother Jesus and recalibrate.

(Turtle trail: some may bristle at "brother" Jesus, but the Bible calls us co-heirs with Christ, adopted children of God, and that makes Jesus my brother. Besides, I have such great brothers, it's easy for me to relate to Jesus that way.)

That is a sketchy analogy. I don't mean to imply the Holy Spirit is ever separate from Himself. But the part of Him that indwells me will teach me to be more fully part of God if I let Him - through prayer.

I think of it like that scene from Tron, when Tron has gotten to the I/O tower and contacted Alan I. Tron stands on the platform, his hands and program disc raised, awaiting instructions from his User. Once he receives them, he's off to kick a little Master Control digital tail. Great movie. Ground-breaking, really.

So, when I pray now, I try to be like Tron, confident my instructions will come and praising God in the meanwhile (Only a true Christian geek will nod along with me on this one, but my readers should know by now I learn from many sources, including secular).

I say it again. Prayer works. If you seek God, you will find Him, and He will change you. It won't be easy. It may not be fun (I doubt Tron was happy about his task until it was over). But, in the long run, it will be better than what you're doing now.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Living with Aliens

Herding cats is easy. Just feed them on a schedule. When the food bowls clink at my house, six furry tails come running.

If you've seen any Alien movie, you know how those creepy critters can "appear" out of nowhere. How a seven-foot, shiny black skeleton-thing with a head shaped like a loaf of French bread, sprouting back-tubes and a scorpion tail can look like a chair is beyond belief, but those things do it. My cats have the same gift for camouflage.

I called and called for Simon one day, who was in plain sight but unnoticeable until he stretched. I thought Caleb had somehow managed to get outside, until he yelled at me from the closed kennel where I had accidentally locked him because he'd hidden himself at the very back for a nap. I can't count the number of times I've almost stepped on Mica, who has the "drop-sprawl" move down pat but continues to practice it in high-traffic areas. Toffee watches the world from under the entertainment center or on top of the file cabinet, perfectly at ease in either location. And Skuttle is impossible to find until she wants to be found.

Fortunately, none of my critters have acid for blood, but their various cries, clicks and screeches are enough to drive me out the airlock some days. I'm just glad they haven't realized I'm edible.

The dog, of course, is always easy to find. Seems once I'm out of it, my bed is her bed.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Random Annoyances in Children's Movies

I like movies. I like children's movies. But some children's movies make no sense whatsoever, and those annoy me. Here are a few.

Stuart Little: Why does a human couple adopt a mouse? Why can humans hear that mouse talk, but no other animals? Why is it okay for Stuart to live like a human, but the cat is just a pet? Why is Stuart the only mouse/animal adoption? Why does no one else in the movie think this is weird?

Up: I'm gonna catch flack for this one, and I don't care. I normally love Pixar movies, but this one left me cold. The opening is great, where the old guy grows up and has a life. It rapidly goes downhill after that. How could one person inflate enough balloons to lift an entire house in one night/6 hours, let alone one old man? Even if it's winter, which it isn't, and we give him 12 hours, which we don't, it can't be done. And how is it enough balloons to rip a house from its moorings are not enough balloons to lift the house and the tarp covering them? Plus...a hurricane? Really? Even Qualatex balloons aren't going to withstand that, and they're the best. And just how old is that villain? Ninety? One hundred? Pretty spry, if you ask me. I did like the bird-thing, but I'll never watch the movie again.

Bee Movie: Oh, so many annoyances. Bees don't drive cars. Bees die if they sting you. Almost all bees are female, except for the extremely short-lived drones who only exist to fertilize the queen. Even if all the bees stopped pollinating flowers, it would take a full year to notice the difference, not a few days. I don't mind fantasy movies, far from it, but don't bill your fantasy as real life when it so isn't. And most importantly, don't shove a "green" message into it about saving the planet when you don't even have your facts straight. Actually, that is a perfect example of the environmentalist agenda - no facts, no sense, no point.

Those are three I thought of today. I'm sure I'll find more later.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I Told You So

Why is it when the perfect time to say those words rolls around, there's no point in saying them?
When the predicted doom falls, why rub it in? That person is already suffering, sometimes more than even you imagined possible. Only a real jerk would take the time to say "I told you so" then.

Doesn't mean those words aren't there, circling like vultures over the kill. But a real friend knows to keep her mouth shut at such times and just be there to watch as the mess gets cleaned up.

For the record, I'm not cleaning up the mess. I'm the one who warned about it. I'm a friend, not a saint.

It's very easy to see someone else's impending mistakes. Much harder to see your own.

I recommend, the next time a friend - a real friend - gives you a warning about some decision, you listen very carefully. It might save you both a lot of future heartache.

Monday, June 14, 2010


Late last night a possible tornado passed over my city. I learned I can get myself and 7 animals into the basement within 5 minutes with no preparation whatsoever. This is good to know. Thanks to the adrenaline rush and the 4 hour nap where my bedtime used to be, I'm a little tired this morning. I hope to go to bed early tonight, but we'll see what God has in mind.

On with the post.

When I began to role play so many, many years ago, I didn't understand the concept of Experience (XP). In games (I think this is true of today's video games, as well), you gain XP whenever you successfully do something. Fight an orc and live, gain XP. Find the treasure, gain XP. Use a spell correctly, gain XP. Gain enough XP and you move up in levels and gain access to better stuff, knowledge and enemies.

The temptation when you are very young is to skip those first levels and jump right to the "good stuff." Why start at 1 where skeletons can hurt you when you can go straight to 20 and blast those puppies into powder with a word?

Well, the simple reason is experience. When you're a new player, there are things you don't know about yourself, about your teammates, about your enemies - about everything, really. Starting at level 1 (which I never did. While I was a newbie, my teammates were veterans, so we tended to start around 15 and they gave me a lot of advice until I wised up) gives you a chance to learn stuff with a chance of survival. Survival is important if you like the character you're playing. If you don't care, then I guess it's okay to die a lot while you learn.

FV is the same way. I have a few neighbors who help tend other neighbors' farms. I've done it myself. But the problem with a higher level player "helping out" a lower level player like that is the lower level player misses out on experience. They won't know how to play if they don't play. Mistakes are as important as success because mistakes teach us to pay attention or suffer.

Life requires XP, too. There's a reason we start out as babies and grow up. If we walked out of the womb fully adult with no XP, aside from the terrible physical consequences to our moms, we would probably get squashed like bugs in the first 24 hours. Learning to survive in the world is all about gaining XP. Some people can get it by watching other people make mistakes. Most people aren't that lucky.

I've been thinking about XP and writing. The sad fact is you have to do this writing stuff to get better at it. You have to write your own stories. You have to study the craft to improve. You have to research the market or research an agent who researches the market. Is it annoying? Um, yeah. Still have to do it. Yes, sometimes somebody falls into success without doing that stuff, but without XP, how well will he handle that success?

Life is a journey, and XP is what we gather on the way. Keep in mind, though, while it's hard to get, it's great once you got it.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Big Announcement

Okay, so I don't post while I'm on vacation, either. This vacation was mostly doing political stuff, though, with a few social engagements thrown in for good measure. I was so busy, my dog didn't realize I was on vacation, poor thing. For that matter, neither did I.

I met a FV neighbor in person (hi, Teresa!), which was lovely. I discovered a new restaurant, which was tasty, but that's not the big news.

The Big Announcement...dum dum dum - New Computer! Woo-hoo! You know I'm loving it, although it's not completely set up yet. My files need to be transferred, and I have to learn to deal with Windows 7, and I can't find my printer software installation disc, but all those things will be resolved eventually. Suffice it to say, I can now play FV in half the time, so I should regain half my life.

And, since the storm awakened me at 3 AM with the announcement that flash flooding may occur in surrounding counties (though not here so I'm not sure why it went off), I'm going to try to get a bit more sleep before church, since today is just as busy as the last two.

See you bright and early Monday morning, God willing and the creek don't rise.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


It seems when a FV co-op is involved, I don't post on this blog. My apologies. The co-op is over, and I'm back for now.

I was thinking about Doctor Who. Shocking!

In the second season, he's given an immortal potential companion and rejects him as an unnatural, fixed point in time. Perhaps that's because of how he became immortal. But it does imply the writers of today's version of Doctor Who would reject my immortal character Amy. I find that interesting. They must like the tragedy of the Doctor's current existence, like Joss Whedon's inability to let his couples be happy together for more than six episodes before breaking them up or killing them off. Happiness doesn't make for good TV, apparently.

Speaking of happy relationships, one of the reasons I like Friends (there are many) is their treatment of Chandler and Monica's marriage. For a comedy show, that relationship actually exemplified some very good relational skills. We saw them fighting and resolving, facing hard decisions (like moving and infertility) together, and basically showing that a marriage isn't easy but it's worth it.

For the record, most of my problems with the show involve their treatment of casual sex and p*rn (in case the filters won't let me type it) as okay behaviors. They're not. Really, really not.

Let's see, I've hopped from FV co-ops to Doctor Who to Joss Whedon to Friends. Yeah. I'd say I'm distracted, all right.

Oh, look! A chicken!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Wrong Choices

Today's lateness of post is not my fault. I was ready to write at 6 AM, but Blogger was performing some kind of maintenance and wouldn't let me in. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Fact is, I'm thinking for the summer, I'll post during the week and take the weekends off. That's kind of what I've been doing anyway.

Life is full of choices. Will you do this or that? Will you go here or there? Will you eat this dessert or that dessert (and if ever offered a choice between desserts, the correct answer is always "yes, please.")?

I feel like I've been making wrong choices lately. Not "at the end of the world, I'm going to hell" wrong, just "boy I wish I'd chosen the other way" wrong. Spending a day doing one thing when I could have done something else sort of wrong. Planting grapes instead of raspberries kind of wrong, if that even counts. Craving a bologna sandwich but settling for a burrito kind of wrong. Life is too short to settle for a burrito. I can eat both, but I didn't, and I wish I'd had the sandwich.

Perfectionists want all choices to be The Best choice. We agonize over doing just the right thing, even when that thing is as unimportant as choosing a burrito over a sandwich. I'm a recovering perfectionist, but I think I'm back-sliding. When perfectionists back-slide, we tend to do nothing at all for fear of making a wrong choice. So, maybe it's good I'm making wrong choices. At least I'm doing something.

I don't know if it's laziness or apathy or over-the-counter drug use (okay, I know it's not that), but at the end of the day I find myself thinking "I could have done better. Tomorrow, I should do better."
So I'm trying to do better. I'm trying to make some right choices. And I guess if I make some wrong ones, I'll just have to deal with it and move on.

Friday, June 4, 2010


This winter I watched Calendar Girls with mom. It's based on the true story of Chris and Annie of a small English village who make a "tastefully nude" calendar to raise funds to refurbish the cancer treatment family waiting room in the hospital. The fund raiser is prompted by the death of Annie's husband from leukemia.

One scene in particular got to me. Annie and John are sitting in a truck, staring out over a meadow as they try to talk through the elephant in the cab, namely his approaching death. Annie climbs into his lap and clutches at him.

All the longing of every living thing to hold onto that which leaves is in that few seconds of film. You know that were it possible, Annie would make John stay just through the force of her love. But it isn't possible, and it makes the rest of the movie (and her life) different.

In the comic book Elfquest, book 12, I think, Cutter has been mortally wounded. By the time his wife Leetah the healer is able to reach him, he's at death's door. His tribe, suffering their own wounds from the battle with trolls, gathers outside the small room as one more battle is fought to keep their chief with them in flesh as well as spirit. Nightfall and Redlance are huddled together, praying to their ancestors as Nightfall says, "Leetah, if love alone can give you strength, add all of mine to yours."

When Rose and the Doctor are separated that last time, you just know if it were possible, one of them would rip the universe apart if it would help.

Loss is a powerful motivator. It should change everything for the one who experiences it.

And, not caring for loss myself, I thought of a solution for Rose and The Doctor. She is in a parallel universe. Is it too much to hope it has its own Doctor with his own TARDIS and his own fascination with protecting Earth? I think it's possible.

Gotta have my happy ending.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

It Starts

Perhaps I should say, it's starting. Remember that scene in Alien when John Hurt shines his flashlight on the egg and the face-hugger inside twitches? Creepy? Yes. You know something is inside that shell. You don't know what it is. You don't know if you're gonna like what happens next. But there it is, twitching at you, and you have to deal with it.

I am not saying an alien is getting ready to burst from my chest and attach itself to your face (yes, I skipped some steps there for dramatic effect). Although, maybe I am saying that.

After all, I write odd things. I don't always know what's about to come out when I sit at the keyboard. At times, it has felt as though something slimy and acidic just spit up onto my desktop.

What I do know is with the advent of warmer weather, mosquitoes and the approaching election season (where I will have no time at all to write), I'm beginning to get inspired. The strength of my inspiration is directly proportional to how little time I have to write it down.

This is okay. I've been here before, and I know I can write good things at such times. I also know my friends and family will not be interacting with me as it happens. They may try, bless them, but my focus will be elsewhere, on some far off world where dragons and fauns work together or some far off time when psychics track down missing robots.

So get the interaction in now, folks. I will soon be unavailable for comment.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I Don't Do Holidays, Either

I do try, but holidays have very little meaning for me, which is odd, because they seem to mean something to the rest of my family.

I find holidays exhausting and generally uncomfortable. I'm forced to be around people I may see only once or twice a year or decade (yes, for most folks this is the up-side, but we introverts prefer the company of extremely close friends. Anything else is simply an awkward social situation). I am forced to work - setting tables, clearing tables, cooking larger quantities of food than usual for me, cleaning up wrapping paper or whatever flotsam happens to remain. Filling glasses with ice - don't get me started. I despise no other task more than putting ice in glasses. I don't even use ice. Why should I put it in someone else's glass? I'm learning to cope, but it is not easy. I am forced to do things I wouldn't normally do, like watch sports. In short, holidays are not about me, and therefore, I don't tend to like them.

I am learning I have an extremely narrow focus (yes, not news to you). I do not see the bigger picture. I see what is right in front of me. During holidays, what is right in front of me is work and inconvenience.

I also have trouble with group celebrating. Take Memorial Day, for example. How many people even bother to think about our military boys and girls at any other time? Shouldn't they? One day isn't enough to honor their sacrifice.

I remember my first youth conference. I watched my friends get so excited and make pledges and vows and two weeks later, they didn't seem to remember any of it. Silly.

However, I seem to be in the minority. Most people love a parade, and a party, and a reason to grill (as if you need a reason to grill). So, carry on, happy millions. I'll sit against the wall and wait for tomorrow's clean up to begin.

P.S. Upon review, this post seems a bit harsh and possibly unflattering to me and mine. I should say, for the introvert, being with people drains energy. Even if I like the people I see only on holidays, what I really need is an extra day of vacation to recover, which I seldom get. Hence, the general dislike of holidays.

And that's all I have to say about that.