If he were still here

Out_house_useage_

If. It’s one of the saddest two-letter words in the world. I am so grateful that I had so many years with my capricious elf.

Today would have been our twenty-third anniversary. As was our custom we would have had dinner together.

He brought so much life and love into my heart. I miss him every day. There are days when I hope to see him again.

Not now and not yet– I did promise that I would live and write. To that end I brought Foxy, a chihuahua-terrier mix, into my life. She keeps me on track.

So this afternoon, my brother and I are going to lunch, and we’ll talk about Otto and how much we miss him. Then we will laugh at a few of his jokes. Can I tell you a secret? His life was no easier than mine. But, he knew how to dwell on the good and let the negative go. I keep remembering when he told me to hold onto our memories because they would never come again.

So I miss him deeply. I really miss how he could make me laugh even when I was in my crankiest moods.

He used to say, “I don’t wake up cranky. I just let her sleep.”

It still makes me laugh.

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He would have been 68 today

Out_house_useage_Last night I knew today would be a punch in the gut. My late-hubby, Otto, would have been 68 today.

There were a few tears when I woke up about 4 a.m. this morning after a restless night.

Instead of thinking of his death, I want to think of his life. This picture shows that smile that made me love him. And yes, the inappropriate picture to prove that he did know how to use an outhouse.

Now if I could just remember his jokes– although most of them are inappropriate as well. He liked to get me with this one.

If you call a guy who works in the matshop a matman,
What do you call a woman who works in a matshop?

(a mattress)

(Matshop means maintenance shop btw)

So yea, I miss the easy laughs and just lying my head on his shoulders with his arms around me. I never thought I’d say that I miss his jokes.

The Crazy Years – or what should I laugh at

mysenseofhumorI saw this Venn diagram yesterday on facebook. It describes my sense of humor perfectly. When the first insensitive remark was called politically incorrect, (My memory could be hazy, but I remember a guy in college calling a girl a cow) it has become politically incorrect to have a sense of humor.–unless you are an approved comic.
David Pascoe on accordingtohoyt talks about this very phenomenon. It is particularly painful for him being a white male. In our society now, that makes him an insensitive racist pig just because of his color and gender. I find that crazy– and the craziness gets worse.

I have a degree in English Literature. My professor was a feminist, but she was willing to read my viewpoints as a person with conservative/libertarian views. Nowadays certain views and papers can get you thrown out of college– a place where ideas should flourish and thrive has turned into a place where people are in lockstep with “current” views.

No wonder dystopia stories are the largest amount of sci-fi being written today.

I have recently been reading Life at the Bottom by Theodore Dalrymple, a British psychiatrist who treats the poor in a slum hospital and a prison in England. It is very eye-opening because we are seeing the same things happening here in the US in our underclasses (or minorities).

There is very little to laugh about what is happening to the people who have latched onto victimhood and politically correct speech.

I remember the days when being a survivor was considered greater than being a victim. I still see the words “Laughter is the best medicine.” I think the qualifier is today– only if it is approved laughter.

So I laugh because I remember being free-er just twenty years ago. I laugh because some of the victims aren’t really victims at all. I laugh instead of crying because laughter is medicine. And yes, I am going to hell.

So it is Tax Day again

I did my taxes a month ago for good reason. First, I had all the tax papers–W-2s, receipts, royalty payments, etc. by then. Second, if I don’t do it a month early, I forget and then I am in that sheer terror of time, trying to get the paperwork done.

I don’t know about you, but I am very suspicious of how the paperwork goes to the IRS through wireless means now, especially since the heartbleed virus has been found. For two years hackers could (and probably did) watch every transaction on the internet on the secure networks.

Plus after watching the mess of the health care, (I get a first seat view because of my disease) I am less impressed than ever with federal government intervention.

I don’t mind paying for infrastructure like roads. I want to draw the line at paying for the propagandization of children and the mistakes of drug addicts. It bothers me that people with my disease and other auto-immune diseases are being denied benefits, but drug addicts or recovering drug addicts get all benefits. It makes me wonder about the policies of the people in charge.

Personally I like freedom. If there wasn’t a punishment for not having approved health insurance, I would have liked paying a reasonable amount for services rendered without using insurance. Except, nothing is reasonable anymore. Suing doctors (and some of them have been incompetent) has caused the insurance to rise, which makes the health costs rise.

Maybe one day we will be free again to make our own choices. It is a nice dream.

Cracker Jack

Do you remember the cracker jack boxes? I am not sure if they still have them. They were filled with candy popcorn and nuts. In the middle of the cracker jack box would be a surprise–a small toy of some type.

Nowadays there are so many regulations on who gets those little toys (you might swallow one and hurt yourself) that we don’t get those surprises anymore.

So what has changed? A couple of my writing friends have written about the changes in our culture of special snowflakes, people who expect the world to soften the blows of living. One of the issues I read recently was calling anything that made them uncomfortable as rape or a PTSD trigger. Go On. Pull That Trigger takes that issue head on.

Personally, I am not too happy with some of the changes like when a girl decides she doesn’t want to live the household rules, but still expects her parents to support her in her new lifestyle. Is she a child or is she a legal adult? Hard to tell when some of the current crop of newly made adults want both.

When I finally left home at twenty-one, I was expected to support myself with my own money. It was hard. I didn’t have food stamps even though I barely had enough money for one meal a day. I didn’t have government housing. I found a group of girls who rented a house and lived with them. I worked forty hours a week to pay for my bills. I didn’t go on vacation because I couldn’t afford it. Most of all I didn’t expect my parents or the government to pick up my bill for college. I went into the Navy for six years, earned the GI bill, and then earned my BA in English Literature from UMUC.

I don’t see the self-sufficiency that I was expected to have when I reached adulthood. I see that sheltering the next generation from hard knocks and competition is detrimental to them. That allowing children to live soft lives doesn’t prepare them for reality. I am not saying make it always hard for them. Children do need protection from danger. Competition is not danger.

I didn’t have children– so you can believe me, or not.

What I did do was raise my brothers as a child. I was the oldest of nine. I do know babies and children– I have done my time changing diapers, burping babies, and cleaning scraped knees. I even had to have the “sex” talk because my parents wouldn’t do it.

The Blank Page Syndrome

It’s been a while since I have had the problem with looking at a white screen, and then my mind goes blank or there is a huge desire to stand up and eat a cracker or do some housekeeping chore. Today has been that day.

Normally I go tapping on the keys and hope that when I finish writing, the thoughts would make some sense by the end of the essay. Write the next sentence is in my thoughts (got that from Dean W. Smith). But today, the next sentence seems banal and uninteresting. It is more interesting to wander through the blogsphere or facebooksphere and make one line comments.

This malaise has also spread to my creative writing. Last week, I was having fun with my stories when I slammed into a wall. I am now wondering if my stories are any good and if anyone would even read them. I am trying to face the idea that I may like to write, and I may like to read my own stories, but only a very few people, probably as many as I can count on one hand, read what I write. My proof is in the selling and the reviews by the way.

It doesn’t mean I’ll stop. Heck no. I don’t have the moral fortitude to deny the words that bounce around in my head or the characters who sneak through a now open gateway in my mind. It means that I will not turn this into a profitable business.  I am not a business woman (never have been), I am a creative– the person who always has ideas and can turn them into practical applications.

The urgency I feel comes from knowing that my time is short– and has been shortened. When I first went to my doctor about this disease, he told me that his first patient lasted ten years after being diagnosed. I now am eleven years into the disease. When I became ill, I had started my path towards publication. I had several poems published and a short story. The short story was even a paid story– a literary sci-fi, probably.

I was in the middle of a novel when I ended up in the hospital with a staff of nurses and doctors who knew I was dying. When I was finally diagnosed, I knew that my time for writing was almost over. It took two years before my brain started to work enough that I could write. I have been on chemo that has played havoc with my brain, but I still wrote and I still sent out stories and poems. I even had some of them published.

It was after reading Jon Konrath’s BlogSpot that I knew that I needed to indie publish. At first it was a wild west– but now … I just don’t know what has happened to the excitement of new authors. When I look for new authors instead of established authors in Amazon and other places, it is hard to find them. They are dropped to the bottom of the pile. I do look by the way. There are two reasons I look for indies and indie publishers– 1) to show support and 2) the stories are raw and fresh. Most of the stories haven’t been polished to death. I like that–

I hope this post doesn’t sound like I am wingeing or saying look at the poor girl– she can’t get anyone to read her stuff so she is whining about it.

I might be a little– but I know that I need to get as much out now as I can because I have a fatal disease (not life, Vasculitis). One of my closest friends who has the same disease, is losing her lung. I almost lost her last year and we are the same age. So I do have a reason to feel the urgency– but it also makes my mind go blank when I see that blank page. I have probably put too much pressure on myself to perform.

One of the reasons I went indie was because I knew that time wasn’t on my side. I didn’t have a decade or even five years to send out novels and stories to trad publishers. Then when I learned about some of the practices of said publishers, I decided that it wasn’t worth the stress and aggravation even if I wasn’t ill.

So trad publishers were out. Plus I have tons of rejections. I am tired of those too. It gets to the point that rejections just become soul-crushing. Intellectually I know that magazines and other publishers can’t publish everything. Yet, knowing that fact and emotionally getting it are two different things.

However– I did get a lovely rejection letter from the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction for “The Case of the Golden Seed” before my illness. I would have sent them another story, but I hadn’t written one and also I was starting to get sick.

So every time I hit a wall, it sets me back a year or two or in some cases a decade. I wonder if I am a masochist because I have hit that wall so many times and for so many years.

Life is chaos and change

A young dog was jumping and running back and forth against my feet. I reached down, took control of the dog, and had the dog, sitting at my feet. As soon as the dog was calm, I started to pet him. That is the driving imperative in myself– calm the chaos and direct it towards a goal. I do this with dogs, cats, and little humans. I don’t even know that I am doing it until I notice or my hubby notices.

I think that is one of the reasons I like to write stories. I can feel the words, sentences, and paragraphs. When my mind is out of the brain fog, I can feel the structure of the story bend in my mind. When I finish a story, I have somehow channeled the chaos into a cause and effect and a try/fail and try again cycle.

As a young girl Andre Norton’s Witch World stories provided a template. I knew that if I learned skills and worked hard, one day I could leave and care for myself. I could break from a family and world that didn’t understand that I needed to have something much more than the confined society of my family and religion. One day I could run away.

Because those stories showed me how hard it was for a child to succeed in the adult world, I was able to control my impulse to run away from some very harsh circumstances until I was able to leave on my own terms.

Not every instance has my life been like story or had elements that I could control. For instance, when I was diagnosed with a Vasculitis disease and told that it was from no fault of my own (I was in excellent health except for that one thing– that almost killed me).

The doctor was trying to give me absolution, but he gave me despair instead. I had done every thing right, but it still went all wrong? What is the justice in that. I have already gone through a lot through my life that wasn’t easy– or fair. Life, of course, is not fair.

My mind almost broke under that idea– There had to be a reason for my illness. Yes, the reason is I have a gene that when triggered will cause the disease. The doctors don’t know the trigger. I suspect it was organic chemicals and other things I was exposed to as an electronic tech. There is no test that can tell us now– just my suspicions. (and possibly the silver amalgamate in my teeth– my disease got under control better as I had more of the fillings taken out).

But there is no reason for many of the things that happen to us. Story is my way of controlling outcomes– although if I am honest I don’t even control that– the characters take over and I am surprised as anyone else at the endings of my stories.

So yes, I wonder if story structure or the search for meaning is coded into our brains so that we don’t go insane. We need meaning– I need meaning to continue on this hard path.