Freddy Mercury, Painting, and Ennui

Because I’ve had an icky evening (READ: pregnancy is not for sissies), and I haven’t the fortitude for delving deeply into anything, here are a few thoughts on current events both local and not:

Olympics 2012 Closing Ceremonies

º I know I picked up on the meaning of many of the elements because I’ve spent most of my life in Europe.

º I had no clue of the meaning behind many of the other elements.

º This go-round wasn’t as moving as the Opening Ceremonies, but I still enjoyed watching.

º George Michael could tone down his vibrato a bit, but I was still disappointed that he didn’t sing more than one song.

º The members of the apparently newish boy band whose name I’d never heard of and now can’t recall all look like Justin Bieber.

º Whoever that girl was, she’s no Freddy Mercury.

º The giant puzzle-piece John Lennon face was pretty cramazing.

º Also, regarding the last Olympic event I watched this morning: Basketball players are quite tall.

Writing

º I didn’t work on the Rethana’s Surrender sequel this weekend.

º Friday night, I woke up at 4:30am and didn’t go back to sleep until 7:30am. (Yes, I still count that as Friday night. Hush.) At 5:30am, my brain delivered the first line of a new sci-fi short story: “The joke was sleek, fast, and deadly.” And in the next sentence, a woman dies a particularly bloody death.

Accordingly, with the little time I had Saturday morning, I started writing the story. I wrote more than a page. I’m still not sure just what The Story of the story is, but the title shall be “The Joke’s on Us.”

If I can’t figure out where it’s going, the joke will definitely be on me.

º I’m also feeling an urge toward poetry. It’s been a long time since I’ve written any, and I suspect I’m overdue. Once upon a time, I wrote 15-20 poems per year. Now, I might do two. That’s what happens when you turn yourself into a fulltime novelist, I guess. But I shouldn’t neglect the poetic aspect of writing. It affects the noveling in good ways. I shouldn’t forget that.

Politics

 

Media

º Multiple times per day, I check Twitter and Facebook.

º I don’t know if I’m just desensitized or dejected or what, but recently, my internal reaction to both media has been, “I’m bored.”

º Recently, my internal reaction to the intarwebz has been, “I’m bored.”

º Lest you think this were a reaction to my commitment to blogging every day — as in, I’m blogging every day and so am simply dazed with the amount of time I’m spending online — I’ve had ennui regarding the internet for quite awhile now. There just doesn’t seem to be much to do online.

º Maybe this is a feeling I need to follow. I would certainly get more writing done if I did.

Art

º I miss painting. I’ve had a concept in mind for a painting for over a year, and what with cover art and other projects, I haven’t had time to put that idea to canvas.

º Now, considering the 8-months-pregnant tummy, I can’t sit down to paint anymore. And I’m too tired to stand up to paint.

º So will I ever get to paint this picture I have in mind?

º Since I haven’t been able to paint, I’ve been playing with my phone camera and self-portraits. I leave you with one of my current favorites. Please do click to embiggen for the details!

Against the Grain

We Must Disenthrall Ourselves

Have I ever discussed politics on this blog? Doubtful. I don’t enjoy discussing politics; I find most other people’s political opinions to be misinformed to the point of annoying; and especially online, I find that political “discussion” is nothing more than people yelling at each other for no reason.

That said, this interview with Capitol Hill insider Mike Lofgren is well worth the read. Even though I don’t read political nonfiction (kind of on principle), Lofgren almost makes me want to read his book. Almost.

Here is what I consider the most telling quote from the Lofgren interview:

“We can devise all the clever schemes imaginable to clean up politics and get money out of campaigns, but it won’t work until the American people collectively give up on certain fond illusions: the Horatio Alger myth, American Exceptionalism, and the whole mass of magical thinking that boils down to the belief that God loves America because we’re so virtuous, handsome, and smart, and that we, too, could win the lottery. Well, we’re not necessarily any of those things. The truth is that we lucked into adverse possession of a mostly empty continent in a temperate zone with lots of resources, and straddled east and west by two huge moats. We had firearms and resistance to smallpox, and the original owners didn’t. Virtue had very little to do with it.

“And now, thanks to globalization, our original advantages matter less. Go to certain areas of the once-industrial Midwest. Some of the places look like Dresden after the bombing. We are in a tough, competitive global environment, and we simply cannot afford to squander our potential by playing the world’s policeman abroad and running a healthcare/service economy at home where half the population empties the bedpans of the other half. And plutocracy is not a stable political basis for a successful nation-state. As Lincoln said, we must disenthrall ourselves.”

~Mike Lofgren
in “An Interview With Mike Lofgren, Author of ‘The Party Is Over'” by Leslie Thatcher

Now, before anyone is tempted to skewer me for quoting something so “unpatriotic,” please keep in mind where I’m coming from: I was raised in a country in which any hint patriotism was, at one point, a reason for ostracism if not incarceration. When I hear Americans complain about how Europeans — and Germans specifically — tend toward pacifism and lack of patriotism, my response is: “You can’t blame the Germans; we made them that way.” When the Allies occupy your country for 50 years and, at the beginning of the occupation, arrest you for showing a smidgen of love for your country, you tend to get patriotism trained out of you.

Thus, if anyone chooses to call me unpatriotic, so be it. But our definitions of patriotism probably differ quite wildly.

(And by the way: Lofgren’s comparisons of portions of the Midwest to bombed-out Dresden? Accurate.)

Anyway — Lofgren’s statements. I particularly appreciate his Lincoln reference; in today’s mass hysterical political climate, the voices of dead presidents seem to be the only ones of reason. That said, I don’t think any of us can know their true political or personal motivations in any of the “reasonable” things they said (that history chose to preserve; and, lest we forget by whom histoy is written…). Me, I’ve long believed that at least in the last 75 years, there’s no way any higher-up political candidate can rise to the rank of higher-up candidate without having compromised on morals, ethics, and personal principles.

Think your candidate is a moral, ethical person as compared to the other guy? Don’t count on it. Call me a jaded cynic (no, really, go ahead), but I cannot believe that anyone who aspires to political office can stick to their guns throughout a political race of any sort — whether it’s a race for presidency, senate, mayorship, or prom queen. Someone, somewhere, at some point is going to ask that candidate to sacrifice a principle for the sake of winning. And unless the candidate has dropped out of the race specifically in order to preserve that principle, you can pretty much bet on that candidate having given in to the compromise.

And so, we the People cling to our illusions and continue to throw money at these candidates who can never give us a straight answer as to what they’re doing with our money, what they’ve done with our money, or what they’re going to do with our money. They plump up their rhetoric, put on the nice suits and the high heels, and invite our cameras into their home so we can see what a lovely family life they lead. The compare us to the People of other nations and pat us on the backs for being so much more giving, loving, and compassionate than the rest of the world.

What we refuse to see is that the pats on the pack are really just pats on the head. We’ve gotten our wires so crossed and our nerve endings so numbed that we can’t feel the difference anymore.

Some of you might be trying to guess my political affiliation or leanings based on what I’m writing here. Well, I’ll take the guesswork out: I’m registered independent. Why? Well, honestly, because I think aligning myself Democrat or Republican would be silly. Forty years ago, many of my opinions would have gotten me labeled “Republican.” Today, many of those same opinions would get me labeled “Democrat.” Parties change, people. Staunchly affiliating myself with one would probably mean having to run like heck over to the other a couple of decades down the line. Who has enough energy for that kind of hither and yon? I have a life to live, and it’s more important to me than keeping up with the political Joneses.

And on top of that, neither of our two major parties reflects my worldview. What am I going to do come November 2012? I honestly have no idea. I am sick of being asked to choose between the lesser of two evils. I am sick of being required to choose between two people who have proven, over the course of their candidacy, that they are manipulators, liars, backbiters, backstabbers, people who ingratiate themselves, wasters of money, wasters of time, and wasters of energy. I have no interest in seeing either of them in the White House — and by “them,” I really mean any two Dem/Rep candidates who have been up for election since I started voting.

As Lofgren states in his interview, “One party goes for the cerebral cortex (with minimal success), while the other goes for the solar plexus.” If somebody, ANYBODY would put forward a candidate who could engage both brain and heart in a reasonable, unbiased, non-manipulative manner, as well as prove to me that they didn’t throw other people’s money on the fire of their own selfish ambition, I *might* be persuaded to listen.

As it is, anytime I see a political ad on my TV screen — “approved by” ANY candidate — I change the channel.

I’ve heard all of that drivel before.

THE SYSTEM IS BROKEN.

My Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

There is a children’s book which, sadly, I have never read. It is Judith Viorst’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

Although my English teacher mother and my bibliophile father kept me in English-language books whilst I was growing up in Germany, they seem to have missed this one somehow. I arrived at college in Oklahoma in 1996 to find fellow students referencing this little book all over the place. This book, and the film The Princess Bride. I didn’t know what anyone was talking about.

In the interim, I’ve seen The Princess Bride about a bajillion times — but I’ve never gotten around to getting my hands on Alexander’s story. For my purposes today, however, all I need to know about his story is the title and the cover art. I can extrapolate pretty well: Alexander’s day is starting out sucky and it’s just getting worse.

(On a side note, my fingers keep wanting to type “Aleksandr.” Apparently, I am Russian today. Yeah, baba.)

My Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Wednesday

Yesterday, I could relate all too well to Alexander’s story. It all started when I poured my coffee, zested it up with Truvia, and then opened the fridge — only to discover that there was no milk in any form. No cow, no goat, no almond.

I cannot drink coffee without some form of milk. My tastebuds haven’t the constitution for the purely black stuff.

So. No coffee for Courtney. If you know me at all, you know that this was pretty much THE harbinger of Doom.

The doomish trend continued when I settled in to work out our monthly budget, which I do at the start of every month.

NOTE TO SELF:

Never do a budget without having fortified self with coffee.

I shan’t divulge my budgeting details, ’cause that’s nunya. ; ) However, I will say that upon close review, the finances looked worse than I’d anticipated. In fact, I’d been anticipating good stuff. There wasn’t any. Just bad stuff. I slumped in my chair, rubbed my eyes with the heels of my hands, and plodded on.

Things got worse when I opened a bill, and it was medical, and it was unexpected, and it was for several hundred dollars, and I don’t think I should have to pay it. A phone call confirmed my fear that the only way to get out of it will be to haggle with the insurance company that hasn’t provided our insurance in almost a year.

The only haggling I enjoy is the haggling one does with European vendors who don’t speak one’s language.

Yes. I would rather stand in a dirty, open-air market and argue over trinkets at the top of my lungs with an irate vendor who is trying to cheat me and whose language I don’t speak than have a phone conversation in English with an insurance company.

But that’s beside the point.

The point is that by now, I was bawling in horrid frustration over my budget forms. This was followed in quick succession by slamming the back of my head into the corner of the kitchen cabinet and then poking myself in the eye with a fingernail.

My terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

In Which Things Get Better

Since Judith Viorst’s book was published in the more innocent, less snarky age of 1987, I’m assuming Aleksandr’s story has a happy ending and a Moral To The Story. (Word.)

My happy ending came in the form of a phone call from my mother. (How do mothers always know?) She said, “Daddy and Grandpa stopped at Sonic on their way home, and Daddy paged through a Gazette while they ate. Here’s what he found… .”

What Daddy found was an article in the Oklahoma Gazette. And the article was about my book.

As a placeholder for what you’re reading right now, I posted the following on my blog yesterday:

Odds bodkins and gadzooks! My novel is in today’s Oklahoma Gazette!

Read article “Write-hand view” by Danny Marroquin.

Cramazing!

 

Every Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day Has Its Silver Lining

And that, my dear inklings, is your Moral To The Story.

Are you having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day?

I’ve minimized a lot of my worries through witticism and sarcasm in this post. I won’t minimize yours. If you’re struggling with something more serious than budgeting woes and bumps on the head, my prayers and good thoughts are with you. I understand that there is darkness so deep, silver linings aren’t visible. (I’ve been there.)

But if you’re just having a bad day — what’s your silver lining?

It doesn’t have to be something like your first novel’s cover art in the newspaper. (Although that’s pretty freakin’ cool, lemme tell ya.) Your pick-me-up might be a literal ray of sunshine. A smile from a stranger. A call from a friend.

Or maybe it’s chocolate. I ate a lot of that yesterday, too. ; )

How do you turn a bad day around? Let’s talk.