Monthly Archives: August 2011

Calling in the Cavalry

I’m a Platform-Building Campaigner.  What, you might ask, is that, and why is it such a big deal?

It’s a big deal because writing is, by its nature, a solitary pursuit.  Unless you’re lucky enough to be a member of a writing team for someone like David Letterman, chances are you’re stuck by yourself, all alone, in an office or other converted space, pounding away on a computer or, what they used to call in the day, a “typewriter.”

It’s a big deal is because through this Campaign, I will become part of a growing community of writers, many of whom are in the same proverbial boat as me, i.e., a complete novice at this writing thing.  I also won’t have to waste valuable time making all my own mistakes…I can make just a few, while learning from the mistakes others have made before me.  It’s a good deal, especially since it’s extremely likely their mistakes aren’t nearly as fatal as mine usually are.

Like many (if not the majority) of writers out there, I’m not too keen on promoting my own work, or my own name, or my own brand (like I even know what a “brand” is).  I’d like to believe that once someone reads what I write, they’ll graciously deign to tell all their friends, relatives, acquaintances, and co-workers what a great writer I am and boy they should really check out my blog because it will change their lives for the better…forever.

Who says I don’t have a fantasy life?

Anyway, that isn’t gonna happen (unfortunately), so I’ve got to take my destiny—and my reputation—into my own, feeble, inexperienced hands.  Joining the Platform-Building Campaign will not only teach me what a “platform” is, it will, hopefully, go a long way towards improving my comfort level in blowing my own horn, and, just as importantly, the horns of all the other Campaigners out there.

Stay tuned…I’ll let you know how it’s going.  In the meantime, click on the Shield at the left to see what I’m talking about.

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Jamie Fraser or Indoor Plumbing?

I’m in book number five in a series of novels by Diana Gabaldon called Outlander, and I’ve become so totally involved in it that I fervently wish I was living in the 18th century, in the Scottish Highlands, surrounded by all that is contained therein; e.g., crags, heather, and—most especially—brawny Scotsmen dressed in plaid.  It has become so real to me, in fact, that when forced to emerge from the fantasy, I experience a painful pang of regret because I’m not in the Scottish Highlands during the 18th century.  Plus, to further complicate things, I’m involved in a one-sided love-ish-like-sorta thing with a figment of someone else’s imagination.

How kinky can you get?

My…er, our… hero is named James Alexander Malcolm McKenzie Fraser.  He’s a very tall (probably six-four at least), broad-shouldered Scot with long, thick, red hair that complements his ruddy complexion and high cheekbones.  He can handle himself in a fight, using both broadsword and dirk (which is—for you uninitiated lay-people out there—Scottish for “dagger”), and has a pain tolerance like you wouldn’t believe.  He is kind, loyal, and fiercely protective.  His sense of honor keeps him from breaking his word once he’s given it, no matter what the cost.  Plus—and this is the good part—he’s sexy AND sensitive (that’s how you know he’s not real).  In short, he’s perfect.  Oh, yeah, and he has a broad, Scottish accent.  I know that, because he says things like, “I dinna ken that man, did ye?” (or words to that effect).

I’ve never experienced anything like this.  I’ve been wrapped up in books before, not wanting to put them down, but not to the extent that I needed a reality check.   

And the reality is, Jamie and I can never be together.  Period.  It wouldn’t work.  And not just because I’m real and he’s not (which in most cases is a deal-breaker).  We could never be together because I wouldn’t last five minutes in 18th century Scotland—sexy, kilt-clad Scot notwithstanding.  This fact became glaringly obvious to me last week when I locked myself out of my house. 

I won’t bore you with the details, but when I pressed down on the door handle, my life flashed before my eyes.  No, I thought…it’s just stuck.  I had my twelve-year-old grandson with me, and while I was still pondering why the door wouldn’t open, he was having his own little conniption, stomping around the garage, waving his hands around as if beng swarmed by bees.

 “I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU DON’T HAVE A KEY!  WHY DON’T YOU HAVE A KEY?!” he ranted. 

Then, when I told him I didn’t have my phone either, I thought his adolescent brain was going to explode. 

“WHAT??  YOU DON’T HAVE YOUR PHONE, EITHER??  I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU FORGOT YOUR PHONE!” 

I know…I’m not fit.  I didn’t have my house key and I didn’t have my phone.  We were doomed. 

I allowed myself a few moments of blank mindlessness (as if I could do anything else).  I was stunned.  This wasn’t happening.  I NEVER get locked out!  It was 106° in the shade and we were stuck out outside…oh, yeah, we were so-o-o-o-o doomed.

I collapsed into a chair on the back patio and tried to pull myself together…I told myself not to panic, to stay calm, be brave.  In spite of my internal pep talk, I started to sweat, both physically and mentally.  My head started aching and I began to get thirsty, all the while imagining us dying of heat-stroke (or boredom) before help arrived.  

We did eventually get in, you’ll be glad to know, but not before I was forced to face the unvarnished truth:  Jamie Fraser could never protect me from me.  How could I possibly deal with marauding clansmen and English spies if I can’t face, with courage and fortitude, getting locked out of my own house?

And, anyway, after further thought and consideration, I’ve decided that I much prefer indoor plumbing and stretch pants to chamber pots and corsets.

Sexy, kilt-clad Scot notwithstanding.

Home is Where the $ Is

My husband ducks every time he hears me say, “you know what we ought to do?” because he knows that “we” is the royal “we,” meaning, “you.”  The man’s not stupid, unfortunately.  After thirty years of marriage, I think he’s finally caught on…he no longer takes me with him when he picks up nuts, or bolts, or fertilizer (voluntarily, anyway), because I’ll want to look at bathroom vanities, or medicine cabinets, or countertops.  We’ve lived in our house for sixteen years, and theoretically, it’s time to consider remodeling, or at a minimum, updating.  All the experts say so.  (You know, I quote experts all the time, but I’ve never actually met one.  For all I know, they’re just part of a larger Propaganda Program designed to keep the masses in check, of which I am but one mass).

Last year, we replaced the oven because the door wouldn’t stay shut (which was problematic, even if I don’t cook) and just a couple days go, we installed a new dishwasher because the old one was making noises suspiciously like those encountered on the deck of an aircraft carrier.  We’ve recently re-painted, re-carpeted, and re-roofed.  But, up to now, every change we’ve made has been in the name of maintenance.  What I’ve been battling against for the last decade or so is pressure from unseen (and no doubt, internal) forces to upgrade and improve the already more-than-adequate amenities in my home, just for the sake of upgrading and improving.  And, being the self-aware savant that I am, I have finally asked myself the obvious:  “What the #@$! for?”

There seems to be an unspoken competition in our society that pits the Haves against the Have-Nots against the I-Have-But-I-Want-Mores, and I sometimes find myself right in the middle of it, yearning for bigger and better.  Why?

Because society tells me (and I may be the only one hearing voices) that I’m foolish, unless I look at my home and see a real estate investment.  My mom and dad grew up during the Depression and WWII.  Back then, owning your own house was considered part of the American Dream.  It meant roots; always having a roof over your head, and a place to raise a family.  They didn’t think twice about marking up the door jamb between the kitchen and living room with tick marks that provided a lasting record of how tall the children grew from year to year, because they were in it for life.  It didn’t occur to them to worry about how much those tick marks might affect a resale.   It was a memory-maker.  It was their Home.

House ownership is hailed as one of those all-important financial steps one needs to take to provide wealth and security down the road.  It’s an investment, the experts say.  A tax break.  As the single largest asset on our personal financial statement, it behooves us to use it wisely.  According to that credo, we’ve got to worry about maintaining its market value.  When we paint, the esoteric tastes of civilization as a whole must be taken into consideration.  We can’t put up a carport because it won’t blend in with the landscape, and we can’t put a Slip ‘n Slide on the landscape because the grass’ll die.  We’ve got to protect it, nurture it, and make it grow, so, when we sell it at the peak of the residential real estate market (which, if we are very wise—not to mention clairvoyant—we will), we can reap enough profit to put down on a bigger and better house, further enhancing our net worth.  And, updating the kitchen or bath will help us do that, the experts say.  In short, using our house as our home severely undercuts it’s potential to secure our financial future.

Plus, the bigger the house, the higher up on the social strata one appears to be, which, come to think of it, may just be at the root of it all.  A house is a status symbol…it tells others who we are, and the bigger it is, the wiser, the more popular, and well-to-do we look.  It tells the world that we are A Force To Be Reckoned With.

Well, bullpuckey.

I’ve decided that enough is good enough.  My house is my home.  I’ll have to find something else to prop up my ego and self-esteem, not to mention elicit the envy and veneration of all.

But, to do that, I’ll need a bigger closet.

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