Wednesday, August 31, 2011

On "Slow Foreplay on a Fast Bus"

The other day I had a chance to read a wonderful short story by my friend Will Bevis, entitled Slow Foreplay on a Fast Bus, and because of that I'm using today's blog as an 'open letter' to him. Once you've had a chance to read this post, check it out-- or heck, take a moment now, and download the story from Amazon.com. It's only 0.99 and well worth it.

Especially if you're a parent, or have ever been a teenager.



Dear Will,

It isn't often I read a story that resounds with me on so many different levels. Within the first few words I was hooked--sitting right there beside you on that uncomfortable bus seat. By the time the kids pulled out the blankets I'd remembered a similar bus ride during the late 90's.

My father should have written down what he'd learned that trip.

I was a sophomore in high school that year, and an active member of my school's NJROTC. A "Navy Brat" by birth it was a logical activity for me to be drawn to.

At the time, my father was my hero, and I wanted nothing more than for him to come with us on that twelve hour round trip from my hometown to Roseburg, Oregon.

He too sat in the back of the bus, away from all the other parents who congregated in the front chattering and gossiping like their children.

I chose to sit with him, as did several of the guys.

Looking back on it now, I can only imagine what he must have been thinking.

Everyone on that bus knew they knew everything they'd need for life. They were all 'adults' in their minds. "Grown up" with no need to learn anything more or listen to the advice of people like my father.

I was one of them.

Less than an hour into the ride, blankets were out, and the co-ed seating arrangements were obviously very...cozy.

Making out wasn't as obvious as it was on your trip, because we had two very intimidating Retired Navy Officers on board with us-- and they had eyes like hawks.

They were our instructors, and by the end of my Senior year were more like family to me than my actual family.

I still have nothing but respect for them.

Over a decade later, and I shudder to imagine what my father saw and thought that cold, wet winter day.It also makes me worry about what I'm going to see in nine years when my daughter is a pre-teen. I can guarantee I will be on all her trips, near enough to keep a hawk eye on her.

Not because I don't trust her, but because I do.

I trust her to be curious.

I trust her to push her boundaries and to want to experience all life has to offer.

I also trust her to be young, and naive, because that is how kids are supposed to be. They're not supposed to be adults in pre-pubescent bodies.

Unfortunately, I also trust her to  be too much like her momma was at that age.

As her parent, it is my responsibility to make sure my daughter isn't under a blanket with some hormone crazy boy and his roaming hands-- and that responsibility won't fall to some inattentive parent sitting at the front of the bus.

Thank you so very much, Will, for not only reminding me of a time when my father was the greatest person in my life. For reminding me of a memory I don't pull out and dust off enough, and for reminding me that my job is far from over. My daughter might not yet be four, but it's only a matter of time before she's on a long distance bus ride with her classmates...

And I intend to be on it.


R.S.


Seriously, fellow blog readers. Check this guy out. He tells it like it is, and if you're anything like me, you'll be laughing while at the same time scared to death about what he'll reveal next.

Check him out on Twitter too. @willbevis







Tuesday, August 30, 2011

On "This"

What's tickling my Muse? "This" By Darius Rucker


Today's post goes along with one I posted earlier.

"For every stoplight I didn't make,
Every chance I did or didn't take.
All the nights I went too far,
All the girls that broke my heart.
All the doors that had to close,
All the things I knew but I didn't know.
Thank God for all I missed,
Cause it led me here to this."
                                                                                             --This--

We've all made decisions in our lives. Made one choice over the other. I know I have. I made the decision to marry my husband, made the decision to follow him from duty station to duty station, zig zagging across not only the Continental U.S., but Hawaii as well. 

I chose to give up the party life, chose to go back to school, and chose to finally follow the dreams I set aside so long ago. 

Every decision I've made has led me right here. 

To this.

I don't regret a thing.

Isn't music great? 


R.S.

Monday, August 29, 2011

On A Quick 5x5 Story

The other day I read a blog post from John Avery about the 5x5 challenge.

Writing a short story in 25 words. Five sentences with five words each.  It's a pretty cool exercise, and is both fun and rewarding...though not as easy as a person might think. Some of my 'stories' were better than others.


Here is one of them:

Lighthouse


"I see the light, sir!"
The captain lifted his scope.
"Move through the fog, sailor."
The ship chugged and roared.
Then crashed into the rocks.


Try your own and post it in the comments section. I'd love to read them. :)


R.S. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

On A Day of Relaxation

Yesterday, my BFF was here visiting from the Pacific Northwest, and for the first time in what seems like ages we spent a day relaxing...sort of.

We didn't sit around in our pajamas or anything. In fact, we were out of the house by 0845 and on our way in Palm Springs.

Our day was spent watching movies, eating chocolate and drinking beer. What had originally been slated as a day of wine tasting changed into a day of beer tasting.

We're flexible.

It was an exciting and fun day all around.

Can I just say, Collin Farrell made a gorgeous vampire...up until he grew shark teeth...

Yes, this is sexy...until he unhinges his jaw...












...and Sam Adams Cherry Wheat beer is mighty tasty...




Hope you've had a wonderful and relaxing weekend.

Did you do anything exciting?


R.S.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

On King Furry the Ferocious

King Furry when he was much, much, smaller.
The other night King Furry and I were sitting outside, enjoying the 'cool' (read as: 98 degrees) weather and a Corona with our neighbors and their dog, Hank, when a man walked across both of our yards in the dark.

Now, anyone who has met King Furry would tell you he's as ferocious as a dust bunny. Only this night, he stood straight and tall in front of me, pinned the guy with his unblinking stare, and growled low in his throat.

What a good boy. The Marine would be so proud.

Friday, August 26, 2011

On Showing Love Through Technology

Once again my husband, the Marine is away from home.

It's life as usual in our house.

The Niece goes to work, the Munchkin goes to school, King Furry chases his tail and barks at the overweight neighbor dog, and Sumo Kitty hides under the bed.

I of course have scheduled myself for a massage to rid myself some of the additional stress of having the Marine away from home.

Again.

These times, when he's gone away from us and I can't hear his voice or feel him next to me in bed, I'm thankful for technology.

While he's away, my cell is never further away than right beside me--not that it's usually far from me, but when he's gone it's a whole different ball game.

The other day, after dropping the Munchkin at school and the Niece at work I received a text message from the Marine. "Good morning my love. How are you? I love you."

I admit, my heart did a little double thump.

I love that man.

It's nice knowing that while he's 'out there somewhere' doing 'whatever' to 'whomever' he's thinking of me.

What does your spouse, significant other, imaginary friend, do that makes your heart skip a beat?

R.S.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

On Keeping the Music Playing

What's my muse right now? "In Orbit" by Derek Flynn.




Music has always been a part of my day. At least since I received my first boombox and disc man with the cables to connect them together.

I still remember that Christmas, and the two CD's I unwrapped from my sisters.



Amy Grant: Heart in Motion and Wilson Phillips. 


Though I can't recall a particular instance where a specific song or lyric changed my course in life, like "Wall of Death" did for Derek Flynn. (You can read about it on his blog, Rant, with Occasional Music.) It has gotten me through everything I've experienced in life.

Much like Ally McBeal, I've always heard a soundtrack playing in my head as I move through each day.

Like everything else about me, there is little rhyme or reason to the style of music.

It's eclectic.

Sometimes I'll be country--usually, I'm country. Once in a while I'll be rap, but that is a rare, rare moment. For a series of years between junior high and high school when I was my angriest I listened to nothing but grunge, alternative, and hardcore rock.

I looked just like every other teen trying to be unique (only I really was, because I was a natural redhead--and I hated it more than anything.) with my baggy ripped pants, sloppy graphic tees, and worn Vans.  It didn't matter that I couldn't skateboard and had no desire to learn.

My style reflected who I was and what I felt.

Did I mention I was angry?

There was a period of time during my mid twenties where the only music I listened to was music found in clubs and bars. Normally that listening was accompanied by dancing and drinking into the wee hours of the morning. Luckily, I survived them with little damage to my internal organs, my body, or my life itself.

Even today, years after I left the party scene my heartbeat accelerates and I get the urge to shake my ass and hips whenever the songs I clung to during those times come on. Sometimes, the scent of fast flowing alcohol and cologne covered sweat seems to waft from the speakers.

I'm pretty sure it's just my imagination--my sensory memory--kicking in.

Or my stereo is secretly scratch and sniff.

That could be interesting, but couldn't it smell like something more tasty? Maybe chocolate cake or cookies?

Regardless of what music tickles my fancy at any given time, it's always there.

A part of me.

As long as there is music playing, life will continue and nothing will be impossible.

So, DJ, keep that music playing.

Are there particular songs or types of music that help you get through things in life? Or changed your life?

I'd love to hear about it.

R.S.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

On King Furry and the Bell

When the Marine and I first got our dog, King Furry he was a tiny thing barely old enough to be away from his mother.

I'm not particularly fond of owning animals, though we always have at least one in our house. I like them well enough, but since having the Munchkin I find them to be more work than pleasure.

The Marine has wanted a dog forever, and I always tell him no. I'm good at that. I'm also good at ignoring the cute puppies, kitties, etc that stare at me from shop windows and cardboard boxes.

Ten months ago I was in emotional upheaval. The Marine was deploying to Afghanistan, I was in school, the Munchkin was already chomping at the bit to show her independence (did I mention she had just turned three?), and less than a week before I was going to be left alone to deal with life-- we got a puppy.

What the hell was I thinking?

Apparently during my emotional overload, I'd lost my mind.

The first thing I did was crate and potty train our unknown Heinz-fifty-seven mixed breed. Then I enrolled him in obedience school. He passed both the AKC Smart Puppy and Canine Good Citizen training with flying colors--he is after all the dumbest smart dog ever.

During his first stage of training, the trainer gave me a bell to hang on the door for him to use whenever he needed to be let outside. Like with everything else he mastered the bell and routinely notifies myself and the Marine whenever he needs to make use of his facilities.

However, he's done one better.

Whenever he wants to go outside to bark at the overweight neighbor dog, or entertain himself by freaking out at the young neighbors to the side of us--he rings the bell. Then he'll walk back around the corner and stare at us intently trying to convince us to take him out.

This trick worked a few times before we got smart.

On a normal day it goes something like this:

KF: Walks over to the door and rings the bell

ME: Not now. You were just outside five minutes ago. You don't need to go again.

KF: Walks out and stares at me.

ME: No. Go to your kennel.

KF: Moseys to his kennel for half a second and slinks back to the door to ring the bell.

ME: The bell is for when you need to go to the bathroom! Not bark at the overweight neighbor dog! You aren't going outside!

KF: He slinks back into my line of sight and stares at me some more...and the vicious cycle continues.

I wonder how long until he finds a new way to get what he wants.


R.S.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

On "Dear Mr. President": A Rant

The other day after I'd dropped the Niece off at work I was heading sedately down the twenty-five mile an hour streets of the base, and I heard the song "Dear Mr. President".

It isn't the first time I've heard the song, it is after all by Pink and has a permanent spot on at least one of my playlists. It's always held a spot in my heart not only as a Marine Wife, but as a person who has been involved in military life since I was born.

I've been a fan of Pink's for years, and I've seen her in concert. When she wrote and released this song, it raised my respect for her even more.

When I listened that day, a specific set of lyrics caught my attention.

"Let me tell you 'bout hard work
Minimum wage, with a baby on the way
Let me tell you 'bout hard work
Rebuilding your house after the bombs took them away
Let me tell you 'bout hard work
Building your bed out of a  cardboard box
Hard work
Hard work
You don't know nothing 'bout hard work
Hard work
Hard work"

I understand the point behind the song, and I understand the message she's delivering.

It's a good message. 

It is, but it got me thinking. 

Should it be delivered by a person who has an approximate net worth of $70 million?

I find it incongruous at best when singers and actors speak of their understanding of the working class. Of poverty and doing without. 

Could they have come from the slums?

Yes.

Could they have at one point been poor kids from Urban America?

Yes. 

Have they been since Clinton was President?

No.

Am I glad she sang about it, regardless if she actually has any more experience with it than Bush Jr did?

Hell Yes.

Why?

How else will the message get out? 

I could write the same message on my blog, and maybe a hundred people would see it. She sings it in a song and thousands of people, including the President will know about it.

Is that fair?

No. 

It's complete B.S.

We have a National Debt in the Trillions, poor people line the streets in cities big and small, our country borrows money from China-- who will forever have us by the short hairs, and people who do little more than entertain us--both on stage and with their actions in the media--make millions of dollars a year.

The President might not understand hard work, but do they?

Really?

They don't worry about where their next meals come from, or whether they'll be able to afford their electric bill. 

They're worried about what designer gown they're going to wear to the current awards show, what they'll drink at the next launch party, and whether or not their newest album will go platinum. 

I'm sure they're wonderful people, humanitarians even... aiding the less fortunate in foreign countries-- but we're swimming in debt, and Congress is talking about cutting the military and their benefits.

Will Congress cut their own pay and benefits?

No, they'll continue collecting their six figure yearly salaries. 

How is this right?

How does this show an understanding of hard work, surviving and providing for your family on minimum wage, or any of the other things the uber rich and famous sing about?

Jennifer Lopez might still 'remember where she came from' and consider herself 'Jenny from the block', but she's looking through a pair of rose colored glasses that cost more than most people's mortgages. 

/Rant

Thoughts?

R.S.




Monday, August 22, 2011

On the 'Big Poopy'

There are several well known 'joys' of parenting. They're the ones everybody warns you about before you have children, or when they first find out you're pregnant. They're also the ones asked about during the first year of your child's life.


  • Late night and early morning feedings.
  • Changing diapers
  • Burp up or formula spew
  • Blow out diapers
  • Feeding solids--or mush as the case may be.
What nobody thinks to mention comes later in a child's life. 

It comes after potty training. When your child is so proud of their accomplishments they want to share them with you. It loud, excited detail.

TM: "Momma, did you hear that Big splash from the Big poopy?!"

Me: "I sure did."

TM: "Come check my Big poopy, Momma!"

Me: *Sigh* "I'm coming."

My daughter is really going to love me when she gets older and realizes I share these stories with the world. 

Do you have any funny stories of parenting?


R.S.



Sunday, August 21, 2011

On a Guest Post From Melanie Macek


First, I want to thank RS Emeline for the opportunity to guest blog. Thanks! I’ve only been blogging for approximately three months, so this is still new for me.

Left to choose my own topic, I was lost. So many things I wanted to talk about with you all. What tipped the scales was a Facebook conversation with my cousin’s husband, who is also an aspiring writing. He sent me a quote about internal editors. And since I’m working on an extensive edit of my manuscript, the topic seemed fitting.

I didn’t even know I had an internal editor until I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time last year. A motivational video from the great people that run the organization told us to tie up our editors, put them in a corner and kick them if we must; but whatever you do, don’t listen to them and just write.

HA! I said to myself. Just write. Easy for them. There was no possible way anything decent was going to come out of my brain, pass through my fingertips and onto the screen. Once I finally let go of my self-doubts and reservations (somewhere around day 9), magic happened.

I just wrote. I wrote furiously. I wrote until my eyes crossed, my head pounded and there was no possible way to get a decent 5 hours of sleep before work the next day. 

My husband now dreads the month of November because he knows I will be glued to my computer, furiously pounding away on the keys and spending, as he says, his hard earned money on enough caffeine to get me through the month. 

Chocolate or coffee work equally well. Hot chocolate, even better.

So why, do you ask, is this important? Because all of us face some sort of detractor, an editor of sorts trying to conform our dream to their mold. Whether it be ourselves, a family member, co-workers or even some random person; we can’t let them “edit” us away from our desire.

If your desire is to write, then write. Even if you write on a napkin during your lunch break. Tuck it into your pocket or purse and save that idea for later. Just don’t forget to take it out of your pocket before the clothes hit the washer, though.

Over the last nine months, I’ve found it easier to let go and write. One thing that helped was I owned the tag, writer.

When someone asks if I’m published (as if not being published doesn’t make you a writer), I answer “not yet”. Because I will be. Maybe not as soon as I would like or how I anticipate, but it's a goal.

 Is that the only reason I write? Nope. Once I let go and took myself seriously as a writer, it has become my passion. There’s really no stopping it now.

To all of you aspiring toward your dreams; turn off the internal and external editors. You might be amazed at the results.

Thanks again, RS Emeline for letting me sit in on your blog today. I’ve enjoyed it.


Melanie

Melanie Macek is an active member of Romance Writers of America. She recently completed her creative writing degree and is actively pursuing being published, though love of writing is the driving force to write. Secretary by day; at night, she can be found at the keyboard when not spending time with her husband planning their next vacation (great book ideas everywhere!) 

You can contact her on her blog at www.featherpenstartandreams.wordpress.com and on Twitter @MelDFMac  


Saturday, August 20, 2011

On the Munchkin and Niece

Not too long ago, the Niece moved in with the Marine, the Munchkin, Sumo Kitty, King Furry, and me. 

You can imagine, we have quite a full house--one full of love, understanding, and support.

I'm reminded just how lucky I am every time I see the Munchkin smile. 

She loves the Niece, and the feeling is mutual. 

The line between cousins has blurred into sisters. 

There is a special bond between the two of them. One seldom seen in my life, and knowing is nothing compared to seeing it in action. 

The Niece is eighteen, works a full time job, helps around the house, understands when I'm stressed to the breaking point, and willingly spends time with the Munchkin. 

If she's too tired to play Dinosaur, or Knights and Dragon--inevitably being the fire breathing dragon, she'll sit at the dining room table and do art projects with the Munchkin. 

The other day, they made spiders, because that's what my daughter wanted. 

It didn't matter that all the Niece wanted to do was relax and maybe watch some TV, she'd promised to spend time with my daughter, and she did it.

These moments are going to be the happy times the Munchkin remembers when she's a teenager hating the world--and without a doubt her mother. 

I'll be remembering them too, and always be grateful to the Niece for loving not only me, but the most important person in my life too.

Was there a special person in your life growing up? Or someone in your child's life? I'd love to know.

R.S. 


Friday, August 19, 2011

On 'Kid'napping

I've often wondered about the correct term for the abduction of adults, because the term kidnapping doesn't seem right. 

They're not kids after all. They're adults.

Then again, 'adultnapping' doesn't have the same ring to it. 

This isn't something I dwell on, but it was brought back to the forefront of my mind the other night. 

The Niece and I were watching Missing on Netflix--it's based on the series of novels, 1-800-Missing, by Meg Cabot-- and in one of the episodes a girl's parents disappear. 

When the FBI is talking to the girl, she said something to the effect, "I can't believe my parents were kidnapped," and it caught me up short.

Which led to this post.

And, I'm once again wondering... 

Can adults really be kidnapped or is that term solely for abducted children?



Thoughts? 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

On Anger

 What's tickling my ears: The Offspring-- Self Esteem


I'm a pretty mellow person.

 I don't break things, or call people names.

 I don't throw tantrums, because yes, even adults throw tantrums--I've seen many a grown man rival the Munchkin when 'upset'.

It takes a lot for me to get riled, but it hasn't always been that way.

When I was younger I always knew I'd inherited a few things from my father: My grey eyes, the inability to deal with the stupidity of most people, and a temper to rival a dictator of a third world country.

 It's possible at one time or another in my youth, we'd both been confused with Hitler when angry.

Time, education, self control, and emotional growth--or maybe just distance from my hometown-- have calmed my angry impulses, and have kept me out of the arms of anger management classes.

In fact: I hate fighting, and I hate altercations.

I'm not abusive, nor am I interested in making people feel small.

Tears are my weakness.

Not mine--others'.

They tear me apart.

But, I digress.

Even though I don't get angry often, there are times when enough becomes enough, and the mellow woman meekly recedes. The temper we spoke of earlier fights to the surface, and all those hard earned years of control strain to a breaking point.

It's days like that--like today-- when I feel gross inside.

If you've ever seen the movie Fern Gully the Last Rainforest you'll remember the antagonist was an oily, gloopy, shapeless mass of evil slithering around.

His name was Nexus, and I'm pretty sure he's renting space inside my body.

Probably not something an author looking to get herself published should be setting free on the internet, but it's who I am.

I'm a real person.

I have feelings, emotions, and plenty of issues to open a Magazine company.

I'm not usually good with sharing my feelings, and by the time I'm ready to, Nexus is redecorating my heart and soul-- and it's possible black tendrils are snaking out from around me.

What might be worse than having a nasty, oily villain co-oping my body...

Knowing even the men I've created in my worlds aren't good enough to get me free.

Have no fear. Tomorrow will be another day, Nexus will be evicted, his keys confiscated, and his mug shot hung up in the security office.

I'll be happy again, the streets will be made of gumdrops and lined with lollipop trees, and the sky will be dotted with marshmallow clouds... and men--real and fictional will no longer be on my shit list.






What do you do to combat your own Nexus?
Would love to hear.

R.S.








Wednesday, August 17, 2011

On a 20S Blog Swap with Neollectual


Recently I joined a blogging group, 20 Something Bloggers, and today I'm participating in their Blog Swap #9. 

We're given a swap partner, a theme, and a swap date.

I had the privilege of swapping space with someone who is as different from me as day and night--and I couldn't be happier. After reading this blog post, please take the time to check out Beyond the Horizon

You won't regret it. 

Plus, my daily blog post is there. How could you resist? 

Now, without further Ado... 



As I counted the days I have before summer officially ends in school and the Fall semester starts, I was back to what I do towards the end of every semester - wishing there was a time machine that would swoop me back, to June this time. I made a mental note to further dwell upon the time-machine nonsense with a fellow graduate student, in Physics. I've always loved arguments. I again made a mental note to fix my time management just so I do not feel the need for a time machine in future. I almost did that in a dream the other night.

Summer started out with three broad things to achieve.  I had to finally finish off my Master's thesis and graduate. I wanted to finish everything I had to do in school by the end of July so I could take a month's break in August- because the second thing that weighed heavily on my mind was the month of Ramadan in the Islamic calendar. It was going to be in August this year.

I would be fasting this August - staying away from all food, water and sexual activity (well, the last one doesn't really apply to me) from dawn to dusk every day. I would perform special longer prayers every night apart from the normal short five prayers at different times of the day. I would also be waking up at 4am everyday for special prayers in the last part of the night and for some food before the break of dawn. I would give extra alms; help the sick, poor, needy, hungry and homeless. I was going to make an extra effort to abstain from things like lying, backbiting in someone's absence, or hurting others' feelings. I would also be volunteering for a homeless women’s shelter. I was obviously not going to be at my productive best with academics.

The first half of August after July is past me, and I am in the middle of Ramadan.  I am still struggling with my thesis which is why I now want to use this time machine.   I am sweating it out to complete my work by the end of this month, along with the usual distractions.

The third worry I had was to figure out what I was going to do after graduation. I had to get a job, or decide to continue for a PhD. My advisor wants me to go for the latter, and he still thinks I will. It was an option I was seriously considering before my parents shot it down.

I got a break when a large company flew me to Seattle for job interviews. The three weeks after I returned were times when I felt suicidal for not getting my dream job. I was amply helped by a friend who pointed out how the parking garage nearby was high enough. 

I did manage to get two other unimpressive offers later on, and this is no longer my primary concern – graduating and making myself available for work is.  

Over this summer, I may not have made the same number of hiking trips as in the previous years, and I may not have pursued my other hobbies as much, but this summer is going to define the rest of my life like none other.

I am at the climax of a great spiritual experience and a giant leap from a life in school to the real big bad world. By its end, it would be the most epic summer I have had, for I would have conquered my greatest challenge to date. 

I would be a Computer Scientist, and a better human being, I hope.
-Neollectual

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

On Guest Blog from J.T. Selene

Recently, I've been weighing the ideal childhood. I've thought about my life as a child, and the lives of the children around me. What would make their life better? What would make it worse? Will they look back and regret their youthful years? Or will those years be filled with laughter and joy? Beyond those musings, I suppose my greatest curiosity is what I would consider to be a good childhood.

As a child, my life's watermarks were far from happy times. They were made of hardships, sadness, and anger. They were made of emotions no child should have to deal with. The watermarks were made of life-long battles and annual tears. Superficially, I would say this is no childhood anyone should experience. I would say it was a childhood made to drag down the weak and build up the strong. The after-affects of such a childhood would depend on the individual.

When I weigh these difficulties of the past, I also consider the good moments—the laughter, the smiles, the giggles, and the tickles. I think about those who made a difference in my life. In one way or another, they caused some of the happiness I experienced. When I weigh the difficulties, I meditate on the easy moments. I become conscious in the good and the bad. I needed both of these to make it to the present.

Knowing this, I ask myself, was it a good childhood? Was it the best I could have had?

To the first question, I answer “no”. It was not a good childhood. In fact, it was far from “good”. It was borderline “bad”. There were cherish-able memories;but for every positive, there were two negatives. On the same note, however, it was the best I could have had. Without it, I would never be strong. I would have never beaten my na├»ve idealism. If I had a different childhood, my current life would have changed as well. If I had the “ideal” childhood, I may not be my ideal individual.

In this way, I consider a good childhood to be one that creates a beneficial individual to society and to oneself. Without the downfalls, there would be no lessons learned. Without the perks, there would be no motivation through the hardships. They go hand-in-hand, these “good times” and “bad times”. They create a childhood, and they create the person.

Whether or not there are regrets in the end is up to the individual. It's based on outlooks and worldviews. Things could be better, but they could also be worse. We are where we are. If things were meant to be different, maybe they would be. If we want to be in another spot in life, it is up to us to get us there. It has very little to do with childhood and very much to do with self-creation and motivation.

I believe our childhoods are our building blocks, but we are our foundation. In the end, “we” is all “we” have. I am all I have. You are all you have. Everyone dies alone and lives together. Our childhood merely gives us the start. It is up to us to finish.  




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Catch J.T. Selene blogging at Opinions, Thoughts, and Shot Glasses. She blogs about life, family, and her observations on the human condition. If you stick around a while, you might even be offered a drink. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

On Fight Scenes and Death

The first things I ever wrote were of darkness and death. Fights filled with smoke, sweat and blood. Terror and torture so detailed the reader was sucked in and had to fight beside the hero to get back out.

The hero always overcomes the circumstances, no matter how brutal and mentally damaging it could be.

After all, it's fiction. If it were real life I wouldn't want any part of it.

Some days the words of violence and battle flow like a river after the Spring Thaw.

Today is not one of those days.

The last week my stream has been more like a wash in the desert. Dry and cracking.

I'm two chapters from the end of the first book in my YA series. The same one I thought I'd finished a month ago, only to decide it had ended too abruptly. I guess that's why it's best to put it away for a while and come back to it later.

At the rate I'm going, I'll still be two chapters from the end when the Munchkin turns four..and I turn... well, I'll get older too.

This is unacceptable to me.

I live for the violence--interspersed with happiness, love, and sexual tension--but over all, I look forward to writing the battles.

Power amazes me.

Strength enthralls me.

I blame it on being married to a Marine--my very own Super Hero.

I've never been to a war zone, but I can write a scene like I'd been next to a Marine on the front lines.

Smoke burns my eyes as it blows on the wind, the copper scent of spilled blood clogs my sinuses, and the gritty  taste of desert sand fills my mouth. Gunfire rings in my ears, and the weight of my gear drags at my exhausted body.

Adrenaline is the only thing keeping me awake.

So, why then, can I not write the final battle of the book? It's not even a huge battle just the conclusion to the minor problems of the first part of the story.

It should be a cake walk.

It isn't.

Does anyone have any suggestions? I'm open to them.

What do you most enjoy writing? What do you do when the words don't come?

R.S.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

On the Mysterious Lake Tahoe

July 10, 1994, a little over seventeen years ago, a man disappeared into the depths of Lake Tahoe while diving with a friend.

On July 27, 2011 his body was finally recovered.

You can read the article here.

Now that you've read the article, let's talk.

First, how wonderful--okay, maybe not wonderful, but at least there will be closure for Donald Christopher Widecker's family. After nearly two decades they'll finally be able to lay their loved one to rest.

Second, Holy Hell! Do you know what kind of secrets a lake like Tahoe could hold? A wealth of stories are lurking just below its frigid surface. Bodies, Treasures, Lost Cities... Aliens? The possibilities are endless.

I stumble upon articles like this, and my creative juices start flowing.

Because this is still so new, and the family's wounds are freshly re-opened, I don't feel it would be respectful to use a brainstorming session on who, what, and why, in regards to Mr. Widecker, but suffice it to say, I don't believe Lake Tahoe has released all her secrets yet.

May the inquiry into Mr. Widecker's death be quick and as painless for the family as possible.

Lake Tahoe... you and I have to talk.

Soon.

Thoughts?

R.S.

Friday, August 12, 2011

On A Blog Hop

If you've been following my blogs at all, you know I'm trying to get as much exposure as possible before I publish my first novel.

There are a million ways to get your name on the internet.

Some are definitely better than others.

I'm pretty sure I could get my name out there if I did some crazy wacky thing like Lindsey Lohan, or one of the Kardashian sisters, or maybe Paris Hilton... but I think I'd rather stay out of jail and keep my private areas...well, private.

Pretty sure my husband will thank me for my discretion.

Instead I'm going to participate in a few randomly chosen blog swaps, and see how they work for me.

Have you done any recently? Any you suggest?

Without further ado... the blog swap!




On Working

The other day someone I was once close to told me I knew nothing about working, because I hadn't worked in over four years.

She smiled when she said this, like it was just two friends talking.

Like she wasn't cutting down what I do.

I beg to differ.

My schedule doesn't follow a typical nine to five, Monday through Friday work week. It also doesn't fit into a swing schedule.

I work twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and slave down many different paths.

Unlike her work history, I don't get vacations, holidays, or time off.

I'm on call all the time.

I also don't do just one thing. I'm not just a waitress. I'm not just a manager. I'm not just an office drone. I'm not just a taxi driver, legal adviser, or psychologist.

I'm that and so much more.

I'm sure by now you're probably assuming I'm speaking of motherhood.

You'd be wrong.

Yes, I'm a stay at home mom, and that too is a full time job. One I'm proud of, and work hard at. It also encompasses everything I just listed, and more.

It's still not what I'm referring to though.

No, I'm a writer.

Every minute of my day I'm at work.

My characters don't sleep, and often times they keep me from sleeping as well.

After all, who needs sleep?

Whenever I meet a person, I'm working.

Whenever I read a book, I'm working.

Whenever I see another tragedy in the news, I'm working.

Everything I write about, I learn.

Each character has their own life, their own problems, and their own knowledge.

Because I create them, and I'm responsible for them, I have all that too.

Writing isn't easy.

It's not a cake walk, and it's not for the weak.

Being told I don't understand the working world, because I haven't been in it in four years is crass and uneducated.

Writing is work, and it's just as much a business as any restaurant, hospital, or office.

The major difference? As a writer I'm responsible for all of it. I don't have someone cutting me a paycheck each week, or notifying the IRS of my income.

I don't come home after a hard day and shut it all off.

I don't get time off for special events, or because it's required.

Imagination doesn't get days off, and neither does commitment or drive.

Here's a tip: If writing isn't working... well, you can put it on your tray, and serve it.



Thoughts?

R.S.




Thursday, August 11, 2011

On Choreographed Dances in Real Life

I find myself wondering what real life would be like if everyone knew the choreography for any given situation?

What would it be like to walk down the street, burst into song, and know the strangers strolling around will jump in as back up singers and dancers?

How cool would that be?

How strange too.

Then again, I don't know many people who randomly burst out in song and dance while picking up their laundry or doing grocery shopping.

I also guarantee we didn't have a choreographed dance number at my prom.





Do you ever find yourself breaking into song and dance?







Do you ever wish strangers would join you like they do in this clip from Enchanted?













Then again, if life was like Enchanted, roaches would scrub tubs, and I'd be wearing dresses made out of drapes...

Thoughts?

R.S.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

On Building the Future

What's tickling my ears? Eminem: Cleaning Out My Closet

There are days when I seriously wonder what the future is going to be.

Not my future, but the future of my child and her peers.

Whitney Houston once sang that she believed our 'children are the future'.

If that is truly the case, shouldn't each parent strive to give their children every possible benefit they'd need to make their, and in turn our, future strong and bright?

Why is it then, so many children go without the proper love and guidance they so desperately want and require?

Why is it harder to get a driver's license than it is to become a parent?

Why are there so many child abusers getting away with bruising their children both physically and mentally?

 Why is it still so hard to protect the innocents from the horrors, and traumatic experiences they suffer at the hands of an abusive mother, father or caregiver?

Abuse and neglect come in many forms. You never have to lift a hand to your child to injure them, to beat them. All it takes is casual disregard or negative words, and it can be as damaging as a physical slap.

The worth of a true parent doesn't have to come from what you can buy your child, but from what you give them of yourself.

Your time, patience, love, understanding, and forgiveness.

A true parent puts their child's wants and needs before their own.

Take this story for instance.

"I don't know what to do, Jess. Val's been acting up, not listening, and I'm at the end. I can't deal with it anymore."


Jess sighed. She'd heard this before. "Why don't you let her come here for the summer. She could stay with her uncle and I, and you could have some time to relax."


"It's just too expensive to buy a plane ticket. We can't do that."


She logged onto her laptop and brought up a site specializing in inexpensive flights. "A round trip ticket is only two hundred dollars. I'll cover half, and it won't be so bad. It's what's best for your daughter. She'll have responsibility, and a chance to be away for a while. It won't be a vacation, but you'll both get the space you need."


"No... We can't afford that. She'll just have to get over her attitude. Her father and I are going to buy a new seventy-two inch flat screen, entertainment center, and surround sound soon. It's more important for us to put away that hundred bucks than waste it on a ticket for that ungrateful brat."


Too often parents consider it more important to have the newest, most exciting and expensive toys, than to put that want off until their children were happier, healthier, or safer.

This behavior isn't the only sign of bad parenting.

Bad parenting also appears when you show negativity towards your child. Calling them stupid, or dumb, or worthless--it's abuse, and eventually will have an equally negative affect on the child.

Nobody is a perfect parent, but being a positive role model who puts their children's happiness and well being before their own needs and wants is a good start.

Showing you love them, and making sure you say the words is just as important as providing a roof over their heads, and enough food to nourish their bodies.

I love you.

Three little words.

Powerful. Healing. Empowering.

As long as you truly mean them and back them up with your actions.

Every day I make sure I tell my daughter I love her. I make sure she gets hugs and kisses whenever possible, and no matter what, I never show negative actions towards her. She will never hear anything except loving and positive words from me.

She will get every opportunity to thrive in a happy and loving environment, to become the best she can be. No matter what that is.

I believe my daughter is the future.

I will teach her and let her lead the way.

I will give her all the love she needs to go out on her own and be strong.

She will never have to walk in anyone's shadow.

She will never have to be afraid to talk to me, because she will know she is loved.

Love your children, and teach them how to love themselves and others.

It's the greatest gift of all.


R.S.


**I am not a psychologist, but I am a parent. I may not have a fancy degree, but I know what it feels like to not be shown love...and what it feels like to show it to my daughter.






Tuesday, August 9, 2011

On Battling the Bulge



Now this is dedication. I typed this entire blog on my phone. :) Whoa! Talk about thumb cramps! Anyway, onward with the blog!






While in High School I maintained a steady weight of 140 pounds. This wasn't a point of pride, or really even a concern for me. I just didn't think about it. At all.

I'd never had a tight flat stomach like so many of the girls. Mine had always rounded just a little at the bottom-- which for some reason I don't understand, many guys find sexy, my husband leading that race.

Not horrible by healthy standards, but I definitely didn't seem to have the body of a teenager.

Several years later, after my first pregnancy, that ended in the birth of an Angel no longer with us, I hit my lowest weight since puberty.

125 pounds.

This weight probably had more to do with what I wasn't eating, and what I was drinking--heavily and often-- than it did with any sort of weightloss plan or exercise regimen.

That however, is a story for a much later time.

After the birth of my daughter in October 2007, I weighed 135 pounds, a point of happiness for me considering my previously fluctuating weight.

Who knew being recently married, never seeing your new husband, and living in Hawaii almost completely alone could cause weight gain?

I know now...and so do you, kind reader.

Ah, I digress...

Six wonderful weeks after having my daughter, and enjoying the lowest weight I'd been since meeting my husband, I went on birth control--and promptly started packing on weight like I was a whale prepping for a cold spell.

I did everything I could to lose the weight.
The more I dieted, and the more I worked out, the more weight I gained.

When I hit 166 pounds on a 5'5" body, I knew something needed to change.

The birth control went away, I started drinking  Slim Fast shakes and watching my calorie intake. From October 2009 to December of that same year, I lost thirty pounds, and kept it off.

Unfortunately, happiness is seldom long lasting or guaranteed. Though I didn't gain anymore weight, I realized I wasn't where I wanted to be--physically or mentally.

My husband deployed in October of 2010, and while he was gone I used the pent up frustration to fuel my body shaping needs.

I worked out everyday, and still watched my calories-- a habit I've found is incredibly hard to break once you get into it. When he returned seven months later, I weighed the lowest my body can weigh and remain healthy. The look on his face when he saw me was priceless... and it didn't hurt that some of his first words after, "I love you," were "you're so tiny, I'm afraid to break you."

Since his return my weight has fluctuated between 128 and 134. By no means am I fat, but sometimes there is an eating disorder just lurking about waiting to hit me. It's a horrible feeling, and a scary realization.

Right now, my niece and I are doing P90X, not because we need to lose weight, but because we want to tone up.

We just finished our third week, and we are noticing changes in our arms, legs, and our butts.

Yes, for those who have known me my whole life, I am finally getting a butt. I can hear your gasps through the internet...my hearing is that good.

There is still quite a few long, hard, workout intense weeks ahead, and I'm sure there will be other noticeable results, or at least there better be dammit.

The thing is, physical fitness and being happy with yourself are not mutually exclusive, and not a one shot deal.
As a person gets older, their bodies change, and things start shifting and bulging.

It's life. It's natural, and it sucks.

You have to do what is right for your lifestyle, what is best for you, both mentally and physically.

Overall, be happy with yourself.

Don't be concerned (like I am) with every minor weight fluctuation.

Don't worry that you're not as skinny as actress XXX. Chances are she just came out of rehab for another eating disorder. 

Speak to a doctor, and do what is safe and healthy for your body.

Trust me when I say, it doesn't matter how skinny you are, what size pants you wear, or how much you weigh-- if your body gives out from a lack of proper nutrition.

That is, unless you're trying to be the sexiest corpse around.


What has your weightloss journey been like? What worked for you? What didn't?


R.S.

Monday, August 8, 2011

On Sweet Tea--Liquid Manna From Heaven

I love days when the sun is shinning, the temperature is hovering at the low triple digits, and I've got nothing more important to do than drink an ice cold glass of sweet tea.

Several years ago my husband and I were stationed on the East Coast, just outside of the Nation's Capital. The first time we walked into a restaurant and were offered a choice between sweet tea and unsweetened tea, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.

Needless to say, things have never been the same.

When we moved to California it was depressing to realize the ease and availability of our favorite liquid refreshment (the kind without an alcoholic kick) wasn't what we'd gotten used to.

To this day, the only place in town offering sweet tea is McDonalds, and their version is more like an infusion of liquid sugar than a beverage the human stomach can actually digest.
Have Sweet Tea. Will  Travel.

My answer to this? I brew my own at home. Believe it or not, there is a science and an art to the creation of a perfect pitcher of sweet tea.

Not too much sugar so you're thrown into a diabetic coma after your first sip, and not too little so you're confused into believing you're drinking plain tea.

Believe me, there is a difference between 'sweet tea' and tea with sugar.

Huge difference.

As long as I've got my tea maker, assorted tea bags, and my choice of sweetener, I'll be just fine no matter where we're stationed.

What's your favorite sit-in-the sun beverage?

R.S.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

On A Guest Blog from K. K. Sierra

I was recently told a story. A man and a woman had been married for fifty years.  Since retirement they always had lunch together.  As the man sets the woman’s sandwich in front of her she bursts into tears. Baffled her husband asks what is wrong.  She sobs, “Why do you always give me the heels?” Stunned he replies, “Because they’re my favorite.”

All those years, he had been giving her what he considered to be the best part of the bread, sharing his favorite part with her. In a world so incredibly full of selfish behavior we often assume the worst of people.

Assumptions are easy to make and can be so damaging. There is a reason expressions like, “assume – makes an ass out of you and me” and “assumption – the mother of all eff-ups,” exist.

I think the biggest and worst assumptions happen in relationships.
·         Does your husband work hard to support your family? Do you tell him how much you appreciate it? Or just complain about how little he helps with the kids/pets/house?
·         Do you think your wife/girlfriend is beautiful? Do you tell her? Or just assume she knows? 
·         Do you have a friend who is always there for you? Who is interested in the things you do and how you’re feeling? Are you there for her in return? Does she know how valuable she is to you?
·         Are you proud of your child’s accomplishments? Do you give them specific reasons? Or only a cursory “proud of you son?”
·         Do your parents run you around for soccer games, music, and to see your friends? Do you tell them thank you and mean it? Or do you think it’s “their job?”
The saying, “there is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving,” is true until the time you’ve given all you have to give. Even the most altruistic person does not give for nothing. They’re looking for something in return. Anyone who says different is a liar. At a minimum, they’re looking for the light of hope; the knowledge that something they’ve done has made life just a little happier for someone else.

My advice for today, don’t make assumptions. If you’re unsure about someone or something, where you stand perhaps, ask. And if you’re the person who’s been asked, show enough consideration to respond. Don’t make assumptions. Life’s too short. Make sure the people you love, know you love them.  Thank those who make sacrifices for you. If someone inspires you, pass it on. 


Saturday, August 6, 2011

On Sensory Memory

Our senses are our strongest weapons.

Sight allows us to avoid running into things, or stepping into a trap waiting to snap around our ankle.

Smell tells us when the chicken has spoiled and will insure us a lengthy ER visit if we eat it.

Taste backs smell up. It sends up the red flag to spit out whatever we're ingesting before we end up sitting in hard plastic chairs waiting to be seen at the ER.

Sound alerts us to horns blaring, sirens shrieking, or the urgent voice of someone yelling, "Fire!".

Touch can warn us when there is heat radiating from an object, or if something is rough and might cut, tear, or poke us.

Our senses are amazing.

And can also be a pain in the ass.

Or our best friend.

As I've said, a time or two in previous posts, my husband is a U.S. Marine. He deploys for seven months at a stretch, and my daughter and I don't see him or hear from him during the majority of that time.

While he is gone there are days I can go about my routine (because routines are incredibly important to a toddler, and even to a wife, when someone they love is gone), without feeling the painful thud of my heart. Everything will be hunky dory, and then...my traitorous senses wake up.

The scent of his aftershave will assault my nose as I walk through a store, and I'll look for him. Memories of him flood my mind, and though they are all happy, my mood becomes sad. It's the same way with his voice.

It's a rare and happy occurrence when he can call, and though his voice brings me happiness, it too brings me sadness. Sometimes it's easier to deal with his absence when I don't hear his voice anywhere but in my dreams.

Touch can often be the hardest one for me.

The texture of my sheets reminds me of the empty space beside me at night. The roughness of his extra uniform pokes at our missed hours. Mixed with the other senses, it's the one most likely to render me momentarily stupid...or weepy.

Sight can be a bitch all by itself.

Going places, and seeing sites you've visited with someone you care about can be both rewarding and heartbreaking. You've made memories there, and all of them flood back as you retrace the footsteps of your past...even in your present.

Big Train Chai
The same can be said about Taste.

My best friend, an amazing and thoughtful person, lives in Washington State. Approximately 1500 miles away. While I was visiting her last winter she introduced me to Big Train Chai, and my tastebuds have never been the same. In fact, whenever I breakdown and order Starbucks Chai, they throw up the proverbial middle finger.

It's just not the same.

Out here, in the middle of nowhere, there isn't a store where I can pick up the large bags of liquid manna. Yes, I could order it online and have it delivered, and I would...but I don't have to.

She sends it to me, and it means so much more.

On the mornings I allow myself a steaming (or in many cases, ice cold) cup of liquid heaven, I think of her. No matter how long it has been since I've seen her, she's right next to me as I take those first precious sips.

Yes, our senses are our greatest weapons... but they're also our greatest link to our past.

What sights, sounds, tastes, and smells bring memories back to you? I'd love to hear them.

R.S.

Friday, August 5, 2011

On the Twitterlution

Tweet! Tweet!
Awww, now isn't that cute??

For those of you who don't recognize the happy blue bird holding the 'follow me!' sign, he's the cartoonized mascot of the ever growing, ever popular, and to me at least, ever confusing Twitter.com-- or Twitter as those in 'the know' call it.

I've been trying to get a handle on all the facets of Social Media, and I'm pretty sure each of them will end up with their own WTH?! blog post.

Today's is obviously Twitter, and its status updates known universally as 'Tweets'. Now as I stated in my self-promotion post, I'm trying to get my name, and thereby my work, out 'there'. Apparently the only way to do that is by becoming not only a member of Twitter, but actually becoming a actively productive member of the 'Twitterverse'.

I get that it's similar to blogging, and to the status updates on Facebook (more on FB in a later post), but seriously, don't I spend enough time talking to myself without having to add another site and/or app on my phone?

On top of that, I currently have a whopping 10 followers, and some of those I think set it up to automatically follow me when I followed them. At least, I think that's the case. I don't really know, and I haven't actually found a helpful site to answer my questions.

Questions like: How do I get more followers, and Why doesn't anyone respond to my 'tweets'?

Of course, if I have followers I'll have to actually tweet, and that is one more responsibility heaped onto my already towering plate o' responsibilities.

Gotta love being an adult.

If anyone has any suggestions for how to go about finding my 'twitter groove' in this new and confusing world where everyone is a member of twitter including my OBGYN, I'd greatly appreciate it.

Maybe it isn't too late to get involved in the  'Twitterlution'.

Now, Go 'Follow me!'!

R.S.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

On Learning the Art of Self-Promotion

I remember the first time I had to stand in front of a room full of my peers. It was kindergarten, and it was show-in-tell.

It sucked.

Embarrassment flamed through my body like it should have been a vintage race car a la Grease, and we were racing for pink slips.

I hate being in front of people, explaining something, talking about myself, or in other words, pretending to seem intelligent and interesting.

Most of the time I don't feel like I'm any of those things, and I especially never felt that way as a kid.

Now, I'm an adult, a mother, a wife, a photographer, and an author of two separate novels. One YA and one contemporary.

And I have to promote myself.

That means I have to put myself out there, stand up in front of the proverbial class and explain something, share something, and this time it's even more important and embarrassing than it was the first time all those years ago. Now it's done not just in person, but across dozens of different Social Network platforms. It's done via blog, Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, Email, LinkedIn, and others I can't even remember.

I'm not just sharing something I was given or bought. I'm sharing a part of myself. Hours of worry, sleepless nights, late dinners, and sweat. A part of my soul, my heart, my hopes and dreams, all combined into something a person could say, 'Eh, not interested. Not good enough."

 It's a terrifying prospect.

But, I have to do it, and do it well.

I don't want to push myself on people who won't be interested or will be turned off by the salesman's approach, but I don't want to be so lax nobody will take me seriously. There is such a fine line, and I'm not sure where it even begins, but I know I'll find it.

When I do, I'm going to rock that line like an Earthquake.

So where do I begin?

Any ideas? I'm open to suggestions.


R.S.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

On Kristine Marie Cushing

First, what is up with mothers killing their young and getting away with it? Sometimes, reality is so much stranger than fiction.

The other day I came across an article about a custody dispute. Normally, I wouldn't bother reading something like this, but it also happened to take place not far from where I grew up, and involved a former Marine Officer.

I'm a little concerned about the state of our legal system when the officials don't even bat an eye when a woman convicted of killing her own daughters  in 1991, is once again living with children-- this time her ex-husband's children from a second marriage.
Found Not Guilty by the Prozac Defense

This of course, prompts the question: when halfway houses wouldn't even take her in after her first release from the mental institution in 1994, why would the father of the children she executed in their sleep, take her back?

Everything about this situation boggles the mind. As a mother I'd be horrified and appalled, just as Trisha Conlin is. As the wife of a Marine, I wonder what the hell the man is thinking. He didn't just take her  back, he remarried her. I'm also equally glad he's no longer actively serving in the Marines. I sure as hell wouldn't want him in charge of my husband, and I doubt any Marine would ever trust his judgement during maneuvers in a war zone.

Kristine's doctors are claiming she's not a safety risk, and the only reason she killed her two daughters before failing to kill herself was because of a bad reaction to Prozac.

Really? That's what they're going with?

What happens if she suddenly has another bad reaction to a medication?

How many times will they allow a person to use the 'it wasn't me, it was the medication' defense? Maybe we should start calling it the 'Prozac Defense'.

It seems like a pretty weak cop out.

Plain and simple, the woman is a killer.

There is no coming back from that.

Ever.

Especially, when she took the lives of two small children she gave birth to and was responsible for nurturing and protecting.

Thoughts?

R.S.