Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Current Self Torture

I know most of you (if there is more than one) are fan(s) of John over at The Adventures of Daddy Runs A Lot, so you probably know about his zombie obsession. Despite my love for Zombieland, I don't really share this fascination, especially since most modern zombie vehicles use an epidemic to depopulate the world. John and I often get into lengthy debates about this, and, yes, I know how that sounds. It's dead muscle tissues. I don't care how much the brain shoots out MOVE messages, that decaying, oxygen-deprived flesh is not responding. Originally, there was a magic element to zombies. To me, that is the only way zombies happen. Inferi are to be feared for realsies.
Excuse me for a moment while I get my embarrassment over that statement under control....

OK. Back.

All of that being said, I have let myself get dragged into The Walking Dead, AMC's show about the exact kind of zombie Apocalypse I maintain can't happen. It is in my head, People. There have been nightmares. There have been daydreams about how I would protect my family. I have opened the fridge and pantry and calculated how long we could hole up in the house. How many containers could I get filled with water before it's shut off?

I have gotten so stressed out during an episode that I have had to go online to find out what happens before I can finish watching. Seriously. I know! Sad. I think that is why the show has gotten to me so much because it is really about family and keeping them safe. In the show, the danger is being eaten alive. Safe means running and shooting. In real life, the dangers are too numbered to count and safety comes in the form of car seats and bike helmets. On the show, the zombies just keep coming, and in life the dangers are always there. There are always new ones as the kids age, try new things, go new places, as the husband goes on earlier and earlier runs and longer and longer bike rides. If I am not careful, I will bury myself in the potential dangers of just getting out of bed in the morning. Sometimes, I start to go there and have to pep talk myself down. I don't know about you, but I can take crisis scenarios to an obscenely detailed level in my head. The things I think when poor John is late.

The characters on The Walking Dead do not have the pinch yourself luxury as the dangers are not imagined, they are real (well, tv real). It says a lot about the human spirit that though survival is an immediate concern, the little society they have formed does still care about feelings and politeness (to a certain extent).

There are any number of shows and movies that use extreme circumstances to make a statement on the human condition. This one also scares me shitless, yet I keep watching. Because at least I'm not about to be eaten by a dead body that was once my neighbor.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Me and My Fiction

I have set a goal. I want to finish my... for lack of a better word... novel, "Oops," said God, by the end of 2012 along with finishing my MLS and being a half decent mom and wife. Go crazy, or go home. I have put the first half on this blog in a couple of installments, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. That is not quite half of what I have written, but I am a little tentative about posting anymore. It's a rough draft. I don't even want to qualify it as a first draft, and that's fine. It is part of the writing process. But along with the heavy revisions that will eventually need to be done, there are lots of typos and other copy-editing issues as I am, after all, a human being. I am also a former editor and English teacher. I have grammar issues. I am a grammar snob. I proofread tweets. If a mistake gets by me, it takes quite a while for me to get over it, if ever. I will never get over my recent Oval House tweet.
This makes it hard for me to post anymore of my fiction. The amount of problems in the parts already posted haunt my nightmares. I want to proofread it before posting. If I start to do that, I start to revise and edit, and that is not where I am in the process. I need to pound out the rest of the rough draft before I start any rewrites. I need the whole arc in front of me before I start twisting it into knots and then cutting them out.
Thus, I am torn. I want to share, but I don't know if I can share when the writing is in this state. There is a part of me that kind of wants to delete the other posts, but my poor blog is so pathetic, I can't afford the lose of five whole posts.
So, my reader(s), what do you think? Am I being overly snobby or justified? If I do post, I need a favor. I need help reaching my goal. I need people breathing down my neck about my goal. I need the goal turned into a deadline.
And now I shall fear hitting the PUBLISH POST button because I know there's a typo or grammatical problem in here somewhere.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

We Are...

I am a Penn State Alumna. For the first time I just read every article in The Penn Stater, the alumni magazine. The latest issue was completely devoted to the blast zone that surrounds the abuse of innocents. Every piece of writing in the issue was done by someone who feels connected to Penn State. Their words made me want to share some of my own.
I bought football season tickets each of my four years at Penn State. I used most of them myself, and if I couldn't, I sold them at face value. It wasn't just watching a game. It was an experience. From the moment I walked out of my dorm room and joined the throng heading toward the stadium, I became a member of a community. We goofed around in line and laughed as we hoofed it to the nosebleed seats in the freshman section, knowing that those better seats in the senior section were only a couple of years away, and enjoying them when they were ours. I screamed Penn State at the top of my lungs when the other side yelled We Are. And I liked watching football. A good game could build dramatic tension just as well as any scripted play. Throw in hot chocolate and French fries, and it was a no brainer.
But to me, that was only part of the experience of Penn State; a fun bonus that comes with attending a college with a AAA team. University Park and State College are where I started to become an adult. My time there significantly shaped the person I am today. Most of the family I have chosen, I met in the dorms. A lot of my ideals and political expectations began developing because of classes and conversations that took place in those four years. Outside of my family, nothing has influenced my life more than Penn State. Football games were part of that, but only a part. To me they were a fun way to spend a Saturday feeling I was a part of something. The current team was always a great way to break the ice when I meant another alum for the first time. But never have I turned from fan to fanatic. But even still, I turned a blind eye to issues. Whenever the topic of Big College Sports came up, I thought, not my school. Yes, ridiculous money was spent on football, but it made ridiculous money in return. Yes, the public face of my university was The Coach of the Football Team, but that was OK. He was a good guy. The team had one of the highest GPAs and graduation rates in the country. There were teams of lesser sports, of womens' sports, that would not exist without football money. I don't think I ever opened a library book that wasn't contributed by the Paternos. Heck, I remember a game in which Joe bench one of our star players because he skipped class. We were a football school, and that was fine with me.
Until November 5, 2011.
Power. Power is what allowed Jerry Sandusky (Side note: In our courts you are innocent until proven guilty, and Mr. Sandusky will be given that opportunity. But that is the courts. I have read as much of the grand jury findings as I could stomach. I believe him to be guilty.) to abuse those children. Football gave him that power. Or more accurately, the over-importance given to football made a sport more powerful than any one thing should be. The obsession with a game shared by thousands of people willing to spend millions of dollars gave others the power to cover up, justify, misinterpret and ignore what they knew to be wrong.
Being a football school is no longer fine with me.
Do I want to see the end of Penn State football? No. Do I want the program put into a more realistic perspective? Yes. The reputation of an institution for higher learning should not rest on the shoulder pads of a few athletes. I am sorry I did not see the real danger in that before.
Is this just a Penn State problem? No. This could have happened at any of hundreds of universities across the country. It happens in professional sports even more often.
Money is power, and we allow sports to be big business in which bad behavior and crimes are tolerated, justified by talent. The balance needs to shift if we want to keep predators like Jerry Sandusky at bay.
I do not think Penn State football will ever again reach the glory it once had. I used to lament this as we had mediocre season after season. Now, I'm fine with it. I went to a football school. I want to be an alumna of a school where there is also a football team.

Friday, January 13, 2012

No Backsies.

What I want to say is hard to put into words. Mostly, because I feel like I come off sounding like a pompous philosophy PhD student. (Note: I do not think all philosophy PhD students are pompous. Or useless. At least you are putting money into the higher education economy.) So I have started and deleted a couple times, but I really want to write it, even if it means using three conjunctions in one run-on sentence.

There are moments when I am struck by the permanence of life. I know that mostly poetry and priests will comment on the little time we have here, so sin wonderfully or live like a saint, depending on whether you take the poetry or priest more seriously. But the things I have done, the choice I have made, the things done and the choice made that impact me, will forever be solid events in history. My footprints are not impressions in the sand, disappearing under a wave. They are crushed into granite by the pressure of living. I stop and marvel at that. This is my life, unchangable behind me, nothing but change ahead. It is not what I imagined for myself at fourteen or eighteen when I was going to be a veternarian with a independent practice attached to my house, so I could be home with my two kids I had with my college sweetheart. I was going to be the Dr. Huxtable of the animal kingdom. (Of course that is the way it should be. If your life is what your fourteen-year-old self imagined, I don't know whether to envy or pity you.)

No matter how much I protested it, I really did eventually become a teacher like I was meant to. I live in my hometown willingly, happily, which my twenty-three-year-old self would never believe for any amount of money. I really am that person who adopted a kid days after finding out I was pregnant. I am that person no matter how many times I denied the possibility before it happened. I do drive a minivan. There is no erasing that from my exisitance.

This is my life, no backsies. I'm glad I wouldn't take them anyway.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Six Word Sunday

Cranky toddlers suck your immortal soul.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, October 14, 2011

Mythical Creatures

This is not about a tattoo. It inspired my tattoo. It was orginally written for the blog John and I wrote to document our adoption process. If you are interested in reading more about that,

Mythical Creatures
I had a unicorn baby. I would glimpse his hazel eyes giggling at me from his carseat in my rearview mirror. I would hear her cries echoing through the house at three in the morning, and the phantom me would get up and go smooth her sweaty dark ringlets as she cried for no good reason. I would feel the weight of his tall-for-his-age body on my pant leg as I went about changing laundry loads and emptying the dishwasher. He was going through the clinging to Mommy phase, you see. The petite, too-small-for-her-age length of her would fit perfectly in my arms as I sat doing nothing at all but zoning in front of the TV and she slept, refusing to be put down.I had to let my unicorn baby go. He and she waved good-bye as they went to fulfill the promises of that twit, Jackie Paper, and have adventures in the Land of Hanalee.Now I have a phoenix baby. He rises out of the ashes of disappointments and fear to create hope with his golden song. She does all of the same things the unicorn baby did, taunting me from around corners, but her features are blurred like a hummingbird's wings. Yet the outline is more defined. She is coming. He will fly, maybe long and far, maybe short and near, but he will come. And we will make her song powerful and strong to withstand and fight against the wind.I may always miss my unicorn baby, but I will always love my phoenix baby.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Quiet Ceremony

I stepped through a door and became a mother. There was no pushing on my part. There was no surgery. There were just years of trying, changing, hoping, and heart-breaking, the labor of adoption, but there was no physical change or birthing process. Without the physical challenge of birth there was no build-up. The only difference between one moment and the next was the baby in my arms. It was the most surreal moment of my life. When you imagine something a million times a day for five years, you start to believe that it can’t really happen outside your head. And then it does. And it is going to change everything. You’d think there would be a ceremony or something, a Lion King moment if you will. Instead the moment is quiet. The brave woman who did go through the physical labor whispered to our son, “Look, it’s your mom and dad,” and she placed him in my arms. It will always be the strongest act of love I will ever witness. Through my tears I managed to whisper, “Thank you.” Then because it is the way of adoption, I turned away from her and her pain to join my husband in our joy.

Perhaps not all ceremonies need be showy.