Posts Tagged ‘observations’
Last week I thought I I’d set a S.M.A.R.T. goal for the beginning of this round of the ROW80. Just a little thing… one goal, to figure out what I really want to focus my attention on by making a list of ten things I really want to achieve in my life.
It’s a bit more challenging than I thought. I found a lot of “this would be so very awesome if I could do it” things, but… whether it’s because I’ve been in a funk of sorts for a few years now, or because I’ve been too distracted with dealing with day-to-day blargh to want anything except an escape, I just didn’t get it done.
Since we all know that there really is no escape, that leaves a lot of brain-ing for answers that just don’t seem to be here now. I have worked with the “this would be super awesome” bunch for a few days now, but that’s a huge list, and the processing is taking longer than I’d planned.
I have discovered a few things about myself in this…
- I cannot stop myself from discovering and seeing new things—the “Shiny” is all-encompassing. Even when the ‘new’ things are actually very old (I fully intend to see lots of castles and ruins in a few weeks as we jaunt through England), I feel an obsessive pull to see and discover more. Or in the words of the web… MOAR! Do All The Things really is a thing for me.
- All the Things isn’t feasible, but a lot depends on successful navigation of what is possible within the limits of time, energy and physical constraints (money, location, etc.) for me to maintain any kind of mental stability
- In addition to All The Things, I also cannot stop myself from obsessively volunteering to help others who share my passion for discovery and finding new things. (Ask anyone who knows me personally… I am a (frequently annoying) font of “try this” or “maybe you’d be interested in this” ideas and suggestions for shows, events, challenges, websites, travel info…)
Like many of my friends, I one of those 30 browser tabs open at a time people. Social media is a dangerous place for me, not so much for the flame-wars (though those can be excellent places for story ideas and character creation) but for the plethora of links and ideas to consider and explore. The images that inspire ideas… like these!
Imagine walking these, the cultures of people who lived in such an area through history (keep in mind that whoever posted these photos did overdo the image saturation a bit)… Copper and thus the Bronze Age in human history, may have occurred because one group of people realized that there were other ways to use the beautiful green stone malachite than for jewelry and personal adornment. And when did people come up with the idea of making storage containers out of clay and firing them into pottery?
Yeah, I think of some odd stuff…
I know that the reason for regular ROW80 check-ins is not to brag about our accomplishments (okay, not solely), but also to share those less than stellar times when we are floundering and need the support of our fellow ROWers to get us going again. Still, I somehow managed to avoid three check-ins in the past two weeks (one at Many Worlds and two here) because I felt I had nothing to report.
I wasn’t writing, and somehow, I’d begun to equate words on the page as the only marker of actual progress I could use. Which is (of course) very silly on my part. I was doing a ton of things, above and beyond the normal stuff of daily life. If anything, I’ve had to become extra creative to fit in those normal things… a few dishes here and there while waiting for my hot water in the morning, sort a few clothes and move a load for folding out on my way downstairs…
Thursday and Friday I was “at college” with my son as he was invited to participate in a set of workshops* with the drama department at Hudson Valley CC and Shakespeare & Co. for their Northeast Regional tour. A mini-homeschooling conference on Tuesday, car inspection and repairs on Wednesday, dental visits on both Monday and last Thursday, and on and on…
Oh, and I have managed to get back to some writing-related stuff. The classes I am taking on Ancient Portus (not so much the Maritime Archaeology one) and the American South (global view) have provided a great deal of fodder for my stories. Time Team episodes have given me a deeper realism of the past and what skies might look like, smells, even how the water might be… We like to romanticize the past by imagining things were so much cleaner and purer (or how much more violent and dangerous) things were. At least in fiction, especially, there seems to be a sense that we do things so very different than we used to.
Then we have to consider facts like the Tiber river had become so polluted during by the 2nd C BC in Rome that there were purification rituals for the river itself (and an increased need for well drilling), that the slag heaps from ancient iron smelting were stacked so high in some places they made their own mountains (and became a source of iron in WWI), or man-made hills of discarded pottery in Italy… just think of the trees that had to be cut down and burned for those kilns and furnaces (making charcoal uses an insane amount of wood in its own right).
So, yeah… I’m getting some definite ideas about the world in more stories, smells, sights, textures. And I even managed some newish words last night. Yay!
*For the record… After Friday’s 3½ hr session on clowning, I have acquired a great respect for the control needed for any comedic actor as well an awe at the passion the Boodle brought to his parts. He’s an amazing kid.
I have bad habit I’d really like to break.
I tend to react, often quickly, often with great vigor, and… often without much forethought. In other words, I tend to overreact, fly off the handle and not think before doing so.
So very much not a good habit.
Some of this comes from the fact I’ve felt rushed to make decisions all my life. We live in a world where instantaneous responses are demanded for more and more daily affairs. A product of technology perhaps, though I didn’t grow up in the era of cellphones and email.
That said… I often dream of those days when people would travel for days to carry a message from one person to another. Imagine a note from a Roman Centurion to his family. Some news would be missed in the weeks and months between letters, little events such as his son’s first steps would not be so vital to record in a letter as a count of the wool gathered from the sheep this past season or that Citizen Maxanimus had offered to tutor the young child for the small fee of two hens.
Today however, messages are traded back and forth at the speed of conversation. Some people type better with their thumbs than they do with all their fingers combined. And many of these people can’t use a pen except to scribble their name on some official forms or an electronic pad at the store.
With that kind of communication speed, it’s easy to expect near instant answers to every question that can be asked. Extra company is coming over… Can you pick up two loaves of Italian bread on the way home? Oh, and XXYY can’t eat gluten, so can you also grab some rice? (because, of course, company that didn’t plan to come until the last minute expects a feast when they arrive) Or the fear of relationship trouble … Are you mad? You didn’t call this morning (because we need to call our dates the first thing we wake up or we clearly don’t like them)
Don’t we ever take time to process things anymore? Is it so wrong to simply have a cuppa and maybe a dish of fruit and cheese or some snacks as opposed to a full meal when unexpected guests arrive? Or to say… “Oh, I didn’t know you were coming. I was making X, but I can put that in the fridge for tomorrow if that doesn’t work and we can go to Smith’s Restaurant tonight.”
Yes, some decisions need to be made on a moment’s notice. But we live in a world where every decision seems so urgent…. And I am not good at it. I like to think my ideas through. I panic. I get frustrated. I snap…
I’d like to change that about myself, but… it’s not easy to do. The best way I’ve discovered? Refuse to make so many instantaneous decisions. Demand time to let the ideas and possibilities simmer. Something I have learned in my near-half-a-century of life is that there are second and third and fourth (and more) chances to redo those poor initial reactions.
Some cool links on decision-making:
- Ruth Chang “How to Make Hard Choices (ted.com)
- Do You Have Difficulty Making Decisions? (Psych Central)
- Why Anxious People Have Difficulty Making Decisions (Futurity.org)
I went to my first ever baseball game last night, opening night for the TriCity Valley Cats, and… I did it under duress. Not that I knew I’d have a bad time, or that I didn’t appreciate the skill of the players or any of a number of things… I don’t hate baseball. I actually find a lot of things about the sport interesting (though none enough so to make me a fan).
It was just… well, I wasn’t kidding when I said I have been super busy in yesterday’s post. And all I could do was think of the multitude of things that needed to be done yesterday and how far behind on things I was….
Still, we went. We had tickets, and we’d promised the Boodle that we’d go to at least one game this year (and this game came with a bunch of fanfare and fireworks so it made for a very full, intense evening). It was fun. The lines were insanely long at the concession stands (the register computers were acting up, so people often got their food while being stuck standing in line several minutes more just to pay), but the between inning antics were amusing, and the Boodle made a friend.
On a side note: I also think I’m finally perfecting my ability to take fireworks photos in manual mode. I’m not quite there yet (I just downloaded the photos, and yeah… not quite there yet). It’s hard on this old camera–probably would help if I reduced the quality of the shots from CameraRAW images to JPEGs; just the time the camera takes to write to the Compact Flash card (yes, compact flash; yes, the camera is that old). Thing is… I’m trying to figure this out. And maybe I’ll get there eventually.
And on that note… I know what I’ll be doing for next week’s First Friday Photo! The linky is now active (part of the change I decided on this week so we can actually get our photos in by the First Friday). Don’t worry… it’ll be open over next weekend end too for people who want to post holiday images.
Come on and join in the fun!
Kid TV is for adults
I wasn’t planning on this topic for a blog post this morning. Actually, I was going to continue along the theme I’d started for my ROW80 Check-in and try writing a piece of flash fiction about a cat and his/her human. After all, cats do make up a good portion of the internet… and my personal life.
But, I tried something different today… mostly because I wasn’t finding the words. I needed help, and I didn’t want to spend too long finding it. So I hopped over to the One Minute Writer site for a kick in the writer butt.
But the prompt today had nothing to do with cats….
It’s okay though, because Approval Cat said if I could come up with an idea about Kids TV during a one minute writing session, then I should write a post about that instead of cats. Approval Cat is so very understanding… especially after some catnip and sardines.
So I’m going to write about inspiration, and how some of the silliest things can trigger one’s imagination and drive her to create stories and art. I’m going to write about an 80’s cartoon.
Back in high school, I wasn’t the best student. Bored often, distracted always… I gave my teachers (and parents) no end of despair when homework was involved. I liked to draw, but had stopped doing that for a few years because my father had thrown all my work away in a (failed) attempt to get me to focus on schoolwork and not obsess over horses and fantasy worlds.
I firmly believed I couldn’t write. My grades in English were abysmal, and my best friend seemed to know everything about the subject, could write perfect sentences, spell perfectly, etc., so that felt like her thing, not mine. And because I had been above-middling in arithmetic all through school without any effort, I listened when people said I should do that instead.
…fade out to middle school and earlier…
Thing was, I’d always created stories. In the early days, I had created nations with my horse models and Barbies, scribbled little notes and plot lines of an Arabian princess (quite literally an Arabian) named Anocka-Jenay and a helpful rapscallion named Coca-nora helped the queen of the humans find a way to make peace with the equine people against the dangers of… well, all sorts of kid fears, but usually the “bad” humans.
When my horses were taken away, for a time I still tried to make those stories, but my confidence had never been that high, and I didn’t have the same connection to a lot of other ‘kid things”. Most of my childhood entertainment had been dismissed by my parents as too juvenile; most of my age peers didn’t talk about Jacques Cousteau, Walter Kronkite, and Quincy M.E. with the same passion I did (if at all).
… fade back in to high school…
There was Star Trek… I liked it, a lot. Like a lot of girls (born a decade before me), I thought Walter Koenig was incredibly cute as Chekov, and I did have a short phase of idolizing Spock, though mostly it was a fondness for Leonard Nimoy himself, since In Search Of was also one of my favorite shows, and the “Spock makeup job” made my skin itch.
But for me, Star Trek wasn’t unique. My parents were avid sci-fi and fantasy readers and watchers, and every weekend there was something genre on the television, either the original Battlestar Galactica, Lost In Space, Buck Rogers, and so many others. I used to fall asleep listening to Rod Serling’s silken voice drifting up through the floor because it was on so late in syndication.
So, when Shan Jeniah encouraged me (or I encouraged her… or it was mutual encouragement, I forget now) to start creating a fictional world based on Star Trek because she’d fallen in love with it… I definitely didn’t refuse. I did love the show, and I definitely needed an outlet for some of that creative (and often very silly) energy I’d been building up.
But while I enjoyed the show and the writing, I didn’t love it. And I hadn’t really found something that connected quite right.
Then, one morning while getting ready for school (I often watched cartoons in the morning while eating breakfast), I passed an odd show… a bit Star Wars-like, a bit corny (okay, a bit more than a bit), with better than average art and cool music. And, without even knowing why… I was hooked. I saw so much potential in these characters for more. Questions like: why did Gillian have a domed garden before the Monster Minds came; what sort of magic was he using in such a technologically advanced world, flying fish(!), space ships that looked like ancient sailing vessels… what kind of name for a powerfully intelligent plant creature was “Saw Boss” anyway?!
And.. it didn’t hurt that one of the first real episodes of the show was this one: Final Ride at Journey’s End. It wowed me. In the 80’s, it seemed pretty much impossible to find a cartoon that pushed boundaries the way this episode did, leaving viewers wondering if one of the heroes (or somewhat anti-hero) of the story might have died in a suicidal assault on the enemy.
Okay, so it wasn’t that unusual. But at the time, even my cartoon experience had been severely limited, and though I loved what I’d seen of Robotech, I hadn’t yet seen a whole episode of it, and so didn’t know how dramatic a cartoon could be. I liked knowing there wasn’t an answer… answers were offered everywhere in kid’s shows, reassurances like the constant parachutes in G.I. Joe (not that I ever watched that show) or the friendly (read: annoying) commentary of 7-Zark-7 in G-Force that filled in the blank spaces with comforting words about how a town was going to be rebuilt soon or so-and-so was recovering in the hospital and doing well.
As if children needed constant protection against the truths of the world without a huge sugar-coating…
I liked the ambiguity that Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors left me with. I could work with that ambiguity, and I did. I created worlds upon worlds based on that ambiguity.
While most of my fiction has moved far away from its roots in Star Trek and JatWW fanfiction (most, not all… the Was Long Variation and The Dots get regular doses of word love), this show in particular sparked a passion in me that has lasted to this day. And I don’t see it fading soon.
So, thank you, One Minute Writer, for giving me a chance to speak about an inspiration. And… thank you too, Approval Cat, for letting me write about something non-feline. And thank you most of all, DIC Audiovisuel, for producing this great show.
Or rather biggish things that are somehow so small we tend to ignore them….
I wasn’t going to post anything for a while, but I kept thinking about pictures and how a photo can make something so ordinary seem surreal and amazing. It’s a matter of focus and highlighting the right details.
Just like fiction… we writers take ordinary people and put them in situations that show how extraordinary they actually are. And why? Because we’re all extraordinary in our own way, but we tend to forget it when the world moves by so fast that everything feels out of focus.
A picture, a story… these are moments when the world stops and we can see the details that make a place, a person… special.
Like the picture above…. It’s no place unusual. Down here at the edge of Green County, there are crumbling stone walls pretty much everywhere you look. This spot I’ve driven past at least three times a week for the last fifteen years, and except for noticing the daffodils in the Spring, I never really stopped to look at it. But Wednesday night after my karate class, I had some time on my hand as The Boodle has advanced enough to be in the class after mine… so I walked along the road to get a picture of the small pond there. A little slowly because gravelly, hilly roads and Dr. Scholls sandals don’t always mix.
In doing so… I saw this. I think it was the best picture I took that evening.
So… what haven’t you slowed down to look consider the beauty of lately?
A quick announcement… starting tomorrow, First Friday Photo will be hosted here.
Just a few simple rules:
- You can post as many pictures as you want, but you need to post at least one.
- You can only post your own work. Photoediting is acceptable, as long as it is your own work.
- You add your post link to the linky
- You add the linky link to your post so people can visit everyone else.
Beyond that… have fun! I’m excited to see what you all come up with. If you want to add links and a bio to your posts so we can find more of you work, please do so. We’d love to see your Flickr and Imgur pages (at least I would). And if you would like to tell people how you shot the photo and what (if any) post-processing you used, even better.
And if anyone feels inspired to write a piece of Flash Fiction based on their image, go for it too. Let’s see where the creative muse takes us.
Won’t you join me tomorrow?