Monday, December 31, 2018

When Taco Bell Doesn't Open On Time

This one was originally posted on Facebook over a month ago....

11/23/18: It's been a busy week. Yesterday, I challenged Collin's former employer on their Facebook page for firing him without a valid cause after seeing their "one big happy family/flexible job" posts (their response came much faster than expected--we'll see if anything actually comes of it). Then I gave Metro the feedback they requested on their Metro Gateway card, which is supposed to make using public transportation more convenient. It doesn't. To reload the cards, riders must go to their store downtown or one of their Metrolink stations--neither of which is anywhere near where we live. And I wouldn't use Metrolink if they paid me to ride it. Guess who's never going to be asked for feedback ever again?


Now, Taco Bell is in the ol' crosshairs. Don't get me wrong--I love Taco Bell. But it's really, really frustrating when we order one black bean burrito, one Fritos burrito and three bean burritos and discover, after we get home, that none of the burritos are labeled. We had to cut them open to tell which was which.

Is it too much trouble to put a sticker on them or something?

This is the same Taco Bell I used to frequent when I was still allowed to go out alone. I'd get there early. It was supposed to open at 9:30. I'd call them. 

"What time do you open?"

"9:30."

"No, you don't. I'm outside your door and it's still locked."

"Hold on."

Then they changed their opening time to 10:00. Same thing.

"What time do you open?"

"10:00."

"No, you don't. I'm outside your door and it's still locked."

Pause. Then, in a muffled but frustrated voice:

"Didn't anybody unlock that @!$$#%* door?"

WHAT ALTERNATE UNIVERSE IS THIS?

I worked downtown for the eight years between college and selling my first novel. I knew my way around--I could find anything downtown.

In the years since, I've spent little time down there. St. Louis Center is gone and Union Station isn't what it used to be. There are restaurants everywhere, so why go all the way downtown to eat?


Back in the late '70s-early '80s, it was mostly businesses, hotels, retail and yes, restaurants. Today, some of those big office buildings are apartment buildings. Apartment buildings? People actually live there?

Collin and I had to go downtown yesterday. For all my complaining about Metro's new reloadable fare cards not being the convenience they're supposed to be, I was the first to receive their new card for seniors and disabled riders (half-price fares). 

Now to nag them into online reloading.

Anyway, Collin and I got downtown early--early in that we didn't have to be at Metro until 2:00, not early in that the Metro driver was ten minutes late and almost caused me to fall off the bus (she didn't pull all the way to the curb and didn't lower the bus for my walker).

Great start. Not.

We stopped for lunch at Planet Sub. The subs are good, the chili's good and the big cookies are very good.

At Metro, we were told the process would take about twenty minutes. True. Most of that was spent trying to take my photo for the back of the card (for a minute there, I thought I broke it).

Afterward, we still had an hour to kill before we could get the express bus home. The ride from our place to Metro had taken ninety minutes, and taking a walker aboard had not been easy, so we opted to take the commuter express that would only take twenty minutes.

We found a little hole-in-the-wall donut shop that has some huge, delicious donuts. We didn't find the CVS we were looking for, at least not where we were looking. And we found it surprisingly difficult to find a public restroom. I remember a time when they were everywhere downtown. What happened?

I'm now thinking of writing a guide for travelers--city guides to public restrooms, complete with ratings.

Friday, December 28, 2018

GOAL: To See My Face On A Smuckers Jar!

Just for fun, I tried several of those life expectancy calculators that are available online. They asked questions, basic stuff about height, weight, lifestyle, medical issues, etc.

All of them estimated my life expectancy at 85-87 years. To be honest, I would have guessed I'd be lucky to make it to 70. I'm still skeptical, but it's good to be optimistic.

I know people--a lot of them, actually--I'd bet will outlive me by a wide margin. My friend Carolyn, for one. She's active, she eats healthy stuff most of the time. She and her husband travel a great deal, they keep themselves mentally sharp.

William is another. Besides being twenty-seven years younger than me, he's also very active. I think he walks just about everywhere, and chocolate addiction aside, from what he's told me, he mostly steers clear of junk food.

But then, nobody in my family has ever been known for healthy lifestyles (at least not as far as I know), but several made it into their 80s and 90s. Maybe there's a genetic advantage.

Besides, I did vow to make it to 100 just to annoy the Republicans who've made it their mission to keep us from getting as much of our Social Security as possible. 

I really would like to see my mug on one of those Smuckers jars on the Today show....

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

PACK-RAT VS. NEAT FREAK: SMACKDOWN AT THE DUMPSTER

Mom was the pack-rat; Dad was the neat freak. She was Oscar Madison, he was Felix Unger.



Mom kept things long past their usefulness. She didn't quite qualify as a hoarder, but it was close sometimes. She'd write a phone number or address on whatever was handy at the time but never quite get around to copying them into her phone book. Ditto recipes. She'd keep mail stuck in drawers or cabinets and was never able to find a specific letter or bill when she needed it. 

Dad, on the other hand, despised clutter. He liked things neat and often threatened to replace all of our tables with gigantic funnels so Mom would have nowhere to put stuff. He was a minimalist in the truest sense of the word. A place for everything, everything in its place. If he needed something, he knew where it was. Mom could never find anything.

Mom liked to go to garage sales on Wednesdays. She'd come home with a bunch of stuff she was never going to use. She'd take everything to our storeroom until she found a suitable place for each of her treasures. 

Next time she went out, Dad would haul all of it out to the dumpster.

This pattern repeated every week for several years. Mom and Dad are gone now, as are Mom's garage sale "treasures," but Collin and I are carrying on the family tradition. I'm not the obsessive neat freak I used to be, but I do have issues with clutter...and a storeroom full of crap to deal with. Collin, well, he has a lot of good traits, but he also has the pack rat gene.

I wonder if there's a twelve-step program for pack rats?

Monday, December 24, 2018

Encore: Deck The Halls, Part Two (2013)

Gag gifts have become a tradition in our family. I just bought Collin's yesterday.


**********

And a parrot in a pear tree.... 

Ooops! Now, where was I? Oh, yeah...Mom had a roll of TP under the tree and Dad was trying to explain a box of poop to Homeland Security. Well, not exactly.But he was a repeat offender. As a matter of fact, he chose one victim twice simply because she swore he'd never fool her again. 




The target was Cathy, a friend of mine from high school. After Poopapalooza 1, she tried and tried to find a way to exact her revenge--but a whoopee cushion in his truck just didn't quite equal Dad's prank. When she told him she'd never fall for it again, well, that was like throwing down the gauntlet. He looked for a way to trick her into opening the box for a second time, and she unwittingly gave him the solution when she commented on a local souvenir--an outhouse ashtray. (Yep, we're about as redneck as you can get without being Jeff Foxworthy's blood relative.) 

I was seven months pregnant with Collin at the time and had been visiting Cathy, her then-husband, Ralph, and their son Damien (no connection to the character in "The Omen"). Dad sent the ashtray to Cathy with a message I was to relate: he knew she liked it and was sending it as a peace offering. She was touched--until she opened the little outhouse and saw the tiny turd, standing straight up in the tiny potty. 


                           (Not exactly like the one he gave Cathy, but close enough.)

"I'm gonna kill that old man!" Cathy shrieked. (She didn't know it couldn't be done without a silver bullet.) 

I've got a lot of Christmases to cover, so please bear with me. Twelve days may not be enough.

**********

OK, it's not politically correct. I'm not politically correct. Stats say 80% of the U.S. is Christian. That means I'm in the majority, and last time I checked, majority rules. Even if it didn't, I'm a Christian and proud of it. 

I have a lot to apologize for, but that's not on the list. 

Christmas 2008: In Iraq, Santa was making the rounds wearing a bullet-proof vest and packin' heat. Who'd ever have thought Santa would have to travel with weapons? 




Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus--and he's armed and dangerous.Don't let him catch you being naughty. There's a stiff penalty for being naughty. 

In New Zealand in 2007, a bunch of drunken Santas invaded a cineplex. Drunken Santas? Wow...it's so hard to get good help these days. 




Normally, I try to be done with everything long before the Big Day because I detest crowds and insanity (except my own, of course), but yesterday, I not only ventured out into the last-minute chaos, I was oblivious to it. I had my trusty MP3 player with me, so all was well. 

Music really does soothe the savage beast. I'm living proof of that. 

First stop: the bank, to make a deposit before their early close at noon. We've been with the same bank for something like seventeen years, through numerous mergers and name changes. I've been there longer than most of the personnel. At the teller window (I don't think they call 'em teller cages anymore, though at times they probably should), Pat was smiling. She had good reason to smile: a holiday falling on a weekday. They get, if you'll pardon the expression, screwed on Sunday holidays. Not even a half day off.

Big smiles all around. 

"I'm going to get my turkey," I mentioned. 

She didn't miss a beat. "I thought he was at work," she deadpanned, referring to Collin, not the edible turkey awaiting me at Dierbergs' deli. 

I laughed like a looney tune. Couldn't help it. That was a good line. Wish I'd thought of it. 




We had a pre-fab (OK, pre-cooked) turkey. My son, then an aspiring chef, had no intention of preparing the Christmas dinner. (Did I mention this before? Or maybe I only mentioned it repeatedly to HIM.) He worked all week at the restaurant and had no interest in cooking on his one and only day off. So with our pre-cooked bird, instant sides and my aversion to cooking anything other than in a microwave, dinner was ready in a record 30 minutes. 

Hey, I have better things to do on Christmas Day than cook.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Friday, December 21, 2018

Encore: Deck the Halls (2013)

Because I'm still not back to 100%, I'm going to repeat a post I did back in 2007. Most of you weren't reading my blog then (it was still on MySpace!), so it will be new to you. For those who have seen it before, it's been a while, so please don't send me lumps of coal! And be sure you check out all the cool blogs listed on my sidebar, like William's photoblog--which, coincidentally, has the same title as mine today--Gayle's Square Dog Friday post featuring Hamish in an elf hat, and London Lulu's Christmas blog!


**********

I love Christmas. I love the big dinners and the music and the presents and the family all together for that one special day. Most of all I love the real reason for Christmas. I love knowing that 2000 years ago, God came to earth to live among us, to know us and to save us. I love thinking about what that first Christmas must have been like, and being able to see it so clearly in my own mind. 

I don't love so much of what Christmas has become: angry people on the roads and in the malls, pushing and shoving, jostling for position in the lines for the most popular gift items. I don't love crowds and high-pressured sales pitches and lazy bums who prefer to steal someone else's money and/or gifts instead of working for their own. 


I was at the mall last Christmas. It was funny, actually--as I went from one store to another, a young man attempted to charm his way to a sale: arms outstretched, big smile, big tube of very expensive lotion in hand in a bid to convince me I could not live without that lotion. Little did he know. I changed lanes, moving to the other side of the aisle, and that big smile instantly vanished. I can only imagine what I was called in that disappointing moment! 

Then there was the turkey who attempted to help himself to my cash. I felt his hand the minute it hit the zipper on my messenger bag. I came down hard on the trespassing hand. "If you want to keep that, buddy, you'd better take it back NOW." 

I think he had an accident, if you know what I mean. 

I don't love that there are some who want to celebrate Christmas even though they don't believe in God, in Jesus. And I'm not referring to religions other than Christianity. Our Jewish friends celebrate Hannukah. Our Muslim neighbors have their holy days. I don't know much about other religions, but I'm sure they have theirs as well. No...my gripe is with atheists, the real party poopers. They don't believe in God, don't believe that he came to live in our world as the infant Jesus, but they want the holiday anyway. They want to say the more politically correct "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" so they can have all of the fun without belonging to the club. 



I wonder how they explain to their kids what they're celebrating? "Oh, we're celebrating Daddy being sober for a whole year!" 

I say to them, don't celebrate a holiday if you don't believe in it. Too bad, Mr. and Ms. Grinch. No presents for you. 

My cousin Jeff, who grew up with us, is a Jehovah's Witness. They don't celebrate holidays or birthdays. My father always said Jeff became a Witness not because he really believed in their doctrine, but because he was just plain cheap and didn't want to have to buy any gifts. Jeff bristled every year when we put up our Christmas tree. He thought we should give up our tree because HE didn't believe in it. He claimed we were worshipping the tree, of all things! Dad couldn't resist--when he'd see Jeff's truck pull up in front of the house, he told us to get down on our knees and bow to the tree when Dipstick came through the door.


Mom complained that was a little hard on the knees. 

Christmas was always a big deal for Mom and Dad, and it's at this time of the year that I miss them most. (Dad's been gone 16 years now, and Mom 9.) They were always like a couple of kids in their unabashed enthusiasm. They'd spend weeks preparing, shopping for gifts and trying to hide them from us. We were never allowed to put the tree up until Christmas Eve, and it was always the same: we'd get some form of takeout so Mom wouldn't have to cook--she'd begin preparing our Christmas dinner that night and couldn't deal with TWO meals at once. We'd watch a rerun of A Christmas Carol on TV--always the 1938 black-and-white version. 

Once the tree was up and completely decorated, the gifts would start to appear from their hiding places. They would be placed under the tree and Dad would do a count to make sure everyone had an equal number of packages. There was never one gift per person, always at least 7 or 8, usually 10. 

I remember one year Mom was a package short. Dad quickly remedied the problem with cash. He didn't want her to know it was cash, of course, so he wrapped it around a roll of toilet paper. Mom knew it probably wasn't just TP--Dad was notorious for gag gifts. He could be very creative in his gift-giving. His Christmas tradition was a little weird: instead of a lump of coal, the unfortunate target of his ire would get a beautifully-wrapped box of poop. 

I kid you not. POOP. Usually of the canine variety. I remember one Christmas when I was in college, he actually mailed the poop to a friend who was living in Tennessee at the time. I held my breath until it was received, wondering what would happen if postal inspectors happened to open the darned thing! 

I miss those good old days. 

Collin and I are making new traditions, new memories. Collin has never been good at keeping a secret--it's like lying. He didn't get that gene, for which I am grateful. 

Trouble is, I will know every gift he's giving me BEFORE Christmas. The Christmas before Dad died, he wanted a self-propelling lawn mower. He had a bad heart (only in the physical sense) and was having trouble using his old mower. To haul it in Mom's Escort, we'd have to put the back seat down, so we left Collin, then 11 years old, with Dad while we went to get it. All of our plans to sneak the thing into the back yard to hide it were, as it turned out, unnecessary--Dad came to the front door when we arrived, grinning from ear to ear. I knew immediately that my darling son had ratted me out. 

I miss those days.

(Credits: cartoons are all from Dumpday.com)

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Do You Really Want To Know Who's Following You?

I haven't been blogging with any regularity in the past several months. I do most things online on my phones. Blogging from a smartphone is possible, but not easy--so I didn't. Since most of the bloggers I followed (and who followed my blog) gave up blogging over the past few years, it started to feel like maybe it just wasn't worth the effort anymore. 


I was posting here, as well as the four connected blogs set up especially for my current writing projects. They weren't catching on, though I did have a few regular commenters (thanks, William, Grace and Eve!).

Since I own my domain and the four sub-domains (is that what they're called?), I'm not giving them up. Besides, giving up a domain can leave it open to blogsquatters. One fellow blogger abandoned one of her blogs and it was almost immediately taken over by a hardcore porn blogger. Maybe I'll come back to blogging at some point, if it seems worthwhile again. Maybe I'll repost stuff I'm currently posting on my Three Rs Facebook page. Time will tell.

Anyway, I do go check every couple of weeks for spam and scams--kind of like sweeping out the dungeon to keep the vermin out. Today, just out of curiosity, I decided to check my stats. This is what I found:

Pageviews
China 576
United States 189
Unknown Region 19
Russia 18
United Kingdom 13
Germany 7
France 5
Canada 4
United Arab Emirates 3
Indonesia 3

China? Seriously?

If they're looking for valuable information, they're in the wrong place!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

What Would You Do if You Won Over a Billion Dollars?

Collin and I each got tickets for this one and Powerball, not really expecting to win (which is why we don't waste too much money on lottery tickets). We started out to have fun plotting what we'd do if we had actually won. Funny thing was that the plan we came up with wasn't really funny at all.
 
 
 
1.  Tell no one. That kind of attention never has a good end.  
 
2.  Plan before collecting the lump sum payment. Get legal/financial advice. Set up a trust so the winnings could be collected anonymously (our state is one of those that allows it). Living trusts are great. They pay the bills and take care of investments, property, payment of inheritances to heirs, etc.
 
3.  Share. Nobody needs that much money. Our church would be at the top of that list, followed by a number of charities, our closest friends and those individuals and organizations that helped us when we really, really needed it. 
 
4. Go home. My dad designed a house for me, but never got to build it. I still have the plans.  But instead of building, Collin and I agreed that we would try to buy back the last house Dad built for our family. Collin never lived there--Dad, Mom and I lived there for about six years. I was almost ten when we moved in and we moved out just before my sixteenth birthday. I loved that house. Collin got to see it once, a few years after Dad died. We almost bought it back then. I told him if we offered enough, it just might happen.

But we didn't win, and who knows when we'll get adventurous and play again? I suspect that one day, Collin will get the house, though.
 
 
 

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Pick a Path and Stick to It, Already!

Eventually, I'm going to get back into a blogging routine. Eventually, I'm going to choose a direction and stick with it.

Or so I keep telling myself.
 
Photo: Proactive Coaching
 
 
First, Collin and I decided to part ways with our publisher. We were going to self-publishing again. We were going to (finally) do the series. I was going to write a memoir.

Then, we decided An Army of Angels should be the series title. I thought Riding out the Storm should be the new title of the second book in the series. Chasing the Wind, Riding out the Storm--no, all of the books will not have weather-related titles. This just worked for this particular book. The memoir, if I ever finish it, will need a new title.

So far, so good. But yesterday, during church services, I started thinking that maybe we shouldn't republish the old books at all. I only did it to start with because I wanted ebook copies for myself. They're still available in the original paperback format from third-party sellers. Crazy, huh?

I've changed as a person and as a writer in the years since those books were published. A friend, a fellow author, someone I've known for most of my career, commented that Chasing the Wind is very different from my old books. That made me wonder if reissuing my backlist was such a good idea. Would it confuse readers? Would anyone who might like my new books not give them a chance if they didn't like my past novels?

I told Collin what I was thinking. He agreed that it might be best to just move forward. So maybe I'm not nuts after all.

Now to actually write some new stuff! (Yeah, I know....)
 
 
Postscript: It's been one of those weekends.  There's dog poop on our patio--but we don't own a dog. I scratched an itch on my leg the other day and our living room ended up looking like a crime scene.It was just a little scratch, for crying out loud! Where did all that blood come from, anyway? (Photos of the bloodbath are on my Facebook page.)



 
 

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

I Heart Murphy Brown

Collin describes himself as "center left" and me as "center right." That was a pretty accurate description of us until the last election. Now, we're both firmly anti-Trump. 

And we both love Murphy Brown.



 
I've been a fan since the original series (1988-1998). We both watch the reruns on Antenna TV. And now, there's the reboot, which premiered last week. Loved the first episode. Can't wait to see what else she has to say about the Nightmare on Pennsylvania Avenue.

I have a lot in common with Murphy (Candice Bergen), career choice and Betty Ford Clinic aside. We both have short fuses. Our censors have been asleep at the wheel since we could talk (okay, maybe not that far back). We love good pranks and have been known to stage more than a few. We're both single mothers of sons whose fathers...well, maybe it's best not to go there. We've both had issues with certain politicians. We both suck at relationships (it took me a long time to realize I didn't even want to be married--or anything remotely like marriage).

Murphy and I both stand up for what we believe, even when everybody else thinks we're wrong...or nuts. Our censors are almost always asleep at the wheel. We don't play well with idiots. 

 
Recently, the episode aired in which Murphy discovered she was pregnant and struggled with the decision as to whether or not she would have the baby. She doubted she was cut out for motherhood. I never considered not having Collin, but I did doubt my mothering skills. So did my parents. Mom said women are hit with the maternal instinct at the birth of their baby.

"You must have ducked," she told me. 

I remember once, being out with Mom, running into someone she knew. The woman took one look at my bump and said, "I didn't know you got married."

I feigned dismay. "Crap! I knew I forgot something!"

A friend from high school was also surprised to see me pregnant. "How did that happen?" she wanted to know.

"I know you slept through most of high school, but I thought you at least got through sex ed," I said.

Murphy was nervous when she brought her baby home from the hospital. I can relate. She asked Eldin (Robert Pastorelli) if he thought she'd be a good mother. "No," he said, "but I will."

Murphy had Eldin. I had Mom and Dad.

 
I recall once, early in the original series' run, being on the phone with a fellow author when she made note of the time, reminding me that Murphy Brown would soon be on. "I love Murphy Brown," I told her.

There was laughter on the other end of the line. "Why am I not surprised?" she asked. 

 

Monday, September 24, 2018

Shall We Try This Again...and Again...and Again?

I keep telling myself I'm going to buckle down and make posts on a regular basis, but as you can see, so far that plan has been a dismal failure. In my own defense, however, the last couple of weeks have been exceptionally busy.

Okay, it was busy for Collin. I slept through most of it. I'm training for the nonexistent Olympic Power Napping team. I think I'm a shoo-in for the gold medal!

A few months ago, Collin and I made the decision to leave our publisher, Creativia, and go back to self-publishing. Collin has been getting his degree in business administration, and he's done exceptionally well in marketing courses, so he's really into doing all the business stuff this time around--from packaging to marketing. he handles all the non-writing stuff in addition to collaborating on the research and brainstorming ideas. He did the new cover for Alexander's Empire:


The novel, for those of you who haven't read it, was set in the 1980s, and the World Trade Center was one of the most important settings.
 
He also created new headers for my Facebook page, like this one (it'll have to be altered for Twitter): 

 
Over the next several weeks, we'll be re-releasing The Unicorn's Daughter, Alexander's Empire and Angels at Midnight. I chose to not reissue the rest of my backlist--the old series romances just aren't selling well enough to make the work involved worthwhile. The other two single titles, well, now that I look at them twenty-five years after publication, I just don't think they were all that good. I see how much I've changed as a writer, and it makes me think that my characters, were they real people, would have changed, too--so we'll find out, if I can get off my butt and write the series!

We're not only back at Amazon, we're also now publishing with Smashwords. Once the books are approved for their premium catalog, they'll also be available through Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and other outlets. They'll be available through public libraries. And Smashwords offers the audiobook option, which I've always wanted.

And I still don't have to do the grunt work! Yay! 

 

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

I Hope You Choke on the Tacos, Jerkface!

Okay, I confess. I'm lazy. I can fall asleep upright.  I sleep 20 out of 24 hours a day (yes, I've morphed into a cat!). I love not having to go out to eat, since we have DoorDash, Grub Hub, Uber Eats and Postmates to bring the food to us. Collin has trouble getting me to use public transportation,  now that I've experienced the joys of Lyft.



Unfortunately, however, these luxuries are not without issues. We once had a grocery order delivered that was not only missing our bananas, but included a package of frozen beef patties we didn't order. What am I supposed to do with frozen beef patties?

Don't dare use the C word--you know the word. *shudder* Cook!
 
Once, Collin ordered six bananas. They delivered six pounds of bananas. It's a good thing we love bananas! 

Grocery delivery has improved greatly since then, with Walmart taking the Most Accurate award, if you don't count the employee who filled our order not seeming to know the difference between Great Grains Banana Nut Crunch cereal and Honey Bunches of Nuts cereal with bananas (twice!), or swapping turkey with cheese sandwiches for the chicken salad sandwiches I ordered (I don't like turkey). 
 

 
If only the same could be said for restaurant delivery. Case in point: we ordered Denny's On Demand for dinner on Sunday afternoon, after coming home from our church's Lunch Bunch at  Fuzzy's Tacos after services. (Okay, so we do eat out sometimes!) It would seem they really don't take the On Demand part literally. The order arrived  minus my dessert. Collin contacted them, asking that they send the apple crisp we had already paid for. No, they said,  they couldn't do that. We could either have a credit or we could pick it up at the restaurant. I guess they missed the fact that we ordered delivery to avoid having to go out.

If we wanted to go to the restaurant, we would have eaten there to start with. It was their error, so they should have delivered the missing apple crisp at no additional charge.

This is not an isolated incident. Our orders have arrived with at least one item missing enough times to make us wonder if it's not simply a mistake but delivery drivers taking an item or two from their customers' orders. Once, we placed an order for Jack in the Box. Collin received notification that the driver was at the restaurant. The next notice he received said that the driver was off the radar, so to speak, and they would have to send another one to take care of our order. 


I have this mental image of a DoorDash driver headed south on I-55, eating our tacos. I hope they got pulled over for some traffic violation or other.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Nope, I'm Not Dead...Yet!

I just watched TV coverage of Sen. John McCain's funeral--the beginning of it, anyway. The hearse just arrived at the state capitol building in Phoenix. It's a sad day, for his family, for the state of Arizona, and for all of us. There aren't many good guys left in our government. We need more good guys, especially now. Some of them are retired now, some have passed away.


We just lost another one.

I hate funerals. I've decided to skip my own, actually.

My dad planned ahead for everything. Except his own funeral. He knew it was coming--and not just in the general sense. He had a premonition, dreams of his own death. He had money saved for Mom. He just didn't make any plans for his burial. He didn't buy a cemetery plot or make any funeral arrangements.

Not that it was never discussed. He had been in the Army and therefore was entitled to be buried at Jefferson Barracks. He was fine with that. Mom wasn't. She wanted them both to be buried at the same cemetery where her parents, my grandparents, were buried. Cremation was discussed. I brought it up. Dad liked the idea. Mom didn't.

So when Dad passed away, unexpected by everyone but Dad himself, we had to make last-minute arrangements. Mom was a basket case, popping sedatives like they were Pez. I bought four plots at the cemetery she'd chosen and a family friend helped make the funeral arrangements. It was a small, dignified service on a cold, February afternoon. Collin was only eleven at the time, so I didn't take him to the cemetery. Still, I knew it was difficult for him. Collin adored Dad. He didn't know his own father; Dad was the only male role model he had in his life.

Mom's funeral, by contrast, was a freak show. The twins she and Dad raised, who couldn't be bothered to visit her in the two years before, while she was struggling after a series of strokes, showed up. The girl put on a show, supposedly overcome by grief. The boy took one of Mom's sisters aside to ask if Mom had any insurance, if he was a beneficiary. There was a couple in attendance, the family suck-ups who were not there out of any respect or love for Mom, but for her eldest sister.

I found myself wishing I wasn't there. I'm fairly certain Mom would have felt the same way.

I decided then that I don't want Collin to have to deal with the stress of a funeral when my time comes. I asked our pastor if there's anything in the Bible that prohibits either cremation or donating organs for transplants or medical research. He assured me there isn't, if it's done for the right reasons.

It would seem the Gnostics did some weird stuff that raised questions about cremation.

Pastor Brandon reminded me that the Bible says we get new bodies at the Resurrection. He said if we kept these old ones, we'd all be walking around looking like zombies.

Ick!

I wonder if the new bodies look like the ones we have now? I'm hoping for an upgrade....

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Who Knew the Mouse Was Actually a Rat?


Bear with each other and forgive one 
another if any of you has a grievance 
against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

- Colossians 3:13

If God can forgive, why can't Disney?


  Oh, Mickey, how could you?

Recently, Disney Studios fired Guardians of the Galaxy writer/director James Gunn after some offensive Twitter posts he'd done almost a decade earlier were unearthed by right-wingers upset about his very vocal opposition to the guy currently living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Almost immediately, the fans rallied to Gunn's defense, posting their protests on Twitter and Facebook.

Predictably, there were also posts applauding the termination and attacking anyone who defended Gunn. Were they disappointed Marvel fans, or were they just trolls? Nobody knows, yet.

The Guardians cast--Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Pom Klementieff, Michael Rooker, Sean Gunn (yes, James Gunn's brother) and Karen Gillan--issued a joint statement in support of Gunn and asking for his reinstatement. I'm one of over 300,000 who signed a petition demanding he be rehired and voicing my support on social media.

One nitwit who believed Gunn's (old) inappropriate tweets mean he's a pedophile responded to me with a suggestion that I have James Gunn babysit my son. My response: "Well, James Gunn would be way out of my pay range and my son is 39 and bigger than Dave Bautista, so...."

Why do I feel so strongly about this? Aside from being a fan, I know too well what it's like to do something really stupid (and to some, offensive) and still be judged for it decades later. As actress Selma Blair put it, if we go on persecuting someone for mistakes they've owned up to years later, even though they've changed and are no longer the person they were then,  what incentive do we have to change, to grow?

As for the content of Gunn's tweets, I can relate there as well. When my contract with one of my publishers ended, I was determined to break away from the glamorous romance writer image that had been created for me. It was an exhausting role to do. I was by no means glamorous and knew almost nothing about romance. I delivered my option proposal, about a bush pilot living in Africa, a story as un-glamorous and un-romantic as I could think up. They rejected it, of course.

Then my dad died.

I was in a really dark place for a long time. I tried psychotherapy, but had a therapist who did more harm than good. I had to find my way back to healthy with a different guide. I kept writing, but the proposals I sent to my agent were so dark and disturbing, she wisely refused to send any of them out.

I'm fortunate, it would seem, that Twitter didn't exist in the early 1990s.

Some of you who know me well have heard this story before. My agent urged me to take some time off, to heal. She likened me to Picasso.  "He had his Red Period and his Blue Period," she told me. "This is your Ugly Period."

I struggled to get the creative spark back, but it took a long time. First, I had to find faith. I had to find God. When I did finally emerge from the darkness, my first published work was Chasing the Wind, a novel about faith and redemption, the struggle between good and evil, focused on a scientist involved in illegal experiments who discovers he's been chosen to be a prophet.

Yes, we can and do change. Some for the better, some, sadly, not for the better.

If every time the alt-right targets someone with trash from their pasts and manages to ruin their careers, their lives, who's next?  Where does it end?

Think about that. 

Postscript: Just read this from ComicBook.com. Looks like good news could be forthcoming!
http://comicbook.com/2018/07/31/james-gunn-guardians-of-the-galaxy-reinstated-possible/