Today’s rant on Facebook…

Yesterday, while checking posts on my social media, Facebook did a pop-up that hit my angry button, and I fired off this post:

Facebook just asked me to donate to help Nepal. Did Nepal send any money to help after Katrina?

I think not.

Apparently, that struck a nerve with my friends, because I received a number of startled responses, beginning with one that said, tentatively, “umm…you know that Nepal is actually pretty dirt poor, right?” and continuing with some from people who know me less well “And if people only helped those who helped them first, then no one would ever get help. It has to start somewhere.” It continued with some posts that ranged from faintly accusatory to concerned to humorous: “Loving one’s fellow-man should never start with “what’s in it for me?” Not ever.” and “That does not sound like the Warjna that I know. Did you hit your head? Do you have encephalitis? Were you hacked?” and “I’m going with hacked for $200, Alex, er, Alan….

At that point I realized what I had done, and decided I should explain. I posted the following, and I’m posting it here as well in hopes that my point will continue to resonate and put out positive vibes of education:

Sorry. Perhaps I should explain.

First off, yes, I know that Nepal is dirt poor. That comment was sarcasm.

Second, I have no real problem with helping others in disasters. I do that myself when I can, whether it is donating to the Red Cross or reaching out a hand to someone in a parking lot.

What I do have a problem with, and I have said this in my posts time and time again, is that we Americans _as_a_culture_ tend to open our purses for every other nation on the planet, and fail to help our own.

Are you aware that there were people still living in FEMA trailers more than FIVE YEARS after Katrina? That there are people in New Orleans and the surrounding areas today that still have no homes of their own?

We’re all “Let’s send money to Nepal,” “Little children are starving in Africa,” “Japan had a tsunami,” and all the other disasters, when there are little children starving right here in America. When there are veterans living on the streets–if you can call that living. When people with mental illnesses are turned out of hospitals and treatment centers because there is just no money to help them.

Isn’t that a disaster?

I’m not saying we shouldn’t send money to help others outside our borders. I’m just saying we should be sending equal amounts to help people here at home. But there is a stigma to being poor in America that we don’t attach to the poor elsewhere, and that is a shame and a crime. That somehow the poor of America did it to themselves by being lazy and unworthy, and therefor don’t deserve help.

Perhaps I’m a bit touchy on this subject, because it hits close to home. I know some of those people in New Orleans. I have–or had–friends there, some of whom had to leave their beloved homeland and go elsewhere just to find a job and a home. And I have other friends right here in River City who asked to borrow a tent so they could camp out somewhere, because they had no job and no money.

But if anyone is offended by my words then perhaps they should stop and really think about why they are offended. Perhaps it is because my words hit too close for comfort.

Am I wrong, thinking like this? I don’t think I am.

To the one who told me, “And if people only helped those who helped them first, then no one would ever get help. It has to start somewhere,” I’d like to point out that America has been sending aid overseas for a hundred years or more. We have been sending help first. Where is our help, when we won’t even help ourselves?

To the one who said, “Loving one’s fellow-man should never start with “what’s in it for me?” Not ever.” You’re right, it shouldn’t. And that’s not what I said, and it’s not what I’m saying. I’m not even really asking those nations who have been helped by us to help us now. I’m asking US to help us. I’m not even asking us to help us FIRST, I’m just asking us to help US. And it would be nice if we did so in at least some proportion to what we send out.

The comment about this not sounding like the Warjna he knew–that was a sincere note of concern. And he was right, sort of. I usually manage to edit and filter so that my comments don’t come off the way it did. He’s used to more like the rest of this post. Sorry for scaring you, brother.

“…hacked for $200, Alex, er, Alan….” Good one!

*sigh* End of rant. Wish it was the end of the problem.

Depression, frustration, aggravation…

I’ve recently had a horrifying experience. One that has, however, confirmed in me that my true passion and avocation is writing. Sorry if this post is kind of a downer…

We writers all have our doubts, even writers like Chuck Wendig, great and wonderful and entertaining and creative and (are you listening, Chuck?) established and PAID writers. We all have those days when everything we put our hands to is drek. Horrible, awful, meandering, pointless drivel. Days when we’re sure no-one in the world would read more than the first two words before their eyes go up in flames while they’re screaming for the brain bleach.

Then there are days when The Muse, whichever one chooses to patronize us, comes up and lays the smackdown on us and the Magic happens. All those words, all smooth and sleek or broken and glittering like shards of glass, all those words that somehow on any other day never in a million YEARS could we have said them in just that way.

The Magic.

Those are the days I live for, as I’ve said in a previous post. Those are the days that make it all worthwhile, everything, the pain I’ve been through, the heartache, the anger. Those are the days when I know that all of that went into that one, beautiful, perfect piece of beauty. And that’s okay.

Life hasn’t been fun recently. I lost my job almost five years ago, and haven’t worked (for pay) since. Can’t find a job. Running out of money fast now. (Don’t think about that. It will all work out, it WILL.)

In fact, it hasn’t been fun since—yes, really—the turn of the century. Isn’t that the oddest phrase to use? True, though. 2001 was 9/11. My home town. People I had worked with, or at least who worked for the same company I did.

2003 my Mother died of Alzheimer’s. The scariest disease of all the scary diseases in all the universe, because someone who was smart and witty and articulate—is not. Not ever again, never.

2005 I lost almost everything I owned in a house fire. (I won, though. My cats were inside, and they survived, every one.)

2006, after finally getting everything back in the house, (though not unpacked yet, no, of course not) we had a freak rainstorm that flooded the room where—yes, you guessed it—the stuff was stored. There’s the crime, there—the heaviest stuff, of course, was on the bottom. That would be the BOOKS. Gone. Mulch and mildew.

Then, health problem after health problem. Hammer blow after hammer blow.

November, 2012: Two car accidents, the second totaled both cars (not my fault!). Then, NaNoWriMo. I won, in spite of spending a week searching for a new car instead of writing. I won! What a high that was! By the gods, I could beat anything!

December 2012: Don’t ever say that you can beat anything, it tempts Fate too much. A week in the hospital with blood clots in my lungs. No job, no insurance. But I had my laptop computer, and by the gods I was going to write, dammit! NOTHING was going to stop me.

2013: More of the same old. Dad died in late October, but we couldn’t have the funeral until December, my brother couldn’t get her to Florida from Montana. I was too stunned to even understand why.

2014: one of my oldest friends went into the hospital after a fall, then into a rehab for physical therapy. She died three days later, very suddenly, of probably a massive stroke. I really mean very suddenly: I was there. She looked up in the middle of the conversation, said “Oh, no!” and fell over. Then: utter chaos. EMTs, doctors, nurses, machines, ambulance—she was already gone. She was gone before she fell. I saw her go.

2015: the last damn straw. After the fire in ’04, I and my cats went to stay with a friend while the idiots who were rehabbing my house did their thing (For 11 months!) One of my cats romanced one of his cats, and pregnancy ensued. Fortunately, only one kitten. She was my affirmation of life, so that’s what I named her: Ankhet. Egyptian for “a living female creature.” In one week she went from being an attitudinal fussbudget to an apathetic ball of fur in the bathtub. Kidney failure, the vet said. There were things they could do—but why? To prolong her life for another few weeks, with no quality? I had to let her go. I had my beautiful furbaby put to sleep.

Now, I don’t know what the hell it is about my doctor, but if I go see her any time I’m stressed, I burst into tears the second she comes in the room. Nobody else gets that response from me, just her. Enough is enough, she says, I want you on antidepressants. I don’t want them, I said. I’ve lived with someone who was clinically depressed. I had long-term friendships with two other ones. I know what it is, I know what it looks like, I know what it feels like, and that’s not what’s happening here. I’m stressed, and I’m grieving. That’s not depression. (Trust me, it isn’t!)

Okay, fine, she says. Then you’re going on anti-anxiety meds. Okay, fine, I said. I’ll try it. She calls it in, I pick it up.

Remember when I said it was the last straw? Back there, two paragraphs. Whoa, was I wrong! A couple of days into it, we noticed that I didn’t “fizz” so much while driving. Idiot cuts me off? Okay, I saw it coming. No reason to fuss. Moron makes a left turn from the right lane? No problem. I have decent reflexes. Hey, I’ve mellowed out! This is good, right? But I was clenching my jaw all the time. Awake and asleep.

Nearly a month into it, I realized something. Two somethings, really. First, that I was having real trouble finding words. Long, frustrating pauses while I tried to dig the damned thing out and finish my sentence. My friends said, yeah, we noticed that. What the hell is that?. And then, I suddenly realized—in nearly a month I had written not. One. Damned. Word.

Not one.

You all are reading this, right? You came here to read this stuff because you’re writers, and you liked some of the stuff I wrote before. And I had not been able to concentrate long enough to string two words together on paper. Think how I felt when I realized that!

You don’t want to see me mad. The Incredible Hulk got nothin’ on me. I got mad.

NOT. FUCKING. HAPPENING!

You are NOT taking away the most important thing in my life, the one thing that makes me ME.

I picked up the phone and called my doctor and said I quit. I’m done. She didn’t want me to stop, but I ‘splained it to her in words of one syllable or less. Not gonna happen.

Okay, fine. That was about a week and a half ago now. As you can see, I can string sentences together in a fairly coherent manner. It took almost a week. I’m now on a different medication (3 days) and my friends are watching out for me this time (not that they weren’t before, just that they couldn’t figure out what was going on the first time). And if this new stuff FUBARs, I’m over it. I have another alternative I’ll look into. We’ll see.

But like I said—if I had had ANY doubts at all about whether this writing thing was for me? No doubts at all, now. There is nothing more important to me than writing. Well, at least, as far as things that I DO. The cats are still more important, they depend on me, and my friends are right up there, but my friends are generally capable of taking care of themselves for the most part. If they call, I’ll come a-runnin’. Drop what I’m doing and go. But that’s a momentary thing. From now on, NOTHING gets between me and my writing.

No power in the ‘verse can stop me.

Not even me.

Ari’s Nightmare

Okay, it’s the middle of NaNoWriMo, and it’s half past 3 in the morning, so I’m taking a break. “They” all say I should post to my blog, but–well, you see how often that happens.

This is a prequel to the novel I started in NaNo 2012: it’s not part of the novel itself, but this is the start of what happened to my main character that made her who she is today. The first line is a cliché, of course. Blame it on my local writing group–it was one of our writing prompts. Here goes:

It was a dark and stormy night. It was inevitable, she thought; the phrase had to pop up some time. A cliché, maybe, but true enough right now. First of the feeder bands for Hurricane Frances, it had come up behind her like—well, like a hurricane. God, was her brain going to keep on doing this? Yeah. Anything to keep her mind off the real issue.

Lightning struck a tree off to the side of the road; lit the world up around her like daylight and deafened her with the crack and instant boom of thunder. The concussion hit her ears and her chest simultaneously, no time to open her mouth to lessen the impact. She jerked in reaction and the motorcycle swerved wildly, its responsiveness a handicap in the driving rain. She corrected automatically, keeping the rubber side down the way her Dad had taught her.

She knew it was crazy, doing this. Crazy enough riding a motorcycle in a driving rainstorm; crazier still when there was not only rain but lightning—but in a hurricane, for God’s sake! She knew she’d hear all about it from Dad when she got home. Hers was the only vehicle on the road, tallest damn thing around till you got off into the fields. Can you say target?

But she had to get home. Had to. When Dad called and told her Mom had had a heart attack, she’d said, “I’ll be there,” tossed her phone on the bed and started to pack. Come hell or high water, she’d be there, just like they’d always been there for her. She grabbed her backpack, stuffed in some clothes and her laptop and case, and was out the door.

It wasn’t all that far from UF in Gainesville to the Ocala forest; about 80 miles. An hour or so, two at most in bad weather, and this was sure-hell bad enough. She was already soaked to the skin, and her laptop would’ve been useless trash except for the waterproof case Mom and Dad had given her when she went off to college. Her clothes would need to go in the dryer, backpack and all, when she got in. Her copper hair slithered out of her hoodie and whipped in her face, and she raised a hand to tuck it back.

Not too much longer, now. There was the Silver Springs exit, lit up by another flash of lightning. Further away than the last strike, thank God. She took the exit ramp down, the cycle hitting every puddle and throwing up a rooster tail behind her. She pulled out slowly onto SR 40; there wasn’t any traffic at this late hour, but with the weather this bad it didn’t pay to be stupid.

The road went through Silver Springs, then wound around through a number of small towns. At one point she looked down at her gas gauge and blinked in dismay. When had it hit empty? There was a little mom-and-pop gas station on the outskirts of Mill Dam, and thank God it was still open. She pulled in under the roof over the gas pumps and turned off the cycle. The downpour thundered on the metal roof, drowning out any sound, and the lights turned the rain coming off the roof into a dancing silver curtain. She could barely see the store’s light through the deluge.

She set the motorcycle up on its stand and dug through her pockets, looking for her phone. Would Dad have left the hospital yet? Was Mom okay? The phone was nowhere to be found. She started to reach for her backpack, and then had a flash of memory—the phone hitting the blanket on her bed. Shoot fire, she’d left the darn thing back in Gainesville. Well, she’d just have to do without. She’d hit home first, then decide which way to jump. If Dad wasn’t home, she could always call him from the trailer. She dug through her backpack for her wallet and pulled it out.

A car pulled in behind her. She glanced back at it; a sweet red Camaro, nice. She shifted the cycle up on its wheels to move it forward, giving the other vehicle plenty of room to reach the pumps without the driver getting wet. She pulled her credit card out of her wallet and swiped it through the reader, then put the wallet back in the backpack. God, she was tired. Worried.

Scared.

She hoped Mom would be alright. She couldn’t shake the bad feeling that had just come over her. What would they do if Mom—she refused to complete the thought. Instead, she put her hands on the small of her back and stretched, then twisted from side to side, easing her back from the tense ride. Behind her the driver got out of the Camaro and fiddled with his gas cap. She pulled her hood back and shook out her hair, then ran her fingers through to loosen the worst of the tangles. She heard the Camaro’s driver give a sharp intake of breath and looked over at him curiously. He was nondescript: medium height, medium brown hair, nothing to make him stand out except for his intent stare. She nodded at him with an uncertain smile and went back to filling her gas tank.

“Excuse me.” She turned and looked at him again, and saw that he had come closer. He had one hand out to her, a questioning gesture. “Do you know this area well?”

“Pretty well,” she said. “I’ve lived here all my life.”

“Oh, good.” He stepped forward again, and gestured. “I’m lost—at least, I think I’m lost. Can I get to Daytona from here?”

“Oh, sure,” she said and smiled again, then turned to point. Behind her she heard the scuff of a shoe, and then his arm came hard around her waist. His other hand rose and pressed something against her nose and mouth. She struggled, but his arms pinned her against him, and she suddenly felt dizzy, faint. Her knees went weak, and she started to fall. He turned his head into her damp curls and inhaled deeply.

You have such pretty hair.

…and back again.

So I’m reading posts and stuff from Chuck Wendig’s blog, terribleminds. (Insert link HERE, since I can’t seem to get the link-thingy to work): http://terribleminds.com/ramble/blog/      And I plunked down some hard e-currency to buy his 7-e-book/PDF/whatever series on writing. And I’m reading his ‘500 Ways To Tell A Better Story’. Chuck-boy says I have to have a website. Because, well, hey – website, right? Says I need “a central location where we can go and see who you are, what you’ve written, where you’re going to be, and what kind of whiskey you drink. Also preferably featuring photos of you without pants.” Umm–no. No pictures of me without pants, sorry. NOT gonna happen. But, okay.

So here I am, my central location. Where you can come & see who I am. Since I haven’t written anything that’s been published (except some poetry and some songs that a lot of people have heard and think are pretty cool (they told me so, that’s how I know!) but none of my stories yet, so you can’t see what I’ve written ’cause it ain’t finished yet. Where I’m going to be is right where I’m at, because since I haven’t published anything yet, no publisher wants me to be somewhere somewhen to sign whatever or anything. As to my whiskey? Cutty Sark, by choice. In a Rusty Nail with Drambuie, by preference. But I’m more a Coke Zero girl right now, ’cause alcohol costs money, and I’m a starving artist just yet.

I guess I should maybe post some stuff I’ve written, you know, like the lyrics of my songs and stuff; then you’d get to know me better. I’ll get to it sooner rather than later, I promise. Just not tonight, it being 2 AM plus a little, and I needing some sleep before it gets light out again. And maybe I’ll post a few pages of one of the stories I’m working on. Maybe. Just a teaser or two. Sound good to you?

You never call, you never write…

I sign up for something like this, and then never get back to it. Has to do with being ADD, I guess. And having WAY too much life to fit into the time I do have.

I write. I game. I ferry my friends around. I go to doctor’s appointments. Somewhere in there I shoehorn sleep time. And somehow there’s no time left to do things like this.

It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just – where did the time go?

I’m reposting …

I’m reposting this from another site I used to use. It’s a quick introduction to me.

I love cats, books, music, and make believe in all its forms.

I love the ocean, the mountains, the wind and the lightning.

I believe Deity has two natures and ten thousand names, and I respect every one of them.

I write poetry, music and stories, I go places on weekends and dress funny, and I am an ordained minister of the Universal Life Church.

I know the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything – and it isn’t 42.

Pet the cat!

To Strive, To Seek, To Find, And Not To Yield

Okay, so I got busy. Life, she is like that. Anyway, I’d like to post a bit of poetry that isn’t mine – but which is one of my serious inspirations. It is from “Ulysses” by Alfred Lord Tennyson.

… Come, my friends.

 ‘T is not too late to seek a newer world.

Push off, and sitting well in order smite  

The sounding furrows; for my purpose  holds

To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths

Of all the western stars, until I die.

It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;

It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,

 And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.

Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’

We are not now that strength which in old days

Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are —

One equal temper of heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

 

 In one of my darkest times these lines reminded me that I was strong, that I could stand up and deal with whatever life chose to send me.  Just because life pounds on you doesn’t mean that it won.  It only wins if you don’t get back up. 

Never give up.  Never surrender.