Friday, January 16, 2015

Introverts Explained.

I'm rebooting my blog.  This is the first thing I want to put on it.  Why?  Because I'm an introvert who acts so much like what people consider a stereotypical extrovert most of the time that few people would guess that it's what I am.  This explains introversion so much better than I ever could.

Check out the fabulous creator of this infotoon, Shazzbaa, here!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

How Nice!

Today, the girl working the window at KFC knew my order by my voice... Which normally would mean that I ate there FAR too often.  But I don't.  I haven't been to KFC for FOUR MONTHS.  At least.  And yet, she knew my order... Because of my voice.  

"You have the sweetest voice," she told me.  It made me feel inexplicably happy.  I wish I could have hugged her.  Knowing my order was enough... That was special.  But taking the time to tell me she liked my voice?  Just... awesome.

Little things mean SO much, sometimes.

Or all the time.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Just One

Even before we started a family, my husband had books on his shelf about the new era of families.  The one he asked me to read was Maybe Just One by Bill McKibben.  Recenly, I looked in our magazine rack beside the Porcelain Throne and found a new one: What to Expect When No One's Expecting by Jonathan V. Last.

That's the kind of guy my hubby is: intellectual, curious, and committed to smaller families.

We had just one... my beloved son Daniel, the child I feel is practically perfect in every way.  Not flawless... like his father, he can be rather introverted.  Like his mother, he can sulk up a storm.  But even his flaws are perfect for our family.  I wouldn't really know how to deal with a strong-minded terror of a child who throws seizure-like tantrums in public.  I'd be mortified.  But sulking and poor social skills?  I got that covered.

But still, there's been a miasma lingering around me, even after my husband and I decided that One Would Be It.  A stereotypical little gray raincloud.  That feeling that maybe One Shouldn't Be It.  That feeling of Maybe I'm Doing Something Wrong.

Let me be very clear - this is not Maybe I Want Another Baby.  I know that feeling - it comes in spurts, usually when I hand back a sweet little bundle of life to its mom.  But this isn't it.

And it isn't I Really Want a Daughter.  I know that feeling, too, when my adult niece messages me on Facebook just to say she loves me, or when I see the adorable little outfits my two year old niece wears and watch the videos my sister sends, or look at the girlie onesies I plan to buy in anticipation of that sister's second daughter (arriving in July!)  But I love my son, and can do everything with a son that I wanted to pass on to my daughter - so no, that's not it.

It might be, at least in part, I'm Terrified of Losing My Son To Another Woman Someday - but then I whomp myself over the head with a metaphorical 2x4 and remind myself, HE'S EIGHT.  DON'T GO BORROWING ANGST!

It's that invisible, unspoken "SHOULD" that won't let go that wraps me in knots.

The "You really SHOULD have a sib for your son."

The "Look at all the kids your cousins have, and how happy all those grandkids make your aunt... you SHOULD give that to your mom, too."

The "But look at all the other small families with two kids... you SHOULD have more than one; it's how things work."

I'm one of three children, my husband one of two.  I never contemplated, before, having only one child (though there were times in my youth that I bitterly regretted that I wasn't an "only" myself).  It just seemed an assumption that I'd marry and have two, maybe three.  It seemed normal.

And then I met my husband, who breathed a sigh of relief when he realized I didn't want a big family.  For him, two was Absolutely It.  No more.  He still cringes when I mention that I've got Sibling #3 in my class this year, after having sibs 1 and 2.  To my dear hubby, three is way too many.  Two was negotiable.  One was preferable to all others.

My husband is blissfully happy having one child.  He does not feel those invisible "shoulds," doesn't think his sister has the better idea by having two, doesn't in the least regret his parents' lack of numerous grandchildren.  He is content, and needs no validation.

While I am mostly content, I am one who DOES need validation.  I need to feel that I've made a wise and good choice, approved by my peers and my family.  I particularly need validation when I hear half-joking comments in staff meetings or in the staff lounge from other teachers about "those kids" who are a bit of a thorn in the side in school... "Well, you can tell HE'S an only child."  "What do you expect?  She's an only kid - spoiled rotten."  "No wonder she has trouble with other kids... she's an only."  Or, worst of all, "No wonder his parents stopped at one."

Articles abound on multi-child families, but search as I may, there's not much online rejoicing in the Joy of One.  I found a few books... but not many.  The lack only cemented my "SHOULD" complex.

I was, therefore, thrilled to read a wonderful article that - barring the miscarriage - could have been a page out of my own soul.  I think every mom who's got just one should read it... and I hope to find more just like it.

I'm OK with Having Only One Child by Andrea Meyer

In short: we live in a world where women are silently pressured to have more than one child.  (I'm not going to get into the whole "pressured to have children at all" debate - I don't want to set foot on THAT battleground.)  Even if we think we're making the best choice for ourselves, there is some degree of guilt or second-guessing our own instincts.  I wept for Andrea Meyer when she described her ninth-month miscarriage... I can't imagine having that experience.  And I felt her rage and colliding emotions when she looked at the plethora of second-and third-time moms cropping up all around, the conflict of not being absolutely certain one is enough.  And I thank her for being brave enough to write it all down.

Because, when it comes down to the core truth of the article, it's about knowing and trusting yourself.  And knowing that it's okay be be okay with having just one.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Lykoi - My Werewolf World

I'm a huge fan of writing fanfic to keep one's writing skills honed when your own words just won't come.  In one of my G.I. Joe fics, I introduced my own take on werewolves... the Lykoi.  I won't get into detail here... but this fragment came to me tonight after reading about Amazon's new AMAZON WORLDS initiative to bring fanfiction mainstream,  and I figured I'd write it down here.

The first Lykoi was a madman.

Some say he was Turned by a moon slave, and that was what drove him mad.  Some say he was always Lykoi, born packless to a human mother, and that trying to cope with the Change alone drove him insane.  Some say his human parents cast him out, and he was taken in by true wolves until his inner wolf felt the more natural form.

However he came to be, all the stories agree on one point:  by the time our story truly starts, he was well and truly mad in every sense of the word.

He took territory outside a small town - some say his birthplace, others say not - and, finding the cattle plump and the sheep and goats slow, hunted the human pastures rather than the forests.  When the humans turned their dogs loose on his trail and hunted him with traps and snares, he killed the dogs and sprung the traps, leaving the former at the city gates and the latter in hopeless tangles, for he had still enough human mind to be cunning as well as hungry.  

He became the nightmare of the countryside.  Some said he was the spawn of Satan, others judgement from God for the sins of the townsfolk.  

And then a holy man appeared, traveling from afar, plainly robed and sandal-footed.  He smiled at the citizens' tales and walked out into the fields at twilight with the village priest and a handful of farmers for companions.  The farmers fled at the first howl from the woods, and when the mad Lykoi charged from the forest, fangs bared and slavering, even the priest fell back - but the holy man only stopped, and laughed, and called the Lykoi "brother wolf."

It was the word "brother" that stopped him in his tracks.


He knew the word.  Remembered it.  Perhaps he had been a brother, once.  Had a sister, had a brother of his own.  He dimly remembered being more than a ravening and ravenous beast - seeing what had been come out from his misty memory, like a ship coming out through a fog.  


The word stopped him, and the kind tone of the holy man, chiding him for his poor behavior, settled the beast inside him.  When the holy man proposed a bargain, his mind had cleared enough to grasp and accept it.  No more killing.  No more traps.  No more hunting.  Peace, instead, and acceptance back into the human pack.

He heard the words, and nodded, and placed his massive paw on the holy man's hand to seal the bargain.

What happened next is, like so many things, conjecture.  The Lykoi did find acceptance into the human pack.  Some say he was able to resume his human form, shifting to his wolf self only when the need to run wild under the moon became too strong to resist.  Some say he remained wolf for the rest of his days.  Most stories say that he took a wife - in some, a human woman; in others, a moon slave.  Still others say he took a true wolf for a mate, and of their many pups, some few were the first true Lykoi children who grew to form the first Lykoi packs.

In the end, though, it's all just story.  Nobody knows the truth, and the version of the tale changes depending on the teller.  Only the moral remains fixed, unwavering: Lykoi need a pack.  Cast out, wandering, solitary - that way madness lies, and a packless Lykoi is no better than a moon slave, and hardly more sane.

And that's where my story starts.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Post of 5's

WHAT I'M DOING: Trying to find some balance between school work, housework, and creative work.  Failing, but trying.

WHAT I'M READING:  Just finished NEW AVENGERS: BREAKOUT by Alissa Kwirty, as well as two youth biographies - one of CS Lewis, one of JRR Tolkien.  On the shelf - STAR WOLF by Kathryn Lasky, a kids' animal fantasy.

WHAT I'M LISTENING TO:  THE AVENGERS AND PHILOSOPHY: EARTH'S MIGHTIEST THINKERS by Mark White (editor).  Never took a philosophy course in college - more's the pity - but that's not getting in the way of understanding the essays.

WHAT I'M WONDERING:  How, exactly, does one break into voice work?

WHAT I'M WATCHING:  Not much at the moment, but waiting for the S.H.I.E.L.D. program to come out; it might make good family viewing.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Blog in Haiku

no time to write now -
real life's insistent demands
swallow my daydreams.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Who Needs Superheroes?

I found this in a notebook I was going to toss... I don't remember writing it, but I liked it enough to post it here.  I'm not even sure WHEN this was written.  Sometime in the past five years, definitely.  As Yul Brynner might say, in character, "Is a puzzlement."

Who needs superheroes?

I do.

I think we all do.

It's hardwired into us - this visceral need, this craving for the heroic. For something tangible that represents the hope, the belief, that good is stronger than evil.  For a voice that tells us that fighting for truth is right and noble.  For a presence that affirms that the world we live in, though flawed and darkly clouded, is worth saving.

A need for heroes is something that speaks to the part of all of us, hushed since childhood, that wants to howl and rage against the things that should not be.  Children know this, know the truth, that even though life isn't fair... that it should be.  We adults have shirked our duty, taken the easy path, let them down.  We tell them, "Life isn't fair.  Nobody ever said it would be."  We wait for them to grow up and, betrayed by those who should protect and defend them, turn into sneering, cynical, blase teens who rightfully rebel against those who were once their heroes.  We call it maturing... but what it is is the first of many small deaths of the soul.   No wonder our world is full of alcoholics, drug addicts, petty criminals, and security fund brokers.  If life isn't fair, why make the effort?

Life isn't fair?  What does that even mean?  That good things happen to bad people?  Yes, because we allow it.   We say we can't change it.  That it's bigger than we are.  That we have to live with corruption, cronyism, partisanship, deceptions large and small.  We have allowed the corrupt and amoral to gain so much power for so long that it is no wonder our lights are snuffed out before they have a chance to burn with righteous indignation. 

Or does "life isn't fair" mean that bad things happen to good people?  That people die before we're ready to let them go?  That homes are destroyed, families are broken, lives lost by disasters both natural and man-made?  As I child I wept for the loss of a beloved pet.  Not fair?  No - "fair" has nothing to do with the natural cycles of life.  It is neither fair nor unfair.  It simply is.  But the senseless death of a colleague's husband and young daughter, killed by a drunk driver as they were on their way to the little one's dance class - that is unfair.  It should not be

It is unfair when innocents die and the guilty live.  Unfair that our society condones the use of alcohol, even drugs, by the individual - claiming that so long as "no harm is done" to the majority, our justice system can penalize the minority who do harm.  But does a jail term compensate a grieving mother and sister for their loss?  Not by a long shot.  Is it fair?  No - and there is no shame in crying out against unfairness.  No shame in asking why - why bad things that did not have to happen do.

The answer to that "why" is the hero's call to action... not a call to answer, but a call to act.  And if we do not have superheroes, if they cannot walk or fly among us, we turn to those who have the courage, the heart, to question the bland assertion of "Life isn't fair."  We look to them as children look to cartoon supermen.  We root for them, cheer them on.

We need heroes.  We need superheroes, but in their absence, everyday heroes will have to do.

I see our young men and women in uniform fighting and dying in wars they did not begin - torn and battered, but still fierce in their proud warrior spirits that they will continue to struggle against tyrants and injustice and almost insurmountable odds.  Many know, as we know, that war is unfair.  But... hate it as we might, there are times when it must be fought.

I see my fellow teachers, struggling daily against the ever-growing burden of entitled, apathetic wealth and soul-starving poverty, of society's failure to take responsibility for its children and their families, of well-meaning politicians who - despite having never set foot on the other side of the "big desk" - feel that legislation and high-stakes testing and tying teacher salaries to statistical assessments can force reform and better education.  And yet, these teachers come to school every day - many never taking even a single sick day - because the children need them.

I see parents who desperately want the world to be fair for their children grit their teeth and clench their fists as daily, money and power trump hard work and honest effort.  What sort of message is that sending - that a man who kicks or throws a ball, that another who screams obscenities into a microphone, that a third who lies and cheats and cooks the books in a high-rise corner office makes more in a scant year than a mother working two jobs at minimum wage can make in a decade?  But... off to work they go, single parents and married parents, because not going sends an even less palatable message.

We humans are deeply, unchangeable flawed.  We are, each of us, in varying degrees selfish, judgmental, fearful creatures not much different (and certainly no better) than our primate cousins.  Our drives are their drives - whether chimp or banker, gorilla or entrepreneur.  First, stay alive.  Make a family.  Pass on part of yourself.  Next, protect the family.  Gather the best for yourself and yours.  Drive off others who would diminish what you have.  Finally, if you are in a place where you and yours have no worries about your survival, only then allow scavengers to take your leavings. 

It often means, on a human level, that we turn a blind eye to those in need.  We concoct reasons - they're lazy, they're here illegally, they're unworthy, unwashed.  At the very least, they're Not Like Us.  We managed to make a place for ourselves without help, after all - or our parents did.  We build this, didn't we?  We made it All By Ourselves.  And who would come soaring in to our aid, if we needed it?  Nobody, of course - and so we become the lack of change that proves the truth we so glibly spout.  After all, superheroes don't exist - and we don't need them, anyway.  Anyone worth his pulse can manage on his own two feet, right?

Except when they can't, through no fault of their own.

And that's why we need superheroes... or I do, at least.  They may not be real.  They may never be real... but they're needed, fictional or not.  Desperately needed by a world that needs someone with the strength and courage to fight what is so very wrong.

Life isn't fair.  But... shouldn't it be?