Thursday, December 27, 2012


I'm doing the regular cleaning stuff--dishes, laundry, sweeping--but my focus over this final week of break is to clean out the other have-tos:

1. Finish my syllabi and print them off for my classes.

2. Set up my online class on Angel.

3. Complete all mending/sewing projects.

4. Prepare five canvases for next painting project.

5. Go through kids' clothing in prep for their start of term. Donate small clothing.

6. Get ahead with my Firehouse work so that January and February are more relaxed.

And I think that's it. Clearing out the junk makes my whole life easier, and hopefully I'll set myself up for active achievement in the writing, painting, musical, and sewing realms in the coming year. I won't tell you what my new year's resolution is yet. Perhaps you can guess?

What "housecleaning" are you doing right now? What are you preparing for?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Writing--Christmas Cards

I'm still finishing up Christmas cards. Okay, that's not quite honest. I only began them yesterday... and I am hoping to finish them today.

I'm pretty motivated, though, mainly because it will be yet another big task off my to-do list. Then I can work on SEWING. Yup. Not writing. I have to get a bunch of mending and sewing done during the break. Only then can I really get back to writing.

Weird how I've put writing at the bottom of my list for so long. No, it's WRONG how I've put writing at the bottom. But it's at the bottom, nonetheless.

I've cleared my spring schedule some, however. I'm now down to TWO jobs--teaching and artistic director at the local gallery--and that (hopefully) will leave me time for a few fantastically fun things. What are they, you ask? (I just KNEW you'd ask!) Here's my list, just below my job responsibilities:

1. Audition for Oliver! Even better, get a part, involve my kids in it, and help out with costumes.

2. Paint Cape Flattery on a five-canvas display for my new sunroom. It's a huge project, but I hope to start it during the break, and work on it every single day. I'll need to collect a lot of newspaper, though, so that I can spread out and paint with abandon.

3. Revise my Mermaid novel, my Charley novel, and both of my other novels, and set out to get at least one of them published. I can't control who is willing to serve as my agent, but I can't get one if I don't send the damn manuscripts out.

4. Participate in Script Frenzy (April) and write some more plays. Get them sent out, too, to local theatres.

5. Sew, sew, and sew some more! I have tons of fabric, some truly lovely patterns, and a working sewing machine. What's keeping me from it?

The only resolution forming in my head for the year is to "write every day"... I fear that adding "sew every day" and "paint every day" and "play piano every day" will make handling all four impossible.

Any plans of your own? Anything you've been setting aside, that you hope to get back to?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Not Owning a Gun Ever

I've waited and watched as several pundits have spoken out about the gun control issue, mostly horrified that it's taken the slaughter of so many for us to really start talking about it at all.

But I'm even more horrified by the NRA's response to it. Horror is the only word I can muster. It's heart-breaking that anyone would choose a gun over a child's life. The main speaker even said, "If you love your kids more than money" and went on to name all the things we must love more than our kids if we don't make guns as common as blackboards on school grounds. Only these people love their guns more than their kids. They love guns more than mercy, more than rational thought, more than God.

These are the same people who are stockpiling guns, raiding gun stores to get their hands on huge magazines and the worst kinds of weapons, for fear that these lethal tools may soon become illegal. They fear what will happen if only bad guys have guns, imagining a world where they hide in their own homes, afraid to go out for fear of being shot by such "bad guys."

Certainly, there are places in the world where this is common. The middle east is such a reality, where mere existence is dangerous, where people fear to walk in the streets yet also know they can die right in their own homes.

But these guys also have it wrong. It's not the "bad guys" that we have to fear. It's not some creepy Scrooge. Scrooge is US. He is all of us. He's our worstness, our ugly tendencies, our unreasonable fear and anger. I have no trust that I would do good with a gun in my house. What if my marriage went sour? What if I developed a mental illness, unnoticed and undiagnosed? What if I felt the whole world was falling apart, and the gun seemed a solution to this "problem?"

I'm not afraid of evil people. They are everywhere, in all of us. We all have the capacity to do evil. And we too often make the choice to act upon our evil inclinations. A gun isn't evil, but it makes our ability to act horribly all the easier. When we are under stress, when we hate and fear, we are capable of doing almost anything. The only person I can think of whom I would truly trust to never use a gun badly is Mother Theresa, and she's dead. I wouldn't even trust myself to own one.

That is why the idea of armed people in my children's school doesn't comfort me. They aren't "bad guys," but they are capable of doing evil all the same. What if one of them becomes romantically involved with a teacher? What if that relationship goes wrong? I trust policemen and soldiers, in general, to carry guns, but they are not perfect. We know of too many times when soldiers at war make horrible decisions and do horrible things. We know of cops who go bad, who use their guns on their families. Having a certain job does not make them infallible. And this latest school shooting proves that training someone to shoot a gun does not keep them from using that knowledge to do the very thing they shouldn't. There is no way to guarantee that someone given a skill will always use it for good.

Even if they intend to do only good, people make mistakes. Cops shoot someone dead, thinking he is armed, only to find they were wrong. Neighborhood watchers, intent on protecting the neighborhood, shoot an innocent child dead. Guns go off by mistake, even when owners believe they aren't loaded. Children find family guns and turn them on their friends. The intent to kill isn't in any of these acts, yet people die all the same.

That is why I will never own a gun. It is why I don't like the idea of my next door neighbor having one, either, especially one that can hold 30 rounds. My home is already dangerous enough. A child could drown in my pool or fall down the stairs, or cut themselves horribly on a kitchen knife. Or one of us could do something horrible with household tools. But a gun would make that sort of horror all the more possible, all the more destructive.

The answer to the school shooting isn't more guns. More guns will only make such a reality more likely. More guns will only make it easier for us to blow each other away. My kids' school is gun-free, and if I find out they plan to change that, I will do all I can to prevent it. I don't want my child's teacher armed.

And I sure as hell will never buy a gun and go to a licensed shooting gallery to shoot, for doing so in this country requires I join the NRA.

And THAT will never, ever happen.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Embracing One's Inner Dork

This post is about my daughter, for a change.

(I know the word "dork" should indicate my son has done something, but that isn't the case. However, be assured that my daughter's involvement in dorkiness is my fault, not hers.)

Anyway, although she is a bit old for it, my daughter volunteered to stick around with the littler children and participate in the Christmas musical at church, which I am directing. Because of casting needs, she was cast as the Beth, the Star of Bethlehem. That was okay to her (she really wanted to be an angel instead), but for months we've wondered what to do about a costume.

I searched, and I searched, but it wasn't until last week that I found one, on the Oriental Trading website, of all places. (I didn't even know they had costumes!) Here it is, in all its illustrious glory:

Glamorous, isn't it? Looks even better on, too.

I was worried. Almost twelve is a great age for worrying what people think. We only had one more rehearsal, too, to get used to it.

So, Sunday morning, I forced her to wear it during practice. She didn't want to. She was hoping to just "forget" to wear it at the last minute, so that everyone would just have to pretend it was there.

No dice. She reluctantly put it on, and then ran through her lines and movements with everyone else. After two scenes, her voice was too quiet to hear, her face down, her body language defeated. She hated the costume. She thought she looked ridiculous. She was a dork.

But then something magical happened, and it was all her doing. She realized, first of all, that her arms didn't have to stick out the slits on the sides. She could shove them deep into the star's points above her shoulders. And the costume was soft, so she could make the star's points move, squish together, wave, curl around other character's ponytails, etc.

Even more, once other people saw what she was doing, and laughed, she realized how immensely entertaining the movements were. Suddenly she wasn't the stupid kid in the even stupider costume. She was the funny kid in the goofy costume--and she was hilarious! And happy. And her voice grew louder and more animated. And her movements were happy, filled with energy, and she was focused on the play with an intensity she had NEVER expressed before.

Yup. She'd done it all by herself, too. She'd embraced her inner dork and realized its worth. She chose acceptance and self-deprecation over stodgy insistence on decorum. Too bad more people can't seem to make this choice. I'm not saying it would make the world a better place, but it would make for a little more entertainment. And they'd be happier, too.

Now the only thing left is to keep my daughter from stealing the show with that costume of hers--that dorky, goofy, funny, scene-stealing star costume.

Are you embracing your inner dork? Funny how embracing it makes it oh-so-much-less dorky.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Why the Hell am I NOT Writing?

I'm not writing.

I know you know that.

I know that you know that I know that you know that. Yet I keep repeating it all over the 'Net. Ad nauseam. Yup, you're probably gagging at this point. I know I'm gagging.

Yet I'm not writing.

It's hard to write and gag at the same time. If you don't believe me, go try it for yourself. You'll see. Besides, at least then you'll be off doing something instead of reading about me not doing it.

Let me tell you what else it's hard to do AND write at the same time:

1. Eat. Peanut butter mushed into a laptop does it no good. And I can't type one-handed, either. When, oh when, will somebody invent an automatic feeder?

2. Sweep, mop, clean the shower, do laundry, or any other type of housework. Not physically possible.

3. Write Christmas cards. Sure, I have a pen in hand, but I can only handle one form of writing at a time, and it's no good to get ONE Christmas card done a day. I need LOTS of Christmas cards done. And fast. Now would be good.

4. Drive. Now we're moving into dangerous territory--like smash-the-laptop-into-my-face-when-I-slam-the-car-into-a-tree territory. Please DON'T go out and try this one. I promise, even without attempting it myself, that it won't end well.

5. Grade papers. I don't have much longer on this one, since grades are due Thursday, but it still eats up writing time.

6. Help kids with homework. And, no, I don't mean DO the kids' homework. I'm pretty strict about that. But I'm continually amazed at the perception of my kids. As soon as they think my mind has wandered somewhere else, they suddenly need my help. How did they get that intuitive?

7. Attend stuff--whether a play, a party, a meeting, or anything else where human interaction is expected. Hosting a party is even worse! Why couldn't I just make myself a recluse this time of year? I could be Emily Dickinson. Though I wouldn't wear my hair like that. Talk about homely!

I could add more, but the truth is that EVERYTHING I'm doing right now--or needing to do--simply doesn't allow me to write. The problem isn't all the stuff. It's that I'm allowing it to take the place of writing. I'm placing writing at the bottom of my list, under "clean out the fridge" and "donate clothing to Salvation Army."

Until I make writing a priority, it won't happen.

Hopefully I'll move it up soon. I've got some deadlines coming up, and I'd love to think that once they are over, I'll get to writing, but I know better. I'll have two classes to prep for January, books to read, housework to do (forever!), and I probably will still put writing off.

It's all my fault, and I know it. And if you're not writing--or doing the things you say you love doing but never do--then you're at fault, too.

I just wish KNOWING this stuff made me stop doing it... and start writing again. Maybe for Christmas I'll get some free time. And I'll use it more wisely. I'll let you know.

What do you want in your stocking this year?