An American Highlander

Travels Through My Mind

Farewell to Round 3! September 20, 2012

Filed under: ROW80 — charismaloy @ 12:12 am

This round has been very much an experiment at trying to play catch up, rework my daily routine and attempt to fly simultaneously…

There was major, intense, hide from the world drama at the beginning of this round that, well… the drama has faded but it is like a damped fire and I live my life prepared for the flames to burn out of control again. Does this mean that I live in fear? Not a bit. It just means that I spend quite a bit of time making sure that my fire extinguishers are full and that I have flame proof attire. Unfortunately, the mentality that is involved in being prepared for that kind of drama is not conducive to writing romances.

Work has picked up, which is wonderful for my pocketbook, but leaves me tired, again, not conducive to writing. It is, however, rather conducive to prewriting, which for me, means visiting with my characters and hearing their stories. On top of the menial position, my alter ego has started a business that takes up any spare time I have. If I can get the alter ego to the point where that business will pay my bills, then I can quit the menial job and have more time to write. In the meantime, when I get the chance, I jot down key points in my stories on the walls in my hallway. Don’t worry, I put up butcher block sheets. ūüôā

Okay, so where did I get with my goals and what did I learn?

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Round 3 Goals

1. Devote a minimum of one hour each weekday to bona fide work on each of the three both at-home jobs. This does not include FB, Blogging, Tweeting or other internet perusal, but may include improvements made to blog sites.

Okay, have this down to the alter ego’s job and writing. If I have time to drink more than two cups of coffee, then I am able to work on one or the other every day. The last couple of weeks, I haven’t had time for more than two cups of coffee, so I kinda slacked off. Also, I think that I will include Blogging as bona fide work, at least when I am creating new posts for either blog since the¬†posts that I do get up do take time away from the other work that I would be doing, and the blogs are a necessary part of both the writing and the alter ego’s job.

2. Finish Fantasies this round. If CM approves it, get it published.

This is really something that comes to me in bits and spurts. I very much want to get it done, but when I try to force it, the quality is depressingly awful. Technically this is being placed on the back burner as it will no longer be on my goals list, but as it is always on my mind, the change is only on paper. I will place it back on my goals list when I am close enough that it needs only formatting and editing.

3. Spend at least 20 minutes each weekday on housework and at least 2 hours on Saturday. Get SOMETHING accomplished in the direction of household maintenance each week.

I learned that there is no way to combat my OCD when it comes to housework. I will either focus on the housework and ignore everything else, or I will accomplish other things and ignore the housework. I have been unable to find a middle ground with this.

4. Start eating more than one meal a day. Consistantly.

I suspect that this will be an unending battle as I have spent far too long simply not bothering to eat. No eating disorders to worry about, my friends, simply disinterest. I am improving. My body is beginning to tell me that it is hungry before 10 pm, so I am beginning to see more and more days that I am eating two meals a day. Ideally, I would like to get to the point of eating at least three meals a day, but my system hasn’t handled it’s nourishment spread out like that in a great many years. I am going to keep this goal through the next round as I seem to be making headway, and it’s nice to have at least one goal that I can honestly say I am making headway on. I do have to say though, I may not get frequent meals, but when I do eat, I do it right!

Grilled pork steak, tomato and cucumber fresh from a friends garden for dinner and then applesauce with frozen mixed berries  and semi-sweet chocolate chips for dessert.

Actually, my dessert was kinda funny.¬† By the time I got to it, the berries had thawed and all of their juices had turned the applesauce bright red. When I mixed it all together, it was wonderful, but all I could think of was Kristin Lamb and her zombies! Oh, and the chilled monkey brains from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The look on Short Round’s face¬†was classic when he said “I’m not gonna eat that!”

Okay folks, see you next round!

Hmmm… Structure….. this could be interesting…… (this structure thing is not working…)

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Remember September 12, 2012

Filed under: Getting to know me — charismaloy @ 12:57 am

I heard the buzzing of the alarm clock and reached for the snooze button. Always did hate those things. The snooze idea was lost on me though. The high window that we had never curtained poured bright, hot sunlight down onto me. It was hot that summer, and we didn’t have A/C. Not that it really mattered, as the only south facing window was the one over my bed. The rest of the house stayed cool enough. I turned the alarm off and left the overheated room.

Grabbing a cold soda from the fridge,¬†I curled up on the couch, still not awake. Any other day and I would have dozed for a while on the couch before starting my day. It was only on Tuesdays that I made myself get up. It was book study day, and Teri would be there shortly to pick me up. I had just enough time to let the mid-morning newscaster’s antics wake me up. I only had a portable 5-inch television, and it only got one channel, but it did the trick. I switched it on sat back to listen, my eyes still sleep glazed.

“A plane has hit the World Trade Center”

Well, that was odd. It sounded like even the newscaster was confused. It got my attention and I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, leaning forward to see on the small screen. The footage that reached across the country first was a long distance shot, and details were slower coming. As the news team tried to process information, we watched the second plane hit. It appeared as though a small, private plane was aiming to thread the needle between the towers. Until it hit.

Even then there was no indication as to what had truly happened. As news teams on site tried to gather and disperse information, my hometown news team simply tried to decipher the video. By the end of the scheduled newscast, the video had been slowed down enough that the newscaster’s were “fairly certain” that it was no accident. We still didn’t know that it was a commercial aircraft. At best guess, it was believed that some person of wealth had chosen to commit suicide and simultaneously target the tower. We didn’t know that the two planes were connected, although some guesses were made that perhaps the pilots were playing a bad game of chicken.

The Pentagon getting hit by an airplane made no sense. I realize that I was half asleep at the time, but I remember thinking that something must have been in the water on the East Coast, because folks had lost their minds while in the cockpit.¬† First, two rich folks play chicken and crash into the World Trade Center, their little planes wouldn’t do too much damage to the steel building but still, folks would lose time¬†at work while the building was¬†repaired. Then the¬†navigation system on a commercial jet goes wonky and the whole plane crashes into the¬†Pentagon. Okay, Pentagon is crashed into and we must protect the¬†President, so himself is now aboard¬†Air Force One. Somehow, my not quite coherent mind¬†came up with, “all the crazies are flying planes, and we just put the¬†President of the United States into the air.”

The hijacked plane that went down in Pennsylvania was an entirely different news story. By that time, the “we interrupt this program to bring you breaking news” was running on¬† a ticker tape at the bottom of the screen. Somebody had put together the incident at the Pentagon and the fact of the fourth plane still being in the air.¬† The cell phone calls from Flight 93 had made news. We knew that it had been hijacked and speculated that they might try to intercept Air Force One. Then reports started to flow that citizen heroes had chosen to go out fighting. They knew that they wouldn’t survive and chose to stand up for those who didn’t know that death was coming on silver wings. Those heroes stood to say, “you may hasten my death, but I will stand between you and the innocent. You’re going down with me.” We heard recordings of the goodbyes as the camera panned the wreckage of Flight 93.¬† Can those heroes claim this honor?

It was later that it was all connected. That we got video that was close enough to see the size of the planes as the hit the towers. That we knew that the towers would fall. That we watched them fall. That we wept as people chose a swift death at the end of a long fall, to the slow painful death of asphyxiation or burning.

At some point it clicked with me that this would mean war. That there was no way that we could not strike back.  I thought of my brother, who was still available to be recalled into the Air Force. Of my friends, Boats and Teri, both still active reservists. Of their son-in-law James, recently discharged. Of my cousins, Andrew and Shelli, both recently discharged. How many would I say goodbye to? It hit me then, that Teri was an hour and a half late to pick me up. I wondered, was she already called to report? I had no phone, so calling and making sure folks were okay was not an option.

I had a doctor’s appointment that afternoon to see about¬†a sprained ankle,¬† so I grabbed my cane and headed for the bus stop.¬†Along the way, I stopped at some random store and¬†bought a small American¬†flag. I stuck it through my ponytail and with swollen, red eyes nodded my respect to the burly guy with matching eyes put two huge flags into the slots on the back of his pickup. I remember that it seemed like a hush had fallen over the world. There was little traffic.¬†The kids weren’t blaring their stereos as they drove past. The only revved engines were the ones that had flags attached to their vehicles. With no wind to speak of, they had to get moving to get those flags flapping in the wind. Every car I looked into seemed to have a teary-eyed driver.

It would be a peaceful time for a few days while we processed. There was an increase in courtesy, in respect. People were more patient for a few days.

I know that this is a little cliche, doing a 9/11 piece on 9/11, but I have never taken the time to write my memories of that day. I did not write this to be political, but I will say one thing in terms of politics. My dad taught me never to throw the first punch, but if somebody ever hit me, I was to hit back and finish it. He did not teach me to hold a grudge. He did not teach me to continually beat the pulp out of whoever hit me. He taught me to finish the fight and walk away. Be aware of the enemy and on guard, but walk away, perhaps the enemy will have learned not to punch.

 

Scars September 4, 2012

Filed under: ROW80 — charismaloy @ 1:23 am
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That which does not kill us makes us stronger.

Friedrich Nietzsche

¬†This handsome man has quite a story. His history gives his face character, but it never changed his spirit. I can’t tell his story nearly as well as his family can, but it is well worth the read and if I did it right, the picture should be a link to his story. This is Odie.

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Spec’als joined our family a year after I did. His full name was Spectacals because his markings looked like he was wearing a pair of thin-wire frames. In all of my memories, Spec’als lacked a tail. As a pup, he had chosen to ignore the boundaries that had been set for him, and while he and my dad were in the garage, dad turned his back long enough that Specs was able to run into the street. It was a total fluke of timing, as there were only seven houses on our street at the time, but a car came around the corner just as Specs ran into the road. He got lucky. The vet had to amputate his tail, but he walked away. He was a much more cautious dog after that, although the temptation struck occasionally to leave the boudaries of our yard, he avoided the street.

Below is another wonderfully sweet face, my baby sister. If you look to the right, tucked into the corner of the chair is her dog, Duchess of Coin. Okay, so we NEVER called the dog by her pedigreed name. She was copper colored, so we called her Penny. I can’t do much to improve this picture, as it was taken by my 13-year-old self with my very first Polaroid, and scanned into a computer nearly 20 years later. Both of these lovely faces have a long history, and either one could have given up. Nobody would have blamed them.

We started joking, not long after this picture was taken, that Penny was part cat. We could count at least 5 different times that she cheated death. She was the gutsiest dog I ever knew. She was already about two years old when we got her, and she was meant to be my stepmom’s dog, as my dad had come to the marriage with Spec’els. The dog had other ideas, and where you could find Tricia, Penny wasn’t far away.

This tiny dog moved from a city house to a small farm, and took offense to the piglets that came home the next spring. We went to the auction and picked up six piglets, two for us, and the rest for other families in the area that were unable to get to the auction. As we unloaded the piglets into the pen, Penny stood about ten feet from the pen and yelled at them. They ignored her, as pigs are wont to do, so Dad picked her up and placed her in the pen. It took her about five silent seconds to realize that not one of the six newcomers was less than twice her size, and she quickly vacated the area to resume her post ten feet away, where she resumed her barking. This was the indomitable spirit of this dog. It was a number of years later that she started playing cat.

While on a walk with my stepmom, leashless because she always stayed close, a larger dog ran up, grabbed her by the head and neck and shook her violently. The other dog’s owner was right behind, and had obviously been trying to catch his dog. He and my stepmom seperated the dogs, and he made sure that Mom had his contact info. Penny was incoherent, but breathing. It was the late ’80’s and like many others, our family had really been hit hard by the recession in Southern California. There was no hope of a vet, Penny would either pull out of it or we would have to say goodbye. Penny spent the rest of the day in a blanket lined box on the dining table, gently checked over by Mom’s sensitive hands to assure us that no bones were broken. There was no broken skin, so it was just a matter of how badly her brain was shaken. One or the other of us was with her at all times. With a large family, that wasn’t hard to do. By late that evening, she had roused herself and, though she had a few sore days, was soon back to her own self.

Some months later, my brother was playing fetch with our Australian Shepard. The dog was fast and we had long since taken to hitting the ball with a bat in order to get it far enough out that the dog wouldn’t roll her eyes at us in disdain. After going through far too many tennis balls, we started playing with a croquet ball that we had found. Penny liked to watch, and was usually a few feet behind the batter so that she didn’t get trampled. Until the day my older brother mis-hit. The croquet ball hit the bat at an odd angle, popped up at an angle, and came down behind Jesse. It caught Penny on the side of the head. We were sure we lost her then, and the possibility of a vet was unchanged. She spent three days on the dining room table, in deep shock, breathing shallowly, covered to keep her tiny body warm. Our first question in the morning when Mom woke us was answered by the look in Mom’s eyes. There was still hope in her face, but we needed to hear the words. She made it through the night. I checked for that look of hope when I got home from school. For three days, I saw hope in the morning. On the third, I saw smiles when I got home from school. She was still in the box on the table, but she was responsive. After that, she always walked at an angle but she aimed right and got where she was going, and she stayed all the way up on the patio when we were playing fetch. It was a sure lesson for all of us to be aware of our surroundings.

Both Spec’als and Penny lived a full life and died of old age at home with those who loved them.

The beautiful girl in the picture above and to the right? Most of her scar stories are her own to tell, but I can relate some. Due to serious self esteem issues during puberty, she failed to properly nourish her body. Soon after puberty, she developed Reynaud’s Disease. Doctor’s were flumoxed when this otherwise healthy middle schooler began showing symptoms of a disease that usually doesn’t appear until a person is in their 20’s. She was never able to join in any of the sports teams that she may have wanted to, as she could never predict when one of her limbs would loose circulation. She missed school more than once due to her right arm losing circulation, and her friends became accustomed to helping her carry her things. The girl is very pragmatic, when the doctors told my baby sister that she was likely to develop full blown Lupus, she responded with “I may or I may not, I don’t have it now.”

Some years later she developed an allergy so severe that it could kill her, and so rare that nobody considers the danger of a terribly common seasoning. She puts her life on the line every time she walks into a restaraunt. When her coworkers refused to avoid bringing her allergen into her presence and repeatedly caused her to be rushed to the ICU and be intubated (fortunately she worked in an ER), her doctor ordered her to quit working, and don’t even think about going back to school. He wanted her to live in a sterile bubble. The response of my stubborn and pragmatic sister? She moved to another state, found a better doctor, a workplace that would not try to kill her, and lives with the knowledge that any day can be her last, so she makes everyday as perfect as she can. That cute little kid sure grew into a looker, huh?

Bill Keane said, ‚ÄúYesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.‚ÄĚ

I would like to change that just a bit. Yesterday we were students, tomorrow we will be teachers, today is our time to BE.

In a conversation earlier this week, I told a friend, “The past makes us who we are today. If you leave someone in the past, there is no reason to be jealous. You learned the lesson of the day and moved on. That person became a part of who you are, but is no longer a part of your life in that way. I have many hurts in my past, I bear many scars, but each one of them has a story, a name, and a lesson learned. Lose one of them and I am no longer me.”

That was my yesterday. I will find a way to teach those lessons without the scars when my turn comes to teach. Today is my chance to BE. My scars may cause me to move oddly through life like Penny, I may be extra cautious and avoid dangerous places like Spec’als, but I still AM and I refuse to either live in those wounded moments or¬†cease to BE. ¬†Like Odie, I have good reason to snap at a friendly hand, but like him, I choose to smile.

Tomorrow is uncertain. I don’t have a medical diagnosis hanging over my head that some dread disease¬†is¬†going to¬†drastically alter my life, and I often take for granted that I can walk into McDonald’s to use the toilet on a road trip without risking my life, but there¬†are no promises of tomorrow. I will not worry about tomorrow. I will plan for it, I will prepare for it, but I will not spend my life in “what-if’s”.

Today is mine. I woke up this morning and felt the stiffness from the injuries of the past. I have a finger that may never function properly again and a shoulder that keeps me tossing and turning all night seeking a few hours of comfort. Like far too many of us, I have emotional scars that run deep. I know, as many of us do, that if I look too long at those scars I will live in them, unless I make peace with them.¬† A number of years ago, I was thrown from a horse and turned my forhead to hamburger. My friends kept telling me to use one miracle cream or another to fade the scar. I refused. I earned that scar. I went face first off¬†of a horse onto the frozen prairie. I shouldn’t have been on that horse in the first place, at least not with that riding partner. He shouldn’t have put me in the dangerous situation that he did.

I learned that lesson, and I wear that scar as a certificate of completion. I am a student of the School of Hard Knocks. It is a perpetual campus. You never leave, and you only graduate on the day you shuffle of this mortal plane. Every course awards a certificate of completion. They all look different, but they all bear the name “scar”. Celebrate your scars. You survived that test, learned from it, and scars fade to a distant memory.

Show the world, that it does not change you, it only makes you stronger.

Upper picture- Happy Dance by Lynn Kelly Author via WANA Commons
Lower picture- IMG-2179 by ambernwest via WANA Commons

Almost forgot my checkin!!

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Round 3 Goals

1. Devote a minimum of one hour each weekday to bona fide work on each of the three both at-home jobs. This does not include FB, Blogging, Tweeting or other internet perusal, but may include improvements made to blog sites.

Spent most of this week working on these things, and didn’t get my checkin done last week because I as on a roll and didn’t want to lose¬† my momentum.

2. Finish Fantasies this round. If CM approves it, get it published.

Nope, although  I did some research on this, I didn’t get a single word written. Thought about it lots though!

3. Spend at least 20 minutes each weekday on housework and at least 2 hours on Saturday. Get SOMETHING accomplished in the direction of household maintenance each week.

Spent  two days working on this

4. Start eating more than one meal a day. Consistantly.

As usual, I get this accomplished on the days that I leave the house to work, but forget to eat if I am working at home. I am beginning to think I should just accept this about myself. On the days that I expend more calories in energy, I take in more, but I take in less on the days that I don’t need them. I may have to content myself with this for the time being.

Hmmm‚Ķ Structure‚Ķ.. this could be interesting‚Ķ‚Ķ (this structure thing is not working…)