Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Beautiful Redemption

I was sick (again) Monday. (There are a lot of diseased people and I wonder why I always come across them.)  So instead of having fun playing laser tag and racing go-carts, I was home in my jammies, on the couch, loaded with tissues.

And watching zombie movies.

I noticed a recurrent theme: virus outbreak, a few characters band together for survival, some good people die and the end is always indeterminate. While I'm sure this would truly be the case if a zombie event broke out, it got tedious with the same story line.

Maybe that's why I liked the movie Warm Bodies so much; it offered the zombies who still had a smidgen of their humanity left a chance to redeem themselves. I'm a firm believer in redemption. Humanity, while capable of such horrors as enslavement, genocide, and heartlessness, is also capable of selfless love, generosity, and sacrifice. I've seen it: Superstorm Sandy relief, a person donating a kidney to a co-worker, all those people who check off  'Organ Donor' on their license.

But you have to want redemption, like R in Warm Bodies; it doesn't just come free. Some people have to come a long way for it, but they do it. Others, like serial killer Eileen Wuournos, blamed their victims for their murderous acts, never once taking responsibility, the first step toward redemption.

I think I've seen enough zombie movies for the rest of my life, although I will watch Warm Bodies again. I think we all have something for which we need a little redemption.

So I think I will go do some redeeming things today, including working on my manuscript (it has to have some redeeming qualities...). How about you?


Monday, March 18, 2013

Obstacles--Not Cliffs

I hurt my toe. The one next to the pinky, on my left foot. I wasn't kicking the car tire (this was the only kicking picture I could get without a soccer ball or a karate outfit). I was doing the dishes--around midnight--and stubbed my toe on the stool. The heavy, oak one.

It might be a hairline fracture. I know this because I've broken a number of toes (and other bones, sad stories, don't ask). I KNOW that feeling. I've fractured a toe while wearing ski boots. A little too much pressure and snip! The toes don't even make that snap sound anymore.

So my swimming and walking had to be put on hold. I wear tight sneakers up until bedtime. Previous numerous wasted visits to the doctor's office taught me that they can't cast it, wrap it, or pin it. All they do is maybe x-ray it, but usually it's just a 'tape it to the other toe and stay off as much as possible' routine. I'm pro enough now to do it myself (and better if I may be so bold).

It's an annoying obstacle. End of swimming? No. End of walking? Never. That's the difference between an obstacle and a cliff. There's no coming back for another chance once you're over that cliff, but the thing is to know the difference. (I'm sure if you're up on the mountain, you know the difference between an obstacle and a cliff.) In writing, a rejection is an obstacle. A scathing critique is an obstacle. Giving up is a cliff. Helen Keller was both blind and mute, yet she wrote. Steven Hawking is practically immobile, yet uses his eyes to work a special computer to write and formulate new theories. Beethoven went deaf young, but still went on to compose his, and the world's, best music. There was no 'cliff,' no 'end' for them.

Know the difference.


Monday, March 11, 2013

Becoming Invisible

I worked for a number of years; office jobs, waitress, paralegal. The utility, cable, and sanitation bills are in my name. The mortgage on our house lists me as a co-owner/lender.

But I'm invisible.

My credit card, issued by Allegacy Credit Union through my husband's job, put a stop on my card (I was in a grocery store in North Carolina) because as they 'explained' when I called to find out what the problem was, they suspected fraud. In a grocery store?

They didn't do it to my husband's. We rented a car under this card, so they knew we were traveling over the Christmas break. There was no viable, reasonable, acceptable reason for them putting a hold on MY card. They made me jump through hoops and finally I had to get the hubs to call and clear it up. They listened to him, not me even though I had all the information regarding the expenditures.

So I'm mute.

So I decided to get a credit card under my own name, not connected to the hubs. I went through our bank because they can see that we have joint savings/checking accounts. Again, I had to jump through hoops.

It's amazing how I paid taxes for years, get called for jury duty, vote, and am known in the community.

Why am I powerless?

I don't exist unless my husband is there to vouch for me.

See, my hands are bound.

Women have not come far enough when illegal immigrants can get credit cards easier than I can.


Monday, March 4, 2013

Forgotten Characters

I read a lot and one thing I've noticed; most novels don't have family pets in them. Yes, I'm a cat owner (2 babies who spend more time with me than my children), and pets-cats, dogs, squirrels, etc., figure into almost all my works.

This is Mink, a part Persian, part Maine Coon cat we rescued from a short and brutal life as a barn cat in Upstate, New York. (AKA the "Kitten.')

This is my gal pal, Casey. She, too, is a rescue cat (ALL of my pets have been rescues, ever since I was a little girl), who is what they call a mackerel tabby- she's gray speckled like the fish with orange stripes.

(No beauty queen, but the soul of a poet and a sweetie pie.)

I love the way people interact with pets; my sons coo over them, not afraid of being less manly as they pamper, pet and praise these 'siblings.' Even the hubs, who swore he wanted nothing to do with them (grew up in a house without pets, see?) can't resist playing with the kitten or stroking Casey as she sleeps on the bed and baby talking to her. I think that loving a pet adds a dimension of compassion to a character. People who own hordes of animals and don't take care of them are a different matter. But when you take a pet into your home, feed and love it, talk to it, take it to the vet, and cry when it passes on-I think this makes you a better person. (I didn't say perfect, just better.) We share our soul with another creature that is dependent on us for the rest of their lives (grown children coming back to the nest to mooch not included), and give of ourselves.

Many successful people, i.e. Hemingway, Einstein, presidents, etc. had pets. Maybe if we allowed prisoners to take care of a rescued animal, becoming solely responsible for its care, they would become more compassionate, more giving, and break the cycle of violence. It worked for the Bird Man of Alcatraz.

So don't neglect to put pets into your story; it shows a character with a hidden depth. If they mistreat the animal, well then we know he's the villain.