Something More

The question comes from behind me, an unexpected place.

“What do you want?” she asks again.

The question hits my right shoulder, and bounces off my head. I have been waiting for this question my entire life, but the pain of it shocks me into silence.

I turn to see a woman there, asking a child to make a decision. She is surprisingly calm, patent, waiting for her son to answer.

The boy shakes his head, looking up at the sign, “I don’t know.” His mother nods, and takes him by the hand, “let’s wait over here until you are ready.” She waves at the people behind her to go ahead.

But she and her son are not the cause of the delay, and I cannot step out of line, I’ve already started my order. I go back to the basics. I breathe in and out. I listen to my heart beating. After a century of seconds, I am calm. I finish reciting my order to the pimply boy with the paper hat and move away. Nobody yells at me.

The airport is quiet today, not like last week or the week before, when more obnoxious children and mothers, finishing their summer holidays, yelled and screamed about wants and needs. “Just make a decision!” Screeches echoing off vaulted ceilings decorated with model planes that never fly away from home and never crash.

The boy decides. The mother’s kindness infects those around her, who gladly let her and her child back in line. The mother asked, the boy answered, the mother provided.

The question still hurts and I rub at the sore spot, trying to smooth it away.

Got Time to Talk?

*cell phone rings*

Me: Hi!

Caller: “Hi, Jill. Are you busy?”

Old Fashioned Phone, before processing
(Photo credit: locket479)

Me: Well now, let me see… I have twenty-five people coming over for dinner in about an hour. I’m half way through cooking them a three course meal and the oven just caught fire. I have to clean the bathroom and fold three loads of laundry before they get here and I haven’t had a shower yet today. My mother just called and told me she’s bringing two dogs that she’s pet sitting for the weekend and that they need a special brand of dog food so I’ll pick that up at the store while I’m out buying a new front door to replace the one the burglar knocked down last night when he broke in and stole my purse. And lastly, my car is parallel parked outside my apartment and the parking authority lady is just now pulling out her ticket book.

***

ARG!  I just ANSWERED YOUR CALL, why are you asking me that question?!?

Time vs. Money

Time is Money
Time is Money (Photo credit: Olivia Alcock)

I have a weird job. My commute usually involves a plane and my ‘cubical’ is a table in a ballroom of a hotel. I fly somewhere, work four or five 16 hour days, and then I fly home. And that’s it: job’s over and my time is my own until the next job. I do this about 25 times a year and that pays the bills. I don’t have any extra money, but I do have something that is much more valuable: time. My own time, in my own house, where I can play games and write stories and read books to my heart’s content.

But every once in a while I end up working from home. I know this is just me being crabby, but I HATE working from home. I don’t hate my job, but keep it out of my house! It feels like an invasion. It makes home feel less home-like. I am uncomfortable in a place that should be my sanctuary. (I can’t say no to this work if I want to pay the rent next month.)

I have a story in my head right now, one that I would love to spend the day working on. But I can’t, because I have homework to do. *whine* I send the homework to a client, but the client never thinks it’s good enough and always sends it back. One more revision, one more tweak until I start to lose my mind. (It would just be easier to teach the client how to use After Effects and be done with it.) They know they have me trapped because I am home. “You’re not doing anything important, right, Jill?”

Reading and writing and gaming are not important to them, those work-a-holics who think if they aren’t using every second to make money (money they never take the time to spend) that time is wasted. But those activities are very important to me. They are how I bring joy into my life.

I have arranged my life so that I work just enough. No one is dependent on me and I am dependent on no one. I don’t have fancy clothes or a fancy car, and my apartment is small, but I have TIME. When I am home, that time is should be my own.

What is more important to you, time or money?

At what age did you feel grown up?

Growing up and liking it!
Growing up and NOT liking it! (Photo credit: amy_b)

On the occasion of my seventh birthday I told my mother that I’d had enough birthdays. Seven was a very good age, I was happy with it, and I would stay there. (Just as an amusing side note – my youngest sister thought that the age of seven was rather magical as well, but she believed that seven was the age she would turn into a boy, like her two older brothers. At thirteen she’d go back to being a girl like her sisters.)

When I turned twenty, the ubiquitous wave of teenage depression threatened to engulf me. I felt very, very old and I just wanted to die and get it over with, with all the ‘woe is me’ only a twenty year old can feel. Obviously I survived, and got on with the business of growing up.  Or so I thought.

While I won’t reveal my current age, I am old enough that the randomly generated writing prompt featured in the title struck me quite hard.

Grown up? Oh no! Shouldn’t I feel grown up by now?

The teen-aged child of my cousin, on learning that I was near in age to his mother said, “But how can you be that old? You play video games and you know about the stuff I like, you’re not like a grown up at all.”

My answer to his compliment was, “Maybe because I don’t have children – I never stopped being a child.” (Yes, I took it as a compliment, because he meant it that way. I loved and admired the adults that I thought were ‘cool’ when I was a kid, who found my interests interesting, and now I am one of them. How awesome is that?)

I know other ‘adults,’ and I use that word lightly, who are like me. We the child-less, and often spouse-less, fill our free time with various pursuits. I read. I play video games. I create stories and bad Photoshop art and post my creations all over the web. A dear friend works on her two-hundred year old house, crochets funny hats and plays ukulele. My boyfriend devours web-comics and draws. We don’t have a lot of money, or retirement plans, or stock portfolios, things that I associate with being a grown up.

I find myself saying, “Someday when I have money, I’m going to do/have [fill in the blank].” But that someday never becomes today. Maybe if I put away my toys and found a ‘career’ instead of enjoying my ‘job’ I would finally make all that money that is out there in my grown-up future.

But not now. Right now I am going to level up my gnome rogue in WoW, and then I might work on the next chapter of my serial novel experiment.

Growing up can wait a while longer.

 

Thorough investigation of truth

My randomly generated writing prompt for the day was a quote from Cicero:
“The searching-out and thorough investigation of truth ought to be the primary study of man.”

But truth is tricky and changeable. You could spend all that time searching it out only to find it changed on you while you were out looking.

I sometimes feel I am opinion-less. because I don’t believe in absolute rights or wrongs. What is true today for one might be false for someone else, and they might both change their minds before the week is out.

With a working imagination, how can anything be painted in simple black and white, true or false, good or bad?

Am I opinion-less because I can see both sides of every story? And is that a bad way to be?

Appreciation

What is appreciation? Is it merely recognition of a job well done or is it deeper than that? I ask because it is, to me, the greatest thing in the world.  There are many people, I know, who are content to live in a vacuum, who are able to recognize the value of their own work without having other people see it. I am jealous of people like that. I wish I could be satisfied with my own opinion on my effort. But I am not. Sadly, I feel that nothing I do is of any value unless it is seen and admired by other people.

The logical side of my brain tells me this is ridiculous. I feel quite capable of forming a valued, objective opinion on the work of others, I should be able to do this for myself. But I feel completely unable to be objective. If I have done something that I feel is good, I am sure that I am wrong, completely blind to its faults. I simply don’t believe it is good until someone else tells me so.

Anyone else out there have this same problem?

Blogging Every Day

Didn’t we already decide as a society that it is a bad idea to do any one thing every single day?  Isn’t that why we invented weekends?

I see all this November ‘write a book in a month’ stuff, and I wonder who it is aimed at.  The books that are written can’t be very good.  But more importantly, it ignores the fact that the initial writing isn’t the hard part of the novel process, it’s the re-writing.  So what is the benefit of forcing yourself to write 2000 words a day if there is no intention to spend the the next two years re-writing the crap you wrote?

This morning I saw a November ‘write a blog post everyday’ thing and to me that is a more useful challenge.  If the point of all this is to get yourself into the discipline of writing everyday, then a blog is a more sensible way to go about it.  It need be only a few hundred words, is self contained and can be written and re-written several times over the course of a day, in among work or school or the daily dwelling/clothing/body chores we must perform to survive.  And in the end – by spending the same amount of time that you would have spent on 2000 words that will never be read, you can have something that you won’t be ashamed to show to the world.

This just occurred to me:  is there a rule that says a blog has to be non-fiction?

What is your favorite color?

After spending a few days with my four-year-old niece, I started wondering about when and how we start forming legitimate opinions about our world. I use the word legitimate to mean an opinion that we form entirely from our own thoughts without influence from the people whose own opinions we value. My case in point is the answer to the question, “What is your favorite color?”

For about two years now, my niece has consistently answered that question with the color ‘orange’. It is a unique choice for a favorite color, especially for a girl. But she has stuck with it for more than half her life. She favors orange crayons and orange clothing, and at this time of the year, orange colored food. (She loves Dunkin Donuts ‘Fall Harvest’ donuts – covered in bright orange frosting and sprinkles. They look disgusting to me.)

“What is your favorite color?” is one of the very first questions we are asked as children when we are just learning how to name objects. It is the first question we are asked where our answer is never challenged. As long as you answer with a real color, you are rewarded with smiles and the acceptance that your choice is a good one. No one can ever tell you that your answer is wrong.

I wonder though at the persistence of my niece’s choice. She can’t possibly remember the reasons for choosing that color, if she had a reason at all. For myself, I do remember why I originally chose ‘purple’ as my favorite. It was because Donny Osmond wore purple socks on the Donny and Marie Show. Or at least that is how I remember it now. By the time I approached teenage years, purple started to feel immature and I switched to green, because my eyes are green. (It seemed important then to have a specific reason for changing my mind.)

The whole idea of a favorite color was very important to me, and to a lot of children, as it is one of the few things completely in our control. Now, although it seems unimportant and arbitrary, I still would respond to that question with the color green. Why?

I formed that opinion so long ago in a mind I can’t even recognize as my own, (my diaries from the age of 13 really do seem as if they were written by a stranger) but I have never changed it, nor do I want to.

Is it one of those things that have been burned into my synapses by constant repetition, like nursery rhymes and old movie lines? Or is there more to it?

Is the sensation of affinity for a certain color something that we simply recognize and verbalize without any real ability to influence the decision? In other words, was my decision to change my favorite color simply a reaction to peer pressure and not an honest change in my opinion? Will my niece change her mind when she starts to be aware of other people’s opinions on color and when she discovers her favorite isn’t flattering to her skin tone?

Maybe I should give purple a second chance.

So, what is your favorite color? Has it always been your favorite?

Hyperbole and me

Since my own education wasn’t so great, I won’t assume that everyone knows what hyperbole means. It means to exaggerate on purpose. As an example, “Your suitcase weighs a ton!” The suitcase in question probably weighs close to 50 pounds, but certainly does not weigh a ton, and neither the speaker nor the listener actually believes that it does. But the exaggeration clearly makes the point that the speaker thinks the listener packed too much stuff for a weekend getaway.

In my writing I try to avoid hyperbole. If I consciously exaggerate just to make a point, I will lose my readers trust. Even a statement like, “The tree’s limbs stretched all the way to the clouds,” which is a pretty way to describe a tall tree, sounds false to me. I don’t use hyperbole in my writing because I don’t trust purposeful exaggerations. I don’t like poetry for that same reason. Just say what you really mean, and don’t use twice as many words to do it. It’s a tall tree, done.

But I feel the opposite when it comes to speaking. I use a lot of hyperbole when I’m speaking, especially when I’m trying to make a point and my listener isn’t paying enough attention. I would never say, “A man in the park climbed a tall tree,” while talking to friends. I would say, “It was the biggest tree I’d ever seen, and the dude climbed all the way to the top, right up to the clouds!” It makes for a much better bit of conversation that way. It’s almost as if I need to advertise myself, just to get people to listen to me. Maybe that has to do with growing up in a large family. The only way to be heard was to tell the craziest story imaginable, full of hyperbole and strong emotion.

Lately, I’ve been making videos and uploading them to my YouTube channel, and I find the videos where I use a lot of hyperbole, (OMG! I hated this book! It is the worst book ever written!) receive a lot more ‘likes’ than the ones where I convey honest emotions and feelings. It is the same problem all over again. Over 4 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube, and I have to fight to get one minute of that attention focused on me.

But if the point of doing the YouTube videos is to bring attention to my writing, will those watchers be disappointed to find my writing is simple and to the point?

Over Complication

Hands at the Cuevas de las Manos upon Río Pint...
Deep symbolic meaning or kindergarten class?(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why do we need to attribute symbolic meaning to the creations of extinct cultures?

I have a picture of a squid, drawn by my five-year-old nephew. It is pink and squiggly but is clearly the thing that it is. Because he is a part of our current culture, and because we inherently understand the artistic thought process of a well cared for child, living in the United States in the 21st century, we don’t attach anything to the drawing beyond the obvious: Aw, how cute.

When I was writing a story about a Neolithic child, I stumbled around the internet to make sure I had my basic information correct, (namely that yes, there were people living here about 10,000 years ago and yes they hunted grazing animals with spears.) In my link-clicking, I wound up on a Wikipedia page about cave paintings, and what I noticed was how similar those pictures look to pictures drawn by my nephew.

But if you read the entries you will see entire sections on the symbolic nature of the paintings. Or rather, the symbolism attached to the cave paintings by the knowledgeable scientific types who study them.

One scientist, “interpreted the paintings as being hunting magic, meant to increase the number of animals.” Another states, “the paintings were made by paleolithic shamans. The shaman would retreat into the darkness of the caves, enter into a trance state and then paint images of their visions”

Really? Isn’t it possible that on rainy days the adults sent the little kids into the caves with the leftover paint and they entertained themselves the same way my nephew does now. Is it really any more complicated than that?

For December 3rd’s Daily Prompt, I came back to this post and reworked it with what I’ve learned in the last few months. I fixed a few grammatical errors, added a picture, relevant tags and links using Zemanta – which always feels a bit like cheating to me. =)