An Update

Boy, life sure can be busy sometimes. The last two months have been hectic and filled with milestones and setbacks. I have returned to therapy in an effort to untangle some of the issues from my ex husband. Valentine’s Day I finally replaced my car with a 2011 Toyota Camry that I just love. Having a vehicle again has really helped to restore my confidence.

I’m trying desperately once again to get into some kind of routine. Somehow, managing 3 kids plus trying to have multiple careers is really hard. I have a great partner but at the same time, he’s not here a lot of the time which means just about everything falls on me: bills, groceries, child care, medical, financial. And lately, the stress has been overwhelming me to the point that I spent five days with a migraine and ended up in the ER. Fortunately, they gave me a nice “headache cocktail” and I was back on my feet the next day. Turns out, they’ve made a lot of progress with understanding migraines in the last ten years.

Everyone in the ER was very considerate – they made sure the lights were dimmed, tried to keep things quiet for me and most of all, got me meds just as soon as possible. They also gave me a CT scan to make sure nothing was wrong and thankfully that was clear. The migraine was severe enough at one point we thought I might have had a stroke. Turns out it was just the pain muddling my brain a little. I was having trouble remembering things, concentrating, and even got lost several times trying to get home.

At this point I’m under instructions from my doctors that when a headache starts, no matter how mild, I’m to immediately take pain medication. Once the pain reaches a certain level, it will require hospital intervention but if I can get to it fast enough, I can avoid another trip to the ER. So I start with a mild drug and work my way up from there. If still no relief then I call 911 again but after what happened last week, I’d really rather avoid that.

It really was a cluster. I was at home alone with the kids, who were outside playing. I reached the point that I was almost incoherent with the 911 operator (although I do remember calling), and by the time the ambulance and EMS arrived I was completely incoherent, unable to stand unassisted and had to be wheeled down the stairs. Talk about an embarrassing drama! They even had to call the police department to come watch my kids for a little while.

I am thankful that it wasn’t too serious, although at the time it felt like my head was going to split apart. In terms of pain, the first migraine was a 20 on a scale of ten. In comparison, the second migraine was a 10/10. Still bad but not nearly as scary. At this point we’ve attributed the migraines to a combination of severe stress, too much driving, and dehydration. So I’m working hard to take better care of myself in all ways physical, mental and emotional.

That starts with having a semblance of a schedule that I can stick to. And it includes writing for at least 15 minutes a day, even if it’s just doing a blog entry. So today I am starting simply with a blog post. I might try to do a little fiction writing in a bit once the kids are asleep. I have a fantasy short story I want to write for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction or Asimov’s Science Fiction. If it’s published then I hope to submit it to my favorite podcast, PodCastle. It would be my first submission under my new pen name. Hopefully the writing will go well.

I am still working on getting my real estate license and hope to take the text in the next 30 days. The sooner I can get that particular career off the ground, the better. Although I fear it may bring about its own set of problems and stresses. Like having an appropriate wardrobe. But I’ll deal with that when it gets here.

In any case, off to try and write and then maybe play a little Guild Wars 2.

Sounds Right to Discombobulate

This is clearly subjective, but some words really sound like the thing they describe (personal favorites: puffin; bulbous; fidgeting). Do you have an example of such a word (or, alternatively, of a word that sounds like the exact opposite of what it refers to)? What do you think creates this effect?

Isn’t the English language amazing? The width and depth of it amazes and fascinates me on a daily basis. Other languages have their benefits too but I grew up speaking only one language (although I know a small amount of Spanish). One of my favorite words to use is discombobulate. logo-discombobulate-web Say it outloud slowly – pausing with each syllable: Dis-com-bob-u-late: it means literally to disconcert or confuse. It just somehow sounds like a jumble, like a mess. “I feel so discombobulated today”.

Why not just say I feel so disconcerted today? Or I feel so confused today? Because discombobulate is just out and out fun! It rolls off the tongue, bounces around your head and leaves you a little disoriented. It’s almost a picture word, describing with each syllable, what it’s doing out there in the world – bouncing around randomly.

Years ago, when I took my first literature class in college, I was already fascinated by words thanks to a long line of teachers, and two successful spelling bees. But one part of literature I had not really explored up until that point had intimidated me completely: poetry. All I knew of poetry was Shakespeare and I struggled with it, albeit to a lesser degree, like my college classmates. My college professor, Mrs. Cook, opened my eyes to a whole new world with one simple, elegant poem that even now, over 15 years later, still sticks in my head as the ultimate in poetry.

so much depends

upon

a red wheel

barrow

glazed with rain

water

beside the white

chickens.

(c) William Carlos Williams 1962

My entire college class was befuddled but I was utterly fascinated. I still am. My very first poem was written in the same minimalist, pictorial style and published eight months later in the college magazine. It was my first experience with enjambments (this is a common WCW technique – the meaning runs-over from one poetic line to the next, without terminal punctuation.)

To me, that poem just SOUNDS right. I can explain the meaning behind the words, the depth of it all day long, but to me the poem rolls off my tongue like the sweetest music and fills me with warmth. To my ears, it SOUNDS like poetry.

Unlike some other types like certain free verse poetry (that just sounds like prose to me no matter how it’s read), this is poetry for me. Over the next few years I delved (another great word) into poetry with a fervor (ANOTHER great word). And I’ve been fascinated by words ever since – wordplay and puns are some of my favorite ways to play with others (sadly most people don’t get it).

The sad part is in our modern pop-obsessed culture people are losing touch with language. I learned in college to read and savor every word, to choose carefully because words have incredible power, for good and for bad. And I’ve built a large part of my career around words.

I think part of the reason behind the effect is the human imagination. It’s vast and varied within each individual. It creates and destroys. The human imagination is a powerful tool that is too often underutilized and criticized.

 

So what about you? What’s your favorite words? I’ve used a number of mine throughout this post. Can you spot them? How do they make you feel as you read them?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rocky_Mars_Surface.jpeg

Journey to Earth

Daily Prompt: Longing for Gravity

You are on a mission to Mars. Because of the length of of the journey, you will never be able to return to Earth. What about our blue planet will you miss the most?

(Thank you for the wonderful prompt suggestion, K. Renae P.!)

This is the beginning of a short story. It’s intended to be a speculative fiction piece, probably in the 7-10K range. I would love your feedback if you care to give it. This is just a draft based off of the above prompt from The Daily Post.

Journey to Earth

Day One: January 5, 2075

I can hear the jets increase, feel the landing gear extend, and grit my teeth. Landings are always the worst when I fly. My seat jerks and wobbles as we settle on the surface with a thud. I look out the window. My first thought is “What the hell was I thinking leaving Earth for this place?”

Six months ago, the head of NASA sat down in my cozy living room, full of bookshelves of books (many of which were written by me), knick-knacks and pictures of my children, and suggested I take the “trip of a lifetime”. I guess I should have read the fine print a little closer. They were looking for writers and journalists to document a trip to Mars. Since I am an award winning novelist and Pulitzer prize winning journalist, my name was somewhere at the top of the list. For all I know it was at the top of the list. I didn’t think to ask.

I knew flattery and my ego would be my downfall one day. It looks like that day has come.

The deal NASA offered was this. My family would be taken care of for as long as they lived, by the government, in exchange for my services. What I didn’t realize was the reason for the journey in the first place. That I found out about from the scientists on the mission. They did a good job of keeping us isolated from one another by using Secret Service handlers.

Resources on earth have reached a critical point. We have too much demand and not enough supply of all the essentials – food, water, minerals, oil. While the general population isn’t aware yet, it is only a matter of time before even the dimwitted begin to figure it out and start to panic.

In addition, super germs are decimating the population. The CDC is fighting multiple germs but they are mutating faster than scientists can come up with cures or even temporary remedies. One genius even predicted it wouldn’t be long before these germ mutations would start to change our DNA. All very hush-hush amongst the government bureaucrats.

The plan, as they told me, was to send four mega-shuttles to Mars with all the things necessary to recreate a “Big Bang” on Mars, in theory. Regular shipments by unmanned craft would continue as needed and as requested by the teams. The goal is to make the planet habitable by humans. My job is to document the program and send regular reports back to earth.

Then the lead scientist, Jonah, told me there were no plans for any of us to return to earth. Ever. All of this said very casually, while the autopilot steered us to our destination. Jonah sitting there, smugly staring out the window, arms behind his head as if everything was perfect in the world. That’s when I started screaming and punching him, which I’m sure didn’t win me any favors with the crew. They probably all think I’m psycho but I don’t care. Of course, all I was told was I would be documenting a trip to Mars. I didn’t think to ask when the trip would end.

So for now, I’ll do my duty for my country and my family, and document everything. First thing tomorrow, we have to start setting up short range communications equipment so we can communicate more easily with the other shuttles, which should have arrived at various carefully mapped points on the planet.

Day Two: January 6, 2075

Setting up the communication equipment on this planet was a pain in the ass. I imagine if it were this difficult on earth, we wouldn’t have had any of the modern day technology we enjoy, like cell phones and free wi-fi at every Starbucks. Oh, what I wouldn’t give for a decent cup of coffee!

The rock on this planet seems very dense – the scientists struggled for a long time to drill just a few inches to put in anchors for the communications equipment. They’ve also begun construction of a few greenhouses, which have to be carefully constructed in order to survive the ferocious windstorms. Watching these scientists bounce around the low gravity like psychotic slow-motion bunnies has been quite amusing all day. Glad I don’t have to do that.

To Be Continued…