Sunday, March 24, 2013

The What of Who

Doctor Who is coming back next week!  It's not too late, it's never too late, to start traveling with the Doctor.

There are two kinds of people in this world: people who love Doctor Who and people who have never seen Doctor Who.  Clearly I'm a lover, an ardent admirer and wannabe companion.

I haven't been there since the beginning, there will be no pretense of super fandom here.  Over the years I saw the odd episode and was unmoved to seek out more.  The show has been around since before breathing was invented, we're on the eleventh Doctor now, so when the reboot started making noise, I didn't pay much attention.

That all changed one grey December afternoon upon sequestering myself in the bedroom to wrap Christmas presents.  I cruised the offerings on TV, not much was on so I didn't change the channel from BBC America and got to work.  I remember thinking "might as well have a look" and I wasn't expecting to fall in love.

But that's how love is, love is surprising.

The very first episode of Doctor Who that I ever saw was perhaps one of the worst ones for a rookie to start on.  Utopia was the beginning of a three part story arc that relied very heavily on events from the previous season, I had no idea who the players in front of me were, let alone the former players being discussed.  I didn't know that Captain Jack Harkness was unable to die, I didn't know who Rose Tyler was and I didn't know the Doctor was the last remaining Time Lord.

None of that mattered, I was hopelessly confused but none of it mattered.  It was love at first sight.

Here is Cairn's big theory about how Doctor Who became a worldwide phenomenon.  It's all David Tennant's doing.  Yep, that's it in a nutshell.

David Tennant was the perfect person in the perfect role at the perfect time.  It was a confluence of events, a collaboration of enthusiasms, that transcended the sum of its parts by the power of pure love.  David Tennant grew up being a Whovian, a geeky fanboy that fatefully grew into a devilishly handsome and talented actor. That fanboy lived out every fanboy's dream scenario and got cast in the role of his own hero.

David Tennant loved every single, delicious moment of playing the Doctor and it was a visual delight.  His enthusiasm for the role, for the legacy of Doctor Who, coupled perfectly with his talents and we the viewers could feel it too.  No sentence was wasted, no word ever tossed away; those words were usually flowing faster than rushing water, but being carried away on them was sublime.

It was the personification of joy, the realization of delight and the frenzied abandon of glee all in one beautiful blue police box.  I love to watch people in love with what they are doing, it's glorious to see a human in such a pure state, such a raw state.  We see raw hate all the time, but don't stop to revel in the raw love as much as we should.

Nothing on television ever affected me the way the tenth Doctor does, still to this day.  I can't watch an episode of the Tennant series without crying, all the way through usually.  My emotional response to the tenth Doctor is powerful, overwhelming almost, but my tears are not sad, they are tears of joy I think.  Because I get to be in on the joy, there's so much that it spilled out onto the entire world, I became part of a family bonded by pure joy.

I'm pushing back a few tears right now just thinking about it all :)

There is a new Doctor now, however Tennant is a tough act to follow.  Matt Smith is a fine Doctor, he really rocks a fez and has culinary leanings of which I approve. There will be a new companion soon, so we had to say goodbye again and those are always hard.  Amy and Rory Pond were great, their personal love story was one of the best ever on television and they will be missed.

But I am and always shall be a DoctorDonna girl.

There have been eleven Doctors and each one is a different man, that is the real glory of Doctor Who. Each man carries the memories of his predecessors, but each man reacts to them differently.  There is no predictability when you travel with the Doctor, be prepared for surprises, be prepared to run a whole bunch and never turn your back on statues of angels.

But do yourself a favor, next Saturday night go and meet the Doctor if you haven't already.  He's a good man with two very good hearts and a sweet ride.  Give him an hour and he will give you the whole of time and space in return.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Blaming The Victim

Good morning Travellers, I got my first hater yesterday!  An auspicious occasion in my book, because no one is anyone without a hater.

Actually, I'm kind of surprised it took this long, but we're seeing a lot more traffic these days and this post ought to earn me a few more.  What's great about haters you ask?  For one thing, it lets me know that I hit people where they live, that my words had an impact.  The other thing, the best thing, is that haters bring out lovers.  For every one hater that speaks, a couple lovers step up to defend and that is pretty freaking awesome.

My post about bullying yesterday aroused someone's ire, however that person didn't see fit to comment in this space.  The comment was posted to Facebook instead where I was accused of 'blaming the victim'.

Please allow me to clarify.  I would never blame a true victim for being victimized, it happens all the time and true victims deserve sympathy and support.

I HAVE, DO and WILL blame those who choose to be victims.  I blame the choice, I blame the weakness of character for making the choice and I blame anyone who supports that choice.

How about some first person life ownership from me?  I loved my business very much, the loss of it was engineered by others but I was complicit in my own destruction.  I'm the one who did not cover myself, I'm the one who didn't insist that the lease negotiations get sped up so I wouldn't be operating on a month to month basis.  I AM THE ONE WHO WAS SO SCARED ABOUT THE IDEA OF LOSING THE THING THAT MEANT THE MOST TO ME THAT I ALLOWED THE THING THAT MEANT MOST TO ME BE TAKEN AWAY.

Yes, that bastard who owned the building did me wrong, he is partially to blame for deliberately gutting my family.  But I share that load because it's my family, it's mine and I didn't protect it.  I accept my responsibility for my role in victimizing myself.

And I don't feel one bit sorry for me, oh no.  I did this to me and I have to live with the consequences.

So if you are victimizing yourself, don't expect pity from me.  You can expect a firm but loving metaphorical slap to the head, wake up and take up people!  Empowering victims is an idiotic notion, empower ownership instead.

Empower yourself and others to take ownership of your lives, wallowing in your self pity isn't going to get you anywhere.  You will just keep failing, just keep being miserable and downtrodden, because those things are all choices that YOU make.

Making the choice to own your life is not easy, nor is it pretty.  It's ugly and depressing to admit to yourself that you are a grubby critter, especially if your entire life hinges on the illusions of sanctimonious righteousness.

My parting thought to the hater is this:  Every word you wrote was an attempt to set me up, an attempt to get me to bully you.  You tried to manipulate a situation so you could continue your familiar role of being the victim because you confused strength with oppression.  That I am opinionated does not make me a bully, that I don't agree with you doesn't make me wrong.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

I Was Born

I’m a Scorpio, the sign that rules birth and death

I have lived a thousand lives

I have died a thousand times

But I do not mourn the losses

Because each time I was reborn

Like a Phoenix, I rise from the ashes

More glorious than I was before

I am perpetually reborn in glory

I die every day

Every day I am reborn

I am the Phoenix, I am glorious

I was born, I am born, I will be reborn

Each death was but a step on a path

Each birth is a new beginning

Glory for the Phoenix

Bully For You

I've known many couples in my time that practiced a dominant/subordinate relationship.  I don't judge, whatever makes them happy is none of my business really, but my years of observation showed me one very important thing.  Despite how it appears, the dom doesn't have any real power, it's the subbie who controls the relationship in truth.

That's all the kinky sex for this post, this post is about bullies because it's the topic du jour everywhere.  I've read articles by parents, victims and reformed bullies but not one of them has addressed the real problem.  So here I am.

Let me say this loud and clear:  It takes TWO people to have a relationship, even a bullying relationship.  One person has to do the bullying and the other person has to ACCEPT the bullying.

Put your hackles down, I'm not done.

I'm not condoning the torment of innocents, however I'm not blind to human nature and we are all bullies in one way or another.  It is the human condition to impose our wills on others, have you ever threatened your children with taking away something they like when they're not bending to your will?  Bully.

It's who we are, it's what we do.  But, and this is a very big BUT, only you get to decide what you take on board.  Someone is saying nasty things to you?  About you?  So what? If you let someone else's words hurt you, then you have hurt yourself.  You allowed it to happen, you let the bully in.

It is no one else's job in this life to protect you, it is your job to protect you.  The reason there are so many bullies is because there are so many tasty victims walking around, just begging for it.

I was a fat, angry, surly kid in high school, I got bullied of course.  But even then I knew it was just high school shenanigans, that those kids had no real power over me.  Mistee Martinez, yes I still remember your name, tried to make my life in school a hell.  Whatevs, I survived and learned not to let the Mistee Martinezes of the world get over on me.

Mistee wasn't a bully, she was a lesson.  I saw her briefly once after high school, we chuckled about it.

You are in control of what affects you, if you are not a victim, you won't be a victim.  If you walk tall, if you understand that only YOU are the captain of your ship, then that attitude radiates from you and the bullies will slink back into the darkness.

Physical bullies are a different matter, but only slightly.  I'm pretty sure the reason no one actually hit me in high school was because they knew deep down that I would hit back.  That unpredictability saved me, actually it saved them because I would exact vicious retribution on anyone who ever dared to strike me.  I'm not trained to fight by any means, but I am built to dig in and fight back, not run.

People are like dogs, they smell the fear, the uncertainty and move in for the kill.  Stop smelling like a victim, own yourself, laugh at your flaws and charm the hell out of those bullies, turn them into your allies.  It is not difficult, because the bullies are afraid too.  YOU learn to smell THEIR fear, YOU learn to capitalize on it and YOU change the situation.

As with all situations in life, YOU have the power.  Please stop giving it away.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Soaring on the Wings of Pigs

I've got a long history of loving flying pigs - and yes they are real, just like Jackelopes.

This is from an old episode of the Simpsons when Homer wanted to throw a BBQ so grand that his neighbor Ned Flanders would be jealous.  Of course only a whole swine would do for such an occasion, but that poor little pig had quite the ordeal.  It got dirty, it got wet and eventually it took flight.

"It's just a little airborne, it's still good!"  Homer cried out, ever the optimist.

The Kids in the Hall had a great bit, well I like it anyway, about a flying pig too.  Clyde always looks at me like I'm crazy, but that bit makes me laugh like an idiot.

What can I say?  I have a soft spot for Canadians :)

I even have a small statue of a flying pig in my back yard, I bought it for myself after the death of my once-in-a-lifetime-true love dog Harry.  Somehow that little happy pig reminds me of my boy, I can't really say why.

Oh hasn't this been a long and roundabout set up for something that's not even about pigs?  Relax and enjoy the journey I say, there's nothing wrong with a stop or two on the way to the main event.

Today's post is actually about a person, a really swell guy by the name of Bob Sanchez.  Bob recently did me a tremendous kindness and this is my small way of saying thanks.

That's a nice face.

So we all know that I pulled the book off Amazon because it needs reediting, I asked my writer's group for some guidance and Bob generously offered to look over the first chapter.  He's an author himself, a published author and has dabbled in the dark editing arts, so I jumped on that offer like it was the last hot dog at the picnic.

I sent him the chapter right away, very anxious to hear a professional opinion, and was a little surprised when his first response was to send back just the first page with corrections.  I looked over the page, it was riddled with notes and it was a revelation.  You know how it is when sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees?  There are way too many trees in the manuscript and Bob made that obvious to me with one page.

But I did puzzle over the why-ness of the first page only and then I realized that Bob Sanchez has done this before, generously offered his time and given his honest feedback.  I'm fairly sure he only committed to that first page to see if I would flip out over the corrections, to see if I would get defensive and argue about all my precious words.

Oh Bob, I used to be a chef, I went to a fancy culinary school that taught in the classical style.  I have been critiqued by Nazis, not kind, cuddly Nazis, mean ones that throw potatoes at your head if you're not holding the knife correctly.  I have had my hair blown back more times than I can count and every one of those tongue lashings made me better.

Those Nazis, er chefs, only wanted me to be a better cook and knowledgeable criticism is a gift beyond value.  Please do not think that Bob was a Nazi in any way, no spuds were launched; instead he gave me a no-nonsense evaluation of how I write. I'm a little sloppy, I see that now.

Bob gave me the outside perspective, he looked at the book with the eyes of a stranger and gave me some new things to ponder.  Even the title of the book, The Last Prospector, could be misleading for someone who is looking for a Western to read, not a Fantasy or vice versa.

I'm not changing the title, but am thinking about how to subtitle the book to make it clear that it's a Fantasy.  Which is something I never would have considered without reasonable criticism.

There are three morals to this story:

1.  Bob Sanchez is an amazingly cool guy, so please check out his crime novels.  When Pigs Fly, is quite naturally my favorite title, but there are two other well reviewed titles, Little Mountain and Getting Lucky.  Stop by his blog or even slap a happy thumbs up on his Facebook page and become a fan.

2.  Criticism is not a personal shot, don't take it personally.  None of us can grow without others of us pointing out the flaws in the plans and criticism is a tool not a weapon.

3.  Pigs DO fly.

So thank you Bob Sanchez, thank you a million times over.  That one edited chapter was one of the best gifts I have ever received.  Thank you for your kindness and generosity, thank you for your time and knowledge.

Thanks for not throwing a potato at me!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Life In Six Words

I recently joined a fantastic writers group on Facebook called Blogplicity.  It is a tight knit community full of very talented bloggers who enjoy interacting with each other.  Lately you have seen some of my offerings for the group, such as the 100 Words on Saturday, and today's post is the response to another writing prompt.

The 6 Word Memoir is based on Hemingway's short story, For Sale: Baby Shoes Never Worn and is an attempt to distill our lives into one compact statement.  Since we are past the middle of the month, many fantastic autobiographies have been posted, often leaving me envious and worrying that mine would be worthy.

But I was assigned the 17th of March, it's a date I could have said no to, could have rescheduled, but these things happen for a reason.  Today would have been my daughter's 29th birthday and I don't have any words to share about her loss.

The following words are all about me, but I won't pretend that losing Brianne didn't bring me to this place.  The following words are not meant to be flippant or blasphemous in any way.

Made in the image of God

Tomorrow's memoir by Vrndavana Vinodini will be found on her blog Just Write.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Everybody Lies

Honesty is tricky business, isn't it?  We all want to be transparent, all want to be shining beacons of clarity and truth, but the light from that beacon can be a very harsh glare.  Not everyone appreciates having a beacon of clarity so close by, so ready to shine.

I have told many whoppers in my time, sure some of them were told purely for sport, but some of those lies were used to cover my own ample derriere.  It took me many years to figure out that the non-sporting lies were more trouble than they were worth, that the telling of them diminished me and trying to keep up with them was exhausting.

As a cook, people will lie to you all the time.  They'll tell you they liked the food when they didn't because they don't want the cook's feelings to be hurt.  It took me many years to practically beat that impulse out of my friends and family, when it comes to food especially, DO NOT LIE to me.  That won't help anything, the food won't get better and the poor chef will think she's done well.

My other best friend Tess is my go to test subject for new dishes, she has an amazing palate that we've spent years educating and will tell me every tiny thing that is liked or disliked.  It never gets ugly, I don't get defensive because my goal is to make the best dish, not just an ok dish and Tess feeds me the purest truth.

I became a truth teller after my daughter died, I had no more patience for the petty and meaningless lies of kindness that are so rampant.  I got slapped up with a harsh dose of reality, that a kind lie is more hateful than any other kind and true love required true honesty.

It's not an easy thing to do every day, particularly with strangers who don't understand that I'm not actually trying to crush their hopes and dreams.  It's not easy to crush my own, but if I don't smack down my own lies with equal or greater ferocity, then truth telling is completely pointless.

I still lie in many ways, I loathe my next door neighbor, she loathes me but we still pretend and make pained and polite conversation with each other when forced.  But to be honest, because I'm telling the truth right now, I haven't gone off on her because Clyde won't let me.  She really has no idea all the hits my husband has protected her from all these years, NO IDEA.

And I lie to my dog, all the time, every day, every moment of every day I lie to the Blue.  I tell him he's my favorite puppy dog ever (lie), that he's the toughest pit bull on the planet (lie,lie) and that I would be nowhere without his diligent security measures (whopper lie).  Ours is a relationship built on lies, my lies anyway, since Blue is a dog, he's very honest about how he feels about me.

I'm a distant third, sometimes fourth on Blue's list of favorite people and he never lets me forget that.  I don't hate him for being honest, I kind of respect it and it's never a lie when I look into his eyes and tell him exactly how much I miss my last dog Harry.

But that's family for you, they are still required to wag their tails even though you're honestly not their favorite.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Hantz Down, Best Survivor Ever

Even though I'm having the family over for a big dinner tonight and should be doing actual work, I have to weigh in about last night's ep of Survivor.

For those of you who don't watch the show and are still reading this, last night saw the long-expected emotional breakdown of Brandon Hantz.  This was Brandon's second outing on Survivor and part of a family tradition started by one of the most polarizing players ever, the notorious Russel Hantz.  Both men are famous for being big personalities with dubious ethical boundaries and a talent for creating drama.

Naturally, the producers of Survivor love the Hantz family, they are ratings gold.  Survivor is a business, it exists to make money, which is why the show is always set in tropical locations.  All that random skin being flashed during a typical episode is akin to a peep show and the producers love to freeze those action shots with generous cleavage on display.

This is a very old reality show, ancient by reality standards and desperate to stay relevant, so the stunt casting began a while ago.  I'm not naive, I know how TV works, so while I loathe most of their 'colorful' characters, I do understand their value.  Borderline personalities are unpredictable by nature and Survivor needs unpredictable, it's what makes the show.  It's the reason I still watch, all the fights, the challenges, the meltdowns a-plenty and the surprises; that's the reality in the TV.

So the producers keep pushing the boundaries and last night one of them pushed back.  Hard.  Brandon snapped, but not all at once.  No, he slowly collapsed from the inside over a period of days and everyone saw it.  They saw his mood swing from aggressive anger to repentant melancholy and right back to anger over and over.  Brandon should have been taken out of the game well before the situation came to a roiling boil at the immunity challenge, Brandon should not have been on that island in the first place.

We the viewers all knew that he was at the very least bi-polar during his first appearance on Survivor, we the viewers openly questioned the producers of Survivor when they brought him back.  And now we the viewers are saying "We told you so!", because we were shouting it at them and like arrogant fools, they didn't listen to the bankroll.

When Brandon Hantz finally exploded at the immunity challenge, the potential for physical violence was well beyond tolerable limits for any responsible person.  Jeff Probst handled the situation admirably, doing his level best to keep Brandon calm, to keep Brandon from putting his hands on Philip.  Probst literally massaged Brandon in an effort to both calm and restrain him.  So good on Probst for that, but...

Probst is a producer of the show, he helped to create the situation so it's only fair that he should be the one to defuse the time bomb.  Putting a visibly emotionally unstable person in a high pressure situation with limited food was a violent situation waiting for an arena.  Deliberately putting innocent people into the situation without their knowledge or consent has to be a crime of some kind, at the very least it's indecent.

The producers of Survivor are happy campers today, everyone is talking about them, everyone wants to know what REALLY happened.  They are making money today, but are most likely not thinking about the long term repercussions of Brandon Hantz et al.  Perhaps the producers are feeling encouraged to push that envelope a little bit further, just to see what happens.

Apparently, they can't see what we see.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Retweet If You'd Like To Share A Comment

The following is a nakedly self serving blog post, I'm admitting it right up front.  But it will serve thousands, perhaps millions, of others as well so this could be viewed as a charitable act with the right kind of eye wear.

In case you couldn't tell, I've been a little obsessed with social media lately, but that's how I roll.  Obsessions large and small have governed my life, it's how I learn and lately when asked what I've been up to, I say that I'm back in school.

It's a self study program, but any education is valuable.

Today we're talking about all the different kinds of share buttons found on virtually every post out in the Cyberverse.  We've all seen them, but prior to my becoming a blogger, I rarely used them because of ignorance.  I did not understand the point of randomly saying, "Hey, I like that."

But in the Cyberverse, every single button click has a deep meaning for the clickee because it's a system driven by numbers.  Every 'Like', 'Plus', 'Tweet' and 'Share' gives us a tiny bit more exposure and moves us incrementally up the search engine food chain.

There aren't any rules dictating what should be shared or liked, it's purely a personal choice and there are no right or wrong shares.  If you see an especially humorous picture of a kitten, the chances are very good that others will want to see it too.  So what if it's silly or has no relevance?  If you like it, share it.

Remember this is SOCIAL media, be social, it's why you have all those Facebook friends in the first place.

Your vote of support can be just a simple click on the Facebook 'Like' button, or that little G+ on all the Blogspot blogs and WordPress also has a button.  If you really like something, share it to your wall by clicking the Facebook icon that is generally near the post - it does not take a technical genius by any means because most of the work is done for you.

Those buttons are designed to be easy to use, to make it simple for someone like my mother in law to share recipes, photos and inspirational words with her friends.  If my wonderful MIL can do it, so can you.  Is your lasagne as good as hers, probably not :)

You are not expected to have an opinion about every site you visit, but if a site does move you in some way, please don't hesitate to say so.  It is only the click of a button, it doesn't cost you anything and you will not be held up for public ridicule when you claim to like Carrot Top.

I generally have my TweetDeck open while I'm online, even if I'm not in the mood to tweet all that much.  I check in from time to time and retweet other people in my network because it's just a button click.  It only takes me a second to send my friend's information about a book, website or show out a little farther, to get them a little more publicity, because that is what friends do.

Would you hold a door for a stranger?  Do you sometimes put your pennies into the cup by the register for the next unfortunate soul who's a couple cents short of a Big Gulp?  It's the same thing, a small kindness on your part translates to tremendous good fortune for someone else.

Ok, comments.  Yes, I'm with you on comments, every site has a different system and they can be touchy, can't they?  All you wanted to say was "Hey, good job!", but nooooooo, now you have to squint, try and figure out what those hideous captchas are spelling out.  Many times it's not worth the trouble, I feel you.

I have no wise words to universally deal with comment sections.  Many times I will just subvert the comment system and go right to the source, I'll find the author's email address and tell them directly.  But you can always find them on Facebook or Twitter, so comment there, it's perfectly fine.  All they want, all WE want, is to know that you're out there, that you're listening and if we have impacted you in any way.

In closing, let's have a Doctor Who quote:

Well I've spent enough time with the Doctor to know whenever you enter somewhere new, press buttons.

Thanks for your time and please LIKE me!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Closed Doors

As a child, I saw my eldest sister walk through a sliding glass door like it wasn't there

She didn't intend to, but the glass shattered all the same into a shower of prisms

I remember the bright bits of glass glittering in the sunlight and the plethora of tiny bleeding cuts all over her body

They were just scratches though, she survived

It’s a moment frozen in my memory, those glittering bits

Opening doors is not much fun, it’s just too ordinary

Bursting through doors, obliterating them into little bits, kicking them down

Asking “Door? What’s a door?” 

That’s fun

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Equilibrium of Squirrels

It's not one of those trick titles this time, it's really a tribute to squirrels :)

There might be a handful of people out there who don't like them, think of them as vermin, but most people love to watch squirrels.  All those grunty little chittering noises and the way they freeze up like statues for no apparent reason (Did I leave the kettle on?).  And they scamper, scampering is just the cutest thing ever.

Squirrels are aerial masters and natural born show folk, performing gravity defying feats with the greatest of ease, the greatest of confidence.  I admire squirrels for those reasons, but lately there's a new lesson learned from Little Chunk, Flicky and all the rest.

We've tried out many different types of bird feeders in the last few months, this type of sock is common these days, but they're no good.  I put them out and the next day, they have been ripped to shreds by the squirrels; those were abandoned early on.  I looked at squirrel proof feeders at the store, but my goal was never to deny the squirrels, rather to discourage vandalizing.

After some trial and error, Clyde and I have settled on a system of one gallon milk jugs, we go through about one a week, so that's the most convenient.  We make a new feeder by carving out two of the side panels, sliding a wooden skewer diagonally across the bottom and threading wire through the top for a handle.  Keeping feeders clean is a priority, hence the revolving jug method.

As you can see, there is plenty of easy access for all.  Initially, we thought the squirrels to be greedy, that they would empty the feeders every day, but that was not true.  Just like people, those squirrels only wanted what they thought they couldn't have, those socks were forbidden fruit.

Little Chunk visits the feeder everyday, several squirrels do along with a great quantity of birds.  Now that it's just sitting there free for the taking, the squirrels are not being greedy.  They take what they need and leave the rest.

If a squirrel can find that balance so easily, why can't I?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


I have mentioned before that I am Twittering more, perhaps even with a modicum of ease these days.  Not without help though, Holly Jahangiri being the most notable contributor to my curriculum in that regard.  Someone on BBT Cafe posted this link recently by Kristen Lamb, author of We Are Not Alone, about Twitter etiquette and protocol that was extremely useful to me as well.

We are back at this well because it is time for me to begin a re-edit of The Last Prospector, a more informed edit this time.  Sadly, this is still a DIY project because we just can't afford a professional, if I could, I would.  I do not think that I can do it better than they, but do it I must.

This time I have resources though, not flying as blindly as usual, and some concrete general instructions about the process of editing a book.  A generous man named Bob Sanchez, author of When Pigs Fly, looked over the first chapter and gave me notes; the first page alone was a revelation.   Many of the folks in the cafe contribute to Blood Red Pencil, and this site is a trove of practical editorial advice for any kind of writing.

And I have friends now, authors who have been here before who can pat me on the back in a comforting way when I sigh unhappily.  That alone is pretty great.

So what does this have to do with Twitter?  I have decided to tweet my editing experience, If Wil Wheaton can tweet himself watching A Christmas Story, so can I.

My TweetDeck (yes, this girl knows what TweetDeck is, so there) will be open whenever I'm working on the book.  It's my social media experiment; if I commit to it, engage in it and fling myself out into the Twitterverse, perhaps I will find the audience that Prospector deserves.

Perhaps not, I've been wrong a lot, in case you haven't noticed.  But even a failed experiment yields valuable wisdom, usually more than a successful one - I'm still hoping for success, it would be a nice change of pace.

So, here goes nothing once again!  Let's have some fun, let's start a conversation #TwitizenCairn.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Dear Bruce Jenner

Dear Bruce,

I intended to write about the other Bruce today, the one I like, Springsteen.  But you have been on my mind Bruce Jenner, so this one is for you.

May I just ask where your testicles are buried?  The three of you must have parted ways after your stunning appearance in the  '76 Olympics because the IOC would have noticed their absence.

This open letter is a gift to you, a glimpse into your future.  I am the ghost of Christmas future because I have lived what you are putting your children through right now.

Oh and, by the way, you disgust me.  You are spineless and weak willed sir, there is a word I keep thinking whenever I think of you, I shan't say it in this tasteful blog, but it is synonymous with 'cat'.

Have you noticed that your wife has ruined your relationships with all of your children? I don't watch you or your soulless family's programs, but I am neither blind nor deaf so I have seen with my own eyes how your grown sons have already left you.  Now there are two young girls, girls who still have a chance to be emotionally happy people - if you ever find the courage to fight for them that is.

Yep, Kris Jenner is a monster, I've known this all along, some things you can tell just by looking Bruce.  But you are a much worse variety of monster, the kind that everyone thinks is such a nice guy and it's a helluva an act.  I'm not buying it though.

As I've said, I lived this.  I watched my biological father allow his wives who weren't my mother to separate him from his children.  It hurts like hell Bruce, to know that your own father won't fight for you, doesn't care enough about you to take a stand about your welfare.

Here's the thing Bruce, Kris couldn't have done that without your permission and assistance.  You allowed her to get between you and your sons and now you allow her to turn your youngest girls into the newest Khardashian commodities.

Someone once said that the only thing required for evil to flourish was for good men to stand aside and do nothing.  Which kind of makes those men not 'good', eh?  You are evil too Bruce Jenner, evilly standing aside because you're too much of a (cat).

What are you afraid of?  That Kris will yell at you with words?  That is terrifying, WORDS!  There's just no defense from people who yell with words.  Oh wait, yes there is.  Be a man for once, use your words to tell her to shut it and take your children away from her.  BE A MAN BRUCE JENNER.

Let me tell you what happens if you continue to walk down the path of least resistance.  You will die old, broken and alone because you taught your children that it was easier to walk away.  So they walked away from you, that's what I did.

I've got news for all you half assed fathers out there, you who think that a sperm donation was the limit of your obligations to your children.  You are not entitled to the respect and affection of your progeny, those are earned.  You cannot spend your life making your children feel second best and expect those humans to forget all of you hurtful actions.

It's not too late Bruce, not at all.  It's never too late to stand up and be a man.  It's not too late to be a real father to all of your children, to not die alone.

This all very raw and blunt, but kind words don't work on the spineless, only a stinging slaps.  I want all the Khardashians to please go away and stop making America look so bad.  You can start by stopping Kris from prostituting your underage daughters and giving those children a normal, private life.

This is California Bruce Jenner, you have rights.  Especially you Bruce Jenner!  If you just stop being so weak.

Daddy is supposed to be strong, supposed to protect you.  When do you start being Daddy?

Start right now Bruce.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

British Invasion

I am not an Anglophile, just so you know.  The word is defined as someone who is fond of or greatly admires England, which is broadly true of me.  And yet I'm still not an Anglophile.

But I do love the Brits, I love their sensibilities and their accents.  Those residents of the British Isles hit the accent jackpot, in my view, every street corner seems to have its own unique way of speaking and they all sound so melodic to me.

From a Pop culture standpoint, the U.K. has been a huge influence on me, from the Clash to Doctor Who, my tastes are very much informed by British imports.  But it is their television that I adore the most, that I am envious of, because it is far more interesting than what they give us over here.

I love that English actors look like real people; fat, bad teeth, old and hairless.  Not all of them of course, but you would be hard pressed to find one of those over-processed starlets with hair extensions and implants that proliferate on our screens.

Let's face it, if Doctor Who and Torchwood had been American creations, neither Billie Piper or Eve Myles would have made it past the audition.  Most likely, they would have been snickered at and given the number of a Beverly Hills dentist.

I don't feel that way, I love Eve Myles and her delightful gap, although I'm not as taken with Billie Piper's bum as the producers of Doctor Who think I should be.  It looks like a perfectly normal ass to me, but whatever.

Until the last few months, the BBC America has been my refuge from from the bland and over-puffed offerings of network programming.  The Beeb has given me so many wonderful things; Black Adder, Cracker, Luther, The Catherine Tate Show and the holiest of holies.

If any of my British readers know Philip Glenister, could you please tell him that I follow him on Twitter even though he has NEVER ONCE Twittered?  I'm still waiting, just in case :)

While I still watch more programs regularly on the BBCA than all four major American networks combined, it has been slipping.  The nature programs are still the finest to be found anywhere, but those dramas are really getting bad.  Copper was a disgusting thing, if you remember my kiddie porn rant about Shameless, just know that fury was born out of revulsion for Copper. Now it is just a slippery slope of increasing Americanization of their products, they are now embracing precisely what made me flee from homegrown products.

So I'm watching it less and much less likely to try something new they have to offer, the BBCA is no longer an entity deserving of trust, very sad.

Fortunately, the U.K. has many other things of interest, such as its citizens.  My British Facebook friends are a delight, sending me little slices of life via posts and pictures that make me feel like I could be right at home there.  My two favorite Brits happen to be bloggers (surprise!), I did a guest blog for one of them about local winter produce and the other recently wrote something very lovely about yours truly on her blog.

Caro and Anita-Clare are just two of the many fine British accents speaking on my wall these days, so it is becoming better than the Beeb in many ways.  See?  If you don't give me proper entertainment, I will go out and make my own.

Remember, I'm the one who got so irritated that I couldn't find a good story to read that I wrote my own.

There is one other very significant thing about Great Britain that needs mentioning, a thing I think about often although I really have about 10,000 things of more importance.  Living in California all my life, I am somewhat blase about all the iconic and well known sights here.  I have seen all of them many times; crossed over the Golden Gate Bridge, hiked Yosemite and even frolicked at the edge of the San Andreas fault.

But they've got something over there that tops all of those in my view, the most well known icon in human history and it's just sitting by the side of the road.

Can you imagine the daily commute to your job as an insurance adjuster, zipping past Stonehenge every day and grousing about the traffic??  How AWESOME would that be?

Naturally, I have a complaint.  Oh you guys are not getting off quite that easily, oh no.

As much as I love their speech, there has been a change, an un-melodic change.  More and more, I hear them replacing the 'th' sound in words with either a 'v' or 'f' sound.  With becomes wif, gather becomes gaver  and so on.

You know how it is when you're talking very fast and an unexpected glob of saliva has formed, threatening to spill out of your mouth in an indelicate way so you hurry up and try to slurp it back before anyone notices?

Yep, that's what it sounds like.  They sound like drooling idiots, literally drooling.

Let's make a deal, I will keep trying to get the idiot boys on this end to wear pants that fit properly and you guys get your kids to stop drooling in public.  Visualize world peace people, we can make this happen!

I do love you Britain, not your Paul McCartney worship though, feel free to keep the Beatles.  I'm from California, Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys forever.  But you gave us Vivienne Westwood and Winston Churchill too, for that I salute you.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Lasting Memories

Is it Saturday already?

I always hear it when they’re together, especially when they think I’m not listening.

I’m always listening harder when they think I’m not, it’s a mom thing.

The two of them laughing, they laugh so loud and easily

I say that I’m happy they’re friends, they retort NO and NUH UH as one

Just because we go shopping together, to the movies together

Does NOT mean we are ‘friends’ with eye rolls

Then I leave the room and the laughter starts again

Laughing at Mother’s foolish notions again

Their laughter is the soundtrack of my heart

One long lasting memory

Friday, March 1, 2013


I think all you Travellers are pretty familiar with my obsession with Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  It is my favorite show of all time and I watch the reruns and reruns of reruns whenever possible.

There is one episode that I have only seen once though, when it was first aired and I've not watched it again since.  It's too hard to watch, it's too hard to see actors make-believing the tragedy we lived.  They were respectful, it's not that, but that episode happened to us.

I don't want to be writing this, I don't want to be dredging this up again.  I have resisted and said no, that this is our family pain and not to be grist for the community mill.  But it keeps coming back and it hurts, I want it to leave me alone and accept that I have accepted.

It won't get out of my head, so here I am showing you my deepest wound.

Joyce Summers died in that episode of Buffy, out of the blue from a brain aneurysm.  A tiny ninja assassin inside her brain.  That same assassin took the life of my oldest daughter many years ago, out of the same clear blue, with the same brutal efficiency.

It is a pain that never lessens, never goes away.  It is an ache that you learn to live with because there is no other choice.  It is the yardstick by which all other pain is measured.

Today is March 1st, the month of Brianne's birth and death.  She was just 12 years and 6 days old, when she died.  When we killed her.

Oh don't say that we didn't kill her, you who were there, because we did.  We made that choice for her, it is an ugly truth but it is the truth.  The doctors came to us and said we had to decide Brianne's fate, to keep her body functioning on machines or to stop her beautiful, courageous heart.

They said she wasn't going to be coming back to us, that her brain had died and all that was left was a shell. We chose to say good bye, we chose to donate her organs, we chose to kill Brianne.

I do not have the luxury of soft, easy, comforting words anymore.  People wonder why I am so blunt, it's because the time for pretense is long gone.  All that was left after Bri were pain and truth.  Life is too fucking short and the lies will not set you free.

I shared a video on my Facebook page on Valentine's Day.  A lovely little girl made the video for her best friend, a boy with a congenital heart defect.  It was incredibly touching and I understood that girl's pain, her best friend needed a heart.

Here's a fun fact about organ donation.  Just like body parts outside, body parts inside are not one size fits all.  No, those organs have to be roughly the same size, they have to come from a body of the same size.  So, if a 10 year old needs a new heart, someone else's baby has to die in order to provide.

As much as I want that boy to live, I don't want some other parents to go through what we did.

I don't regret donating Bri's organs, but of course I regret the choice.  I still don't know if it was the right one, I will probably never know.  Did we not give the universe a chance to give us a miracle?  It is a question that hounds me every moment of every day.

Brianne is the reason I am so intent on living, I live my life in her honor and I am brave because she made me so.  She is the reason I won't tolerate the lies that we tell to stop ourselves from being fulfilled, she is the reason I push so hard.

There isn't much time, there is never enough time.  It can be over so fast and then what, regret about a life not fully realized?

NO, I will not go quietly into that dark night.  I WILL NOT.

I will keep railing, rallying, fighting and crying, but I will not surrender to the pain.  I owe Brianne my very best, everyone in our family owes Brianne their very best, and it is a debt I intend to honor.



She was supposed to be packing, but Walker found Pet sitting on her bed and watching the television with a sour expression.  She sighed heavily and asked, “Why do they insist on doing that?”

Walker chuckled and sat down beside her, “Because Gwendolyn is your name.  Your real name,” he added before Pet could retort.

The program she was watching was another documentary about Amos’ cave, about the amazing discovery and the amazing discoverers.  Every single time that Pet was featured, there was always a caption that read Gwendolyn “Pet” Brazil and that really irked her.  They all just called Nastassja Tass, and that was wholly unfair in Pet’s view.

But the discovery was big news, the biggest news of the new millennium many said.  It was the find of a lifetime, of several lifetimes, and its impact would be felt forever.  Because of that cave and the unlikely runes, a genuine conversation had started about the veracity of recorded history, the academics were now finally willing to admit that perhaps Christopher Columbus had not been the first.

But rocks don’t lie, they do not know how to lie and the rocks in California were saying that the Americas had never been undiscovered.  Evidence was piling up from all over the western hemisphere that ancient peoples not only knew the Americas existed, but traveled here frequently over the eons. 

A new talking head filled up the screen, causing Pet to roll her eyes in disgust and get back to packing.  As much as she liked the crackpots, Petra drew the line at the idiot with the crazy hair and leather pants who kept insisting that aliens from other planets had fashioned the carvings.  She did not have any use for someone who ignored the overwhelming evidence of human ingenuity and determination, someone who thought his own species incompetent and slavered over imaginary friends.

But everybody wanted in on the action, legal wars were already raging over the contents and Pet was happy to stay out of the fray.  To her mind, all that placer gold lining the streambed in the cave belonged to Rita Brandecker and her children, since they were just rocks and not pieces of the actual carvings.  But it was a lot of gold, an almost incomprehensible amount and the State was claiming ownership, trying to stick its hand into pockets it did not own.  There was a National Guard unit stationed at the site now to keep people out and even the U.N. was making a claim that the cave was a world heritage site. 

Pet could only agree, the cave did not belong to her, the Brandeckers or the State, it was the legacy of all Californians, of all the people in the world.  Only a handful of people had actually been inside, and the fact that all that gold was still there was a very telling sign that no other humans had entered that cave since the creators had left.  Pet and Tass knew they would only have one shot at the cave, to collect their data and celebrate their victory, because there was more in there than just gold and carvings.

Caves were isolated eco systems, there was biological gold in there too that needed protecting as much as the history.  They had been excruciatingly careful to not contaminate the site, from changing into sterile clothing and covering their shoes with plastic bags, the expeditioners had done their level best not to destroy in their zeal to discover.

There was a new framed photo on Pet’s desk, next to the photo of her and her parents in the cave near Oroville.  This family portrait had been taken by the cameraman from the Exploration Channel and getting Pet, Walker and all three Romeros into the well chamber at the same time was a very tight squeeze.  But they had managed, the five of them in front of the looming bear of gold, all smiling like crazed maniacs and holding tightly to each other.

Petra could no longer play at being the orphan, her parents might be long gone, but she had never been without family.  Strangers from all over the world had reached out to Pet, had supported and sustained her during her quest and were now all ridiculously proud of her accomplishment.  They had made room in their hearts for a maverick scientist who romanced rocks, making it known that Pet Brazil belonged to a family, the biggest family on planet Earth.

With her suitcase almost full, Walker handed her the final bundle and Pet gently buried the rubbing of Amos’ name, and two pictures.  Raymond Brazil, John Muir and Amos, the not forgotten gold miner, were going with Petra, they came all this way together and they would see it through to the end together.

Pet checked the time and asked, “Any word?”

Walker nodded, “She just texted Araceli, they’re on their way.”

Tass had been spending most of her currently limited free time with Fulstone, in between giving interviews and reviewing job offers.  There was a television show in the works that Tass would be hosting on the Exploration Channel, but there were other interesting choices to ponder too.  Pet did not want in on that action, she would always be there for support, research and occasional appearances, but had no desire to be in the spotlight more than she already was. 

There were books to write and lectures to give, but those would have to wait until after the wedding.  Pet was very excited to join her life to Walker’s, but that event wouldn’t happen for several months.  There was one last expedition to mount on behalf of Pet’s quest, an invitation no one had ever expected and the opportunity of a lifetime.  The CaveWomen were honored guests and had even been allowed the courtesy of bringing a third.

There were so many people who helped the CaveWomen, so many people to be thanked, that the choice could have been a difficult one.  But it was the easiest decision, the most obvious decision for both Pet and Tass, because there was but one person who was owed the largest debt.  Araceli Romero had taken over for the parents who left Gwendolyn behind, she had raised three children by herself and still ran the business of CaveWomen, Inc.

If Pet could have stuffed Chuy into her bag, he would be coming to Jordan with them.  Pet closed her bag and zipped it up tight, her foster brother would just have to wait for the pictures.  His mother and sisters were going to the Promised Land, flying first class in Hollywood style to the dusty desert in the Middle East where another group of ingenious humans carved a culture out of the rocks.

Petra was calling Petra home.