Posted in Uncategorized, Writing

Time To Write… Vacant

Looking around the room would leave most with the impression that no one lived here. It would be a kindness to call it a sterile environment. Furnishings were sparse and bare, one drab grey colored rug in the center of the floor, a solitary wooden chair sitting in the corner. An ancient television on a plain wooden stand against a wall and one of those tall lamps with a nondescript beige shade and a brass strand you pull to turn it on.

There were a couple small windows letting in a sliver of light. Off white curtains were hung up on both blocking most of the light, with a hint of a cobweb in the corner of one.

The place was too quiet. It was eerie. You expected poltergeists or something, maybe bats or mice, or something to crawl out of somewhere. Slam a door, or wind to gust creepily in from an open window. Instead, everything was silent.

The report stated that a small pale face was seen peeking out one of the windows. In a place that had been vacant for years. It was assumed the child was a runaway, or a homeless waif, or perhaps was a scared lonely little soul that had been lost or was abducted. But, there was no trace of anyone. Dust covered the floors and corners, and the fridge was empty, except some mold from something long ago. There was no bed, or table.

The county records show the property had been foreclosed on, and it was repossessed by the bank and had been listed for sale for quite some time. There were water stains on the ceiling, and some water damage behind the toilet. Otherwise, there wasn’t much that was in disrepair. It was just empty.

There were no crumbs, or fingerprints in the dust. Perhaps the person thought they saw someone when they didn’t? Perhaps, I hated to say it, as I waved the flashlight around the small room, it was a ghost?

A preposterous idea. I almost wanted a sound, any sign of life. Something, anything. We waited a few minutes more, before we took another walk around the property. The yard was overgrown. It looked like an old swing set was somewhere in there, but the black berry bushes had grown to the point where most of it was hidden. A child lived here once, but it did not look like it was recent.

“What do you think, Andre? Is it possible to have multiple sightings of someone that was never here, or is it more likely we have a small person who leaves no trace behind them? Maybe the witnesses are

in on some weird prank. If so, I do not think it is funny.”

“No one is that bored. Why waste our time? Besides, I would hope they would do something at least a little bit funny. This? A waste of time, and boring as hell.”

“Well, I guess we should examine the yard. There could be someone hiding in this mess, and we probably wouldn’t know it. It seems the bank gave up on selling this place.”

“I think they have it listed as land. I think the house is pretty much toast, but then I am no realtor. So, who knows.”

We both scanned the tall grass with our flashlights, listening for something small and scared. It was getting darker, and if there were a child out here it would be getting awfully cold soon, with no heat in the house, or blankets. And, who knows what out here.

Coyotes for sure, and maybe something much worse, I thought to myself, part of me hoping to find something or someone just to have the day have some kind of achievement. A meaning, we were doing this for a reason and not wasting our time or resources.

Someone’s child may be out here, alone. Starving, freezing. scared. I was that child once. I remembered it all too well. Parts of it, anyway. Some parts, I sealed off from myself. Some families do more harm than good. That was why I went into this business after all. I wanted to help children who were in horrible situations. Like I wished someone had done for me.

 

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Posted in Life, Uncategorized, Writing

It’s Been Awhile…

I have a lot of catching up to do, I know. I let life carry me away, and time management has always been a struggle for me. However, it just gets harder with every day I go without writing something. So, here I am. Back where I started. One of my idols, Ursula K LeGuin has passed away and I find myself struggling with just everyday life.

Dishes and laundry and playing chauffeur for my son and his much more exciting life, plus the Postal Service which can easily take a good chunk of time just by itself. But, in the end it is all excuses. You can make time for things that matter to you.

Perhaps I have found myself struck dumb with a severe case of apathy. I wonder if Ursula ever felt that, or did writing just flow all the time? I’ll never meet her, so I suppose I will never know for sure, although I have many books about writing by her. The answer may well be in one of those.

Maybe it is just laziness, maybe I don’t know, I secretly do not want to be happy. Maybe I don’t know how to be happy for long.

I hope any who still pass by this way forgive me for my rambling. I was partly inspired by the new Amazon series Electric Dreams, inspired by Philip K Dick, another author I envy. I liked all the episodes, some were more inspired than others. But the ones dealing with reality and being an other really resonated with me.

I don’t know how closely they follow the source material, because it has been a while since I read the stories, and some of them didn’t list which they were inspired by. Either way, they were interesting, and I am glad I saw them.

I also took the plunge and updated my laptop to windows 10. Unfortunately, I cannot find my copy of Office, which is the writing program I am used to using, and new copies are such an expensive proposition. Plus, I am so fond of this dear old laptop, but apparently windows 10 does not have a driver for my video card which is built into the motherboard. I can’t upgrade it, although I have upgraded everything else on this friendly dinosaur.

So, I have had  a few issues. Although, like the rest of this ramble, it is just more excuses. I will do better. I need to for myself. New Writing coming soon.

Posted in Uncategorized, Writing

The Price of Gentrification

The leaves glittered a pretty gold green color, the wind ruffling them gently in the breeze. Blue skies and fluffy white clouds and serene sidewalks and dark green lamp posts and the occasional wooden bench dotted the landscape punctuated occasionally by a eggplant colored trashcan and a black car.

Perfectly landscaped shrubs shielded an impressive wooden fence guarding an impressive building of modern architecture, all red and grey and covered in various angles and degrees. Very very edgy. Modern. Definitely modern.

Every plant and shrub and piece of cement was immaculate and like new. The place was perfect. Too perfect. You almost looked for the error, for the mistake, for the hole. The red and grey had orange panels between, but you can tell it was planned, it was no accident.  There was no graffiti, no broken pavement.

It was like an oversized doll house. It didn’t look like it had been used. It was too new. You almost expected it to have that new car smell. Kind of a weird rubber tire smell, the kind that says there is something plastic and shiny here that hasn’t been corrupted by human stink yet.

Totally mechanical, and unused. But the air was fresh, with a hint of lavender in the air.  The windows were all various sizes and different heights. It was like the building was trying too hard to be edgy. It had accomplished that all ready, yet it was still trying to one up itself.

Why? What for? What was the purpose for it? What need or use did this random patchwork angled thing assist in? Did this color scheme somehow make the building more efficient? Was it more economical to heat because of it?

This building was built by and for the city, an administrative building created with no expense spared to look as glaringly new and different as possible. It would not settle and become one with the buildings around it, oh no, it was an individual.

Housing for the homeless was torn down and moved and gotten rid of so this beautiful monstrosity could squat over the entire block, housing no one, only fitting worker bees inside a useful building with a flamboyance that was beyond useful or necessary. The bill of course being footed by the people and for the people, because they deserve the best, except for those homeless sods, of course they should just leave. They are no longer welcome here in our pretty perfect town.

No more emergency shelter for them, the city needed a sharply angled giant building plus plaza to take up the entire area, this was more important, and the building showed it. It looked important and impressive. It was large, and expensive. And there would be no beds in there. Lots of rooms, but no beds. Lots of benches too. And trees. And the sun was shining with blue sky and fluffy clouds.

And everyone could see the impressive modern building in all its multicolored glory, no remnant of the sad apartment complex that used to be there. All the living and breathing and dying and eating, all that living moved somewhere, anywhere else. Now, this looked unused, like new, there would be working here but no living, no dying, no eating. Just working.

Posted in Uncategorized

A Tale of The Loss of Various Stuff And Brick-A-Brack-it-A

Now I would like to write some fiction as it has been awhile. I had to upgrade my laptop to Windows 10 from Vista because of my silly Hearthstone addiction, yes, I am a nerd, finally able to admit it all these years later, and Blizzard was not going to let me keep playing if I didn’t upgrade. I had been sitting on this windows 10 for awhile, I bought it originally for my desktop which still needs a processor.

More evidence of my nerd-dom right there, I enjoy  putting pc’s together. I also love my cat, even though she sat on my processor which I stupidly left out, and bent the pins. I tried to straighten it and ended up breaking them off. So, to make a long story longer, I am full of contradictions. I love my cat and my computer. I love writing, but find it hard at times to get motivated.

I lost a lot of items when I moved, and found another item that didn’t make it. My Microsoft Office disc. I re-downloaded scrivener, and will have to rebuy Office in the future. It costs too much to buy it now, so now it will force me to learn scrivener which looks like a lot of fun. Trying to find the upside in losing software that will cost over a hundred dollars to replace.

The other items I lost were some irreplaceable ones and some I can re-buy. My fitness cd’s, my rings, including a one of a kind genuine amethyst ring which the jeweler destroyed the mold he used to make it afterwards, Cowboy Bebop dvd collection, and my tassel from graduating high school and community college, and my community college ring. A little crystal vase from my now deceased Grandma was also in that box.

I was grateful for the help at the time, but also exhausted and stressed out. It’s Over Now, as the Alice In Chains song goes, but, every time I think I’m past it, I ran across another thing I need that I don’t have.

It has been frustrating but I have learned some valuable lessons. One obvious one is that stuff is just stuff. The vase isn’t my Grandma. I still graduated even though I don’t have the tassel to prove it. I do have the diploma. Another obvious rule, which if I had been sane I would have known and should have known better, never let people who you know have a high probability of having a meth addiction into your house. They will rob you blind every time.

They were taking stuff from one box and adding it to anther, I was constantly telling them no, I am keeping that box. While I was loading two boxes, I left the third at the top of the stairs, when I came back it was gone. I really thought, perhaps I was mistaken and there were only two boxes. I was so tired.

Nope, they hauled it off when I was gone for ten seconds. So yeah, that was stupid of me. And, since I let them in it is a she said she said situation. I did let them keep a lot of stuff, so, I have no way of proving that they stole anything.

I decided to chalk it up as a lesson learned. Not to get invested too much in material things, and to make my peace with the loss. And, you never make good decisions when under a lot of stress. You need time to think and process.

If anyone is rushing you into something, it is probably not to your benefit. If anyone offers to help with nothing in return, sometimes, there is an ulterior motive. The world isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.

Occasionally, there is a glimmer. But most of the time, there is something else at work. I wish that wasn’t the case, but in my experience, most of the time there is a cost, a hidden cost, but a cost nonetheless. Make sure you are willing to pay it. There is no free lunch, as they say.

 

Posted in Uncategorized, Writing

About Time And That One Guy Who Sailed in 1492…

I have the day off thanks to Columbus. Probably the only job I’ve ever had that gave me Columbus day off. It isn’t much of a holiday here. Controversial to some, and to others it is a “bank holiday,” or an excuse for some places to close. We have no statues in my town, and do no parades here. I worked for a bank here and I always had to work on Columbus day. So, it is a quasi holiday, it is there, but it isn’t really celebrated, at least not much here.

I realize there are places that do, like New York has a parade, and I read it is a big deal in Puerto Rico. I have Italian heritage. I do not feel especially threatened if they get rid of this holiday. Columbus was born in Italy, he was Italian, but he served Spain, and died in Spain.

He also never set foot on the continent. So, his “discovery of America” if you discount that he thought he found a short cut to India, and that the Vikings as well as the indigenous people were here before him, just never really rang true.

However, I have also read a lot of articles today attributing genocide and all the native populations being decimated by disease and everything that came after Columbus being attributed to him.

The deaths of the Taino people on Hispaniola can be laid at his door. I think it is a stretch to add all the rest to him. He couldn’t have foreseen the small pox epidemic that decimated the north American tribes. He didn’t even set foot here, remember? He thought he was in India the whole time. He would have had no way of knowing the far reaching repercussions his “discovery” would have, and there is no sane way to blame him for all the atrocities that would come later.

He was a guy with three ships who underestimated the size of the world, and shared the mentality of his time that “savages” were lesser men. We can think of that in horror now, but in his day it was quite normal.

Rudyard Kipling of “Just so Stories”  and the “Jungle Book” fame had some writings describing ethnic people in a kind of racist or patronizing way. I still love some of these stories, although his British Imperialism now colors them all in a tainted sort of way. And it was this view of superiority, that Europeans had a god given right to govern the lesser peoples and guide them to being civilized that is so hard to stomach now.

This was a time where people looked to the church for answers, not science. And, it was a debate whether these people had souls or not,  because they weren’t mentioned in the Bible. It was a different time, and to say Columbus and his men were ignorant would be obvious. They knew nothing about these lands, or their people, and made a lot of assumptions. Of course, not knowing anything about germs, and how disease and immune systems work, they would have no idea that they were spreading disease just by coming there.

You cannot assume 21st century morality and science and put it on a person of another era. It is like expecting a cave man to know how to drive a car. People should be examined in context with their time, as the culture they are in will of course, naturally affect their thinking and how they act toward others.

In our current time, we act differently. There is an island, off the coast of India that has an indigenous tribe that has not been directly interacted with except for a handful of times. They want to be left alone and attack on site and the government of India has forbade anyone from going to the island or even within a certain amount of feet of it.

Besides respecting the islanders desire to be left alone, it was also indicated that the decision took into account that any interactions could cause disease and a ravaging of the population, also the language barrier and hostility.

A couple fisherman were killed and dismembered because they drifted too near the island, so the safety of not only the inhabitants but also of the outsiders had to be considered.

Instead of trying to civilize or bring these people to Jesus, it was decided that it was best to just leave them alone. I feel that some people seem to think Columbus could have or should have been capable of making a decision like that without the necessary information that the modern government of India has currently.

This is in fact preposterous. You can’t assume someone from that era can understand how disease works. In addition, the religious culture of the period, you have to bring people to Jesus or they die in eternal torment. It was your duty as a Christian to bring them to Christ if possible. As far as slavery is concerned, there was some that thought the inhabitants did not have souls, so enslaving them was okay.

The Catholic church eventually decided they did indeed have souls and asked the Spanish King to not treat the people harshly and to bring them to Christ.

However, this was decided after Columbus’s voyages and his crew did not always obey him when he implored them to not be too harsh, and it was apparent that none of these native people’s had weapons or a way to protect themselves from the invaders.  Unfortunately, as often happens, the strong destroy the weak.

The Europeans of this age were just as savage if not more so than the islanders.  The islanders were just living their lives and did not ask for any of this.  I feel their pain does deserve to be recognized, and I think our society still has much to learn.

The British and the United States that came after treated its native peoples horribly. But, I cannot realistically lay that at Columbus’ door. Sure, this all followed his voyage, but, realistically, there is just no way that he could have foreseen all of this. That is a lot of historical anguish to lay at one man’s door. Columbus wasn’t Hitler. He wasn’t even Mussolini.

He was kind of a Charles Lindbergh of his day. By the way, Lindbergh said some awful things about Jewish people. People can do amazing things, and still be jerks. People can do awful things, and still be celebrated for the things they did right.

Should Columbus be celebrated? I am not sure. He did travel a long way in three small ships. I probably couldn’t have done that. In fact, I know I couldn’t back then, being a  woman.  But, that is something. If he hadn’t stumbled onto the islands, someone eventually would have. The Europeans would have landed eventually, bringing their diseases with them. Maybe the name would have been different.

Posted in Uncategorized

Happy Birthday to Myself, GRRM, and Sophia Loren; And a Missed Opportunity Turns into a Lesson Learned

I  have always liked that my birthday is the same as Mr. Martin’s as his books have inspired me since the late nineties, long before the HBO series came about. In fact, for a long long time I kept an email of him basically telling me off.

I volunteered at an E zine, and somehow my Editor in chief got GRRM to agree to an interview, and he was my favorite author at the time, and I was trying to make it perfect. I researched him thoroughly, had a list of questions and topics. It was a phone interview.

I thought I was ready, and this was back before cell phones were everywhere, so I was going to use my landline, and I forgot I had long distance blocked to save me from spending money where I shouldn’t.

I started to panic when the time came for the interview, and I couldn’t get through. I completely forgot I had the line blocked. So, Mr. Martin emailed me reminding me that his time was precious, and that I wasted an hour of his life that he spent waiting in his office, and I didn’t get another chance.

I felt like an idiot, but I also was in awe because he was like a rock star to me. I for a long time had GRRM listed as a contact in my email. Finally, I deleted it.

It was an AOL account, so I doubt it is still active now that he is insanely famous. I know a little free E zine would not be able to secure an interview today, and if you read this Scott, I am still amazed you got it back then. It was still an important non event in my life, that I will never forget.

I had an awesome list of questions too. The interview that never happened will be the most important event that didn’t happen to me in my life. It taught me a valuable lesson. You can never be too prepared. If you think you are, check again. And re -check. And double check. Also, your time is valuable, whether you are a famous author or someone writing on the side. Everyone’s time is valuable. And, it wasn’t a waste. I did learn something from it.

Posted in Fiction, Uncategorized, Writing

Timed Write — First Thing that Comes to Mind

She walked down the street quietly, hands embedded into the pockets of an overly large beige rain coat. A piece of garbage blew past dancing along the street to some silent tune while the occasional rain puddle stood showing the sky in its natural mirror.

She sighed. Perhaps she just wanted to hear more than the occasional dripping of droplets from rooftops trying to hurry to the ground in their own wet way.

Sometimes she liked to hear her own voice, it almost sounded like it was coming from some other person. Her voice wasn’t how she imagined it would sound like in her head. It was higher, tinnier, distant. Like an echo of what she assumed was her voice.

She was young, wearing a maroon scarf and a small black hat askew. She had her own fashion sense, it was a bit nonsensical. Part retro part comfort, part a little bit detective movie, and a little bit couch potato. She wasn’t sure who she was yet, or who she would become and the impression she gave was of a whimsical and confused teen who wasn’t sure she liked herself all that much.

She knew she liked the rain. It was soothing when it hit her hat and her coat, it made a satisfying plop sound. It made its own music, a rhythmic percussion of sounds that set a tempo for action or just a lengthy walk.

She loved to walk. But, for some unknown reason, when the rain stopped something about the world seemed dark and gloomy. The music slowed down, and everything just sat wet and bland. Everything was just there, remaining around concrete and water.

The clouds were still overhead promising a return of rain in the near future. But in the meantime she was left walking down a largely deserted street wondering if the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse would resemble this.

Everything and everyone needs water, and rain is the form it often comes from. Rain was life, just like sunlight was. A plant would die without water just like it would without light. The air smelled different after a good rain.

The humidity messed with her hair more than her hat did, and she would stop to readjust a strand that somehow got into her face. It was a constant battle between her hat and her hair and her glasses. There was never a real victor, much like the rain or the sun, hair always came back.

Occasionally she would yank a particular strand out and examine the root of it, before tossing it. It would grow back. She guessed that was okay, after all, she didn’t want to be bald. Then again, since she liked to wear hats, perhaps that didn’t matter very much to her. Hair was kind of a symbol of vitality or health though.

People looked at a girl funny without hair. Everyone would probably make insane assumptions like cancer, or some terminal illness if she lost all her hair. Perhaps it is better to have it, so she can blend into the surroundings better. She didn’t want to attract too much attention. she didn’t want any more stares than she occasionally got for the hats she would wear.

A little attention was nice, a lot of attention was scary. She didn’t want stares, a glance was okay, but a stare would be altogether different. She wanted to be different, but not necessarily a freak.

It was a delicate balance that she might not ever perfect. But she was learning how to be herself and sometimes mistakes would be made.

Posted in Life, Uncategorized, Writing

Time to Do Some Writing….

My site is back and hopefully here to stay. I plan on doing a lot of writing, and hopefully it will be just what I need to elevate my craft. Thank you all for your patience while the site was in hiatus. I appreciate any and all follows and I do follow back as a common courtesy.

I took this week off from work and it was nice not having to worry about getting up early and to have an open schedule. I do feel for those out there that make their own schedules though. It was at times hard to get motivated. I wasted some time, but that was okay.

I kind of knew that was going to happen. It is like the kid who isn’t allowed to eat candy going to a friend’s house and an open candy dish is right there. Time has been like that for me. I never have enough of it it seems, and when I do I squander it like a lottery winner does their winnings.

I am trying not to be too hard on myself. But at the same time, we never know how much time we are allotted in this life. So, it is imperative to make it count.

With that in mind, be expecting some timed writes, writing prompts, and short stories of surprise and wonder coming your way. And, again, thank you. Your encouragement and inspiration is what keeps me posting.

Sincerely,

JennRae.