Navigating Our Strange New World

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So after much social media shaming and the attempt to deflect with a claim that shipping companies didn’t want a waiver of the Jones Act, the current regime has finally waived the Act for Puerto Rico. Ships with foreign flags and crews can finally render aid to the American territory. The Act was waived without the need for pressure in both Texas and Florida, so I’ll leave you to imagine why the continued refusals for Puerto Rico.

It appears that help is finally on the way for our fellow Americans there. And please remember the American Virgin Islands, also destroyed by hurricanes, along with most of the Caribbean. The distance to these territories of the US does not lessen our government’s responsibility to them.

And on we go.

In times like these, perspective is important. Sometimes you have to prioritize screaming at the top of your lungs until you’re heard, even if the issue doesn’t directly affect you. Sometimes it’s just not possible.

But as we navigate this Strange New World, this world where aid to Americans in grave crisis isn’t a given, we need to adjust to responsibilities we’ve never considered before. We need to balance fighting a new unstable reality with maintaining the normalcy we can.

We need to remember our obligations to other people on this planet, the obligations to care, to help, to listen, for no other reason but that we are all human. We will learn. We will grow. We will strengthen.

And perhaps this won’t last forever.

For more on my thoughts about Charlottesville and rising bigotry, please read An Open Letter to My Friends of Color.

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Peruse Montraps Publishing.

Call Congress NOW for Emergency Relief for Puerto Rico

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No fun today. No lightness. Just the sincere request that anyone in the United States contact their members of Congress to ask for immediate emergency for Puerto Rico. It’s the apocalypse there right now.There’s no power, they’re running out of medications, and soon these fellow Americans will run out of clean drinking water.

Let’s say this again. This island full of American citizens is going to run out of clean drinking water.

You can express your opposition to the Senate’s Graham-Cassidy repeal of the ACA while you’re calling. It will take minutes. Bipartisan action is required immediately, as the office of the “president” is not taking any steps to provide relief, despite having the tools to do so immediately available.

And of course, if you have the means, please feel free to donate to Puerto Rico or any of the islands in the Caribbean utterly devastated by recent hurricanes. The US and British Virgin Islands were also decimated.

 

I Think the Word is “Meh.”

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It’s a strange thing for a writer not to have much to say, but I’m in that kind of a mood this morning. Maybe it’s the incongruence of above-80 degree temperatures on the first day of fall. Maybe it’s the annoyance that my vocabulary is apparently larger than my spellcheck’s, so I’m double-guessing the existence of words like “incongruence,” which spellcheck swears is not a thing.

Maybe it’s because I’d rather vanish into a world that doesn’t exist than hang out in the one that does, at least for the time-being. The one that does has gotten very, very ugly.

But even writers, sometimes, don’t feel like saying much. Even writers, sometimes, feel disconnected from words.

No need to check WebMD. It’s not a permanent condition.

For more on my thoughts about Charlottesville and rising bigotry, please read An Open Letter to My Friends of Color.

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Peruse Montraps Publishing.

Worry Fraught and That’s Just Fine

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Muir Beach Overlook, Marin County, California. By Frank Schulenburg (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

That crawling feeling, that one that slinks its way behind everything, pops up with a droning sense of unease. You know what I’m talking about.

Worry.

Some people are worriers, and some people aren’t. You non-worriers, I salute you and the mind doors you must possess, each with its own lock and miles of file cabinets where each thought is put in its place. Beyond those doors, I picture the inside of your heads like a tropical beach, all drinks included, the view bright and clear as far as the mind’s eye can see.

Not so much for the worriers among us,

And now, with the far-reaches of the internet, I have so much more to worry about. People I’ve never met and will never meet on far-off islands, once lush paradises, now stripped bare by vicious hurricanes. The citizens of Mexico, tormented first by one earthquake and a tropical storm, and then by another earthquake.

I worry for strangers who could be the targets of police violence; I worry for disabled children who rely on Medicaid to live at home with their parents instead of in an institution. And that’s on top of the normal worry stuff, like what if I never have another creative idea in my life, and hey wait a minute, that’s a good idea for a story.

But what if I don’t finish what I’m working on because I get distracted with the new story?

And scene.

But I’m going to fill you in on what might be a mixed-blessing secret, my lovely fellow writers and my lovely fellow readers. I can’t confirm it, but I think worrying is one of our superpowers.

Why? Worry leads you down a trail of thoughts, and thinking is the mother source of inspiration. It also forms the wellspring of imagination, and without an imagination you cannot get lost in a book.

So the trick is to harness our worry for good, to take these fears and find a way to make them work for us. And we might make it to those mind-beaches yet.

For more on my thoughts about Charlottesville and rising bigotry, please read An Open Letter to My Friends of Color.

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Peruse Montraps Publishing.

End of Days Over Easy

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By David Revoy / Blender Foundation (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

If these were ancient days, we’d be expecting the end of the world. Actually, let’s back up. Even now in the 21st century it kinda looks like the end of the world.

Hurricanes and earthquakes and mudslides and fires. Entire islands decimated, formerly lush green paradises now without a speck of green. And let’s not forget, this terrible streak started with an eclipse and, here in Chicago, a corpse flower.

So if we were superstitiously-minded, or fundamentally religiously-minded, we might take all of these events, piled on top of a regime terrifying in both its ineptitude and cruelty, as a sign.

But some of us are science-fictionally-minded. And we take it as proof-positive that someone’s been messing with time and time is not happy about it.

Not happy at all.

I’ve written about time before, in the seldom-loved but extremely long-titled The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management. The thing is I didn’t think it would become a manual of any kind.

After much research into a topic that is far more complicated and impossible to understand than you might think, I realized one truth: Time does not like being messed with. Not at all.

And we’re seeing that now.

Do I really think that someone got a time machine and stepped on a gum wrapper meant for someone else thus unraveling life us we know it?

Nope. But that’s a pretty good concept, I think.

I guess my point is that we have to process what is happening in the world right now whatever way we can. For me, imagining nefarious science-fiction underpinnings makes it just a hair more tolerable.

But hey, fantasy may be your genre. In that case, I’d blame the dragons.

It’s always the dragons.

For more on my thoughts about Charlottesville and rising bigotry, please read An Open Letter to My Friends of Color.

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Peruse Montraps Publishing.

Zombie Trumpcare is Back from the Dead, and Graham-Cassidy Wants to Take Us All With It

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Image from @JhamelResists

Image from @ASlavitt

Well, once again, Congress wants to take away our healthcare, kill the ACA and make devastating changes to Medicaid. The new bill, named after its co-sponsors, Graham-Cassidy, is, without doubt, the worst attempt to strip citizens of healthcare yet.

For example, under this bill, an insurer can raise your premiums at any time. So even if you’ve bought the plan, if at some time during the year you’re wild and crazy enough to actually use the health insurance you’re paying for, the insurer can raise your monthly premium. Use it again?

Up it goes again.

You’d think they’d get by now that no one wants these bills, aside from insurers. And yet, it seems the Republicans in Congress–this bill is only supported by Republicans–think that they can sneak it past us while we’re not looking.

So let’s keep looking. Please call your members of Congress and let them know that not only is this bill cruel and un-American, you are outraged that they continue to assault their constituents with legislation we don’t want.

Don’t know the contact information for your members of Congress (MOC)? Here you can find your Senators (it’s a Senate bill) and your Representative can be found here.

Well, Yeah.

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It’s hard to believe the world is still spinning, and by that I mean after Ann Coulter said something rational for the first time in her gristly existence that didn’t make people, as a collective, want to throw spitballs at her and lodge them in her hair. We’re living in weird days.

I’ve said this before, I can’t help but feel the timeline has somehow wandered off track, taking an odd turn into dark, ridiculous territory. Were this fiction, we’d just deus ex machina our way out of it, but unfortunately, reality isn’t as malleable as the worlds we create.

So I’m going to nurture my imagination, such that it is, though it cannot compete with the oddities cropping up at alarming speed, and I’ll try not to feel too bad that wecouldn’t have made this all up if we tried.

Well, maybe we could have. But who would want to?

Yep. Exactly.

For more on my thoughts about Charlottesville and rising bigotry, please read An Open Letter to My Friends of Color.

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Peruse Montraps Publishing.

The Work of Writing Five: Ideas

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Scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Titania and Bottom. Edwin Henry Landseer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

(Previous Work of Writing posts.)

I’m not feeling very idea-y today. Some days they come like a cloud of fireflies in early summer, too many to catch, not that you should catch fireflies because it’s cruel even though every child does it.

So much for that metaphor.

Some days, like today, you get cold winter air, empty of anything, biting, foreboding. Well, maybe not foreboding, but not exactly encouraging.

Well guess what? I bet you know what’s coming, hypothetical reader. Yup. You got it.

You still have to sit down and face the cursor. Writing isn’t about the inspiration, about the romantic idea of art pouring forth from your fingers like a tide of genius or even a series of tortured similes and metaphors, it’s about the work.

The work.

Of course we all have those glorious moments where we sit down, thought fully formed inside head, and sculpt it on the page, but come on, we all know that’s the drug. That’s the thing that keeps us coming back to the keyboard.

That’s the bubble.

The bubble doesn’t always let us in.The bubble doesn’t always have a shiny fairy door covered in tiny roses (note: that may constitute an idea). The bubble doesn’t always form.

You know what’s always there?

Your preferred tools for writing. So get you big mug of hot liquid of preference (yesterday’s readers, you get it) and let’s go. No mystical inspiration required.

For more on my thoughts about Charlottesville and rising bigotry, please read An Open Letter to My Friends of Color.

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Peruse Montraps Publishing.

 

The Work of Writing Four: Rituals

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(More Work of Writing posts.)

 

So I’ve been fielding question after imaginary question from you, hypothetical reader, about how things are going with my coffee machine. No need to be on the edge of your fancy seat made of air; my new coffeemaker and I have reached an understanding.

We both ignore the built-in coffee grinder, politely pretending it doesn’t exist, and voila, coffee is made.

Confession time: I originally wrote “viola.” Whether I think that’s your name, hypothetical reader, or I was addressing the instrument, I couldn’t tell you.

So on we go, intrepid hypothetical reader, coffee in hand, into realms imagined. Or not quite imagined yet. Somewhere in the process of imagining.

Something like that.

Because admit it or not, we all have our writing rituals.Mine can change depending on the time of year or what I’m writing; as the weather chills, I need big mugs of hot liquid, steam curling in the light of the window. Even if I get so wrapped up in what I’m writing I forget to drink that big mug of hot liquid until it becomes a big mug of tepid liquid, but we all have our issues.

And our days to get on with. So here we go.

Just one more sip of coffee first.

For more on my thoughts about Charlottesville and rising bigotry, please read An Open Letter to My Friends of Color.

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Peruse Montraps Publishing.

Take Your Brain for a Metaphorical Walk

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I like puzzle games, the kind where you have to figure things out, whether it’s how to escape a surreal different dimension, opening doors to nowhere, or cracking out of rooms you’d never enter in the first place. They’ve even honed my problem-solving skills in the real world.

There was the time years ago when I couldn’t open a window because the handle to turn the radiators on and off was in the way. I looked at it, realized it was a screw and turn the handle until the window could easily swing open. They can also help you to think of taking advantage of regular items in irregular ways, like a recent use of a too-sharp dental pick/scraper to clean out gunk from a dishwasher arm.

Like our bodies, our brains need exercise. We need to test them; we need to keep them flexible. Sure, these games aren’t for everyone, but to keep our minds sleek and agile, we have to do something that tests the bounds of usual.

After all, the corner of creativity is unconventional thinking.

And you never know what taking a brain break might spark. It’s like getting up and walking around every hour, but for your head. Getting the old circulation going.

You do what works for you, but just as you keep your body healthy, you’ve got to use it or lose it when it comes to your ability to think creatively. Why not do it with something you find fun?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a virtual box to open.

For more on my thoughts about Charlottesville and rising bigotry, please read An Open Letter to My Friends of Color.

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Peruse Montraps Publishing.