an odd collection of tales about learning to do the impossible

Posts tagged ‘lessons learned’

Day 11. Gimme Three Steps Towards Nevada

Yup. It’s a big ol’ sheriff’s truck, setting smack dab in the absolute middle of nowhere hidden by the only hill for miles. As I go by, he steps out of the vehicle and points something at me, a speed detection device I assume. By then I’m doing 34 mph and giving him the finger in my head.

Doesn’t this man have anything better to do? No, he doesn’t.

Read more at Day 11. Gimme Three Steps Towards Nevada, and enjoy my song of the day below.

Day 3. Just Don’t

We stop for lunch and my sister insists I try one of the many flavored long island ice teas. I’ve already had a glass of Rose and it’s only 11:30 and hard liquor doesn’t sound good …. but this is vacation, and who could resist a blood orange long island ice tea. Two sips into it and the headache starts. Bad idea. I should have resisted it.

Rule three, I decide, is if it doesn’t sound good to you, don’t order it. Don’t eat it. Don’t drink it. No matter how much your sister likes it, or how much you like your sister. Just don’t.

I invoke rule two, forgive myself for the mistake, and go back to slowly sipping Rose aboard ship. The wind blows through my hair and I decide, headache or not, this is going to be a good day. My sister reminds me of what our father used to say on days like this….  Now this is living. He was right, it certainly is ….

Read the full post at Day 3. Just Don’t

Day 2. Rules of the Road

Today my music keeps getting interrupted by Google Maps. The app is experiencing ongoing frustration because I have chosen to take a slightly longer route and not drive through Chicago. Nothing against the windy city; it’s a great place but I don’t want to drive through it.

“We’ve found a route that is 19 minutes faster,” it chirps as soon as I’m on the highway. “Touch screen to accept.” It continues to try to route me through Chicago for the next four hours. An algorithm apparently cannot comprehend why I’d rather drive a few extra minutes to enjoy rolling countryside and less traffic.

Read more at Day 2. Rules of the Road.

Moments and Movements

I think the quote means that ultimately humans are a moral people who understand and wish for goodness. Given time and encouragement, they will grow in that direction much as a plant grows towards the sun…

No single event ended segregation, no one protest stopped the Vietnam war. But over years, the hatred behind racism and the futility of needless conflicts fell out of favor with mainstream American, and differences were made. Perhaps too little. Certainly too slowly. But it was undeniably better than if there had been no progress at all.

Read the entire post at Moments and Movements

If I’d only known then …

It occurred to me today, while listening to a woman describe to us how she sold her first novel to HarperCollins, that much of what writers crave to know is “what do you know now, that you wish you’d known then.” We give this advice, and we ask it of others, almost endlessly…

I can’t go back in time, any more than I can see the future, no matter how often I write about characters who can. Would I have written better books if I’d only known then what I know now? Of course I would. Hell, I’d have lived a whole better life with that kind of knowledge.

Read more at If I’d only known then …

Live like you are going die?

Somewhere, deep inside, I now understood I was going to die. It was a fact I’d heard before, of course, but until it happened to my dad, I guess I didn’t really believe it. Didn’t get it would happen to me.

Read more at Live like you are going die?

(For more thoughts on how to use one’s time with wisdom see Spending time.)

Designing your own book cover, part 3

I was sort of like someone who wants to fire a few BB’s at a squirrel to scare it off the lawn and gets handed an AK-47. Before I knew it, I had dozens if not hundreds of relevant images and so many cover ideas that my head hurt. Take a look at a couple of the wild combinations…

I had to make a decision. I picked something that I thought would please everyone a little and my novel first appeared with the cover below.

It took me no more than a few days to accept that I did not particularly like it.

Read more at Designing your own book cover, part 3.

(For more on this topic see Designing your own book cover, part 1 and Designing your own book cover, part 2.)

 

And that’s the way it was, June 18, 1972

I spent the summer of 1972 checking groceries, making out with my high school boyfriend, and trying my first marijuana. At the time, I needed both the money and the worldly experience because come September, I was off to study journalism in the big city of Chicago.

Image result for 1972Even though I was going to be too young to vote, I also spent that summer following politics. I’d met Nixon the previous year and felt a visceral dislike for him. I’d become increasingly opposed to the Vietnam war. I was a geeky high school debater with a lot of opinions, and less of them favored the GOP each day. Oh, and I loved spy novels.

So on June 18, when I heard about a break-in at the Democratic National Headquarters, of course I was intrigued. Over the next two years I would become enthralled by the enfolding story.

Read more at And that’s the way it was, June 18, 1972.

(For more segments about June days from long ago, see That’s the Way It Was June 10, 1947, June 15, 1984, June 28, 1888, and June 30, 1940.)

Peace is Boring

You don’t have to spend much time walking around the parks and government buildings of any city to notice that monuments are erected to warriors. Battles are commemorated. If there is a memorial anywhere to a thousand days of uninterrupted peace, I’ve never heard of it.

furious2You don’t have to write novels like I do to grasp that humans enjoy hearing about conflict. It is exciting to watch emotions flare and buildings explode. There is a reason that “Fate of the Furious” (eighth in the Fast and Furious franchise) is coming to a theater near you and a movie about a quiet afternoon nap in a sun-dappled park is not.

Read the entire post at Peace is Boring.

More in Common

… Only the book ended up being about Nigeria instead. You see, in 2010, when I started to write it, Americans on the whole considered Nigerians scarier than Arabs. I had just taken a job with a Nigerian oil company where I often worked late in a common room and couldn’t help but overhear the phone calls of my young, male Nigerian co-workers as they called home.

Please read the entire post on my x0 blog at More in Common

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The real eulogy that I never gave

Dalai 9You teach your children every day.  Not by what you say but by how you live your life. It is so easy to find yourself teaching them that life is drudgery, that marriage sucks, that work is to be avoided, and that you never get a fair deal.

I will never get to deliver the eulogy for my parents which I would like.  But if I could – it would go something like this.

Read the entire post on my y1 blog at The real eulogy that I never gave.

Best movies about time, at least in this space/time continuum

https://zsquaredblog.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/warped-clock.jpg?w=189&h=162I am part of the movie-viewing public that never tires of a well done flick that examines time. But, as one might guess from the plot of z2, my favorites involve a clever manipulation of time, or a riff on the mysteries of time, rather than straight time travel stories.

There are several reasons that simple time travel stories don’t generally impress me.

Read the entire post on my z2 blog at Best movies about time, at least in this space/time continuum.

Choosy?

I am outside of a bar in Evergreen Colorado. It is biting, winter-mountain cold. Closing time has passed, the glasses have been cleared and the bar wiped down. That’s the drab part of cocktail waitressing. I grab my coat, and the late hour and brisk wind hurry me towards my little rented place across the road.

This is one of my favorite blog posts ever. Read the full story at Choosy?

https://46ascending.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/cold-mountain.jpg?w=172&h=258

Greener Grass

The tough part is figuring out when it’s time to stop chasing perfection and embrace the life you are living. Do this too easily, and you are settling for less than you should. Never accept anything other than perfection, and you have chained yourself to a life of discontent. This living life well shit is so damn difficult, isn’t it?

Read this entire post at Greener Grass

with a breath of kindness blow the rest away

Each Dec. 31 since I wrote y1, I find myself thinking of adolescent Zane throwing up on coffee liqueur as he attempts to greet the new year like an adult. Creating this scene required a better sense of balance than most. I wanted my readers to cheer on Zane as he tried to be older, in spite of their hopeful disapproval of children drinking alcohol. I wanted them to empathize with how the process of releasing the past is seldom an easy one for any of us. Metaphorically, a lot of us end up with our heads over the toilet bowl when we try to move on.

Read the rest of this post at “with a breath of kindness blow the rest away.”

 

 

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