Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Mystery of Life

Last night I watched the re-broadcast of Farrah's Story.  Now while some people told me they did not wish to see it, feeling it would be just too sad to watch, I wanted to see it.  


Because I felt I needed to see it.  Watching this brave woman's battle with cancer was an eye-opener for me.  All the pain and medical tests she underwent; the ups and downs of you've got tumors, now you don't, now you do--and yet she kept going, maintaining this determination that she would beat cancer.  She. would. win.

I give her enormous credit.  She did not win her battle, but her attitude was amazing.  Her strong desire to live extended her life for a year or so longer than doctors expected and illustrates the difference between people who resign themselves to the inevitable and those who won't accept defeat no matter what.

So what did I learn from Farrah's story?  I learned how valuable life really is and how fortunate I am to have the luxury of good health.  Good health is something many of us take for granted. We witness and read about celebrities, professional athletes, and business people and perhaps envy their wealth, popularity, material goods, and career choices.  But being wealthy and a celebrity didn't stop Farrah from getting cancer.  Cancer doesn't care who you are.  It's a nondiscriminatory killer.

I will try to remember to be thankful every day that I'm healthy.  I'm still sick right now, but I'm rather sure I'll recover from this illness.  I know others will not be so lucky regarding the health battles they're fighting.

And that raises the question of why do some of us become terminally ill while some do not?

There is no definitive answer to that question.  If there's something in the genes that makes us predisposed to cancer, then perhaps that's it.  If not, then what?  Environmental factors?

Life is one big mystery and we're all pretty much in the dark, watching each chapter unfold.  The answers might never be revealed, or at least not to our satisfaction.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sick as a Dog and Trapped Like a Rat

It's such a bummer to be sick.  My ears are all plugged up, my throat feels like there's pieces of glass stuck in there, I can't stop coughing and I just feel like crap.

Since I don't feel well enough to go out and about I'm stuck in the house like a caged animal.  Now I know how those animals must feel.  Claustrophobia sets in along with boredom--how long can you stare at the same walls without going crazy?

So I try to keep busy writing and doing research.  But it does get lonely at times.  For a work at home writer, the key to sanity is to go out and see people at least once a day.  And I can't even call anybody on the phone since I have laryngitis.  That's one condition I hate having.  I love to sing along to songs on the radio or on a CD, but can't do it when I have no voice!

So it sucks right now.  I know I need to rest as much as possible to get over this faster.  I'm thinking of going out to buy some green tea this afternoon since I've heard it has antioxidants, something that might help out a lot.

If I can muster the strength to leave the house.  I wonder if they deliver tea?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Giving Birth to a Picture Book

I made up my mind a while back to break the rules.  I've never really liked rules anyway.

I'm working on a children's picture book.  Actually, I've written a few picture books.  Once I even illustrated one and gave the finished product to my then young nephew for a birthday present.  But a published picture book?  Much harder to turn into a reality.

So I decided to publish one myself.  This is the beginning of the process.  I've written the text and selected an illustrator--my daughter.  She's minoring in art in college, knows the story since I wrote it for her years ago, and understands the concept.  It's about two young sisters, opposites--a simple story, hopefully humorous, showing two sides of what it is to be female.

I realized something from writing this picture book manuscript--it's the illustrations that are crucial to the storytelling.  The facial expressions and colors have to be right for this to work.

I also realized that there is a simplicity to this story; with a word count around 120, every single word has to count.  I know I will be revising and adapting throughout this process.  Once my daughter finishes the drawings, I'll decide which words stay and which ones go.

This is an experiment really.  And a work of love.  It's something I've always wanted to do.  It's my baby and I plan to give birth in my own way, at my own rate, and in my own home.

And I'm doing it my way, breaking rules if I feel like it.  This baby will be unlike any baby you've ever seen.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Food for Thought

Since I've been in the process of shedding a few pounds (Just a few--10 down, only five left to go), I've been thinking more and more about what it is about food that is so enticing.

And what I've come up with is this: Eating has become a pastime for many people.  Ideally, we are supposed to eat to fuel our bodies.  That really is the main purpose.  But I think many people do something a friend of mine says she's guilty of doing.  Her father once said to her, "Most people eat to live.  You live to eat."

Let's think about this.  What kinds of commercials do we see on television?  We are enticed to go to family restaurants in the name of fun.  In the commercial we see smiling families sitting around a table enjoying such goodies as hot fudge sundaes, French fries, sodas and various other high-calories foods.  We also see commercials for pizza joints in which the message tells us to have fun by enjoying a nice big, cheesy, gooey, fattening pizza with our favorite friends or family.  Or see a movie on a Friday night and eat a great big fat, overpriced bucket of buttered popcorn.  And on and on it goes.

So if we strip away the fun trips to ice cream shops, pizza joints, baseball games, barbecues, movie theaters, house parties, bars, and all of the other potential places to eat food, what's left?

Well not much.  Basically, a person would stay home and eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at home.  (Okay, if it's a work day, one would probably eat someplace other than home.)  But the point is, take away the fun aspect of going out, and you're left with making your own meals at home.  So the possibility of eating the right foods is much better.  Yes, it might be kind of boring.  But when you make your own meals, you know exactly what ingredients are going into them.  You don't always know that when you're at a restaurant.  So therefore you have more control over how much sugar, salt, fat and other lovely things get added to your food.

That's my revelation in a nutshell.  Stay home and eat.  Don't go out and have any fun.

So I guess this summer I'll be reading lots of books, cleaning my house, and writing at my computer.  I'll be anti-social, but I'll be slimmer and perhaps a little smarter...

or at least a little more interesting.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Capturing the essence of nature

I love water--rivers, streams, the ocean.  Water is soothing, calming, refreshing.  Whenever I walk along the beach or waterway, I try to capture the scene in writing.  A few summers back Woman's World published this short, simple rhyming piece of mine:

The sun is casting diamonds
on a sea of blue before my eyes,
The waves are lapping in and out
and sound like very gentle sighs.
The sand is warm between my toes
but cooler over in the shade,
I lie back in the summer sun
and take a sip of lemonade.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Penguins make great parents

I borrowed a movie from the library yesterday.  It's called March of the Penguins.  Yes, it's rated G.  How unusual!  A G-rated movie.

So, you might think it was just for kids.  Not necessarily.  It's an 80-minute documentary about the life of penguins--their breeding ritual, the risks they take to breed, their predators.  Such a long walk in frigid cold weather in order to bring new life into this world.  And then when an egg is created, the father has to keep it warm underneath him while the mother toddles off to find the water from which she came in order to fill up on fish so she can feed her offspring.  It's a joint effort between the mother and father that has to be done successfully if the new little penguin is to survive.

So I learned some things about penguins after watching this film.  And it also made me think about humans and the way we raise our young.  Ideally, both moms and dads should contribute to raising the kids.  But we all know that's not always the case.  We have mothers who'd rather party, do drugs or go shopping than stay home and take care of their child.  We have deadbeat dads who shirk their responsibilities because they can't handle parenthood/being tied down.

It's a shame humans can't be more like penguins.  The loving dance of moving the child back and forth between them--taking turns keeping it safe and cared for.  They know something we don't know.

And we could learn from them.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I love writing dialogue

    I liked the idea of posting a piece of my WIP.  I've seen other writers do likewise.  The last post was a snippet of narration and description.  This time I thought I'd share a sample of my dialogue.  The following is a conversation between the main character, April, and her new boyfriend.

    “So, you’re moving in with me, right?”

            April looked up from the Arts page.  “What?”

            Kei laughed at her.  “Don’t pretend you didn’t hear me, woman.”

            She stuck out her tongue at him.  “Okay, I heard you.  I just wonder where the hell that came from.”

            “From my heart, that’s where.  I think we should live together.”

            April put the newspaper down on the couch.  They were seated in his living room, sharing a nice relaxing Sunday afternoon after spending the morning in bed.  “No,” she said firmly.  “No, we should not.”

            He looked at her with those sad, puppy dog eyes he liked to use on her.  “Why not?”

            “You know why not.  I’ve been there, done that.  And look where it got me.”

            He shook his head.  “I’m not Steven.  You can’t compare me to him.  It wouldn’t be like that with me.  I’m rich, you’re rich, there’s no power struggle.  You’d be an equal partner.  I wouldn’t ask anything of you but that you love me.  I don’t want your money, I’ve got my own.  I don’t want you to wait on me or give up any of your hobbies or interests.  You can pursue anything you want and I’ll support you.  Moral support, that is.  I’m in your corner.”

She smiled at him.   “I know.  I believe that.  But you don’t understand.  I just can’t do that again.  For the first time in my life I feel free.  Free to be myself and do what I want.  Go where I want.  Live totally on my own.  I’ve never done that before.  You manage your father’s hotel.  That’s your work.  I haven’t figured out yet what I want to do.  But I’ve got time.  Lots of time.  That’s what being uber-rich does for you, Kei.  I feel like I’ve got choices now.  And no time limit.  I’m gonna get an apartment for myself and then see what happens.  You and I can go back and forth between apartments.”