And what are we up to today?
Call this one Hike 1.5; it's more of a pleasantly brisk walk than a hike, but it's 3.5 miles, and as it turns out, a godsend.
I started the day off rather nicely: came down the stairs from my apartment, hit a turn-step-weight adjustment wrong at the bottom, and ended up flat on my back with an ankle that had bent quite a bit more outward than it should have. Luckily, because I'm anal retentive, I had my hiking boots fully laced up and thus probably saved myself from the worst case scenario.
However, no visible bruising and just a little throbbing right up front, my Achilles tendon present and accounted for. Off we went.
Did I learn this for the first time at the arboretum? No. But I thank the arboretum walk for passing this tidbit of Very Important Info along.
Icing and heating the ankle alternately now while I binge on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Gotham, in hopes that I will be able to embark upon the much longer hike I've chosen for this coming Sunday.
2015, I start you off with a hike.
They say that who you are with at the change of the year is who you will be with for the rest of that year. I’d like to ascribe that to what you are doing, too. My goal this year is to realize a dream I’ve had for some time now: to walk the length of Hadrian’s Wall in Northern England. To that end, I have begun what I am calling “12 Hikes in 12 Weeks.”
On the first of January, I went with my father to Codfish Falls in the Auburn area of California. I picked it for several reasons. One, the name is just fun. Caught my eye. Two, it’s short and flat-ish. My sister’s contribution this holiday season was a respiratory flu of some sort (to quote her shout over dinner on Christmas Eve, “YOU’RE WELCOME!!!!”) and our lungs are all still shot. Three, I’d never heard of Codfish Falls before. Yay, discovery!
It's a lovely hike.
To get down to the river (American, North Fork), I bumped and wrangled the car down a horribly rutted dirt road, over run-off runnels, collapsed culverts, and a hoard of rocks jutting up through some very red clay. My dad, who has worked for the State Parks for over 20 years, offered, “Welcome to my world.” It was good experience, driving in less than pristine conditions. The weather was crisp and cool, the sun bright, and the air hazy with ice crystals.
The bridge has reinforced parallel tracks made of wooden boards. Car wheels go there only; to bump off onto the main planking between on either side may very well be to punch a hole right through. I don’t know, I didn’t try it. We ate lunch overlooking the river and then walked at a brisk pace along a narrow dirt trail. On one side, a steep decline; on the other, a steep incline. Moderately dense wooded areas provide shade. At one point, the water coming out of the earth onto the trail itself was still ice.
We went slightly up, slightly down, and in the end, we came to this:
I realize I’ve forgotten how much I love to hike. Towards October, bad news seemed to be coming in from every corner of my circle, starting with the death of my cat. Being a clinical depression survivor, there are things I do regularly to ward off the fell beast, but this autumn, it overtook me and stomped around for a while; it’s been another trudge upward since then, and it can be slow going.
Being raised by a father who works/plays in the great outdoors means it’s in my blood. I’m not saying I’d do spectacularly if I had to suddenly survive off the land, but sometimes there really is no better balm than going back outside, getting away from the city and reminding myself of all the hidden landscapes there are when we have the chance to step outside our everyday stressors.
Thus ends the first venture. Tomorrow, the next!
I am so excited... Secrets of Neverwood has placed third in the Best LGBT Anthology category!
It's just amazing to be alongside the other winners and runners-up in this category, and I am so thankful to the many judges, readers and moderators who make these awards possible every year. What a treat to be part of this crowd!
Just some helpful life lessons I have learned from my favorite movie genre...
1) When your house turns old and British, move out.
2) When your house turns old and Japanese, that ship has officially sailed. Make sure you enjoy the time you have left!
3) When it dies, you'd better make sure it's dead. In fact, kill it twice.
4) If you think you need to open it, you don't. If someone says you need to open it, you don't. If it tells you you need to open it, it's wrong. You don't need to open it. Do whatever it takes, up to and including giving yourself a lobotomy, but do. not. open.
5) If I need to explain hitchhikers to you, it's already too late.
6) The shit shall hitteth the fan-eth, and thou shalt become much more knowledgeable about thy friends and acquaintances.
7) Civilization + zombies = asshole people.
8) Civilization + apocalypse = asshole people.
9) Civilization + any variable under the sun = asshole people. Go live in the country.
10) 17.5% of country bumpkins are trying to eat you for dinner.
11) Pick up a damn weapon. Hello.
12) Save a life, think in 3-D. That includes above you, below you, and inside you.
13) If you found it in the attic, the basement, the shed, the lockbox, the chimney, the closet, the trunk, the mysterious delivery crate, or if you bought it at an estate sale because you thought it would look cute hanging on your wall, you made a mistake. It's okay, we all make mistakes. The worse mistake would be to not kill it with fire.
14) Space, the final frontier. Operative word? Final.
15) Lots of children are cute. Children that are not cute: those born after a spontaneous blackout, after a prolonged period of abstinence, or after trying your neighbors' homemade dessert... those who enjoy playing with dolls, talking to their closets, or crawling on ceilings... those who have no discernible date of conception, no trouble speaking in archaic tongues, and no reason to be standing by your bed at godawful o'clock while holding a kitchen implement. Above all, beware of kids who don't mind wearing their hair in a bowl cut.
16) Cats don't really have nine lives. It's a metaphor. Under no circumstances should you attempt to bring them back to life once they are deceased.
...and of course,
17) If Sean Bean is in your movie, just try to stay alive longer than he does.
In early June, Google displayed archived documents from the 1944 D-Day attack on the Normandy Coast. Among these pictures, letters, and papers was a similar document to this one, handwritten by Eisenhower, detailing his apology, explanation, and acceptance of blame in the event the Allied attack failed. My love for history and my understanding of how different things might well be aside, both that apology and this statement concerning Apollo 11 give me pause on the writerly front.
I have a dear friend who states that when she comes to a crucial scene in a manuscript, she discards not just the first option she pens, or the second, but sometimes the third as well and ultimately goes with the fourth. Keep in mind, writing is not a snap of the fingers for her; I have long been a lucky first reader of her work, and I can tell you she agonizes over the majority of her scenes, and she attacks description and characterization with the long considered zeal of a perfectionist. Ergo, this abandonment of carefully crafted prose two, sometimes three times, is not a short or simple process.
It’s also a marvelous, and difficult, writing skill.
By discarding what comes first and most naturally, she forces herself to think past three very important things:
1) The Obvious. The clichéd, the stereotypical, the been-there-done-that. Maybe it feels right to you because it’s right, but maybe it’s just because you’ve seen it somewhere before. You’ve watched another scene turn along these lines, you’ve heard other voices speak these words. Natural progression is good, but beware of the commonplace.
2) The First Option. By working past what pops into mind first, you explore other ways that a scene could result. You begin pushing against the walls of the box, sticking your fingers through the air holes, doubling your list of “what ifs.” If a scene refuses to go anywhere, perhaps the best bet to find that hinge moment and swing things another way.
3) The 2-D Character. Maybe this is what a character would do first, but is it what a character would do best? Taking a look at what else might happen, not from the authorial point of view but rather from the character’s point of view, can give you and your readers a ton of insight into this character that otherwise may never have surfaced. The character might still emerge victorious and alive from that moon landing, but the fact that he or she prepared for what might happen on the other end of the spectrum can be extremely instructive.
Photo borrowed from this tweet.
Random Writing Exercise: Take a particular scene (bonus points if it’s one you are stuck on!) and write in the exact opposite direction from the one you’d planned. See where it goes. It may take you nowhere. It may give you insight into your characters or plot that you were missing. It may throw open the next door and reveal to you exactly how to rampage over the writer’s block into the meat of your story.
Congratulations to Carly Rose, who won a free copy of One Door Closes, and arella, who won a gift certificate to Amazon!
Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway. ^_^ Your support is amazing. Happy reading!
Due to recent experience, I have decided there is nothing more insipid than a voice automated telephone answering service.
"You have chosen to speak to a live person. This is incorrect. Surely I can help you. Please say clearly the name of the person you are trying to reach. Did you say Dwight Eisenhower? You didn't say Dwight Eisenhower? You must be incorrect. Please say clearly what you would like to do. You have selected 'playing pinochle with a hamster'. Is this correct? You have chosen to speak to a live person. Invalid entry. Are you sure you do not wish to play pinochle with a hamster?"
Random Writing Exercise: Write the phone call that drove you insane. Write the character that got back at the smarmy telescam artist. Write the answer you wish you could have given.
The project this month is… moving.
Moving house, uprooting, disorganizing, reorganizing, categorizing, packing, oh god, the packing. All of it is stressful in a very physical way. I just hauled my cement block of a television up a flight of narrow wooden stairs to get it to my apartment door. Two steps from the top and you’re still miles away. Believe me, that’s the stress that keeps on giving.
However. It is also, I suspect, the most difficult part of the physical furniture moving. And it’s done.
Other things, not so much. There’s my cat, 16 years old and the feline equivalent of a cockroach: he will live forever and one day conspire with the Heart of Darkness (aka Sophie, my sister’s bunny) to take over the world. That said, he is still 16, still arthritic, and recently recovering from what may have been a small stroke. It swells the brain. He’s been treated, he’s doing well. But moving him… Ouch, in so many ways. On the one hand, do I want to relocate him, make him learn another haunt, meet new younger cats? On the other, he’s my cat, we snuggle every single night, he has a thing for ample-chested women because they are squashy and comfortable; how in the world am I going to get used to not having him there? On a third hand, because everyone should have a third hand: giant raccoons living in trees by my complex + consummate outdoor geriatric cat = oh no oh no oh god no.
But either way, I’m moving.
So, packing. Unpacking. Redistributing. Ripping up the home I know and hoping like hell that it’ll still hold the power to house me once I reassemble it in, let’s face it, a totally alien place. Yes, it’s a nice apartment, but it won’t be my home for a while. Maybe never, because I’ve lived in places that never became my home. I’m whiplashing back and forth between euphoria at finally having my own space and a terrible sense of misery and loss.
I think you just have to push through it, though. Can’t go around it, can’t wait for it to dissipate because then it just looms larger and larger in the corner of your eye. Wade firmly into the upheaval, hurt for a while, but shove through because eventually, things turn, dust settles. You hang that picture on the wall and step back and go, “Oh, there you are.”
And there it is.
In my everyday life, I work in living donor kidney transplant. That means that someone donates one of their two healthy kidneys to another person who is suffering from some form of kidney disease or failure. Living Donor kidneys tend to last longer than cadaveric kidneys (those donated from a deceased individual). The surgery itself is healthier for both donor and recipient: it's planned ahead of time, and no one has to jump up and rush to the hospital on a moment's notice.
And then, of course, there's this little gem: The Kidney Chain.
Last month, my center organized a chain of its own.
Today I got to watch four donors, one of whom was an altruistic donor (i.e., he had no recipient in mind; he just wanted to donate a kidney to someone in need) and four recipients meet each other for the first time after surgery. These are four pairs of donor/recipients who did not match each other as originally planned, but instead matched other people in other pairs.
This means that four people who might not have received a transplant got a healthy kidney. This means that four other people moved closer to transplant on the kidney transplant list, because these other four recipients moved off of it. This means that four people gave the gift of life to four other people they didn't know. This means that the last recipient on the list got a transplant far sooner than he probably would have while waiting on the list. This means that today, amidst cool, breezy weather, I got to meet eight healthy individuals and their families.
I honestly love that I can pause at the end of the day and say, "Hot damn, I love what I do."
Hello! My name is Grete and welcome to my writing blog! I am a writer or romance, horror, and general observation