All posts by blair

Writer, educator, speaker, karateka, and proud single parent. Actively wondering every day.

Logan: The Movie I Saw Might Have Been Different

So my son and I saw Logan a couple nights ago, and I mentioned on Twitter that I nearly walked out about ten minutes in. What I didn’t add was that I wanted to walk out and throw up. Neither the urge to walk nor the queasiness happened because the film did anything wrong for me. Instead, it was because the film depicted something so incredibly well, I took the gut punch before I even knew it was coming.

So this is not a review. It’s a reaction. Mild spoilers shall follow in this post, and might show up in comments should folks choose to chime in.

First, a review-ish thing unrelated to the gut punch: The fight scenes are incredible, and not because they’re all fancied up with slow-motion or odd lingering close-ups or flashy weapon manipulation that actual fighters won’t bring to an actual fight. No, my darlings, the fights in Logan are logical and smart. They are swift. They are economical. And those are the two traits a fighter who is experienced—and, frankly, plagued by a lifetime of scars and reduced stamina—will demonstrate in real life. Fighters who survive don’t become flashier as they age. They become efficient.

Now for the gut punch.

Many people have mentioned the aspect of abuse and trauma survivorship. I was hit with something else early in the film.

Caregiving.

Spoilers are below the cut for courtesy.

Continue reading Logan: The Movie I Saw Might Have Been Different

Even the Deer Are Different

I could go on and on and on about the differences between Colorado living and Indiana living.  The landscape, the diversity, the climate, the opportunities…

But I’m going to tell you about the deer.

Indiana has white-tailed deer.  Colorado has mule deer.  I could go on about differences in their mass and height, but the real difference is in attitude.

White-tailed deer are anxiety ridden things, truly.

If they’re browsing at the side of the road and a car comes by, they panic and bolt.  They often bolt in front of the car.

If they’re browsing in a large field and see or hear something disturbing, they panic and bolt.  They often bolt toward a road.  Where cars are.

And if they’re just moving from one field to another, they leap onto roads.  When cars are passing.

If the deer is calmly crossing the road, and a car comes close, the deer will sometimes stand in place, or stutter-step back and forth before bounding off.  But—and here’s the crazy part—that deer will often trot out of the car’s path… then change its mind and dash the opposite direction just in time to get hit by the car whose driver thought the deer was (reasonably) going to stay ten feet away.

I lived just outside the edge of town.  I saw this a great deal.

Once upon a time, my late husband was driving on 465, the major highway that encircles Indianapolis.  He didn’t hit a deer.  The deer hit him.  Slammed right into the side of the car, buckling the rear door and shattering the window.

White-tailed deer are skittish and unpredictable.

Mule deer, on the other hand, don’t give a fuck.

Mule deer browse on the side of the road.  And when I say “side of the road,” I mean they’re right there.  Two feet from the pavement.  They really don’t care about the traffic.  They might look up now and then, but it’s passing curiosity and nothing more.

If they cross the road, they usually do it as a mosey, and they’ll make eye contact as they do it.  “Go ahead, hit me,” the even stare says.  “Just wait until you see what I can do to your car.”

(I should mention mule deer look a damn sight more solid than white-tailed deer, too.)

And before they cross the road, I swear they look both ways.

I’ve come upon mule deer while driving, and they don’t spook like white-tailed deer do.  They just give me The Look, and keep on with their mosey.

My oddest mule deer moment came when I was driving home from Tai Chi, on a well-used road with development on one side and open hills on the other.  I rolled up to a stop sign, and glanced both directions before moving forward.

And caught my breath.

Out the passenger window of my little Hyundai sedan, I could just see the chest and chin of a huge mule deer.  I had to lean over to see his antlers.  He was massive.  And he was just standing there, close enough I could have touched his muzzle were I in the passenger seat (and dared to roll down the window), waiting for me to get the hell out of his way.  Sure enough, as I rolled forward, he strolled across the road behind me as if he had all the time in the world.  And he looked at my tail lights as if thinking, “Yeah, you better move along.”

But the most unsettling mule deer moment came last fall, when I’d run away to a local campground for a couple nights.  My little Tanner-pup spotted a collection of mule deer, ran to the end of her lead, and barked like crazy.  The mule deer looked up from their browsing and advanced.  Even Tanner decided it was best to shut up and back down.

White-tailed deer were annoying and dangerous.

Mule deer…  I don’t want to mess with them at all.

 

A Work In Progress, I Am

Today’s long day at the distillery gave me a lesson.

Yes, I still love and adore my job.  Nearly every person who comes in is in a good mood and ready to be in an even better one.  And nearly everyone is happy with the person giving the tour because, well, I give them whiskey not once, but twice.

Nearly everyone.  Nearly.

It’s still a customer service position, and as such, there will always be someone not happy.  Or someone who is happy, but high maintenance.  Or someone who will never, ever be happy, and that level of unhappiness has nothing to do with their surroundings and activities.  This is the person who will actively seek a reason for their unhappiness, right down to whether they have to take twenty-seven steps to reach a destination when everyone else seems to take a mere twenty-six and three-quarters.

(Certainly there are those for whom the quarter-step is an actual imposition, a painful addition, or an unreasonable expectation.  Those aren’t the folks I’m speaking of.)

And those folks often trick us into believing that last quarter-step is important.  Or their misery over that quarter-step is important.  Or the threat of their overblown dissatisfaction with that quarter-step is important.  And once that trick is played, the obligation for solving it is transferred to us as well.

And most times, we know both the trick and the obligation are bullshit, but we fall for the trick anyway, and then are angry we were made to feel an obligation.  And we try to find a way to either duck the obligation, or meet the obligation in a way that doesn’t actually make the person happy because that feels like a “win.”

This is the root of pettiness.  On both sides.

I fell into the trap today, took a quick walk, and decided I didn’t want to be petty any longer.

Look: No matter our social and political leanings, there are great and wonderful and terrifying and inspiring things happening in our world today.  Those things deserve my energy.  Matching petty-for-petty does not.  Answering someone’s act of petty nastiness with equally petty nastiness accomplishes nothing.  Answering petty nastiness with civility often accomplishes nothing for the other person as well…  But it accomplishes a great deal for me.

I don’t waste my energy.  I don’t waste me time.  I don’t waste my emotional reserves.

I solve the problem, or I don’t because I can’t, and that’s the end of it.

So today my goal became to leave as much pettiness behind as I can.  To leave behind the deep-rooted need to respond in kind over little and meaningless nastiness.  To let go of the false notion of “winning” in the game of pettiness, and strive instead to understand in the moment how little pettiness matters.

Pettiness is exhausting.  I have more important things to do.

Now we’ll see how long I can hold on to this decision…

#SFWApro

The Novel Marches On

I know I’ve been rather blog-quiet lately.  There are two reasons for that.

First, y’all know I love my job giving whiskey tours.  And I’m not working that many hours, all told.  But making the transition has been a bit rocky in terms of time management.  Some things had to give, and longer online pieces were the pieces that fell to the wayside for awhile.

Second, I’ve been struggling a little with my “online presence.”  Frankly, I don’t even like to couch it in that term, but I haven’t another that’s any better.  Weighing where I speak about what, and in what terms, and how often or seldom…ClearCamaraFeb2013 112

Y’see, my online presence has always been just… me.  Not Me Writer or Me Not-Writer.  Just me.  At the same time, Online Me has almost always been separate from Real Life Me, mostly because the majority of people I interacted with in daily life had little if any interest in Online Me and related pursuits.  And Online Me always felt free to be me, but now that people I know in real life are hooking into Online Me, I feel all weird and exposed.

It’s all mixed up and jumbled and judged, and all the boundaries are smudged, and I’m second-guessing every time I consider posting here (and LiveJournal) because I’m certain you’re not interested in that, and my goodness this used to be so natural and easy, and maybe I’m posting on the wrong day for people to actually have time to read it, and am I really going to use that photo again, and I think I’d be infinitely happier if Facebook went away forever.

*insert flailing arms*

I’m figuring it out, slowly but surely.  The closer I get to feeling certain, the more I realize what I’ve posted in the past is exactly what I want to keep posting going forward.  It’s my attitude, not my content, that needs to settle down and move forward.

So you can look forward to more writing posts, more fighting posts, more disconnected musings on grief and puppers and wellness and whatever, and when the weather shifts, there will be the return of posts about camping and gardening.  (Yes, gardening. My current yard is a sliver given mostly to puppers, so we’ll be experimenting with hay bales and the like.)

In the meantime!

Flesh of Strife has been steadily growing, and as it grows, the plot for the last novel in the series, Ash of Life, becomes clearer.  There is fun stuff in there, and hard stuff, and true stuff, and kind stuff, and hopeful stuff.

Another novel, completely unrelated to the Desert Rising series, has taken form.  I have been ruthless against its demand to be written right now, though.  Flesh and Ash must come first, because that’s what my darlings are reading.

And the cookbook!  We’re almost there!  Right after Superstars next week, I’ll be sending out a final round of recipes for testing.  Other recipes have been adjusted according to the fabulous feedback people so graciously offered.  Some of those adjustments were in ingredients, but most were in the instructions, and I’m so grateful folks put a meal on the line to discover my errors.

The Patreon novella is still moving forward, and is in desperate need of a new section or two in February.

And my Patreon is still there, and I am amazed and grateful every month for y’all’s support there.  It keeps me going, truly.

So…  Here we are.  A confession, a meandering, and an update all in one.

And if there’s anything else you want to know about, please tell me because I’m obviously having a hard time figuring things out in isolation these days.

#SFWApro

 

 

 

Merry Camping Ahead…

powerSee that beautiful thing? It’s my Christmas joy, given by my brother-in-law as part of our family Secret Santa exchange.* He joked that he bought me one so I’d stop borrowing his. I told him it was his own fault for suggesting it would be a great camping accessory. 🙂

Yes, it’s great for emergencies–it’ll jumpstart a car, forex–but it’s the camping applications that make me love it so.

The last time I took my BIL’s charger along, I tested how much battery power it took to keep my Kindle and phone fully charged over three days.  By the end of the experiment, I’d recharged my used-until-dead Kindle three times, and my used-not-as-much phone twice.  The charging unit’s battery level had merely nudged down to around 97%.

Coming experiments will include discovering how long it’ll run my laptop, and what affects the power drain.  The first attempt got around six hours of active laptop and wireless use (in addition to the two-ish hours I get from the laptop battery).

My writerly camping trips are about to get WAY more productive.  Or at least differently productive.

Y’see, the usual writerly camping trip tends to revolve around plotting and editing, with some handwritten first drafting.  Truly, I love writing by hand, and part of me misses the days when I wrote first and second drafts with black extra-fine Uniball pens on college-ruled notebook paper in a three-ring binder.  But… I’ve also grown accustomed to the greater speed a keyboard allows me when my thoughts start running ahead of my cursive.

This lovely unit will permit me to flip open the laptop at those moments without fear I’ll suddenly run out of power before finishing.

Of course, now I desperately want to hide in a wooded campground for three days.

Alas, January!

On the other hand… March isn’t that far away…

 

*Our family shifted from the gifts-for-everyone model to Secret Santa many years ago, and I can’t tell you how wonderful it is move into the holidays without massive financial and shopping stress. We draw names at the end of Thanksgiving dinner, keep our draw secret, then exchange the gifts on Christmas Eve. Yes, the kids still get Santa presents, and special presents from parents.

#SFWApro

My Dearest, Darling Patrons

Most of you have stuck with me for an entire year now, and I can’t tell you how much your support and faith means to me.

I’m enough of an introvert that I don’t experience writing and creating as particularly lonely endeavors, but they can certainly be fertile ground for bouts of doubt and anxiety.

Seeing your support, month after month, turns doubt into confidence and anxiety into determination.

We’ll still get an Article of Violence this month, but I also wanted to do something extra for you.

Thus you have a story–not a holiday story, precisely, but one of and for the heart.

May your holidays be wonderful, and the coming year filled with hope.

Love,
Blair
 

About My Girl


 

#SFWApro

Violence and Viewpoint

In self-defense, hesitation can kill.  We’ve talked about that One-Mississippi before, yes?  Waiting to act—even when that wait is a natural “Is this really happening?” moment—can mean the difference between striking before the attacker grabs, or having to fight with a bleeding head injury.  It can mean the difference between an escape made on your feet or fighting a losing battle the ground.

That push against hesitation must be balanced against circumstances, though.  If a drunk gets handsy with me in the pub, I shouldn’t hesitate to stop him… but I should not slam the ridge of my hand against his throat, gouge out an eyeball, and stomp his ribcage until I puncture a lung. 100_2182

Hesitation can kill a story, too, especially when it comes to emotional impact.  We writers shouldn’t shy from realistically portraying the cost of making choices or exploring the consequences of action and inaction. But writers must, too, find a balance—especially when depicting violence in accordance with genre expectations.  Continue reading Violence and Viewpoint