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Posts from the ‘writing’ Category

31
Mar

Weekly Photo Challenge: Arranged

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15
Jan

a writer’s journal with photography

I just published a book!   Well, “Blurb” is doing all the work….I just supplied the photos!

<—- That’s the cover of the book.  It’s a photography journal that I titled “Journal of Dreams.”

There are about twenty of my nature photos (birds, butterflies and flowers), throughout the 100 page journal.

It is very easy to create a book and it’s totally free!   It’s really fun to create.  If you want to make a book, go to the Blurb website:  http://www.blurb.com

You have to download some of their software to create your book, which is really no big deal and they (Blurb) make the rest easy.  And, there are many other types of books that you can create.  I started out making a date book, but switched to a journal midstream, and it was easy!

Click below to flip through my book.  The entire book is there.  You can purchase a copy via the link and I think I make about $5.00 (I’m not sure), on sales.  I need to look into how that works.

They say they print every book with high-quality paper and binding.  I just ordered a copy as a gift to my Mom; so I’ll let you know how it turns out.  From what I’ve read, they do a really good job and there are Blurb authors who are publishing and selling their own books like crazy!

I love the idea!

My book is below – Let me know what you think!

Hope you’re having a GREAT weekend!

9
Jan

uh, iPhone jailbreaking? for real?

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

There are things in this world, especially when it comes to technology, that wow me.  One of those things is something called “Jailbreaking.”  It’s something you do to an iPhone that removes the restrictions that Apple adds to the phone and allows you to download a bunch of Apps (applications) for free.  It even allows you to download Apps that were created for the Android market.

When you jaibreak your iPhone you can do so many things that you couldn’t do with the Apple version.  You can change wallpaper and the icons on your phone; you can video chat, watch live TV, play games that require Flash – like the Facebook games, and so much more.

And, when you jailbreak your iPhone, you also “unlock” it.  Unlocking the iPhone means to remove restrictions that keep you with the original AT&T or Verizon carrier.  You can take your phone to T-Mobile, or just about any carrier of your choice. That’s a huge benefit because AT&T is so expensive.  I can attest to that.

It’s going to cost you about thirty bucks to jailbreak your iPhone, but it will pay off in the long run.

I found out about all this unlocking and jailbreaking is due to signing up as a Consultant with a global outsourcing company called oDesk.  I applied through oDesk for a job as a writer for a company that writes about this technology.

Let me tell you a little bit how oDesk works.

The oDesk folks provide the website and a listing of jobs that come from employers all over the world.  The employer posts jobs and identify the skills required to do the job(s) they want filled, usually on a temporary basis, though some are long-term.  The oDesk system matches the potential employees skill-sets with the skills the employer indicates he or she needs.  If a job looks like a fit, the employee can apply to the job, and then wait to see if the employer wants to interview the prospective employee.

So, I applied yesterday to an employer who needs a writer.  To my surprise, I got contacted by the employer who asked me to submit work specific writing samples.  I had to write two articles about jailbreaking and unlocking the iPhone.

He sent me the keywords and I had to strategically place the keywords in the content.  The better the keywords, the better Google recognizes what the article is about and the higher they rank the article, thus driving business.

But, I thought, huh?  What kind of scam is this?!  Jail breaking???

But, I said okay, I’m open to anything.

So, I did some research, and wrote the articles today.  But, I haven’t heard anything.  I don’t know if my articles were good, really.  I enjoy technical stuff, but it’s pretty boring to write about.  So, I wrote one of my articles in a kind of a “dude-ish” slang, and the other article I wrote with lines borrowed from Shakespeare! In hindsight, I they may have been too creative.  Oh well.

Well, I had no idea what the employer really wanted other than to use the words “jailbreak” and ‘unlock” in my articles.

So, I made them interesting!

I’m working really hard at finding a job.  The thing about not working but looking for work, it’s a lot of very hard work!  I’ve been working since the wee hours this morning and I’m still at it!

Well, I’m getting calls and responses.  And I do have real irons on the fire.  It’s all about patience.  Finding and securing a new job is a long process and a juggling act, too.  You have to keep a lot of balls up in the air hoping the best one will drop first.  Nothing worse than saying yes to Acme Computer Company and then have Microsoft call!  (I did apply to Microsoft, by the way….I can only hope to be considered….!)

So, it’s a busy time for me. But a good time, too. I’m in a good place with a lot of opportunities… the only thing I need now is patience. Not always my virtue.

I want to do the Post-A-Day Challenge for 2012, like I did in 2011, but I have decided it’s too much.  Although blogging everyday has become a habit, it will be nice to take a night off now and then.  So, that’s the plan! No pressure this year.

On a totally different note, here’s a present for your eyes!  I took this yesterday while I was walking my dog.  It was a beautiful day – birds, bees and butterflies were everywhere!

7
Jan

rants about labels

John Steinbeck is one of my favorite writers.  His novel, The Grapes of Wrath, was made into a play in the late eighties.  It started at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre and then went on to Broadway.  I had a chance to see it in New York because a friend of mine was in the  New York cast and he arranged a ticket for me.  Gary Sinise played the lead and he was incredible.

Needless to say, it was an amazing production.  It was especially cool because they built a pool on the stage – placed downstage center, and they created real rain, which was unique for the time, and utterly impressive to see.

Anyway, I came across a very timely quote of John Steinbeck’s (below) which accompanied the photo, also below…. And, that’s what made me think about The Grapes of Wrath, one of my all-time favorite novels.  The story about the struggle of poor folks moving away from the poor-as-dirt-West to find a better life in California, is very much an immigrant story of today.

Back then great wagons moved entire families.  Everything they owned was piled high on wagons bound for California – the promised land where there was work and better times.

It’s far different now.  Cubans come to our shores on make-shift rafts, Mexicans pay thousands to be smuggled in and these people have nothing when they arrive. Soon they’ll work their bodies into the ground in a job no American wants – a terrible job but to them it’s not; it’s freedom.

I find it very odd that many people in this country know so little about human rights issues.  The Human Rights issues are often ignored; people are labeled and the very ugly and distasteful issues about Human Rights are ignored, or so it seems.  I find it mind-boggling and more than ironic that the people who are hurting the most will vote against their own interests simply out of ignorance or out of living with perpetual rose-colored glasses teetering on the end of their noses.  Here’s what Steinbeck said so long ago about it:

photo from an anonymous source

Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat, but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires. That’s the only reason I can see why people in the US continue to vote against their own interests. – John Steinbeck

Reading that quote, and the picture that went with it caused me think about the cruelty of today’s immigrant situation in the US, and the cruelty that we can’t seem to fix the homelessness of Americans.  Homelessness, instead of being a problem that needs to be fixed, it’s become something that we just deal with now.

There was a time, back in the 70’s and 80’s, when homelessness began to be noticed in the mainstream media.  A lot of people, and the government, talked about ways to fix or solve the issue, right?

Now, of course, it’s just a fact of life.  It’s so common-place now, universities and US Financial Aid – which is handled by the Department of Education, accepts it as a matter of course.  Universities EXPECT to have homeless students.

That floors me.

When I was in college there was no way a student could be homeless without the other students knowing about it. There would have been absolutely no way anyone would be homeless or hungry and in school without people helping them out.  Granted, I was naive and still am to a degree, but it would not happen back then, other students would help. Professors would find out and help, too.

That was then, this is now, I suppose.

The irony of homelessness in today’s society is that so many got so very rich off of the Iraq invasion and occupation, and now many, many of the American veterans are homeless, suffering from PTSD and other terrible mental health illnesses.   It’s so wrong on so many levels.

The problem with the immigrant populations, say the haters: “They’re taking our jobs, using our hospitals, crowding our schools….” and other such horrible and despicable words and comments about fellow human beings.

The facts are the facts.  Immigrants don’t take the jobs Americans want.  They do the jobs Americans don’t want!  This type of hate, by the way, is what drives class wars… And, well – that’s really a topic for another day.

(When I sat down to this computer tonight, I intended to post some of the pictures I took today, but somehow my mind got stuck on Steinbeck and I completely forgot about the photos!  There was nary a cloud in the sky today and I took Jazz (my dog) for a long walk around the neighborhood.  I took my camera and while he found nice trees to relieve himself on, I found nice flowers, a butterfly, bees and a bird to photograph!)

One of these days, maybe, I’ll understand how our country and so many of our citizens can get away with labeling someone a “Socialist” rather than coming up with a solution to an issue.  By virtue of labeling a problem or a person or a group of persons with some label, the problem is solved – it’s easier to label than to deal with the root of what is causing an issue to be labeled in the first place.  Like the label takes the place of the problem to be solved.

I label you as a Jew because I don’t like Jewish people and that takes care of my problem. You’re Jewish so I can avoid you as my friend, as my grocer, landlord, sales person, hairdresser, etc.   You are a Jew and I don’t like you therefore you are in the group called “my unlikeable’s” and so I put you over there, on a shelf, where you cannot mix with others who are not labeled like you…..

You know what I mean?  It’s the same thing we do to Muslims today.

And so, because my labeling has worked really well with Jewish people and I’ve gotten them out of the loop and out of my space, I’ll do the same thing with immigrant people and gay people, and Muslim people and red-headed people and poor people, and before you know it, I have huge groups of disenfranchised people who are shrouded with that one big label that gets put on groups that haters hate.  People get labeled because people are people and people have to hate because they know they can and be accepted by other haters for being a hater.

There are three kinds of people in the entire world.  Only three kinds – three groups:  Male and Female and In-between.  And they should not be labeled either because we are all the same, at the end of the day, anyway.

Do you want to see a crisis? How about the MASSIVE poverty? How about the generation of children growing up in poverty, children whose parents were foreclosed out of the middle class by greedy fucking bankers, children whose parents didn’t stand a fucking chance against the big banks, children whose parents were born into poverty themselves, straight on down the line for years and years. And I’m supposed to feel bad for the rich bastards who refuse to pay decent wages or taxes? ~ The Daily Kos – Dear Beltway Insiders, while you make pretty speeches, I am being cut to shreds

25
Dec

and so this is christmas ….. and so this is chanukah….

And this day, like so many other December 25’s in Florida, is HOT!

Merry Christmas to those who observe it, and best wishes for a happy 6th (I think) day of Chanukah, too.

It’s a very quiet morning.  Relaxing.  Nice.

Well, Jazz is having a bad morning.  My brother’s dog, the gigantic puppy, Buster, as usual, relentlessly pursues Jazz, egging him on with a push of his paw and a little nip on the rear end.  When that doesn’t move Jazz, Buster jumps in the air in a “U” shape – his four legs straight up from the ground – go up and over Jazz, only to land and have his legs nipped at by Jazz’s jaws…. snapping, snapping, snapping…  Buster is too fast and Jazz’s snapping isn’t precisely aimed but sometimes he manages to get a hold of some part of Buster’s skin.  Jazz’s snapping jaws, though they aim at Buster in rapid-fire snaps like a machine gun gone ballistic, don’t do any harm to him though.

It’s hilarious to see them.  I can’t decide if Jazz is playing or if he’s petrified because his tail wags but his eyes roll back in his head and his lips stay permanently in place, over his gums.  Buster is absolutely playing, that’s clear…. The verdict is still out on Jazz’s level of enjoyment.

This morning the grass was dewy and Jazz refused to step out on the big-grass-john in the backyard. So I picked him up and walked him out further in the grass, getting my fuzzy slippers nice and wet – I put him down on the grass, but he immediately tip-toed away, gingerly in the grass like a ballet dancer with a broken toe, back to the patio and dry ground.  He tiptoed, broken-toed style, through the screen door and to the pool area where he proceeded to do you know what right by the pool.

The morning is quiet. Mom and my brother are reading the paper – the New York Times.  And a John Wayne movie is on the TV, in the background.

Last night we watched the Oldie Goldie movie “Margie.”  It was shot in 1946, and shows a grown-up Margie reminiscing about her high school years in the 1920’s, to her teen-aged daughter.

The setting was 1928 and a young Margie, a senior in high school, keeps losing her “bloomers” to great dramatic effect.  Seriously, the elastic in her bloomers broke three times in the movie!  It wasn’t really a theme – ha! Or any sub-plot, per se, but each loss of one of her errant bloomers did push the plot ahead.  One especially “dramatic” bloomer loosening happened on the ice-skating rink.  To cover the embarrassment of losing her bloomers, Margie feigns fainting.

Oh Fiddlesticks! was Margie’s refrain when things were confusing or got out of hand –  or when one’s bloomers were unruly.

Of course today it would be, “Oh, isn’t this a farting-fuck!  Shit, I lost my thong,” purposely  getting as many swear words into the sentence as possible then publicly pronouncing and publishing the event all over Facebook.  Whereas Margie, humiliated, horrified, is overcome with tears at her bloomer bust.

Anyway, the movie was very sweet.  Haddie McDaniel played the housekeeper.  Jeanne Crain, was Margie. Haddie McDaniel, you may remember, won the Academy Award for her performance as “Mammy” in Gone with the Wind.

I’m not sure what is in store for the rest of the day.  I know the dog-park is on our agenda and my brother is cooking us a nice lunch….kind of scary, to be honest.  He’ll probably need an editor.  Well mom is here – thankfully, I’m hardly a cook and proud of it!

Anyway, that’s a piece of my 2011 Christmas.  I’d like to share the funniest story, written by my niece, about her plane trip from New York to Tallahassee.  It’s so damn funny – brilliant humor, and I am not being prejudiced, you’ll see:

Meaghan O’Connell:

So I’m on this flight from NYC to Charlotte today, it’s super-delayed on the tarmac and I’m sitting next to two people about my age who did not know each other but talked so loud that I shared that ugh i know ARE THEY EVEN HUMAN? look about them with two separate people. I would give some examples of their conversation but it would be too painful for me to revisit. Okay wait I can’t help but remember: the girl kept joking about us being in the exit row and DYING and when there was turbulence she was like, “Am I going to have to pull this lever?” (to open the door!) and I had just read that fucking, fucking article about the french guys crashing the plane in the Atlantic and it was all I could think about (this plane crashing) meanwhile this unstable woman with a extra large coolatta was making jokes about pulling open the goddamn emergency exit.

Anyway so halfway through I really have to pee and I’m telling myself stuff like, “Okay, as soon as you finish this chapter, you can pee.” (along with musing about how I’d react if I found out the plane was going down) Then I realized I could pee when I wanted because I am an adult human so I put my book away and started sheepishly assessing the situation. See, the seatbelt light was on but I always forget if that means Don’t move around or, Fine move around but if you’re sitting down, put on your seatbelt. I figured it was the latter because that’s what I wanted so I found a way to justify it. Then I looked right and left. No one was up and about to reassure me I wouldn’t get “in trouble.” I craned my neck to see what the fight attendi were doing. They buckled in in the back, but I decided to LIVE ON THE EDGE and then to go to the bathroom in the front since it was closer and there was some turbulence but fuck it right? I’m an adult.

So I got up half-expecting to get yelled at (as always) but creeped on forward in my newish boots and then stopped and stood frozen under the glowing green bathroom sign when I couldn’t find the fucking door to push in and crawl inside. Ahhh. I felt the eyes of every human on the plane on me while I squinted into dark corners and wondered if I was about to walk into the cockpit . but was like whatever guys, I can do this. Then a flight attendant from the back GRABS THE MIC and says in a fluster, JUST A REMINDER THAT THE FIRST CLASS LAVATORIES ARE RESERVED FOR FIRST CLASS PASSENGERS ONLY.

Cut to me wandering around first class like a lost puppy. This lady is basically telling me, from the back of the plane, over the loudspeaker to get the fuck out of the first class section. WHAT? So I SPIN around on my heels (rather amazingly I might add) to face THE ENTIRE PLANE, shrug dramatically and say SORRY EVERYONE! in the most teenage, sarcastic tone of voice. I don’t even know where this audacity came from. But I saw this sea of faces staring at me and rolling their eyes at the situation and laughing with me and literally like, making little comments of solidarity as I walked past. Like I just committed this brave act, crossing enemy lines to pee into a little toilet vacuum. I mean people were truly making eye contact and saying like, “Come ON!” and, “Oh like they are all just LINED UP up there waiting to get into the bathroom!” And I just nodded and shrugged and wanted to like, high five everyone as I cruised by, but instead made some kind of bad kid in the back of the class type of dramatic exhalations then sauntered, victoriously, all the way to the back of the godforsaken plane, where the flight attendants would not look at me, and peed in my proletariat toilet (proletoilet).

Anyway there was total class warfare going on in the sky somewhere over, I dunno, Virginia, today and it was amazing.

Link to above:  http://meaghano.com/post/14595368874/impt

20
Dec

where it ends it begins and other angles

I am looking at things in different ways.  different angles. necks don’t always stick out but they should, sometimes. maybe. for others. yes. and then again.  no.  but usually.  yes.   sticking my neck out.  wondering.  in shades like salmon.  feathered. weathered. but fine. so happy.

See more here:  http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/andrea-oconnell.html

Where it ends, it begins!

(Photo taken at Flamingo Gardens,  by Andrea O’Connell, all rights reserved.)

13
Dec

the sweet taste of freedom!

Every day the wonderful folks at WordPress send us ideas to write about.  Tonight’s suggestion has to do with bravery.  A good one.

But, I rarely use the suggestions because always have something specific I want to write about.

And tonight, I have something specific I want to write about and it happens to be about bravery.  I’m writing with the mind and the heart and the soul of someone braver than me, but who is me.

The topic sent by WordPress writer, Scott Berkun, is “Where do you go to be brave.”    Bravery is a place, I found out today.  It’s a place of intuition and knowing.

Bravery is also knowing when to break a pattern after you realized it’s too harsh to be vital, too rigid to be kind, too unhealthy to be loved.

It was the classic way to quit.

I stood up and said: “I’m not going to put up with this!  You’ll have my resignation before the end of day.”

I even slammed the door on my way out!

No crying, no remorse, no dramatics.   I just did it.

“No, Andrea!  You don’t have to do this,” the Employee Services Director said as I turned to leave….

(It was SO like a movie!)

“You don’t have to do that, Andrea.”  I shot back, “Oh, yes I do have to do this!”

I’d had it with their 19th century Scientific Management-like sick rules.  I was done.

Well, I’d made my decision a while ago, but I was too afraid to give up the pay check.  That was the only thing between me and freedom – that damn paycheck.

I needed a push and I got it today.  I needed to be humiliated out of that inflexible and harsh environment.

Today the last straw was handed to me like a gift.

Things happen for a reason.

I needed the push and I got it.

I needed to get out of there.  It was a prison.  Literally.

The stark truth is, when a whole department of people use words like Concentration Camp, or Nazi Germany, and they are dead serious, there’s a problem.

I would describe it as:  having a harsh culture, punitive, inflexible, anti-team work, and consciously putting employees last….

For me, it’s about principal and common human decency.

When a person, like me, who is salaried, works like a maniac, evenings and weekends to deliver on a really great project, but in the past have occasionally been 1, 2 or 3 minutes late…. only once I was 7 minutes late – does it makes sense?

“It’s our policy.  You broke our policy, Andrea.”

I was at my desk, deeply concentrating on a project, when my (now former) boss tapped me on the shoulder and said she needed to meet with me.  She said we’re going to an upstairs conference room.  At first I thought they were giving me a raise, or a promotion, or something wonderful!  Well, that thought was brief.  My intuition told me something was wrong.

I asked, “Is something wrong?  Did I do something?”  Nothing, she said.  It’s nothing.

Nothing?!!!!!!!!!!!!

On November 10th, apparently, I was two minutes late to work, and that was the final straw.  I was given a  “write up.”

There were fourteen instances of my lateness on the write up.  September, 2 minutes. October 1 minute.  October 3 minutes.  October, SEVEN minutes – that was the worst.  November 10, that was the final one on the list.  (I’ve been on time everyday since then because the traffic-clogging construction ended.)

So, I was last “tardy” on November 10th.  Today is December 13th.  “Why the delay?,” I asked.  Because it takes that long to have Human Resources do the paperwork.

It’s true.  I’ve seen them take two months to fire someone.  It’s true.

An employee was allowing someone else to punch them out of the time-clock that hourly employees use.   When it became known this had happened, a time or two, they talked to both Administrative Assistants.  They both thought they’d surely be fired.  Then, nearly two months passed and nothing happened.  They thought they were free and clear.  Then, one of the women was called in and was fired for allowing someone to punch her in and out.

Ah, you’re probably thinking, why fire only one?  Shouldn’t the other woman get fired, too?  Well, you’d think so, wouldn’t you?

It didn’t happen.

Why?  Favoritism.  The one Administrative Assistant worked for the university for nearly 30 years.   And, her daughter worked there, too.  If Mom got canned, the daughter would leave, too, and she was too valuable.  So, the one who should have been fired was not.

I was an Associate Director.  And, salariedExempt!   Exempt means, “exempt” from overtime pay.  As a salaried worker, I don’t get overtime for the extra twenty hours a week I generally worked.

So, I’m free.

I knew immediately that resigning was the right thing to do.

I know, I know!  The economy is in the tank.   I am not worried.  Not in the least.

I have thought and thought and thought very seriously about quitting for the last six months.  What stopped me?  The paycheck.   And even though I hardly have any money to my name right now, I am not in the least worried.  I’m not sad, I have no reason to worry or cry, or moan, or anything.

I did the right thing.

Tonight feels like the first day of the rest of my life.

Something wonderful is coming…..  It’s just around the corner….it’s gonna be great.

1
Dec

post a post a day challenge – Rosie the Riveter

All the day long,
Whether rain or shine
She’s part of the assembly line.
She’s making history,
Working for victory
Rosie the Riveter

~ Lyrics by Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb,. 1942.

It’s hardly  like working  in war-time.  It’s not like in the Rosie the Riveter campaigns in which women stepped up and did a man’s job during World War II, supporting the war effort.

It’s not that at all!

Writing every day cannot remotely compare to the sacrifices women made at home when men were away fighting World War II.  And, of course now women are (or should be) considered equal contributors in the US Armed Services.

I’m thinking of Rosie because for me it describes my resolve to write one post every single day during the WordPress post-a-day challenge.

There is one more month left in the challenge.  (In reality, December will be my 13th month since I began posting every day in December 2010.)

When the year is over, I’ll not be doing this again…. unless I can help it.

I think I’ll count all the words I’ve written thus far.  (I won’t count, WordPress will do it for me!) because it will make me feel like I’ve really accomplished something.

Let’s see.  To date, I have written a total of 581 posts.  I generally write a minimum of 500 words on average.  So, if my math is correct, that’s nearly 3 million words….?

That’s why I thought of Rosie!!  🙂

And, that’s why I’m thinking I may need a day off from blogging soon – well, after the new year, maybe.

23
Oct

Boedeker, Books and Blogging

In today’s Orlando Sentinel, there are two pieces by Hal Boedeker that are quite good.

I always enjoy reading Hal Boedeker’s take on the Casey Anthony saga – he’s so down to earth and asks questions that people want to talk about.  His columns on the Anthony story are always popular, always generating hundreds of comments.  There was a time when I’d read the comments with interest, I even commented once, too.  But as time wore on, the comments became so ugly and over the top, filled with such hateful vitriol that was (and still is) too bizarre for my taste.

But, Hal Boedeker’s work is always excellent; here are links to today’s two stories that contain interesting analysis from the lawyer analysts covering the trial.

  1. Analysis and Q and A with Bill Shaeffer, Richard Hornsby, Mark NeJame and Diana Tennis.
  2. Interview with Bill Shaeffer, who says trial was Soap Opera

It’s interesting how we just can’t stop talking about his case! It’s still an open book to be dissected.  When Boedeker discusses Anthony in a column, he’ll get hundreds and hundreds of comments.   Even when I write about the case, the number of visitors to my blog literally triples.   And when the trial began, starting with jury selection, and right up until the end, I’d receive well over two thousand visitors a day, often more.

It was really a weird feeling to know so many people read my thoughts….  I never expected that – ever.

A lot of blogs and media outlets experienced huge increases in Internet traffic as a result of this case. This was a good thing because most of the bigger blogs or media outlets are able to turn the Internet traffic into a bigger revenue stream for them. WordPress puts advertising on blogs like mine for the revenue stream, too.   I have no control over the ads you may see unless I want to pay WordPress to prevent them from posting their ads.   I’m more than happy to let them advertise!  I hope they make some money from their blog sites since they offer virtually everything on WordPress dot com completely free to the blogger.

Anyway, now I forget what the point of all this was going to be!

Oh yes, public interest in this story.  I’m still interested in the Anthony case, but not as before.  There are many days that I forget about it, and that’s good.

I stopped reading for pleasure when this case began.  Now I’ve started reading a lot again.  I read three books this week.   I finished the Jacyee Dugard book about her years of captivity; titled, “A Stolen Life: A Memoir.”   I’m glad I read it, but it was difficult to get through because of the extreme  suffering she lived with for so many years (she was abducted at age 11.)   I have a great respect for her and her will to survive.  It’s a very quick read, told in her own words, (without a Ghostwriter’s help), and for that I was impressed.

But the book I recommend so highly is “ROOM” by Emma Donoghue, written in 2010.  It is absolutely breathtaking.  The story is narrated by a five year old who was born as a result of his mother being abducted at age 19 and held prisoner in a shed in her captors backyard.  Her son, Jack, has never been outside the shed to experience the real world.  The relationship between mother and son is captivating; and the situation they’re in is made horrifying by their captor.

I don’t want to say too much about ROOM because I don’t want to spoil the story for you.

I  can’t decide what to read next!  I have so many lined up in my Nook just waiting to be devoured and even more on my book shelves, too.

Well, I think I’m going to read “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skoot next.

So, the weekend’s officially over now.   It was a great one, too:  Live Theatre, shopping, babysitting my niece, and reading…. perfect in every way!

 

 

16
Oct

love jazz, part one

Hey Internet.   Jazz here.   Remember me?

I’m still here even though she took my picture away!  I’m still here.

You remember me now?

My face used to be all over the place in here.  Remember that handsome picture of me?

She replaced me with a dead butterfly.

Heck if I know why.

Those butterflies were real once, I guess.

My picture is better than a dead butterfly, okay?

It gets me sad.  I can’t explain it.  I’m not really a good explain-er of things.  I’m a dog, after all.  (By the way, this is new to me, so don’t expect me to wax-poetic here, okay?)

So I’m here instead of her – the lover-of-dead-butterflies-better-than-me.

I’m here because she just kicked me off her lap.

She said, “Jazzy, I need my lap to read the paper,” and told me to get down.

I wish I could make decisions around here for once in my life!  I was comfortable, too.

Well, the plain truth is:  I hate it when she sits there crinkling the paper.  She says, “I’m reading the paper, Jazz.”  Oh?  Well, “Ruff-ruff, I don’t care,” I say.  But I do care.

All she’s doing is crinkle crinkle crinkling that paper and it’s LOUD, and it drives me up the wall!

Don’t get me wrong, she is the best human any dog could want.  Lots of other dogs in my neighborhood dig her – and I hate that!  I hate when she’s cool with the other dogs, it really kills me!  It’s like a knife in my heart.

I can’t help my jealousy, I was born that way.  People don’t understand me because my tail won’t stop wagging even when I want it to.

She knows how jealous I am and she gets mad.  Sometimes she even raises her voice at me and I really hate that.  She doesn’t get it – she’s mine – she’s only mine.

She lets any human sit on my couch.  They move my things around. They play with my pillows.

The worst is when some human is so big they can’t feel when they’re sitting right on top of my toy.  I go out of my mind when they do that and they always do.

When they get in my face because I’m acting nutty, it really makes me crazy.  Sweat comes pouring out of my mouth and my tongue hangs on the left of my mouth and it looks stupid and I scratch at the humans legs and at the couch and all they do is yell at me!

But, it’s MY TOY THEY ARE SITTING ON!

They don’t care that it’s MY TOY!

Well, I don’t care that my long nails scratch their pale skin!

I scratch like crazy but then I keep getting yelled at and I really hate that, but it sure doesn’t stop me until she gets involved and all of a sudden I’m where I really want to be – in her arms.

Home is when I’m in her arms.

I’m in one of her arms actually.  I am really balancing on her shoulder.  (I rest my feet on an elastic thing that’s across her body and under her shirt – she calls it an over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder thing.)

So, I can balance real good ’cause my legs and chin hang over her shoulder and it’s the best.  I works perfect UNTIL she moves to talk to another human.   I go crazy when she does that with me on her shoulder!

I can’t even stand it when she’s looking at another human!  I hate it. Can’t help it. I hate it. I do.

Jealousy is my only flaw (except for the five times I pooped in her bathroom and once on her bed).   I really had to go, okay?  I told you I have only two flaws! That aint’ too bad for a dog, right?

Why am I getting defensive?

I’m sorry, okay?

That’s not like me.  I’m a pretty happy kid, usually.

If you wanna know the truth, I’m itchy ’cause I didn’t sleep good last night.  It’s her fault.

We went to sleep real late because she had her tablet that glows that she reads from.  She reads in the bed with that thing when all I want to do is sleep.

That’s about the extent of what she does anyway.  She sits on the couch, sits at the computer.  Sits on the couch; sits at the computer. Sits on the couch; sits at the compu….  Well, you get the picture?

Sometimes she takes me out.  Me and her and her mom (my Grammy), we take my bed and other stuff and we go in my car.  I like to be in the back, in my bed where I can see her.  When she stops she looks back at me and says sweet things and it feels so good and makes me and my tail so happy.

We ride in my car to a house where there are three other humans – one who is small and blond.  There are two dogs there and I tolerate them.  There’s a bird and two fish.  And they got some grass, too!  Man, that back-yard is long and wide!  There’s nothing like that yard!   There are a lot of stories to smell in that grass – all kinds of stories to smell.  I’ll tell you some of the stories I’ve smelled there when I get a chance to sneak back to her computer.

You know…. She goes out a lot without me.  I like to go with her.  I used to cry when she left me alone. I’m okay now about it.  I deal with it now, you know?  Now I just sleep and dream until she comes back.

Dreams are awesome, too!   Dreams are cool – when they’re good dreams.

When they’re not good it’s not like dreamin’ at all.  It’s nightmarin’.

Uh-oh, I really gotta go!  She’s coming!!!!   See ya!

Love,

Jazz

8
Sep

watching project runway

It happens every Thursday.   I sit down to write then remember that the show Project Runway is on!  I’m writing during commercials breaks but that doesn’t work and so I’m throwing in the towel on this one.  And, I like watching commercials!  Oy.

The designers on the show tonight have to work in two teams of five.  It’s interesting to see how they work – or don’t work – together.   It’s not easy for some people to be on a team and I think it’s because it’s difficult for some people who are high-performing perfectionists.

On a team, it’s about loosing individual attitudes and egos to focus on how individual strengths come together to support the end product.  When it works, it’s like an orchestra, in harmony – no discord.

Now, it’s back to Project Runway – some of the players have a few things to learn about teamwork!

 

3
Sep

wendy and the lost boys

I want to share information about this wonderful book I am reading about the Playwright Wendy Wasserstein.

I can’t write about the book just yet – I’m not nearly finished with it.  But, it’s the kind of book that refuses to let you go.

Wendy and the Lost Boys: The Uncommon Life of Wendy Wasserstein is the title of the book; written by the remarkable Julie Salamon.

Wendy passed away from cancer at age 55.   She is the author of the Heidi Chronicles, The Sisters Rosensweig, Isn’t it Romantic, Uncommon Women and Others, and more.

For the Heidi Chronicles, she won the Pulitzer Prize and the Tony Award.   You don’t have to be a lover of the theatre to love this book.

I’ve never really been able to accept that she’s gone.  She would have had more Pulitzer Prizes’ and Tony’s if her light still burned.

Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. ~ Shakespeare

20
Aug

mencken on my mind

I had Mencken on my mind today.  I read him today until my eyes stung.

Although I have not read very many of Henry Louis Mencken‘s books, essays or articles, I have read enough to appreciate his point of view.

He was a passionate enthusiast of the First Amendment, and rightfully so.  He spent a good part of his life writing for the Baltimore Sun newspaper.

He was and still is known as “a man of ideas,” since he frequently espoused ideas and ideals that could be considered controversial.

I found the following quote from Mencken especially interesting.  At first I looked at these words with the Casey Anthony trial in mind, since the Burden of Proof, liberty, and law is, seemingly, a part of his argument.

But Mencken is not referring to criminality.  What is he referring to here?  Is it prejudice, honesty and truth, or something else?

Writer H.L. Mencken. Photo credit: Wikipedia.com

I believe in liberty. And when I say liberty, I mean the thing in its widest imaginable sense — liberty up to the extreme limits of the feasible and tolerable.  I am against forbidding anybody to do anything, or say anything, or think anything so long as it is at all possible to imagine a habitable world in which he would be free to do, say, and think it. The burden of proof, as I see it, is always upon the policeman, which is to say, upon the lawmaker, the theologian, the right-thinker. He must prove his case doubly, triply, quadruply, and then he must start all over and prove it again. The eye through which I view him is watery and jaundiced. He is the enemy of everything I admire and respect in this world — of everything that makes it various and amusing and charming. He impedes every honest search for the truth. He stands against every sort of good-will and common decency. I am against him until the last galoot’s ashore.
H.L Mencken, 1923

Do you think Mencken hated law, law enforcement, clergy, or conservatism when you read this quote?  I’d love to hear what you think.

So, that’s it for me tonight.  I will write more about Mencken another day.  As for today, it’s “rest-up” day, which means reading, napping and a lot of thinking.

31
Dec

Happy 2011!

My goodness, the year 2010 just flew right by!  It was not a great year for me, so I’m glad it flew by and will soon be history. 

I am not one to party on New Years Eve, and usually am in bed while the new year sneaks in.  Tonight I’m cooking for my folks – it will be an early dinner – because they’re cooking tomorrow to celebrate the New Year.

I have enjoyed this holiday more than most.  My two grown nieces came to town to visit, and we had a ball together – they are beautiful and talented young women, one is an artist, the other, a writer.

It’s been so nice to have this week off, too.  The university I work for closes during the final week of December, and the employees are so grateful!

I wish I could say that I accomplished a lot over this past week, but I really didn’t do too much.  Well, I did do a lot of writing on the blog, which I enjoy so much, and wish I could do more of.  And, I did watch quite a few movies (thanks to Netflix streaming movies through my Wii player!).  And, I did clean house.  And I did shop. And I did visit with friends and family…. and, well, I guess I did accomplish a lot after all!

As far as resolutions… well, I am not very good at keeping New Year resolutions, are you?  However, the older I get, the more my waist grows, and grows and grows… So, a diet is part of my game plan for the new year.  I also want to do more photography, perhaps try to do a little free-lance photography work, too.  I want to keep writing, of course, and want to start a new blog dedicated to Training and Development, which is the work I do for a living.

But, my main goals for 2011 are to write as much as possible, loose about 50 pounds, and loose myself in photography.  If I can accomplish this, I will be happy!

Oh, and for fun, I’d like to go to London for the vacation my friend Kathy and I have planned to do for a couple of years now. It will be nice to take a real vacation!  Also, for fun, I need to be kinder and gentler to myself…. in the mad rush of life, I oftentimes forget me.  Do you do that too?

So, I propose that 2011 will be our year for great happiness and prosperity!  Yeah, I think that’s a good plan!

I have enjoyed chatting with everyone who posts and reads on my blog.  What a great bunch of folks you are!  I wish you so much happiness, prosperity, and joy in 2011 and beyond.

Big hugs to you all!

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