Friday, July 29, 2016

Where are the Tall Girls?

In books, I mean.

Other people may not be nearly so sensitive on this subject but I am very tall, as women go—about 5'11”. And it seems like especially in YA all the heroines are these little tiny things (the Mistborn series is the latest of many) or else no height is mentioned... believe me... if the heroine was tall, it would be mentioned.

Nancy and Barb--note how Barb stands out
I suppose the culmination of this thought, though, was watching Stranger Things last week. I thought Nancy was an emaciated pixie. But somehow, next to her, Barb just looked large. And I so identified.

Now I never made Barb's hair error—gads--being large enough to be somebody's mother makes you want to be DAMN sure not to have their mother's haircut. The glasses were bad, too, but that is just an 80s side effect—everyone with glasses had those. But yeahnana on the hair...

Anyway... that big friend that the boys never looked twice at? That was me in Jr. High and High School. And the closest I get in books is Lady Brienne, but Lady Brienne WANTS to be a warrior—her size suits her. What about the tall girls aching to be normal? The ones who didn't want to be basketball players, where tall becomes a super-asset. And I'm not talking side kick, or worse, nemesis (why are tall girls the villains?)

Anybody have any book recommendations for me with heroines that are TALL?

How I feel in every picture ever...

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A Narrow Escape and a Plan *BWUHAHAHAHAHAHA*

So I was in group 5 for jury duty and groups 1-7 were dismissed without ever having to show up. I confess to some small disappointment in this. I'd rather people watch than work, to be honest. Though the looming to-do list would have grown. And I have a couple students, who we call scholars because that sounds more important and all, who are at places in their projects where they need regular help. But they probably wouldn't have minded fooling around for a few days instead of working, too, though they are both winding up with us soon, so time is of the essence as they say.

But back to my missing out on jury duty... I still think this would be a fascinating experience in group dynamics. We will see if my number ever comes up again...


Two plans, really.

There is the WRITING Plan and the FITNESS Plan. And I feel safe to make them now, as we are approaching start of the school year (a natural beginning) and son leaving home (an ending that might also be the end of my wasting quite so much time)--the real thing this ending means is the end of nightly meals. I am content to eat the same thing for 3 nights in a row, which means I could just cook twice a week.

See, my husband was at home for years, when the kids were younger... then, about 3 years ago he got a full time job that runs into the evenings, which left ME making dinner. I had nearly never made dinner—he is the better cook, and more importantly, likes it better. Once upon a time I could come home and dive into social media while hubby cooked, then after dinner could come back to writing.

Anyway... the Writing Plan is:

An hour a day starting August 1
A focus in August of finally getting Medium Wrong queried
A short story every month other than Wri-Mo months
Broadly a cycle of edit two months/write one month

And the Fitness Plan. I used to walk full way, round-trip to and from work—nearly 5 miles a day. In January I changed exercise strategy, trying to “sprint” more and I put in a bus trip in the middle of my commute. It cut my walking time in about half, which through the cold and ice was nice... I kept doing it through spring as there were no weight consequences. And now it's hot. But I think maybe my body has had the break it needed so that adding on walking again might give me a bump.

As for those sprints, I didn't keep them up. They were hard. I know. Whiny baby. They also didn't seem to do much. What I think might be the better focus is just to get strength-building in there. I plan to do 10 minutes a night, after work before dinner, alternating core and extremities by day.

Anybody else thinking about plans?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Short Story Up and Other Misadventures

I mentioned this short story, eh?

I shared it here because it is probably only going to be an insanely large phenomenon for a short time. I mean surely people have lives to get back to... and if they don't, then consider my story not a story, but a warning... erm... so rather than try to publish it traditionally, or even self publishing with art annallat, I just shared it here. Not a bad idea to have a writing sample on the blog anyway, eh?

As for Other Shenanigans...

Are there others? I seem to be surprisingly shenaniganless these days. It's sad, really. So instead of reporting on shenanigans committed, maybe I should take it upon myself to PLAN some.

Who's with me?

Chalk graffiti is a good one... Silly art that does no damage. I promise not too many penises. Erm...

Should I move all the tea bags at work so when someone goes for chamomile they end up with lemon zinger? That is probably just mean.

The little boots help, too.
I have a very tiny spider who keeps returning to hover above my keyboard. And there is a rule around here that under a certain size I am just not prepared to end a life, but man is she starting to get on my nerves, reminding me my house is not terribly clean and she is surely not the only bug within my desk area. But make no mistake, past a certain size, all bets are off. (also—hairy legs on a bug or more than eight legs? Death sentence) Outside I am more tolerant.

So who is watching Stranger Things? I've had several strong recommendations for it, but am almost done catching up on Black Sails so have not gotten there yet.

I hope all of you are having a great week! What shenanigans are you up to!?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Juxtaposed Lives

I am going to delay my summary of my last three push-up days until tomorrow, as I am having some rather profound thoughts I'd like to try to make sense of.

I had a staff meeting yesterday.

For those of you who don't know, I work for an office focused on Health Equity and Inclusion as part of a health system. We are trying to set systems into place so our environment is more welcoming to diverse groups of people—diverse not just in a racial sense, but in terms of (dis)ability, sexual identification and orientation, age, socio-economics, religion. All of it. Because while our experiences may allow us comfort with one or another type of diversity, the fact is, we all have groups we have not been exposed to, and it takes some training to be open in the face of the unknown.

Anyway, because of the work we do and who has a passion for the issues, about half of my colleagues are black. And you know what has been going on.

Our meeting was sort of a workshop—scheduled weeks ago, but at the end there was a moment where a very brave coworker pointed out that US, in our space and with what we do, cannot really separate our mission from what has been going on in the outside world. She admitted to the difficulties championing our mission, when she has had to have very difficult talks with her kids about the realities of how to stay safe.

Another coworker confessed when he started college he thought he'd be dead by 21, because that was what happened to young black males in this country, and that recent events have brought back fears some fifteen years later.

Think about that. Belonging and identifying with a group where you honestly believe you are likely to die before really reaching adulthood, not because you are doing anything wrong, but because of a group you happen to be born into.

And then on my way home... I ran across swarms... of a totally different sorts. Groups ranging in sizes from one to ten, all chasing down a damn Pokemon.

Now I don't have any problem at all with this—it seems fun and people are getting outside and getting exercise (though it is the perfect set-up for a sci fi story, which I plan to write ASAP). At the time that sci fi story was all that was churning in my head—the plot to distract us all...

Only when I got home did I realize how much these two things created an enormous contrast. Who has the luxury to be distracted? How can people disengage from the seriousness of what's happening. It feels to me like things may go really wrong before we wake up and I can't help but be afraid. Afraid partly because I sort of think it needs to happen. I can't see power yielding voluntarily.

I think though, there are things all of us can do. For starters, I don't think most people are intentionally racist, but because of media and cultural messages, and because we surround ourselves, most often, with people who are “like us” we all have inherent bias—and we all should make a point of knowing ourselves well enough that we can at least learn to be conscious of it.

Go take this test:

Young Turks covered this last night—I will watch for the link to share that coverage, too. I watched it live. (am watching it) but they post segment links later. Here it is.

Also, can we all pledge in our daily lives to try to talk to and get to know people who aren't like us. I am sure most of you know, but in case you don't, you will find, in the end, people are people. There are good and bad people of all sorts, but MOST people of all sorts are good people.

Most black people are good.
Most white people are good.
Most Muslims are good.
Most police are good.

And so on and so on.

So by all means—have fun, get your exercise, seek your Pokemon... but let's not lose sight.

Please please please practice compassion. People are protesting because they are hurting and things are bad. Cops have hard jobs and deserve our support, but when lines are crossed, they can't be above justice. But assume people mean well until you see otherwise. Don't paint groups based on the bad actors.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Days 18 and 19 of 22: Push-Ups for Veteran Suicide Awareness

Day 18:

So if you are one of my personal facebook friends, you have seen this before. I apologize. But really, I think it is the best lead in.

Push-ups. Harder during a hot flash.

And it's true. Today is my 14 and 8 day... And it was hard. But not impossible. I did it.

Day 19:

16 and 6... Today was the first day the dog actually took enough interest to help, so my right ear is also clean. It wasn't too hard up until 15 and 16 of the first set, then the second set I know my form sucked... but my last set my form has sucked since I got to the knee push-ups. Hopefully getting to where they all happen in one set will resolve that.

The helper in question, Joel

And for content, I am going to do this today because I know I have more potential readers on a Monday than most days and my last day will be Wednesday (for push-ups—Thursday for blog)

This has seemed like a real slog. Long and cumbersome.

But if we want to solve this issue, that is what it takes. Not one day of feeling sorry this happens, but a long-term commitment to doing something about it. A long-term campaign to spread awareness not just of existence of the problem, but of the symptoms and what can be done about it. So we need to all approach this as a marathon. Be vigilant. Watch out for your friends and acquaintances. Let them know you are available if they need you, and don't be afraid to help even if it isn't requested.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Days 16 and 17 of 22: Veteran Suicide Awareness Campaign...

So I did my push-ups yesterday, but this is as far as I got blogging about it:

So it's official. Upstairs push-ups are easier than downstairs... not by a lot, but enough to make me question whether there is a gravity difference. Erm...

I did two sets of 11 today, so YAY! It wasn't easy, but I managed. If I do 12 and 10 tomorrow then add two to the first set each day, then by my last day I will hit the 22 in one... so that's the plan...

Today I also did my push-ups... 12 and 10, as I said... Sorry about not getting yesterday posted. I got side-tracked with a daughter visit, plus I had a late dentist appointment, so my evening was short to begin with.

Now I am finally to the weekend... You know... all work weeks should only have three days. Hopefully I don't spend the weekend arguing with racists on Facebook. I know... not the forum to change hearts and minds but I have a really hard time when people act like they are relaying facts and they are really just parroting a biased sound bite. I study disparities for a living, so believe I am rather expert in whether racism happens or not (it does), sometimes at an institutional level (say the police force or justice system—where it is undeniably true—not in every city, but in enough I would call it most). I live in one of the top 20 liberal bastions in the country where my kids attended well integrated schools and had diverse peer groups and STILL the police here have been seen to behave in racially biased ways. I don't believe it is intentional, but it is how it happens.

But there is better news...

I think this was the OTHER Veteran bill, but you get the idea.

Obama just (yesterday) signed a bill intended to reduce veteran suicide. Here is a news clip on it

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Day 15 of 22: Veteran Suicide Awareness Campaign

Hallo fine peoples!!! And we have hit the two-thirds mark!

I was with the knee push-ups: 8, 7 & 7 again today... A little easier than yesterday... easier enough that I realized how much it also works my abs to be in that position... so that's something. Not sure what, but something...

Makes me think a little about all the parts of health. Veterans, at least when they are first home, are so physically healthy. But their emotional and spiritual selves are badly in need of healing. And I don't think this is a one-size fits all thing. I mean there may be things that help most people... maybe veteran groups so they can see they are not alone and that the things they are going through aren't shameful or even abnormal. Some people will thrive with loved ones surrounding them and some will find that stressful... I guess maybe what the loved ones need to do is offer, but not be offended if the answer is no.

Here are some resources for family members of returning veterans

Other Stuff

Summer has also finally started to feel like summer. I love summer, but I will confess my idea of summer would allow me to sit by a pool or a lake rather than having to wear real clothes and be presentable.

I also learned this week that I have a chronic condition... funny that you can have something and not know it... I have very mixed feelings about this... it seems so permanent, which is scary. But it explains a lot, which is nice... and as chronic conditions go, this is a relatively small complaint. I have non-allergic vasomotor rhinitis... basically, it is a swelling of the nasal passages that causes me to recover from colds poorly, and makes my nose a bit runnier than other peoples... (I do tend to carry a tissue). So now I know why I seem to have colds last forever, even though I'm not particularly more likely to catch on in the first place... sort of takes immunity issues out of the equation.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Day 14 of 22: 22 Veteran Suicides a Day Awareness Campaign

Okay, peoples... am I back on track? I think it's a little early to make such a claim, but I DID DO 22 knee push-ups today (pillow under the knees)... I did them in 3 sets: 8, 7 and 7. I think I will do another day of that, then try it in two. I sure feel a lot more pathetic than strong... I've never had any upper body strength, but on top of that I am both out of practice AND heavier than I should be by a lot. Gotta work with what it is!

I also wonder how much of my weekend flop is I feel like I am running out of new content... The topic remains very important, but I don't really know new angles to approach it from. So let me reach out to families. I have never been a veteran, but I have loved people who are suicidal and it is frightening and disempowering. If you know anyone who is struggling to support someone struggling, know they, too, need your support.

Writing Life

I also need to get back to getting organized. I've been called for jury duty later this month, which, should I be chosen, will throw a wrench in things, so I think in the first half of the month I am going to PLAN... maybe write a few scenes to get a feel for some of the options of what I might write... maybe think about a short story... but then plan on really implementing the plan after than threat of jury duty is off the table.

I have really mixed feelings about this jury duty thing. It sounds tiring, paying attention all day. Surrounded by people. The introvert in me would like to get out of it. At the same time, the justice process fascinates me. Then again, I am a person likely to get kicked off a number of sorts of cases... I am strongly anti-business most of the time. And I am high in empathy, so likely to hear a defendant sympathetically... I guess it will go how it goes...

Have you ever been on jury duty? How did it go? Did it throw a wrench in the rest of your life?

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Day 13 of 22: The Delinquent Push-Up Blog for Veteran Suicide Awareness

So I have a confession. Over the three-day weekend I only got my push-ups in once... My brain sort of melted and I got tangled in busy holiday things and so I only managed Sunday and I did not blog once, so this is me, getting back on track...

I thought having rested a day push-ups might be a bit easier Sunday. I was dead wrong. In fact I ended up back at an angle again. COULD NOT do the knee kind... When I get to it today I am going to try knee again and see if the problem was not a bad knee, basement combo. When I did the knee push-ups on Friday I had a pillow under my knees. The yoga mat on the basement concrete is not the equivalent of that.

These days of fireworks and such offered a good reminder. We watch our dogs cower as if the world is ending and it is easy to understand how a person who has been to war—where all these noises coincided with real danger and sometimes death—would be thrown back into memories, sometimes too strong to distinguish from reality.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Day 12 of 22: 22 Veteran Suicides a Day Push-Up Awareness Campaign

So I shoved the chair out the window... Not literally. But I decided full knee push-ups down on the floor couldn't possibly be any harder...

I was wrong. And a little right. Easier to get a grip—the floor being larger than a chair and all... and easier on my hands with no corners, but that angle makes the upper body work harder. So I split it in 4:  6, 5, 6, 5... I did them... They weren't pretty, but they were relatively legitimate, and I have 10 more days to improve...

As for suicide... a friend just shared about a murder/suicide she encountered today... I don't know what the rates are for homicide by veterans, but I do believe spousal abuse runs high and that IS related to domestic homicide. I think chasms caused by absence, training in authoritarian relationships, an emotional divide that can erupt (one life goes one direction with spouse gone, the other goes another away at war)--all these things increase chances. The study I found suggests PTSD is why there is a higher murder rate by veterans (and it DID say it is higher)--but a person who is still decent at his core will not murder without remorse... thus the murder suicide combo.

It's funny—I often advocate that a military-trained person is more fit to have certain kinds of weapons, since they are trained in safe use. But this information suggests otherwise. Not that I think a blanket move to remove guns from veterans is the answer, but perhaps health care providers reporting on state of mental health and suggesting storing them away from home or giving them up for a time if there are issues present?

Friday, July 1, 2016

Day 11 of 22: 22 Suicides Veteran a Day: Push-Up Awareness Campaign

Half way...

So I did my push-ups last night, I just didn't do the blog part until now. I had a trivia night for Game of Thrones and no time at all to get anything written.

Chair push-ups... MAN... This is seriously harder than anything that has come earlier. I had to break them into 3 sets (8, 7 and 7) and I couldn't bend my arms as far for fear I wouldn't be able to push back up, so this is going to be a challenge...

My suicide thought for the day is to keep in mind COMPASSION. I hear people say sometimes that suicide is selfish, but in fact the brain of a person contemplating suicide is not working right--it is telling them their loved ones would be better off without them. It may look selfish from the outside, but we need to step back from our own perspective and see someone hurting.


The month of writing is over, though I didn't manage to write much... The month got away from me with family stuff, college stuff, and frankly... distractions... Game of Thrones is over for the year and I maybe should come to terms with the fact I let that dominate pretty much everything else when it is releasing new episode (the last two this season were perfection, as were the 4th and 5th--I am calling this season one of the best)