Funs are a Real Unit of Measurement

Time has been flying by at the rate of many funs per second. Although, to be fair, I can’t say I’ve been having much fun.

I haven’t not been having fun either, however. It’s just been very very busy.

Finishing classes for one semester and starting the next one. Running kids from one activity to the next. Scheduling appointments. Scheduling follow up appointments. Finishing the final tasks on my task list in the last few weeks of work.

The countdown is on. And that makes the next phase that much more real. I will really be self-employed in 8 days. Gainfully or otherwise it will happen very soon.

There is a thrum of excitement that sets in when something new is coming. A deep internal vibration that hums with activity at the very core of my being. There’s a tinge of fear setting in too, because once it’s real then it’s real. There’s not really any turning back at this point.

I have to just take a deep breath, and dive into the unknown.

Possibly the questions at work are adding to the nerves. That “you know this is stupid, what will you do if you fail” that is hidden under the comments of things like, “Oh wow, that’s really brave, I could never do that.”

It isn’t meant in a mean way. Most people see this as a crazy step. And maybe it is stupid. But (ready for some repetition?) I can’t let fear of failure hold me back.

Plus … if I don’t do this, what will I do with all of the research I’ve been gathering?

And how can I be okay with giving up before I even find out what I am capable of?

So here’s to 8 more days before big new change takes place.

Here’s to amazing opportunities.

Here’s to bringing dreams into reality.

And here’s to many more funs.

Rejection Level Thick Skin

Disappointment comes in many forms. And sometimes even when it’s expected it’s still a tiny punch in the gut.

I read once that Harper Lee said “I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.” Actually, a lot of very famous authors have a quote that is very in line with this sentiment. With that many people saying it there has to be some truth to the thought.

Heck, I heard that I needed thicker skin my entire childhood, so I figured I was pretty much set to handle whatever rejection came my way. As a twitterpated teenage girl I even was so bold as to write a very long (3 pages? 10?) love letter to a boy and anticipated the rejection that was going to come my way. If that cringe worthy event didn’t build up some thick skin then I don’t know what would.

And yet, strangely … rejection still stings.

So what is the secret? Apparently it’s getting lots, and lots of rejections. Just loads of them. Enough that you become desensitized to the very idea.

Although, if I’m being honest, becoming desensitized to anything seems like a bad idea. If you don’t feel the brutality of it can you really gain anything from the experience?

Maybe thick skin isn’t quite right … maybe it’s accepting that it’s going to hurt. Then taking that hurt, placing it under a microscope and examining what exactly hurt about it. What didn’t hurt. What you can use next time to avoid getting hurt. Rinse, and repeat.

So while an acceptance letter or two here and there (or all the time, that would be okay too) is very welcome, maybe we should also welcome the rejection letter? At the very least a rejection letter that goes beyond the form letter variety and provides genuine feedback. At least those act as a guidepost towards acceptance.

So here’s my new writer’s prayer … May your rejection letters be filled with much feedback and be only as plenty as your acceptance letters.

 

Remember When(sdays)

The literary adaptations to the big screen continue this week with the 1990s …

For the record – Roald Dahl’s characters attempted a take over of theaters for the decade. We were alright with it.

1990: The Witches “Witches work only with magic!” – Miss Eva Ernst I couldn’t have said it better myself. If you love Roald Dahl you’ve probably already caught this adaptation. Although I made this a must see for my kiddos I have to admit there is still a tiny part deep down inside of me that gets a little scared that the witches could show up and turn me into a mouse (I guess lucky I’m not a little kid anymore, not so likely now).

1991: Fried Green Tomatoes – to be honest I still haven’t read the book, but I absolutely loved Kathy Bates in this one. And, as an adult that is still trying to have someone clarify what middle aged looks like in this decade, I appreciate her so very very much more now. “Face it girls. I’m older and have more insurance.” 

1992: Of Mice and Men – sure, we all make Bugs Bunny and Elmira jokes with regards to this tale, but if you’ve read the book I can guess that your eyes have teared up a tiny bit just looking at that title. “There ain’t many guys travel around together. I don’t know why. Maybe everybody in the whole damn world’s scared of each other.”

1993: The Joy Luck Club, while it has not necessarily received the most positive feedback with regards to accuracy of Chinese immigrants, the movie (much like the book) hits some powerful emotional chords. “I like being tragic, Ma. I learned it from you.” in this one line from Rose the entire theme of mother-daughter relationships becomes clear.

1994: Shawshank Redemption “Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.” – For as long as I can remember Morgan Freeman is the person who says the thing that you most need to hear, it’s just that this is one of those times that he got it a bit wrong. Leave it to Stephen King to weave a story that even once it made it the screen could trip you up if you aren’t paying attention.

1995: Pride and Prejudice – well, one of the versions of the movie came out in 1995 (and pretty close to every year since 1938). Between Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy – and Colin Firth plays a positively perfect Mr. Darcy – well, need I say more? “It behooves us all, to take very careful thought before pronouncing an adverse judgment on any of our fellow men.”

1996: This was a very good year for book adaptations (and a very spectacularly good year for Roald Dahl’s books). Though perhaps one that (at least at the time) made every high school student breathe a sigh of relief was Baz Luhrman’s Romeo and Juliet – the modern imagining gave 9th graders everywhere a more clear understanding of Shakespeare than Kenneth Brannagh had managed (surely, not for lack of trying). “The world is not thy friend, nor the world’s law.” – Well, we all know Romeo was not known for his optimistic outlook.

1997: “A Borrower is quiet, conscientious, and inconspicuous. We don’t steal; we borrow.” I feel silly, I did not realize that The Borrowers came from a book – always excited when I make these lists and add a new book to my to be read pile.

1998: I think maybe I have gushed about Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic perhaps at least once, and the movie adaptation that does a pretty great job of capturing the Owens women on screen. “Sometimes I feel like there’s a hole inside of me, an emptiness that at times seems to burn. I think if you lifted my heart to your ear, you could probably hear the ocean.” You and me both Sally Owens.

1999: Fight Club created some havoc right at the end of the decade. Strange, given that the Y2K panic was just around the corner. Ummm … “The first rule of fight club is that you do not talk about fight club.” Well, I guess if it’s already broken it’s not like we can un-break it, right? “This is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time.”

I feel like there are so many more movies that could be listed here, and some pretty awesome quotes, but I’ll let you all be the judge.

Life is Cyclical That Way

Life has a funny way of repeating itself. In one moment you think you’re on a brand new roll and then … BAM! You realize you are caught in a loop.

Maybe that is the entire world.

If we pay close attention to history, as my great grandmother once said, we find that the people don’t change, just the clothes that they wear will change. G-G-Ma was a pretty smart lady so I’ve held that thought in my back pocket for a few decades now.

(Cool, I’m old enough to reference things in life in decades. Less cool, I am old enough to be able to reference things in terms of decades now.)

It’s strange to watch the cycles in terms of what is popular, especially given that every generation is sure that they were the ones to invent whatever the trend of the day is.

The internet for news? Try the newspaper. Cell phones? Alexander Graham Bell did it first. Social Media? It was AOL chat rooms and emails and online live journals before the point where people could thumbs up or thumbs down a post. In reality, it really has all been done before.

Why? Heather’s opinion? Because at the end of the day I think that as a species we are creatures of habit. Even if we decide that we want to try something new, we like to make sure someone else is either already interested or has already done it.

The Bare Naked Ladies said it best … “It’s all been done before.”

So perhaps it’s less important to try to be the ones to do things first, or to worry about how many people got there first, and instead try to consider how to do it right.

 

 

Remember When(sdays)

I’ve had a lot of fun putting together a list of the best books (to me) of the decades from 1980 to now … but what about all of those movies that were adapted from books and short stories to the silver screen?

1980: Somewhere in Time is a movie where Christopher Reeve falls in love with the photograph of a stage actress and somehow, through the magic of hypnosis, travels back to be with her, though this is abruptly ended due to finding one very unlucky penny. This was based on the novel Bid Time Return by Richard Matheson, who also wrote the screenplay for the movie.

1981: The tales of King Arthur have been written, time and time again. His knights and their round table, the different versions of every story. One of those tales was Exaclibur, based on the specific story Le Morte d’Arthur (translates to The Death of Arthur). Very few characters catch our minds as completely as this one does. “The future has taken root in the present” – Merlin.

1982: First Blood – John Rambo first showed up wearing his iconic headband (often innovated by young boys from ties found in their father’s closets for years and years after …) and saying classic 80s lines like: “They drew first blood, not me” – but did you know that he first graced the pages of David Morrell’s novel of the same name 10 years earlier in 1972?

1983: Classic high school literature, S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders touches on truth, and coming of age. Hinton started writing the novel at fifteen, and maybe that’s why it still feels like it gets the perspective right, regardless of the era. The novel translates well to film, too. “Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold” – Johnny.

1984: The Neverending Story is one that I don’t think surprises us too much that it was adapted from a book of the same name. Afterall, our protagonist does find himself avoiding bullies in a bookstore, or diving into a new world through the words on the page as he reads … really it makes perfect sense. “Never give up and good luck will find you” – thanks Falkor. 

1985: The Black Cauldron is an animated fantasy film from Walt Disney, but it’s also from a book series called The Chronicles of Prydain. I not only remember this film from my childhood, but the first video game I ever played was the computer game – on the giant floppy disks that I swear you could remove the center and go play frisbee. “Oh, poor miserable Gurgi deserves fierce smackings and whackings on his poor, tender head. Always left with no munchings and crunchings.” – dear, sweet, Gurgi …

1986: Stand by Me, the super iconic coming of age tale, was adapted from a Stephen King novella, The Body. Stephen King worked on the screenplay for the movie as well (along with two other writers, Raynold Gideon and Bruce Evans). “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?” – The Writer.

1987: I don’t know very many people who aren’t familiar with The Princess Bride; there was a good chance if you hadn’t seen it at home you were going to catch it on a down day at school (Middle and High schools, of course), and if you haven’t seen it you’ve probably seen a meme or heard a quote (at least one) from it – “As you wish” surely is running through your head by now … Anyway, this beloved movie also comes from a book, though perhaps you knew that given the grandpa reading the story at the beginning of the movie?

1988: In true 1980’s fashion action movies were the name of the game, and one of the most iconic action heroes was John McClane from Die Hard. Nowadays it’s revered as one of the best Christmas movies, but when it came out (in middle of July, mind you), it was the adaptation of Roderick Thorp’s Nothing Lasts Forever. Interested in John McClane pre-Die Hard? Check out the first book in the series, The Detective. “Welcome to the party, Pal.” – John McClane.

1989: “If you build it, they will come” went from a movie quote, to a motivational speaker’s dream speech. Field of Dreams taught us that all we had to do was have a dream, build said dream (so long as building something was required, if not … well, good luck folks), and BAM! Success abounds. Okay, I’m really oversimplifying the movie – and the book, Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella, as well (I think, I didn’t realize it was a book until 5 minutes ago).

I’d love to hear your favorite quotes from these, or any others that maybe I missed.

An Optimistic Realist Kind of Moment

The glass is half full. Even if we have to fill it ourselves.

Some days the world really makes it hard to keep a positive mindset about things. Things like burst pipes when you would have sworn you never had water in the pipe for the sprinkler system to begin with certainly has a way of putting a damper on things. That happened earlier today.

But there’s always a bright side.

And I always find it.

The silver lining here? We don’t use the sprinkler system. As a result we don’t have to pay to repair it, well … at least not today. Possibly even a good opportunity for some DIY learning moments when the weather is nice enough to be outside for many potentially frustrating hours.

Hey! I said I’m an optimist, but I’m also a realist.

Some days you just have to consider that things are going to get stressful. It doesn’t matter how much you prepare for things there are always moments where the unexpected crops up.

It rears its ugly head just to remind us we aren’t actually in charge.

Sometimes it’s a burst pipe, sometimes it’s a story we thought we’d get done in a certain amount of time, or a project we anticipated tackling. It happens.

Tomorrow is coming whether the pipe burst or not. We get to decide how we start the day. That’s the thing we are in control of … no matter what else happens.

So take a moment and check your cup. Is it full? Do you want it to be? Go ahead, take a moment to fill it up. Then take a few sips.

Remember When(sdays)

How many books from the last decade have you read? Or are you like me and maybe have a floor to ceiling to be read pile?

Remember when in 2010 …

The Mayan Calendar ended, and the world didn’t (at least I don’t think it did), social media became a huge deal, and nostalgia lead to a LOT of remakes and reboots …

2010: Tweets managed to get published as a book in Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern – and if I remember correctly the brief lived t.v. show starred William Shatner as the dad who said sh*t.

2011: Stephen King’s 11/22/63 was a pretty amazing book, and show – I’m a sucker for time travel, and all of its variations, but this one tops my favorite time travel books lists (well, number 2 behind Outlander).

2012: John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars has been a phenomenal hit – I’ve also heard great things about the movie, and it introduced a new round of pretty heart felt YA novels out into the world. A shining piece of nonfiction came out this year too – I Am Mulala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Mulala Yousafzai – if you haven’t read it, I strongly recommend it.

2013: The Ocean at the End of the Lane Neil Gaiman. ‘Nuff Said. Okay, you convinced me, I’ll gush some more. This book is a shorter read, but hands down deserves every award ever. It’s definitely near the top 10 all time favorite books list I maybe will get around to putting together officially someday. (Hard to settle on 10 – it might become a much longer list).

2014: I’ve maybe mentioned my love of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series? The 8th installment, Written in my Own Heart’s Blood was published after a bit of a wait, and man was it worth it.

2015: JoJo Moyes had me crying again with Me After You, and I won’t spoil it, but I can appreciate that she was pretty raw in how she handled her protagonist from the first book – sometimes we need real emotions, even if it makes them spill out of our eyes for days.

2016: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, John Tiffany wrote this one, and it’s considered part of the series – definitely an interesting read, although I go back and forth on how I feel about it as part of the series proper, but don’t let that take away from checking it out.

2017: The last Kinsey Millhone book effectively ended that alphabet with ‘Y’ after Sue Grafton’s battle with cancer ended later that year. Y is for Yesterday seems appropriate – if you haven’t had a chance to get to know Sue Grafton’s spunky character, please do, I think you’ll really enjoy her.

2018: I have a large blank in my books from this year – not sure what happened, but on the bright side I have quite a few new novels to dig into … although I have to be careful to not neglect any good ones coming out this year in the process.

2019: The Forgotten Hours by Katrin Schumann was a really good book, but a really hard read. It was a journey of discovery for the protagonist, but for me as well. I do recommend it, but disclaimer – it has some rather difficult topics and themes.

Honorable Mentions: Stephen King’s Full Dark, No Stars and they weren’t kidding about the full dark, pretty sure we all had to do some serious palate cleansers after this one. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was published in 2011, the movie was good – but nothing can ever top a really well loved book series (it got the kiddos to read like there was no tomorrow too, thanks Ransom Riggs). Andy Weir’s The Martian – fantastic movie, but the book hits a lot of really amazingly fantastic science jargon, appropriately applied (or so I’ve heard from my more science-fluent friends, I just thought the story was great). Want to cry? JoJo Moyes Me Before You – worth every salt filled drop that landed on the book. Dave Eggers, The Circle is a highly recommended digital dystopian novel I am actually terrified is going to land in the 1984A Brave New World territory.

The 2010’s was by far the hardest decade because there are so many I haven’t gotten to yet, and quite a few more I have added to my to be read list as I’ve been digging into publisher dates. Now that we have gotten the decades down, what’s next? I’m compiling a list of my favorites, but I’m also diving into comic books and movie adaptations of books for the same time periods, looking forward to all of it, and if you have any lists that I’m not thinking about I’d love to consider those too.

 

 

Another Sunday Night

It’s another Sunday night. The end of one long week and the preparations begin for the beginning of another. How many times do we do this dance? How many times do we tell ourselves that this will get easier … someday …?

Seems like it’s a never ending cycle, if I’m being honest. One foot in front of the other and we just keep doing that over and over again until we meet some arbitrary end point. For some that’s retirement.

Well, I hinted a few weeks back that I was coming into the final countdown of some big changes. I am just over 4-weeks out from the first of those changes now. In 32 days I am ending one career and starting a new one.

And that thought is absolutely terrifying.

And thrilling.

And … And … And …. so many emotions coursing through me at the idea.

I’ve been planning this for awhile now though. And some of the pieces are going to take a lot longer, have more moving parts. But the biggest part of it all? I’m taking a really big chunk of time off and going to spend it being self-employed.

The plan is to be gainfully so.

I’ll try to write full-time, and at first that means getting familiarized with things like the AP Style Guide and the Writer’s Market Guide. How to write for what publication and who to ask about publishing that thing I wrote.

And I want to try to get this novel I’ve been outlining for the last couple months written. I’m pretty excited about it.

I have a lot to learn and I’m looking forward to the initial time off to learn it. And there is a part of me deep down inside that is worried about what if I fail?

Funny thing is, this isn’t the first time I’ve had that thought.

The first time it was moving to a new High School.

After that it was my first date with a boy. Or buying my prom dress.

Then it was the interview for my first (real) job.

And then my wedding day.

And I can’t forget the day I found out I was pregnant (all three times) and the fear that came with that news.

But here’s the thing …

I graduated High School, and went to prom without any wardrobe malfunctions.

I married the boy, got the job, and the kids are all alive and well.

The things that matter we make work. The things that don’t will be whatever they will be. We always find new things to fill us with fear.

It’s okay to be afraid to fail, but it’s not okay to let that fear keep us from trying.

I might fail. If I do I’ll just have to try again using what I learn to try harder and fail better.

I’m looking forward to it.

Friday I Learned …

This week … a Friday I Learned poem.

Today it snowed. A lot.

And while we weren’t stuck at home due to the weather it still felt stifling.

Tensions flared.

And I learned how to say sorry.

And how to accept an apology.

Because no matter how much we try, no one is perfect. Sometimes we will get angry.

Or say the wrong thing.

And when that happens we have to show our loved ones that we can come back from it.

So today, I took a deep breath.

And admitted I was wrong.

I said, “I’m sorry I yelled.”

And then they said they were sorry too. We could all be more patient.

We can all learn to be more understanding. More giving. Learn to show more empathy to others.

Hardships today doesn’t stop us from making tomorrow a better day.

When those tensions flare, take a deep breath, center your mind.

Tomorrow is a new day.

When the sun comes up you can try again. And again.

And again.

Remember When(sdays)

What books do you think of when you think of the first decade of the 21st century (and the millennium)?

Remember when in 2000 ….

Dial up modems were a thing, the dotcom bubble burst, and everyone panicked about Y2k?

2000: One of the most touted books on the craft of writing, On Writing, by Stephen King is published (he was working on this one when he was hit by a van the summer before).

2001: Easily on my top 10 list, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, (a television show on Starz now). Neil discovered a side of America that perhaps we needed the year this novel was published, a reminder of things when the year took a turn.

2002: A Stephen King anthology, Everything’s Eventual, gets published, one story in particular “1408” gets turned into a movie with John Cusack (who doesn’t love John Cusack?).

2003: So many books in this year that hit a number of notes for me … The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (and its movie adaptation that I highly recommend) – lots of tears, and if you tell me you read it and didn’t cry I don’t think we can be friends. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown was a huge hit, and really put the character Robert Langdon on the map (Tom Hanks does pretty well on screen for this one).

2004: P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern – a young writer when this one came out (22), but perhaps the Irish gift of the story found in her the powerful storyteller it needed with this one … another tear-jerker (I’ve found I have a hard time thinking about this story without becoming a little teary eyed … also, check out the movie adaptation, Girard Butler and Hilary Swank do an honorable job bringing these characters to the screen.

2005: J.K. Rowling’s 6th book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is published, the same year my first child was born – by this point I’ve become an avid Harry Potter fan, and reading certainly took the edge off the pregnancy.

2006: Sara Gruen wrote Water for Elephants during NaNoWriMo and published it in 2006 – not that I’m subscribing to the write a novel in a month theory, but it can be done, and done well (Also adapted into a film with Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon). Also this year, World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks – I do not consider the movie to be an adaptation of this novel, instead it merely borrows the title, the book is by far the superior story (and believe me, they are two totally different stories …).

2007: The sequel we didn’t know we were waiting for is published, Kingsbridge #2, World Without End by Ken Follett. No, I didn’t gain back any of those romantic notions that he did away with in the original novel, but I was pleased to see some of my favorite characters return, and a little frustrated to see some of my more hated characters also made it into this one unscathed. Oh well, they do say a good hero is made better by a particularly good villain.

2008: Suzanne Collin’s The Hunger Games, this one is particularly special to me because I read it, such a long time ago, and my oldest just read this one recently.  It created new conversations for us, and opened doors to new stories for him, thanks Suzanne! (We’re looking forward to binge watching the movies for this series too.)

2009: The Magicians by Lev Grossman has been referred to as the “grown up Harry Potter” series, and in a way I think that description seems apt – but it certainly does a fine job branching into its own thing, and building its own world. (I keep meaning to check out the show, but waiting for someone who’s read the books to tell me if they seem similar or no?).

Honorable mentions – Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons. Charlaine Harris wrote Dead Until Dark (the first Sookie Stackhouse novel, maybe more commonly remembered from the HBO show True Blood). James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club #1, 1st to Die, came out, these women solving mysteries holds a very special place in my heart. Christopher Paolini publishes his first book Eragorn (in 2002, when I was graduating high school, and he was 19 – mind you he wrote the book at the tender age of 15 … what was envy when I was younger has turned into more of an admiration for the dedication that took, teen years are a hard time to stay focused on any one thing, amiright?). Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven (I did a blog post review on this one, aaand there’s a sequel that came out last fall), and Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas series kicks off (Anton Yelchin played a very endearing Odd in the movie). Stephanie Meyers Twilight series begins. Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series should be noted – although I know it’s sparked some controversy here lately, it’s a fairly fun (if somewhat distracted romp), I think it mostly just gets confused about what it’s really trying to be when it grows up.

There are so many more books that I felt were just going to make this post feel more like a list than a personal “best of” that I couldn’t really list all of them, but let me know if any of your favorites didn’t make the cut, just in case I haven’t read them, I’m always looking for something new to sink my reader’s teeth into.