Thursday, July 27, 2017

Loss and Life

Loss is an inextricable part of life. When a loved one passes on, it can be emotionally difficult... and not just because of mourning losses. There is also pressure to be emotionally supportive to others. And to make major plans and decisions about how to care for your deceased and their assets and belongings.

My last grandparent died about a month ago. It marks a huge milestone in my life, but not necessarily for the reasons you might think. Sure, there's the idea that an entire generation of my ancestors has moved on, bringing me closer to being the eldest of elders. However, the biggest milestone is that the funeral and accompanying events are the last time I will intentionally interact with my extended family, save a single cousin on one side of the family.

This may seem like a harsh tactic, but it is actually about removing toxicity from my life. While I have never had to deal with it directly, a variety of abuses has gradually colored my interactions with the larger family to the point where I feel it is inappropriate to spend my time with these people just because fate gave us a random connection.

For my own health and for the health of my children, for my own family's safety and sanity, I say to my cousins, aunts and uncles... "Bye Felicia!"

Don't get me wrong, most of them are harmless. Maybe a bit too hung up on "normal" (which I am not), or on... Okay, I don't even know. They are all just way too mainstream and snotty about stuff, and my tolerance for such things is very low.

They gossip. They emphasize money. They are willing to look down on people for things that can't be helped. They are hypocrites about their morals.

There's just a lot of baggage there, and I don't feel that any benefit to dealing with that would be worth it. So, there ya go.

This means that my loss is about more than my grandparent. I am losing an entire branch of my family tree... or two. It may be my choice, but it is still valid to mourn the losses of what might have been.

So, this loss feeds the beast of creativity, and I will accept what comes of it. And I solemnly swear I am not writing my entire family into my next murder scene. Not the entire family... lol

Friday, July 21, 2017

Bathos and the Dramatic Scene

Recently I came across an article that was talking about a topic near and dear to me. It referred to something called bathos. This is a technique in which humor or sarcasm is used to undercut drama within a scene.

There are a lot of reasons that this is a topic that I enjoy. Primarily, it's because that is what I write. I love a little bit of sarcasm some snark a bit of humor right in the middle of the action.

The article stated that the use of bathos was undermining the true emotion of a scene. I have to disagree with that statement.

The example the article used was in the movie Doctor Strange. Apparently, the use of humor in the scene in which Doctor Strange accepts the cloak while looking in the mirror, undercuts the drama of his acceptance in his role.

I recently watched Doctor Strange for the first time. My husband was with me. When this scene occurred, we both laughed. It wasn't because the drama of the scene was undercut. It wasn't because there was somehow something less dramatic about accepting one's responsibilities. It was because both of us immediately thought: that's exactly what a magic cloak would do.
Magical items are usually a bit annoying and child-like...
Just sayin'

And that's the thing about bathos. It shows a certain reality. When you do something dramatic, usually it goes badly, or at least wrong.

You try to make a dramatic point and then trip over your own feet. You make a dramatic entrance and promptly fall off the stage. You make a dramatic speech and somebody starts snickering. That's how life works.

There's a boat there... must not have practiced with that...
Even though I never knew what the name of it was, I've used bathos in all of my writing. That's how life works. We try to do something seriously and it ends up being hilarious. We try to do something dramatic and it ends up being anti-climatic.

Perhaps the problem isn't that drama and emotion are being undercut by bathos. Maybe bathos shows us the reality of how life undercuts drama and emotion.

And in case you need examples of how this works in real life, just Google fail videos on YouTube.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Letting Go: Getting Help as an Author

Being an author is a lot of work. Never mind the word counts. The marketing can take well over 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week. And there's no set goal, unless you set it yourself. The more marketing, the more potential sales.

As a mom of two, working at home over the summer, this can be a problem on multiple levels. I am constantly having my attention drawn away from my work to my kids and their ever increasing appetites for both food and entertainment. But I am running out of steam, quickly. It doesn't help that we threw a move, a funeral and hosting a party on top of all of this.

So what's a workaholic to do? Outsourcing.

I hired a VPA (virtual personal assistant) to help me with posting and such. She's salary, so I can just give her projects as I need them done. Good to go. She is also available to cover for me when I over-book my takeovers and such. A decent PA will run between $75-200/mo, which isn't too bad for the way she's boosted my reach, gotten me contacts, and covered my butt.

My next step is a nanny. Holy mackerel, I never thought I'd be considering a nanny! I'm not rich AT ALL, so this is really weird, but...

We don't need daycare. We just need someone to help out for a few hours a couple days a week. Someone who can take the kids to the library, or the swimming pool, or just to run through the sprinklers outside. I'm thinking $100 for 6-9 hrs each week.

Given that there's only a few weeks left before school starts, that's not a terribly huge expense, and I'd pay 2 or 3 times that to get them into a daycare or to a day camp. It's just unrealistic to go that route when a temporary, part-time solution is available.

So where's the problem? With outsourcing, the problem is always about letting go and trusting. You not only have to trust someone else to do the job for you. You also have to trust yourself - to be able to handle or deal with anything that isn't just how you would have done it, whether it's that the other person failed or not. It's a painfully psychological thing - we like things the way we like them.

But I like my time more, so I'm trusting.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017


*Bonus points if you did David Bowie's voice when you read the title*

I have moved! I am in a new place with some new things and some not-new things. The city is new (ish - I've lived here before, a decade ago) and I love it! The kids love it; the hubby loves it.

Okay, so lots of love and stuff. But moving is hard.

Obviously, it's physically hard. We already agreed that the next time we move, we are hiring some guys to lift stuff for us. There's a company in town called "College Hunks Moving". They have my vote.

We moved nearly 200 miles, while simultaneously sending kids to day camp, cleaning and selling a house, and working (me from home, hubby from that place he goes to every day). We had two yards to mow, two electric bills to pay, and a metric ton of stuff to transfer, either physically or electronically. Just changing addresses is two full days of work!

Speaking of which, moving is mentally hard. There are so many things to take care of. It's an epic level of adulting that I'm just not sure I want to tackle again without the help of a personal assistant/secretary. I would like to point out, though, that I managed to time mail changes and shipping of deliveries to such a fine point that we missed not a thing!

Well, we did, but that was because our move-in date was delayed a full day due to them updating the floors before we moved in. They made a good choice, but it was a stressful 24 hours, which may or may not have involved me driving a fully loaded moving truck at top speed down a city street, with a car towed behind, while talking to the UPS guy on the phone.

Speaking of THAT - turns out I'm a pretty bad-ass truck driver. Just sayin'. I backed that baby over lawns and around bushes, drove through narrow streets, even took the truck (with car still in tow) around a round-about and through narrow residential streets lined with expensive cars (here-after referred to as residential HELL).

Moving is also emotionally hard. Never mind the surprising ways that memories come flooding back as you pack up a place that has been home for seven and a half years, a place where your children grew up.

There's an emotional tie to such a place that springs up in surprising ways. Like the realization that you won't see another peach harvest from the trees that you planted. Or the way the snakes rustle in the grass, bringing up thoughts of how they keep the mice away. Or the emptiness of rooms as they are cleared out.

Then there's the second stage. After all the packing, lifting, moving, stress, worry, unloading, etc., you still have the maze of boxes that require unpacking. Food stuffs in one box, office supplies in another, two dozen boxes of books (cuz we are all bibliophiles here).

So, a minimum of one box per person gets opened and ostensibly put away every day. We have some furniture to buy, either to replace stuff that didn't make the cut or survive the move (damn you, particle board!), or things we need to make up for the differences in space that we now have vs what we had before.

So, yeah, changes, and moving is hard. But we got everything taken care of, and we are getting it slowly unpacked and put away. Now, I need to go shopping for a new night table!