Monday, August 19, 2013

The Melancholy Hedgehog


Dear World,

I am a sad little hedgehog. Melancholy. Depressed.

Why am I depressed? Because I have a brain that reacts to the slightest distress by launching an all out war on itself. And the last year has brought me more than slight distress.

I don't want to write a whine about everything that has helped me upset myself because I don't think that would be productive. But the depression is bad enough now that I feel people who know me need to know about it, and most of them don't.

Every time the depression returns, it's a little different. This time it feels quieter than before, something I keep under stronger guard than before. When it finally became apparent to my beloved how bad things had gotten, he was shocked. Usually he sees when I start to descend, but this time I did a very good job of hiding it.

I don't want people to worry about me. I am getting help. And I've gotten through this before. But if I take longer to respond to you than normal or continue to not want to post much or spend the day quietly beading rather than going to an event you want me at, please understand it's because I'm not well.

Writing this has brought tears to my eyes and I'm glad. One of the stranger parts of this round of depression has been an inability to cry even when I feel like I should be crying. So see my tears as evidence I'm healing and be relieved with me to see them.

Depressed hedgehog is depressed. She's going to be hard to get out of her little ball and she needs to be handled with care. But if she loved you before this hit, she still loves you. And she promises she'll get better.

Love, Andy

Thursday, March 7, 2013

DST Should Die

Twice a year, the majority of the United States is forced to change their clocks.

It's been happening nationwide since World War II, but why do we do this? Most people really aren't sure. Some say it has something to do with farmers, but farmers base their day on the sun rather than the clock, and they're at least as annoyed by this as everyone else. Some say it's so kids can get to school in more safety, but that's obviously false as the changes aren't tied to the school year and the accident rates increase around the changes. Maybe Congress knows, as they're the ones who keep telling us to do it, but if so, they're not telling.

What this leaves is a system no one can explain a reason for but which very few people support. Yes, there are people who say DST is great because the sun stays up later. There are also people who would prefer the sun to be up an hour earlier. What everyone agrees on is that switching back and forth makes no one happy. So, let's pick one and stay with it, folks!

How do we do that? There's a petition on whitehouse.gov to force to the White House to at least make a statement about the issue. Additionally, you can write to your state representatives in Congress. (See http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml if you need help with that.)  ALSO, while the federal government sets the dates for the time switches, there's nothing forcing your state to go along with it and not all of them do. If you're in the majority of states that do recognize DST, write to your state government and tell them to stop this nonsense. If enough state governments start ignoring DST, maybe the federal government will too.

(This post was lifted from my G+ account to aide in sharing the message with a wider audience. If you're on G+, stop by and say hi to me!)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

An Ode to Getting Out of Bed


I stared blearily at my phone. Yes, it was indeed late enough that I should get up even though going back to sleep seemed promising.

There was a creak followed by footsteps and my son appeared by my bed, even though he's not supposed to be in my room uninvited. (One day he's going to get an eyeful of something he doesn't want, but it wasn't today.)

"Oh, good! You're awake!" he said. "I'm going to the Ethical Society."

"You're what? By yourself?" Yes, the building the Baltimore Ethical Society meets in abuts our parking lot, but you have to walk around an innercity block to get to it. And while I trust The Child completely, he is only eleven and I haven't seen any other eleven-year-olds wandering our neighborhood unaccompanied. Plus, it seemed to me that the adults at the Society might think it odd for him to just show up alone. "Did Dad say you could do that? Did the Society people say you could do that?"

He titled his head. "Well, they invited me to the Sunday School."

Yeah, I knew that already. I'd gotten a brief when my males got home from a boardgame night hosted at the Ethical Society that a.) the child adored the place and b.) they had a Sunday school program he really wanted to join. I'd even looked up the email address of the lovely-sounding poet who runs it and intended to email her in the morning about enrolling him.

I was preparing how to say all this to the child while promising we could go next week when I realized something. Not only was he dressed, he was holding his water bottle and a bag filled with egg-free snacks, enough to share with others. He was bouncing in readiness and his eyes held what could only be described as the bright sparkle of childish enthusiasm. (And I say 'childish' here meaning the essence of all that is good about youth, that thrill and vivaciousness that most of us loose in adolescence but which I have repeatedly vowed to protect in my offspring.) In short, looking at him made it absolutely impossible for me to tell him no.

So instead, I told him I needed to get dressed. I rolled out of bed, threw on the first thing I could find that didn't have a cartoon image smeared on it since I had no idea how formal this group was or wasn't, and passed a toothbrush across my mouth. Then, without food, drink, or even the thought of makeup, I walked my child to the meeting.

We were late. Very late. I had thought things started at ten thirty, but they actually kick off at nine thirty. Ooops. So I got to smile apologetically at all of the people who looked to see who was coming in mid-program. The Sunday school had already split off, so I dropped the Kiddo in there, apologizing at least half a dozen times in thirty seconds for just barging in like that. Then I went out to the main room, where they had apparently been talking about Marriage Equality and how happy everyone was that Maryland woke up and passed it.

I hovered against the back wall, thinking I'd just stay there, but one of the leaders noticed and lead me to a seat in the middle of the back row of chairs. At which point I started to hope I wasn't going to have a panic attack from being surrounded by strangers in an unfamiliar place. But before I could get a good worry started, the guest speaker was announced.

James Croft was one of the reasons my child was so enthusiastic about us going today and as soon as he started speaking I could tell why. James is charismatic in an approachable way, his enthusiasm for Humanism contagious and his intelligence obvious. Plus, he's easy to look at and has a lovely accent. And he mentioned my son at the beginning of his speech, saying he felt very welcomed in Baltimore even while being beaten at boardgames by an eleven-year-old. Yes, I could see why Kiddo was taken with him.

James's message was a good one. He covered the basics of modern Ethical Culture, read some words of Felix Adler's that were originally spoken nearly a century and a half ago but which still for the most part apply, and discussed the need for modern humanist leaders to bring the movement to mainstream attention. It was a good speech and I'd encourage you to look at James's website, his Temple of the Future blog, or maybe his acadamemia.edu profile to find some of the papers he's written at Harvard, where he's a doctoral candidate. (Told you he was smart!)

What I truly learned today didn't come from James though (sorry, James!), but from my child. My child is the one who inspires me to get out of bed, leave my comfort zone, and discover new things. He's the one who makes sure that I continue to grow as a person. He enriches my world and inspires me to enrich his. He doesn't just make me want to be a better human being, but he helps me work toward it. In short, I am fortunate beyond words to have my son in my life.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What is the Difference Between a Hero and a Villian?

From the everything-depends-on-who-you-ask files...

Cleaning my library today, I came across a few children's history books that had been given to me. One of them inspired me to look at it really funny. "Oliver Cromwell: An Adventure from History." An adventure with a genocidal dictator who honestly appears to have believed God guided his every action, including that one time he forcibly overthrew Parliament and the numerous times he ordered large groups of people slain for being to the wrong religion? I had to open it.

"Here is the story of an important figure in English history, a brave and deeply religious man who was a friend to all honest men -- and who fought for many years against what he believed to by tyranny and injustice."

Without the title of the book, I would never have known who they were talking about because other than describing him as religious, that's not at all how I would have written about him. Fought against tyranny? Maybe. By installing his own tyranny...

I particularly love the end of the book, which says, "Cromwell was a good man. He was deeply religious, and neither greedy nor -- except in Ireland -- cruel. He was a good father and the friend of all honest men."

Well, I honestly don't recall much about what kind of dad he was, but it is beyond question that he was cruel in Ireland. Which would be why the Pogues (and many other people) recorded this song about the book's honest, brave, and friendly man...



I first learned of Cromwell in Scotland, where he's not fondly remembered either. So I fully admit my opinions are biased. But even acknowledging that the Parliament he removed was corrupt and the King he helped execute wasn't a Good Guy, I have a hard time seeing him as in any way heroic. I think Monty Python does a decent job of giving us the summary of his deeds and while they don't say he was a monster, they don't seem terribly impressed with him either...



But apparently there are people in England who consider him a national treasure. In 2002 a BBC poll listed him as the tenth greatest Brit in history, placing him between Admiral Nelson and Sir Ernest Shackleton, who hung out in Antarctic a lot. (Though not as much as Scott, who was ranked more than forty places lower, perhaps because the beeb hadn't just aired a popular documentary about him.) Of course, the survey probably isn't of much value. Princess Diana made it in at number three, and while she was lovely, I don't really see people talking much about her in upcoming centuries. Or about most of the celebrities on the list. David Beckham is a greater figure than Boudica? It would take a very impressive argument to convince me of that.

All of this is a long-winded way of a.) avoiding cleaning and b.) showing that the difference between a hero and villain is purely one of perception. It's a concept that has been dealt with in fiction before, Wicked being the first example to spring into my mind, but I haven't done it before. I don't think... And I think that maybe I should.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

I'd Rather Not Be Dead!


I am very pleased to announce that I'd Rather Not Be Dead is now available pretty much everywhere
you can buy books! Or will be soon. It takes a little while for titles to trickle through all of the channels.

Should you buy a copy of the book (or, um, otherwise obtain it), you will see that it is dedicated to my mom. It's her book nearly as much as it's mine because she's the one who kept pushing me to love it even when things looked their grimmest and I was wondering why I'd ever written the first draft of the thing to start with. And I am very glad she did, because re-reading it now, I love it too! (For more on that, see my blog entry My Mom Loves My Novel.)

It's easy to get discouraged as a writer. If you knew me years ago, you know I shopped this book around a lot trying to find an agent. I had a lot of nibbles, but at the end of the day they all said, "This is a good book, but I'm not right for it. I'm sure you'll find someone else." Or that dreaded, "I liked it! But I didn't love it." It's really, really hard to hear that over and over without going mad. Eventually, I decided my poor little book just wasn't worth loving. My mom was one of the people who helped me see that I was wrong.

This isn't the exact same book I showed to the agents. I did another round of editing and a lot of sentence level tweaking. I wasn't tempted to shop it around again though. I've decided I like being indie and don't want to be accountable to people other than my readers. And my mom. :)

If you want to give it a read and see if you agree with my ever-wise mother, it's available from SmashwordsAmazon, and Createspace, among other locations. I'll have a way to sell signed versions up soon, but if you're impatient for one, feel free to email me. Also, if you have a review blog and are interested in a complimentary review copy, I'd be thrilled to talk to you.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Declaration of Intent

It's weird how being told something by a complete stranger can carry more weight than being repeatedly told the exact same thing by people who care about you.

I got a letter from someone I've never met today telling me that she'd really like to see one of my shelved novels for sale. (I'd Rather Not Be Dead, the first chapter of which is here.)

I've been thinking about dragging this work out and revising it with in intention of publishing it as a present for my mother, who loves it more than anything else I've written. Possibly because the love interest in it is largely inspired by her, or possibly just because she's more into ghosts than sports. It's hard to tell.

There are a lot of projects that I feel in the middle of right now. I'm trying to finish my serial and I'm trying to write my next curling novel, which so far has been a series of false starts with little to show. But I think releasing I'd Rather Not Be Dead is something I should make a priority. And now that I've told the world this, I have to do it, right?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Where's Andy?

The Amish have a word I can't remember the spelling of (or even close enough to Google it) that means "the condition of being unwilling to write letters." Not unable, just unwilling. As in, "How's John-Bob? I haven't heard a word from him since he moved to New Mexico." "Oh, he's fine! But he's got a horrible case of____"

Gee, I wish I could remember that word. It seems the closest word to what I've been fighting against while packing up my life, dragging myself across North America, and attempting to find a new groove to get into. I could have written. I had things to write about. I had a desire to communicate. But I didn't. Not in anything longer than G+ posts, anyhow. There were a lot of those.

At this point, it's hard to start writing for this blog again because so much has happened. A post covering it would be as long as a book and I have other books I'm supposed to be working on.

I also have a migraine sprouting since I started this because my son decided to argue with me about whether the Earth revolves around an axis, as his geography book clearly states, or around the Prime Meridian. We seriously had a ten minute argument about this.

But here's a picture of us on a happier Monday a fortnight ago that leads into yet another Person Not to Confuse With Andy: Anyone Who Doesn't Live in Baltimore! While you're at it, do not confuse me with A Non-Ravens Fan. The purple hair should be a tip-off.