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Thursday, December 30, 2010

End of the year...

So tomorrow is New Year’s Eve, a pretty busy holiday at my house.  I’ve been hosting a party since around 1997 or so, give or take a year.  They started out as booze-soaked shindigs that ended with kisses at midnight and champagne showers.  Over the years we’ve done many things: played games, standing in a circle on the eve of 2000 naming off things we remembered about the 1900’s, written down what we wanted to forget about the previous year and burned it over a fire-pit, etc, etc.  Slowly, it’s evolved from being full of alcohol to slowing down and being about getting together for food, games, and a few drinks.  Then the group started having kids, and it became a little less rollicking, and more sedate, but still fun.  This year is no exception.  By my count there will be at least nine kids there, five or so under the age of five.  It should be interesting.  I wonder if there will be anyone here besides us at midnight?

Does this mean we’ve gotten old?  *gasp*

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The joys of teething...

I stayed up late last night, engrossed in a e-galley about seducing a governess (The Sound of Music, anyone?) and didn't realize just how late it was until Caris began to cry.  Seeing that it was almost 11pm, I turned off all the lights and went to calm my screaming toddler.  When I realized that laying her back down with her precious blanket wasn't going to do the trick, I scooped her up and plunked her into bed with us.  (Please, spare me the lectures about having a toddler in bed, and how they'll never sleep in their own bed.  We have to sleep at some point, and can't while she screams for an hour.)  Usually this is a sure-fire way to get her back to sleep, and it seemed to work...at first.  Then she began to toss and turn, whimpering and breathing like she was in pain.  The first-time mom brain in my head began to imagine all sorts of things wrong inside her little body, so I sat up and watched her.  And then she sat up and watched me.  Realizing my darling daughter was not seriously ill, only teething, I had inspiration.  45 minutes and a dose of baby Oragel and Tylenol later, and we're asleep, albeit fitfully.

5:30am came very early this morning, and even the daycare lady took pity on me when I walked in with an obvious headache.  Digging around in her magical cabinet, she withdrew a packet of pills that were to fix me up. And you know what?  They did.  That an 2 diet cokes, some peanut butter cookies, and a diet mountain dew later.

Monday, December 27, 2010

End of the semester wrap up...

You all knew it was coming...the much 'anticipated' school rant.  I call it a rant because despite the semester being over December 13th, I still do not have all my grades, which were due in the 20th, and because I don't have all my assignments back from two professors.  So far, I have two A's and one A- out of six classes.

The group internship was ridiculously unorganized, despite any attempt on my part to get it situated.  I finally conceded leadership to another student, mostly because none of them responded well to my tries to get us going.  This girl, who was very nice, had an annoying habit of waiting until a day before something needs done to let us know which parts we need to do.  They were all campus students, of course, with part time jobs and ample time to do homework.  Add to this a non-profit that also dumped content on us at the last minute...imagine my frustration.  The work--meaning building an entire website--was completed, and a manual for the computer-illiterate non-profit head.  I thought at the presentation we were done and I could move on from this nightmare, but then two weeks later I got an email from the non-profit...they had never received the manual.  This center has very strange office hours, and I had been trying to get down there while they were open to drop off the paper version, knowing that our group leader was to email the electronic version so if it took a while to catch them open, it wouldn't be an issue.  Well....she never emailed the manual, and my well over ten attempts to catch their office open failed.  So, I dug out my electronic copy, and put the paper one in the mail.  Talk about a cluster-fuck.

For my Women Writer's the class that I was so excited about...well, the reading material was good, that's about it from my vantage point.  I read six books and wrote two papers on each, for a total of twelve papers. As of today, I have six papers back with grades.  I only had two papers back at the end of the semester, so I emailed the director of my program.  I got four more papers after that.  I've been told I shouldn't worry, because there's probably nothing wrong with my assignments, but according to my syllabus, I have the option to revise one paper per book, and because of her slowness in getting the papers back to me, I won't have this chance.  I was told I could appeal my grade if I wished to.  Oy.

This isn't to say that all my classes were horrible- they weren't.  My Modern Literature class was amazing, and I read some really talented authors from all over the world.  My advisor taught this class, and he rocks so I expected nothing less.  My Images of Beauty in American Women, or what I like to call Feminist Training 101, was very interesting and an eye-opener, despite having to revise a research paper (oy).  The best experience of my semester was being on the Aurora staff.  I wasn't sure what to expect, and had high hopes.  I wasn't disappointed.  We met once a week to go over submissions, and made the ultimate decision whether or not they were to be published.  We saw a wide variety of work: poetry, fiction, non-fiction, photographs, artwork, and a lone political essay.  The faculty advisor for the Aurora was my former poetry professor, so I had a good relationship with her anyway, and it carried over into the discussions.  So far it is the best experience I've had being a college student.

During the course of my semester, multiple people told me "I don't know how you do it all" and I never had a good response to that statement...until now.  I couldn't have done it all if it wasn't for my hugely huge support system in the form of family and friends, who were willing to watch Caris while I went to a *shudder* Math class, or who gladly lent an ear, or laptop screen while I whined about the amount of work I had due, or a group project that I just knew was going to lower my overall grade.  I have a saint for a husband, who gladly watched Caris while I went off into another room and read or worked on a paper, never once complaining, but probably feeling a little stifled.  My thanks go to everyone for being there for me: in person, over the phone, or through cyberspace.  You are how I did it all.

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

So Christmas is over...

...for this year at least.  We still have snow, and I'm sure at some point before it's gone there will be sledding in our front yard.  My living room is now full of toddler toys, and yet the associated toddler is absent at this very moment, being quiet in her room, which usually means she's into something she shouldn't be.

These past fews days I have had my picture taken with a Fischer-Price camera that giggles, put together a kitchen, flushed a toilet in a Little People house, fried a pizza in before-mentioned kitchen, drank imaginary coffee, did imaginary dishes, listened to blogposts from a dog named Violet, played with a bug, built the Weebles a treehouse, got the crap scared out of me by a rumbling dump truck, pulled a pink plastic wagon full of Megablocks, and have been forked by a plastic play fork.  That is by no means a complete list, of course.  At this very moment I am being made a hamburger with plastic lettuce.

But other than that, I'd say it went well, despite my last minute rush to get things done.  I always say I'm going to plan better next year, and then it never happens.  *sigh* I guess I'm destined to be exhausted every Christmas!

And....no.

So I had the good intentions of moving all my blogposts over here, and after realizing just how much of a pain in the you-know-where it would be, I opted to not move them.  So, here is the link to the previous blog:  http://attentivelyattentivetoallthings.wordpress.com/

And welcome to my new one!
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Friday, December 24, 2010

Mobile blog....

This blog will be moving as soon as I can find the time to move it!  It will be over at Blogspot, mostly because I'm not a fan of the themes here at Wordpress.  No offense, Wordpress....just not my style!

Will update soon!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Nothing in particular...

So it's 10:30pm, and I'm still trying to make sense of this day.  The morning started out rushed as usual, but I made it to work on time.  The four hours I spent at work were hectic, but productive.

I forgot Caris' bag so I had to go home first, then drive out to the parents house to drop of Caris for an afternoon of Grandma time.  When I finally made it back home, I did some menial housework that took all of fifteen minutes, then sat down to do homework.  This is where things go haywire.

I could not focus.  And this was before learning I had been made Managing Editor of The Aurora.  The problem is, I wasn't focused on anything in particular, I just couldn't focus on my assignment.  This is not a good sign, because these assignments in Modern World Literature are long, and I have to really keep on the ball to get them completed.  *sigh*  I hope this isn't a sign of issues to come.

Tomorrow is the chili cook-off downtown.  I'm still not sure if we're going.  It takes a lot of...well...effort to go somewhere with a 15 month old.  This week has exhausted me.  I think I'd rather stay home and watch it rain.

My eyes are getting heavy, so I'd better wrap this up.  Thanks for reading this fairly pointless blog post.  :)

Nothing in particular...

So it's 10:30pm, and I'm still trying to make sense of this day.  The morning started out rushed as usual, but I made it to work on time.  The four hours I spent at work were hectic, but productive.

I forgot Caris' bag so I had to go home first, then drive out to the parents house to drop of Caris for an afternoon of Grandma time.  When I finally made it back home, I did some menial housework that took all of fifteen minutes, then sat down to do homework.  This is where things go haywire.

I could not focus.  And this was before learning I had been made Managing Editor of The Aurora.  The problem is, I wasn't focused on anything in particular, I just couldn't focus on my assignment.  This is not a good sign, because these assignments in Modern World Literature are long, and I have to really keep on the ball to get them completed.  *sigh*  I hope this isn't a sign of issues to come.

Tomorrow is the chili cook-off downtown.  I'm still not sure if we're going.  It takes a lot of...well...effort to go somewhere with a 15 month old.  This week has exhausted me.  I think I'd rather stay home and watch it rain.

My eyes are getting heavy, so I'd better wrap this up.  Thanks for reading this fairly pointless blog post.  :)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What's your definition of beauty?

One of my classes this semester, Images of Beauty and American Women, focuses on what we believe beauty is, and the images of what define beauty for us. Our textbook is not really a textbook, but a feminist-inspired book called The Beauty Myth- How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women, by Naomi Wolf. Having just delved into chapter 1, it's already caught my interest and inspired this blog post.

Our first assignment was to create a collage of images that represent what we think beauty looks like. Mine was full of images of friends, my family, and nature. For me, beauty is not only a feature of a human face, but a personality trait as well. I also find beauty in the simple aspects of nature: a raindrop on a rose petal, a grassy meadow of wildflowers, or a serene lake just before sunrise. The laughter of a child, or a voice raised in song are all beautiful to me. My belief probably does not conform to what society defines as beauty, but so be it. Or maybe it does?

The other part of my assignment was to find examples of what American society defines as beauty. Here I was brutal: skinny, sick looking fashion models, faces that have been Botox'd, and heavily made up faces that look more like they should be in a porn movie than entertaining the younger generation. The over sexed mentality of what some Americans (mostly media) define as beauty is getting old. I am by no means a prude, but I also don't want to see a fourteen year old trying to show cleavage that she doesn't have yet. And why is that considered beautiful? Who is pushing this fourteen year old GIRL to dress in such a way? An adult? Do you think we, as a society, are becoming over sexed, and that our children are being introduced to such images at a younger and younger age?

As far as women go, does being feminine still keep us from being taken seriously in the workplace? If we dress and act as a woman, are we written off as air heads with no sense of business? Must I dress and act more "mannish" in order to be taken seriously? Have we gotten past this stereotype yet? Is there still resistance to women breaking that glass ceiling? I am not in the business sector, but I am interested to hear from those of you who are. I know many of you are successful in your chosen profession, but did you run into barriers along the way? Has the work of the women before us paved our way and made it easy?

So, what defines beauty for you? Have we made progress since the feminist movement, or have we only changed the way the game is played?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Because bitches will be bitches...

This post intentionally left blank for the purpose of remaining an adult in a childish situation. Gotta love mean girls!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Why...

...won't people let me help them? I just don't understand. As a patient account rep, I try my best to be pro-active when it comes to a patients outstanding balance. I talk to them early in the process, and work out something that will keep their balance from going to an outside collection agency, and ultimately on their credit report. It's for their benefit, not me. When a patient tells me they don't care, then why should I?

This also goes for asking the patient to take an active role in their care and management of their balance. I cannot do everything for a patient when it comes to their finances. Patients have to participate in the process and do some of the dirty work. Nothing frustrates me more than a patient telling me I am prolonging their agony because they do not want to make a ten minute phone call to their insurance company to give them the information they've requested. I can only do so much.

*sigh*

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Chemicals a no-go....

Lately I've been a bit anti-chemical, and I'm not sure what triggered this feeling.  It may have been the No-Poo blog post, or my trips to the Downtown Farmer's Market.  All I know is I've been cringing at every shampoo and baby wash label I read.  What ARE we putting on our skin, the largest organ we humans have?!
 
In regards to baby wash, it's much, much worse.  I look at what I currently have in the cabinet for Caris, and I want to throw it all away.  The only exception is the bar of Hugo Naturals Baby soap that I received as a gift from my wonderful long distance friend, Diane.  Even products claiming to be natural, with the exception of the Hugo bar, contain chemical after chemical!  I had switched Caris over to Aveeno, but I've discovered all that did was add oatmeal to her bath products.  UGH!  Not that oatmeal is bad, of course, but that seemed to be the only thing that made it more natural.  I did a little research and after a Facebook discussion about baking soda and vinegar techniques, and checking the cosmetics database for hazardous chemcials, that gift of a little bar of soap and a froggie to apply it with has now started something. 
 
Then I think about my own hair and skin.  At 30, my flawless skin decided to rebel and break out dramtically.  At 35, it's still a problem.  I'll find a cleanser that takes care of the problem, but the minute I buy the second tube, the problem comes back.  *sigh*  I've spent tons of money on cleansers that claim to do this and that, and all leave me with the same problem.  So now I'm wondering if it's the chemicals in what I'm using that are the true culprits.  So, I've been searching for new stuff for me as well.  I love LUSH, and I really want to try their shampoo bars very soon.  Sadly, the closest LUSH is in Chicago, and while I really don't need an excuse to head up to the Windy City, going for shampoo probably isn't reason enough.   So, I will choose with the help of a few friends (thanks Jenn and Manda!) and place an online order while crossing my fingers.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

One lump, or two?

The other day I saw a post on my Facebook page that caught my eye about bringing back afternoon tea time, with a link to a story in Country Living Magazine.  I was curious so I checked it out, and basically the magazine is pushing to bring back afternoon tea at 4pm.  They even went so far as to suggest inviting friends and family over for a light repast of sandwiches, scones, cake, and tea.  A nice idea, and as one who loves most all things British, it is most definitely my cup of tea.  Perhaps everyday at 4pm I'll make a cup and take a break, since I'm usually at work at this time.  Hrm...must fine proper teacup for office.
 
So this thought led to my next one...what other things are we missing out on?  Afternoon tea was created by a duchess who could not wait until the evening meal to have something to eat.  Back in the 1800's, the aristocracy kept late hours, meaning dinner was usually no earlier than 8pm.  So 4pm would be a good time to have a "snack" or "tea' in order not to starve before dinner.  This has gone by the wayside in this country, as power lunches and dinners have become the norm.  Add to that families rarely sitting down to the table together for dinner, and you have many traditions being cast aside for the quick, efficient meals that allow one to get back to what they're doing that is so important. So while we're all rushing to go here and there, what are we missing out on?  Where does family come into play?  Our society has been on fast forward for ages, stressed out and pushed to the limits.  When you look at other societies and cultures, you see theirs is not so fast paced, and things like spending time with family are important.  We say it's important here, but is it?  What kind of quality time are you getting by running your son or daughter to two and three activities in one evening?  Perhaps because we're not to that point yet is the reason I don't understand.    
 
I'm all for the re-introduction of afternoon tea!  Let's all take a break about 4pm for a cup and relax for a few minutes. Catch up with a friend, or simply pick up a book to read a chapter or two.  Maybe we can get back some of the tradition we cast aside years ago.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Moving on...

Today we talk about the writing process and book publishing, two of my favorite topics!

Yesterday I was having an email conversation with a friend who has decided to shop her manuscript around for publication. Another friend has also done the same thing, and both are discouraged. This discussion began with a comment about a debut book from a well-known and loved author that was complete crap, yet it was published. This of course begs the question, "why can't I be published if that crap made it?". A very good question, but before we talk about publishing, let's talk about writing.

As I've made my way through an English degree with an advisor with so much literary experience it shames me to be his student, I've learned to be a more critical thinker when it comes to writing and the art of storytelling. A book could have an amazing story, but if the writing is horrible, it means nothing. It could have an amazing airtight plot and completely flop because the author couldn't form a complete sentence. The writing process is different for everyone, but when an author doesn't take the time to think before they type, then there are problems. I will admit my mind runs faster than my fingers on this keyboard, and I tend to leave words out here and there. Before I ever hit publish, I go back and reread, it's as simple as that. Why then, do some books make it to the printer that seem to have never met a red pen? It boggles the mind.

When a new story idea finds me, I tend to bullet the main plot points. This sad, pathetic style could never be called an outline! But it gets me from point A to point B and lets me fill in the blanks in between. What matters is that it works for me. I go through this creative process so I know what to write. I will admit I don't always do this, and whatever I'm writing usually suffers for it until I go back and rework. You'd think I'd learn! :) Everyone has a process, even if they claim they don't.

So back to book publishing-- In my brief stint working for an online publisher, I was completely and utterly shocked at the manuscripts accepted for publication. They were riddled with errors of all kinds, and practically had to be rewritten. I couldn't tell you if there was a good story, because it was lost in the sea of spell check. Among the many reasons I left, time being the main one, was that I refused to rewrite an entire manuscript, which is what would have been needed. I love the editing process, because I want the story to be the best it can be. Right now my editing is done in fan fiction, but it's much the same. A story is a story, and if I'm editing I want it to be the best written piece out there. So I have to ask how crap gets published! Can someone explain this to me? Is it the story, and they overlook the writing because the majority of readers can look past the bad grammar? Is it the name? Why can't my friends, who both are amazing writers, find someone who likes their work enough to publish it?

Anyone?

PS: When I say "book publishing", I mean a book that has been submitted to a publisher, not self published. :) Nothing against self publishing!!

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Childishness of others....

I seem to be in a ranting phase, so please forgive me. I'll try to post something of substance this week....

On another message board, (see the bigger fish a few entries earlier) I was included in with 3 other people on a birthday thread. People can post birthday wishes, etc. One person, an admin for that board, and someone who I thought was a rational, mature adult, decided to go onto this thread and wish everyone a happy birthday, but me. Seriously.

Now, I do have history with this woman, but it's been months and honestly, I'm over all that drama. But now in light of this, it kind of brings it back home for me. Anyone who reads this thread now knows this woman purposely left me out of her birthday wishes for some snarky reason. Was it really worth it? Anyone who looks at this thread knows this woman left me out, and I'm sure they wonder why. Did she think this would make her look good in the eyes of the members? If I was a member who knew nothing about the history, I would think it in poor taste. It's a birthday thread, for crying out loud! You may not like someone, but be a freaking adult!

You may wonder why I care, and honestly, I can't explain why I'm even writing this, except to work it out in my head. I can't seem to wrap my head around why this person would take the time to do this. However, I am resolved to think on this no more, as soon as I hit publish. I just needed to get my thoughts out in order to move past such childishness.

Now onto better things....

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

So here I am....

Yesterday, I turned 35.  Now, I'm not one of those women who get depressed over my age.  Why bother?  I can't stop time, really have no wish to.  As I sit here and ponder 35, I think about what all I've done or accomplished.  I decided to make a list, starting with my marriage, and then another list of what is left to do.  It's not impressive, but it's me.   It also starts off very materialistic, which I am not, but I decided to leave them in any way.  This was prompted mostly by a memory of a pink elephant in the corner.

  • Married Dave, and have stayed married to him for almost 12 years now.

  • Own my own home.

  • Attend a nationally known liberal arts college, proudly.

  • Wear ring from before mentioned college.

  • Have suffered 4 miscarriages, and went through 3 doctors before the last one got it right.

  • Have the most beautiful little girl in the world (yeah, I'm biased.  Get over it.)

  • Have full-time, decent paying job to pay for before mentioned house.

  • Have a good family, meaning we don't fight over stupid things.  Sure, we disagree, and some of them might drive me crazy, but I still claim them and always will.


What's left:

  • Graduate in a year and a half with English degree.

  • Find a job with degree.

  • Hopefully have another baby.

  • Travel to the East Coast.

  • Travel to England.

  • How about just travel in general?


I have many friends from all over the world, some I've met, and some I've not.  I have a close-knit group of friends that totally get me and do not judge me.  Many of them I met via fan fiction or message boards, and have met numerous times.  We sometimes wonder what it would be like if we lived closer.  I can only say that for one friend that lives here in my town.  What does that say?

I think I have accomplished a good deal, however it wasn't how I envisioned.  I really should have about 4 degrees by now, but I digress.  Soon, very soon, I will leave the decent paying safe job and go for something that fits with my major and gets me another step in the right direction.  Who knows, maybe I'll be published one day.

I know some people that can't claim some of the basic items above, and yet, they accuse me of coveting their life.  They could not be any more wrong.  Why would I want to be unemployed, live in a house that is falling apart that I don't even own, drive a car that could die any day, and can't take constructive criticism about my writing?  No, thank you.  I'm happy as I am.  Are they happy?  Probably, and good for them.  But please don't accuse me of wanting all you have when I already have all I need.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

As so it has begun...

So this weekend began the summer-long process of home canning and storing summer fruits and vegetables. I always get a little nostalgic this time of year, thinking back to my grandmother and her love of grape jelly. She made jelly the old fashioned way, with a ½ inch this piece of paraffin poured over the sticky sweet purple goodness. Grandma didn’t crush whole grapes or anything so messy, she simply went to the store and bought a bottle of grape juice, and then got to work. An hour later, voila! Grape jelly! When I would ask her why she didn’t just buy grape jelly, she told me her mother always made jelly, so she never thought to purchase the commercially prepared kind, unless she had to, or didn't feel up to making her own. She, like many of her generation, simply grew what they needed. Grandma didn’t have grape vines, so she made due with grape juice from the store.

Way back when…well, probably not so way back, folks froze vegetables and canned fruits out of necessity, not as a hobby. Tomatoes were squeezed for juice to make soups and stews for cold winter evenings by the fire, corn was cut off the cobs and frozen and green beans were snapped and put into quart size jars for canning. Potatoes, onions and any other “root” vegetable were dug and stored in…you guessed it—the root cellar. Supermarkets were nonexistent and when you went into town, you bought dry goods, such as flour and sugar. Everything else was home grown and preserved. Nowadays, the majority of people buy what they need, rather than grow it themselves. There's a major movement right now about home gardens, but that's for another blog post.

I’m not so into vegetable home canning and freezing, that’s the husband’s passion, and I’ll help when needed. What I’m into is the fruit preserving. I’ve recently discovered freezer jam —a freakishly easy way to have jam all year round. It’s going to become an obsession, mark my words! Freezer jam is not a new idea, but I’d never tried it before last night. One little pouch of freezer jam, a cup and a half of sugar (oh yes…that much sugar!) and four cups of crushed fruit, and you can have at least 5 and a half pints of sticky, sugary, fruity goodness! It’s really too simple and I can see myself making a batch every night from any fruit in season from now and until the first frost. Strawberry and wild blackberry were done last night, and this morning they are ready for consumption. Too. Easy.

This evening, I try my hand at marmalade. Now, before you say “eww!” think back to whether or not you’ve had anything other than orange marmalade. No? Me neither. Tonight I’m making strawberry-lemon marmalade, and possibly sweet cherry marmalade. Sounds better, right? The possibilities are endless and you are only limited to what fruit you like. Berries of all types are in season right now, including the amazing black raspberry. *sigh* This is perhaps my favorite berry, right up there with the strawberry. I can eat handful after handful without anything to sweeten this delicious fruit. I plan to make oodles of goodies with black raspberries.

Later on this year, or maybe even as early as this week, it will be time to make butters: the ever popular apple butter, sweet pumpkin butter, and my family’s favorite and most requested—spiced peach butter. The time involved is long, but the end result is most definitely worth the trouble. And trust me; you can put these butters on anything…really.

So, think about trying to preserve! It’s not hard and you don’t need much equipment to start off. Ball, the major manufacturer of canning products, even has a Discovery kit, created with the newbie home canner in mind. This kit, which I saw for around $10.00, gives you the experience of canning with little money invested. You can then make the decision to go further if you wish. Or, if you just want to make freezer jams, all you need are jars and packets of the mix. There is no water bath, or pressure canning needed. They even make plastic freezer jars, specifically for this purpose. I guess what I’m getting at is, before you scoff and decide to simply purchase the accompaniment to your toast from the supermarket, why not make some of your own? You might find, as I have, you have a new hobby that everyone around you will appreciate!

Monday, June 28, 2010

It’s still out there…

So while I've not blogged in a while, that doesn't mean my head has been underground, no matter how much I wish it could be. ;)

This morning I received a message from my boss, which had been forwarded from her boss, asking employees to sign a petition about Medicare reform. This petition, found at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/meltdown/ asks people to sign their name to try to convince Congress to overhaul the Medicare reimbursement system. I have mixed feelings about this.

For starters, it is true that physicians have faced deep cuts in Medicare payments over the last few years. No argument there. We write off tons of money every day. However, most of the doctors I work for drive VERY expensive cars, and have several of them. They have huge houses in gated communities, send their kids to private schools, use the most expensive day care facilities, or have nannies for their children. They take vacations to exotic locations, and all in all live the good life. Anyone see anything wrong here? See, the problem is I know how much we pay for things in relation to how much we charge for things. There is a mark up, trust me. I realize they need to make money, but do they need to make quite that much? Shouldn't they be doctors to care for patients, not to make their fortune? Now granted, not all the doctors I work for have luxury cars and take exotic vacations, but the majority do. I agree there is something wrong with the Medicare system, but perhaps there's also something wrong with the physicians wanting to make as much money as possible. Just where does patient care fit into the millions they make? I hear the argument all the time that overhead is huge and therefore the Medicare cuts endanger our jobs. Okay, now I won't argue this, because I enjoy being employed, but perhaps overhead should be looked at a bit more closely?

I'm not comfortable signing a petition that's brought to my attention through my boss. However, I'm not comfortable NOT signing it either. There's something at work here that is bigger than me- a fearsome beast that is hungry. Healthcare will never truly be reformed if it is done by the Federal government. There are too many lobbyists at work for it to ever be patient friendly. Congress and the President may say that is their goal, but until lobbyists, insurance companies and big business are taken out of the equation, there will never be true reform. And since those three entities will never truly be gone because of their willingness to line the pockets of congress, reform will die a long, slow painful death. I truly hope I am wrong, but I have a bad feeling I'm right.

Friday, May 14, 2010

A grammatical rant...

Earlier this morning, I received a forwarded email from my father-in-law about a campaign to rid our lives of aspartame. My father-in-law strongly believes in the health hazzards of this sweetener, and me not being a scientist, have no basis to argue this fact. I wish them well on their mission of banning this item from our lives, if in fact it is hazardous. But this not the reason for this blog post.

The email mentioned above was written by someone with a doctor salutation. I've no knowledge of what this person is a doctor of, nor how this person is employed. The email was a long plea to the FDA asking them to ban Aspartame, citing many studies, calling for the resignation of an corrupt individual who was a lobbyist and on FDA payroll, etc. Sadly, I can't relate to you the gist of their argument because of the multiple grammatical and punctuation errors throughout the entire letter. I found myself too distracted to even pay attention to what they were trying to convey.

I know many people whose first language is not English, and yet, they have a better grasp of writing in our language than many native speakers. Why is this? Why do we not take the time to proofread before we send to a million people? Why do those in the professional sector not take the time to edit? If one wants to get a point across, or inspire activism, then one might want to avoid distracting the reader with numerous errors. *sigh*

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Paranoia is bad, m'kay!

I have a rant. I don't do this often, but I find this morning I'm not able to ignore my thoughts on this any longer.

I am one of four administrators of a new fan fiction, general interest board. We're quirky, have lots of crazy posts, and a smattering of good stories to read. We have a place for those who like to create fan graphics to show off their work, and a place for fanvidders to post links to their videos. I love our cozy board, and plan to remain there until I'm the last member left standing. I hope that is a long time from now.

The bigger fish in the JA fandom, a huge board of 5,000 members and multiple pages of fiction is where many of us came from, for personal reasons of our own. I won't go into those reasons here. I'm hearing that we are looked upon as the competition. What a joke! I mean seriously, we have 300 members! We have some things this bigger fish does not, and will not allow. Are you kidding me? The level of paranoia is absurd. If we wanted to seriously compete, which we don't, our little pub would look much different and cater to JAFF only, not the multiple fandoms we have posted, and the multiple creative outlets we have forums for. I realize I shouldn't be surprised at this, and I'm not, but come on! There are 4 JAFF boards running right now, one for those of all ages, that has been around since the dawn of time it seems, and others that require their members to be 18+. One is a spin off from the original creators of the biggest fish, another has both under 18 and over 18 fic, and then you have the biggest fish. From experience behind the scenes of the biggest fish, they see every board as competition, which is just plain silly. Many stories are posted on ALL BOARDS! Hello? Is thing on?

The bigger fish has lost some authors lately, due to a restriction placed on authors to sign an agreement indicating they have read and will follow their posting guidelines. Some people simply did not wish to sign such a thing, and left. It's the board's prerogative to require this, and it's the author's choice whether or not they wish to agree to sign. Some will do as I did; sign the agreement, but then pull off the stories that will in time not adhere to the rules of the site. It's no offense to the site, just that my creative process is going in a different direction.

After this latest bout of paranoia, I decided to pull my other work in progress from the biggest fish. I've been considering it for some time now, thinking about the readers I'll lose. It can't be helped because I have no wish to post any of my creative efforts on that board any longer. The people who run the bigger fish are the not the people I once believed them to be. Or rather, perhaps they were always like this, and I just didn't know them well enough. Regardless, I have the choice where to post my stuff, and I have chosen. I don't write for the readers (although I do think of them as I longingly look at my computer, wanting to write, but am unable because of other commitments) but I do respect them and their choices. If they decide to stop reading my story because it's on a different board, then that is their decision and I respect that.

I regards to the bigger fish in the fandom, a piece of advice. Calm down. No one is trying to take away your status. We are different boards with different members and different directions. Sure, there are some similarities, but they are few. Get over yourself, you're doing nothing to further the fandom by being so annoyingly paranoid.

End rant. Next up....planting time!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

So it's that time of year again...

Time for gardening! Years ago, before a very dark time in our lives, we had a greenhouse. I loved this little building! We took empty flats, filled them with soil, and broadcast seeds into them. A few weeks later we would have tons of little seedlings just waiting to be transplanted into bigger pots. I had a hard time not transplanting all of them, no matter how strong they looked. Chalk it up to me not wanting to leave any seedling behind! What happened was we had LOTS of plants, way too many for us to plant on our own. In time, the little greenhouse suffered some structural setbacks, and had to be taken down. Then, many things happened and the motivation to garden just wasn't there like it was. It was very sad.

But now! Now we are psyched! Another greenhouse is in the works, a more permanent one that will be built with tax refund money...if it ever gets here! There will be landscaping around said building, water access and electrical, complete with windows with screens and a potting bench somewhere. I can't wait! I would spend hours in the old greenhouse, taking cuttings of clematis and roses and dipping their fragile stems into root hormone powder, then planting them in rich soil, hoping for another whole plant. Many times they survived and we had multiples of a much loved plant. It was great! I don't have the time now to sit for hours and start plants, but I hope to be able to do a few. We have big plans this year, very big, and I hope we will be able to keep up with what the earth gives us.

I have a plan for an herb garden, which is to be expected. I want a culinary bed near my kitchen door, and I plan to landscape with many herbs this year. Add to this joining the local herb society, which my aunt is the president of, and I think it's safe to say the gardening mojo has returned in full force. I've always loved herbs and researching their properties. I can't wait to plug some plants into the ground and get the season going!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

And so it has passed...

Many acquaintances and coworkers have asked my opinion of the Healthcare Reform Bill, mostly because of my position as a Patient Account Representative at our local clinic.  To be honest, while I followed the coverage to see if it would pass, I hadn't paid much attention to the details of the bill.  I'm under no delusions that the United States Government has my best interests at heart, but that being said, I'm not a Republican.  I agree the Healthcare system is badly broken and needs to be fixed, and it will take the government to straighten it out and make it fair for everyone.  Insurance companies do not look out for their insured’s best interest and health, regardless of what they tell you.  I see too many instances of surgery being denied and the patient limping away, only to injure themselves because of their instability and go through more surgery later that was emergent. They deny care everyday to thousands of individuals, citing their medical policies and review by a physician that is paid by said insurance company.  I’m sure if said physician wishes to be paid, he will not approve everything that comes across his desk.  Insurance companies have been allowed to run amuck for too many years now.  Despite this, I grew tired of hearing both sides bicker back and forth and getting nowhere, but sadly this seems to be the norm in Washington.  I tuned it out and went on with my life, trying to help those I could with charitable foundations.  A list of those will be at the end of this post.

Well, now it's been passed, and I'm left wondering...how is going to affect me the patients that come through my door?  This is important to me, because day after day patients come to me because they have no resources to pay their bills.  They have been denied state Medicaid, they can't afford the HIP program, they are not working, and so they have no employer coverage, they've applied for disability and it's in appeal...the list goes on and on.  I won't go into a rant about those individuals who are on state Medicaid and come in with fake nails, the most expensive cell phones, and drive a Cadillac.  That's for another post.

So, what's in this mysterious reform bill?  I refuse to trust biased media outlets to get my information, despite their claims of being "fair and balanced".  So, I went straight to the PDF file of the bill, and realized that I've never liked, nor been able to coherently decipher the language they use.  But, let's see what I can come up with.  It’s 1,018 pages, to be exact, so this won’t all be in one post.  And don’t plan on me reading every single page!

RESTRICTIONS ON PREMIUM INCREASES.—

The issuer cannot vary the percentage increase in the premium for a risk group of enrollees in specific grandfathered health insurance coverage without changing the premium for all enrollees in the same risk group at the same rate, as specified by the Commissioner.

 Hrm…well, good and bad.  One person won’t have higher premiums than the other, but the entire group’s rates could go up because of one person being chronically ill and requiring constant treatment.  I think this happens quite a bit with group health insurance plans.  I think the Insurance industry’s response will to just raise all rates across the board. 

SEC. 111. PROHIBITING PRE-EXISTING CONDITION EXCLUSIONS.

A qualified health benefits plan may not impose any pre-existing condition exclusion (as defined in section 2701(b)(1)(A) of the Public Health Service Act) or otherwise impose any limit or condition on the coverage under

the plan with respect to an individual or dependent based on any health status-related factors (as defined in section 2791(d)(9) of the Public Health Service Act) in relation to the individual or dependent.

I’ve heard conflicting accounts of this very important bit of this bill.  It’s for children only, and adults will be added in about four years or so. Not sure about that because I’ve not read further.  But, this is a very good thing!  I have patients who cannot get coverage for RA biologic infusions because it was considered pre-existing.  It should be across the board for everyone, no matter what their age. 

That’s all I’ve time to decipher at the moment.  I did save the bill in its entirely on my flash drive, so I’ll be reading it from time to time and posting about it here.

Now for a list of those charitable organizations.  These links are for help with the cost of medications only.  Some have fees that roll on a monthly basis, so if you need this help, make sure you are applying at the beginning of the month.  Many only cover certain conditions as well, so check out their disease pages before applying.

Healthwell Foundation

PAN

PAF

NeedyMeds

Remember to always check with the company that produces your drug for their assistance programs.  Many are based on income, and you may qualify for free medication.  If you’re on Medicare, Medicaid, or any other federally funded program, you will need to contact the Healthwell Foundation or PAN for assistance.  Government regulations prohibit drug companies from providing assistance to federally insured people.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Retrospection on the eve of Accomplishment...

Yesterday evening I attended rehearsal for the 2010 SMWC Ring Day Ceremony. This event will take place tomorrow- *gasp*! Distance students, graduate students and the campus Junior class all mingled in preparation for this ceremony. I can happily say the campus students were very welcoming to those who only show up a few times a year. We walked up and down the aisles of The Church of the Immaculate Conception about twenty or so times, making sure our processional and recessional was perfect. I swear the music was from The Sound of Music, and expected at any moment to hear "How do you solve a problem like Maria?". We sang the Ring Song, once very badly, and another time quite well, with the help of the SMWC Madrigals. During this I learned that we have all much in common despite being from a multitude of different age ranges and goals in life, and my shoes are very uncomfortable when standing for long periods of time. Oy.

In an earlier post I talked about how long it's taken me to get to this point, and now it's the eve of the ceremony, and I have many emotions running through me. Happiness, because it's a symbol of accomplishment, something that I have so little of in my life, with the exception of husband, baby, etc. Nervousness. Why? Many reasons. I had thought to volunteer to take part in the ceremony, as there were speaking parts available, but when the email came asking to confirm volunteers, I decided not to, and I am glad. I am nervous enough about walking on what I realized last night is a very slick floor. Imagine my nerves if I had a speaking role?! Mrs. Bennet would have nothing on me! Plus, this way I can sit back and enjoy the ceremony, and not worry about whether or not I'll get tongue tied at the lectern. So nervous, yes, but just because there is the opportunity to fall flat on my face in a spectacular fashion in front of almost 500 people.

I'm also nervous because deep down I wonder if I truly deserve this. I was the college student that sat in the commons during class, talking with friends and eating Subway for breakfast. My friends claimed to be a bad influence, but really it was my own fault for not having the motivation to attend class. I wasn't mature enough to attend college, because I lacked the discipline to go to class and do the work. High school was easy for me, and I passed with little effort. College was another matter entirely. Add to this I had no idea what I wanted to do, and very quickly I was working full time and not attending college at all. Do I regret this? Yes and no. Yes, because at 34, I long to be in a career of my choosing, and not a job that just pays the bills. Bill paying is important, of course! But being happy in one's job is also important. I have to wonder what kind of career I'd be in now if I hadn't of sat in the commons stuffing my face.

And the no? If I hadn't of done all of that, I may not be where I am today; on the cusp of achieving a wonderful accomplishment for me personally. It's a double-edged sword I suppose.

So I will take a page out of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, "Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure." Chapter 58.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Taking the leap...

So I am about to take the leap into website writing, or what you may recognize as content writing. In a recent interview with the career center at my university, where I conveyed my panic to the director of the career center because I don't have any practical experience to back up my love for reading, writing, etc., I was given many ideas to further my knowledge outside the "classroom" and gain some experience. Talking with other writers within the college, speaking with publicity and see if they needed a creative writer for any of their projects, chatting with the head grant writer, speaking with alumni who work in the publishing industry... The list is long and the people on it are strangers to me. Ergo, my first dip into the frigid waters of cold calling, or cold emailing, in this case. Brr!

One of those ideas that has bore the most fruit was to assist in the rewriting of several pages on SMWC's website, mostly the majors and minors. Okay...I can do that, I think. The leap I am about to take will throw me into the world of META keywords and a little SEO writing. Oh yes...panic set in as I frantically Googled META keywords. Having heard of them, but not knowing what exactly they were was a cause for concern for me. How could I help rewrite a website if I had no idea what on earth they were talking about?! Then self-doubt crept in ever so slowly, winding its way through my brain. I had no idea what any of this was, and despite my warnings to the webmaster that I was virtually clueless when it came to website design, I knew for sure that this would end in disaster. I've not even started yet and I get nervous when I see the webmaster has emailed me. I'm hopeless it seems. I plan spending the weekend submerged in the world of SEO and META keywords and maybe I can get a grip.

And to further my portfolio, I hope, after many years of procrastinating, I finally submitted a short story to the Aurora, SMWC's literary magazine. I've not heard anything yet (not even confirmation that my submission was received, grumble, grumble...) but I hope my little bit of happy fluff might catch someone's eye and end up in the publication. I've also been trying to work with the newspaper, The Woods, into maybe doing some work for them, but the faculty advisor hasn't gotten back with me yet. It's a busy time of year, so who knows what will happen with that. I have some ideas, but no confidence they would fit in with a student newspaper. I'm not on campus, so I have no idea what the important topics for students much younger than me are.

I feel very old when I read that sentence.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The world of Jane Austen fan fiction, from one who has been living there...

As many of you know, I am a HUGE Jane Austen fan, and an avid reader of Jane Austen fan fiction (JAFF) and sometimes writer of them as well. This little addition helped fuel my passion for writing and I only have Amber and her beloved Hyacinth Gardens to "thank" for that. Since my introduction to this genre, I have spent many happy years reading about Darcy and Elizabeth, in many, many different forms- duchess, cowboy, journalist, cellist, etc. The creativity of those who write JAFF astounds me, and I commend the entire JAFF community for such artistic works. One never knows what to expect, or what kind of twist you'll see next. This humble writer could never aspire to such talent as seen on many JAFF sites.

What is it about these characters that inspires us so? The majority of JAFF are stories based on Pride and Prejudice, Austen's most popular novel. Darcy and Elizabeth have a tight hold over readers and writers, and those who dare to stray from cannon Darcy should expect many cries of outrage and questions into their reasoning. Fitzwilliam Darcy, gentleman, is allowed, but any other Darcy in any shape or form is critically analyzed and the writers integrity sometimes called into question. Why? What is it about this fictional character that drives grown women to argue over how a fan fiction author has portrayed him in a fictional story? To quote myself, it's not as if Darcy is going to walk out of a pond in a post-modern moment, ala Lost in Austen. The JAFF is a world where Darcy is always the hero, and Elizabeth always the witty, intelligent heroine. But what happens when a writer decides to push boundaries and make Darcy into something darker, and sometimes more fitting with how gentlemen actually were in Regency times? The author gets page after page of horrified comments mixed in with those eternal optimists who declare they will wait it out for the perfect Darcy and Elizabeth ending. Darcy can be redeemed and then they can have their storybook happily ever after ending. Why? What is it that makes us require a Darcy and Elizabeth only happy ending? Being one of the two most beloved characters in literature, it's hard to imagine Darcy and Elizabeth with any other person, and many refuse to contemplate such an ending. I am heartily amused by those readers, and love them dearly, for there are none more loyal than a Pride and Prejudice purist. I myself am not one, but I respect those who cannot handle anything other than a "D&E ending."

What about Austen's other books, you ask? Well, there is a smattering of fan fiction based on Emma, Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion and Mansfield Park, and perhaps one or two based on Northanger Abbey, Austen's satire on gothic novels and my personal favorite among her works. These are few and far between, and all are delightful looks into the what-if world of these novels. All have love stories, of course, and their share of witty ladies, elegant gentlemen and charming villains. And of course, each book has been made into at least one TV series, some multiple times, and Pride and Prejudice can claim its own motion picture. These productions and their actors have inspired many a story. Anyone ever hear of some bloke named Colin Firth?

The world of JAFF is a fun one, and can provide many years of enjoyment, especially now that many of these stories are being picked up by publishing houses. JAFF in print is becoming very popular and you can find many books to purchase at various sites, and many directly from the JAFF forums. Almost two years ago, I was given the opportunity to become a moderator on my favorite JAFF site, and I took the chance happily. In those almost two years, I worked with sensational women who are not only talented writers themselves, but readers of the fandom. So of course, we got along famously! I made friendships to last a lifetime. I'm sad to say I am no longer a moderator on that favorite board, but I can look back on my past with pleasure, and feel proud of what I accomplished for the JAFF community. There are many, many sites devoted to JAFF, too many to list here, and ones coming online all the time, but a quick Google search of JAFF will bring up enough to get you started. Then you can access the amazing Jane Austen Fan Fiction Index (JAFF Index), run by the lovely Victoria. (each site has its own password) This index is a treasure trove of links to stories categorized by their themes. If you want an angsty, dark Darcy, or a fun-loving romp, you can choose your category and browse at your leisure.

So, go forth and read! Or, if you are brave, go forth and write! There's room for everyone!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A long time coming....

In a little over a week, I will become one of the many who wear a St. Mary-of-the-Woods College class ring. It's a well-recognized piece of jewelry, and symbolizes my academic achievement. Of course, I've not completely achieved what I want academically, but I guess it will show that I am on my way. I've determined I won't graduate until 2012, and while that may seem a long way off, when I look at the amount of classes I have left to complete in between now and then, I start to panic...only slightly. It will pass...

This is something I've worked very long and hard for. I can't remember when I decided I wanted to go to SMWC, as I had spent time at two other local colleges trying to obtain an education. Community college- Ivy Tech- worked well, but it didn't give me what I wanted, and I could only get an Associates degree. Nothing against Associates degrees or anyone that gets them, but I wanted more, and I couldn't explain why- it was just what I wanted. I wanted a Bachelor's degree, and would have it. Ivy Tech had an agreement with SMWC for transfer students, and I jumped at the chance. I suppose I could have stayed at Ivy Tech long enough to earn the Associates and then move on to SMWC, but I had no desire to. I wanted to be back at SMWC and in the WED program, again, for good. Yes, again...I was there once before in a misguided attempt to become a paralegal. I have no idea what I was thinking, but I'm glad I came out of my misguidedness. I would have made a horrible paralegal, despite how good of a legal assistant I was. Coincidentally the paralegal program at SMWC is one of the best in the country...go figure.

It's finally becoming real, and I have no idea what to do about it. There's a reception with the President of SMWC on Thursday before the ceremony, where he will meet and greet WED and graduate students that he does not get to see on a daily basis. This is the first male president for the all women's college, and already I have seen some of his goals come to life. It will be an honor, albeit a nervous one, to meet him. I'm looking forward to meeting other WED and graduate students as well.

Anyway...here I am, 11 days from the Ring Day Ceremony, dress purchased, and shoes...well...I'll find some eventually. Here is what Caris is wearing to the big day. Now if I can just find something to wear to the reception...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Health insurance woes....

You open your mail to find a letter from your health insurance company. Their correspondence always confuses you, so you set it aside and move on to another task. The letter sits there for days, unread. Then, you receive a call from your doctor's office, telling you your insurance company is requesting information from you before they will pay for your services. What?! They've not asked for information from me! And then you remember the letter you opened and set aside...

In my ten plus years as a patient account representative and insurance clerk for a multi-specialty physician medical clinic, I see this scenario over and over. Today I had this very same incident happen to one of my patients. Many do not understand the confusing world of health insurance, and to some, ignorance is bliss. However, such ignorance can lead to many problems in the future at your doctor's office, where all of a sudden, a $1,000.00 bill for services is owed by YOU.

Here's what can happen: You have nagging wrist pain that has been bothering you on and off over the past six months. Finally, after many twinges and annoyed looks from your significant other, you finally decide to see your doctor. He examines your hand, orders x-rays, additional testing, etc, in order to make a diagnosis. You leave his office that day with a million other things on your mind than whether or not your health insurance will pick up those charges.

Then, a week or so later, you receive that fateful letter in the mail that you cast aside. Then, the call from your doctor's office saying your claim has been denied because of additional information requested from the insured. When you get home to read said letter, titled "Accident/Injury Questionnaire", you learn they are wanting to know how you injured your wrist. They have enclosed a long form that you need to complete, asking everything from where it hurts to who has treated you for it in the past. Confusing? Yes indeed! Why? Because if someone else is liable, your health insurance company may not pay. However, it's very important to complete that form and mail it back to your insurance. Most medical offices then send you the bill, because there is nothing they can do to make you turn in this information.

So, you send in the form, and voila! Bill paid! Now, remember this important lesson, and don't cast aside health insurance letters again! But remember, there are other reasons you may receive a letter from them, wanting information. Other health insurance information, for example, your spouse has coverage and so do you. This is called Coordination of Benefits information or COB. In the case of families with two insurance carriers, many health insurance companies need the information so they know who is primary, and who is secondary, so they do not pay out of turn. There's also the birthday rule that can take effect, meaning whoever has the first birthday of the year will be the primary carrier for the child. Confusing? Oh yes, but important. Many times a quick phone call to your health insurances will straighten that mess out. Also, you may receive a letter asking if your twenty-one year old child is enrolled full-time in college. Many health insurance companies will not insure children after a certain age if they are no longer enrolled in school.

Many times I see people frustrated to the point of anger because of their health insurance not paying their claims. But, with some simple steps, starting with a call to them if necessary, most problems can be worked out fairly easily. Just remember, knowledge is power in the case of health insurance. The more you know how it works, the better, and less confused you will be. Check out your health insurance carrier on the web, and get to know how their site works. The larger companies have enormous websites that offer help in understanding your benefits. Many companies allow you check the status of claims online. This is a great tool that is underutilized.

Next up, deciphering your insurance explanation of benefits, or EOB, and terms that go along with it!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Epiphanies and responsibilities....

As I was showering this past Saturday morning, I experienced an epiphany of extraordinary, and somewhat embarrassing proportions. First, let me explain...

As an English Major I have a class called Topics in English, where I choose a subject I want to research, ask one of my instructors to work with me on it, and then write a hugely huge paper, thus ending my tenure as a college student. Sounds easy, right? Really? Yeah, not so much. The possibilities with an English major are endless, so while I have over a year to begin this exhausting process, I started worrying about the second my advisor told me about this class. This is obviously not a paper I can procrastinate on and complete at the last moment.

So over the past month now, two websites I frequent have been having two different arguments ongoing- one website is discussing the responsibilities of a fiction writer to his or her readers, and the other is attempting to have a intellectual discussion regarding the phenomena of the Rape Romance genre (which is fairly extinct at this point). While they may not relate to each other at first, there is a subtle connect between them that astounded me.

The discussion regarding the responsibilities of a writer is frequented by many published writers, all posting their opinions eloquently and backing them up with their own experiences. The other side of the argument has those who may be authors (I'm not sure, but I think at least one is) and claim that commercial fiction can be irresponsible because it leads a reader into a world that in no way resembles reality, and therefore is dangerous to those who cannot differentiate the two. That it's untruthful. Interesting...yes? Check out this blogpost by published UK author Rosy Thornton about her views, and make sure you read the comments! She has an interesting view about the "alpha male" that I find intriguing and I both agree and disagree.

The other discussion is attempting to understand the Rape Romance genre. The subject of rape produces heightened emotions anyway, but when you speak in terms of it being romantic then many have trouble wrapping their head around such a book. This thread attempted to discuss why some women read these types of books,and emphasized that those who do read them aren't promoting rape as romantic. They are reading a work of fiction. This has ties with the responsibilities of a writer, because many condemn those authors for romanticizing rape. Ah ha...see where I'm going?

So, the epiphany was to write my hugely huge research paper on those responsibilities in regards to women's fiction in general. What kind of impact does it have on readers, and do they have trouble with telling them apart from reality? I am an avid romance reader, but trust me, I can definitely tell the two worlds apart. I see it as an escape from the real world, with its ringing phones, crying babies, deadlines, etc. But can everyone? Should writers make an effort to put some "truth" into their fiction and make it more realistic to world we live in today?

I plan to interview, interview, interview! No one will be spared, so watch out!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Snowy Rant....

I live in the Midwest, meaning we can go from 32 degrees and snow, to 50 degrees and rain with a drive of about 5 miles to the South. I'm used to the crazy weather here, and sometimes it's kind of nice, in a weird, Midwestern sort of way. At least we have all three seasons.

However, what is not nice are the people who drive 4x4 vehicles and think they are invincible. I drive a Honda CR-V, and no, it's not 4-wheel drive. It gets around well and I feel relatively safe driving my 8 month old around in slick road conditions. This only applies, though, when others aren't around me, specifically, the aforementioned 4-wheel drive drivers. Don't get me wrong, my rant does not include all of these people, but who it does include are those who insist on driving 50mph or faster on snow packed roads, and then when you aren't going their desired speed, they ride your bumper as you drive the normal 30-40mph speed. More than once I have found myself pulling over into the snow-covered shoulder while so and so blows around me, obviously relieved that I've gotten out of their way. It's not only irritating, but dangerous to others.

I used to drive a 4-wheel drive Jeep, and I know that when in 4-wheel high, you have amazing traction on snow-covered roads and are less likely to get stuck somewhere. However, I never drove in such a reckless manner on slick roads, nor road someone's bumper until they got the hell outta my way. I was cautious of myself, and those around me. Isn't that what we learn in Driver's Education? Wait, did all these people take this course? Umm....probably not I imagine.

Now, I have many friends who drive 4-wheel vehicles, and they insist they are driving safely at such speeds. However, being a passenger in one of these vehicles convinced me otherwise, so I simply nod and smile, not wishing to get into a silly argument about the safe speed to drive on snowpack. Winter will be over soon enough.

Oh wait, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, didn't he? Crap.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Writing Children's Stories....oh dear...

This term I am taking a children's writing class as part of my Creative Writing minor. I've never had any ambition to write a children's story, so when I learned I would have to not only write, but attempt to illustrate or at the very least write illustration notes...panic set in. Literally. I love children's books...that other people write. I'm hoping the amazing textbook for this class will give me some ideas to start with. All I came up with is fairies. That's probably been overdone...right?

Baby Contests....they're everywhere!

So a few weeks ago, my mother asked if she could enter Caris in the Regis and Kelly Beautiful Baby Contest.  I entered this picture: because I didn't hear from her and wondered if she had changed her mind.  Then, she tells me she entered this picture: *sigh*  Both are fine, of course, but I hope entering her twice didn't cancel each other out.  Oh, and don't bother searching for her in the gallery of children's photos, because she's not there.  It does say it's random, but I was hoping, just a smidge, that she'd be there.

There's another contest that I discovered in the free American Baby magazines you get in the mail.  This one lets you enter 6 pictures!  Dear God, which pictures will I enter?!  My hands rub together in eager anticipation of the thought of going through the mountains of photos on the hard drive (because I AM the paparazzi, Lady Gaga eat your heart out!) and choosing 6! It will be impossible!

Am I a bad mom for entering my child in a contest that is based solely on how cute she is?  Am I promoting self-image over being true to ones self?  Should I shut up because Caris is 8 months, and won't remember that I poured over millions of photos of her, trying to find the best, most beautiful, adorable pictures of her?  Am I on the road to being one of those horrible showbiz moms that put their toddlers through spray tans, hair extensions and stage make-up?  Surely not!  I hope...right?