Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Santa and Archeology

Image from www.free-extras.com
We took Little Man to see Santa Claus the other night so he could tell Santa what he wants for Christmas. We watched and smiled and gave each other smug grins and elbow taps with each item Little Man said he wanted. Then he said something new. "I want a kitchen," he said. Not just an added item as an after thought. NO. He said it with enthusiasm. Husband and I looked at each other and mouthed "Kitchen?" Needless to say, husband spent time fighting traffic and crowds looking for a kitchen to add to Santa's gifts. Don't want to disillusion Little Man at such an early age.

Tonight Santa comes and he will deposit gifts under the tree that will be added to the number of things that parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles have already placed there. Even without Santa, Little Man has a lot of stuff. Perhaps too much stuff. And really, he has waaaayyyy too much stuff when it is combined with the stuff he already has. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to deprive my Little Man of the things he needs or even wants, but there comes a time when enough is enough. I can tell his grandparents and aunts and uncles to only give him clothes and socks because he outgrows them overnight. What he gets is who knows what. Well, we'll know tomorrow. All I know is when I shake a box, it rattles. Socks don't rattle.

It's fine, really because just as quickly as he out grows his clothes, he out grows his toys. The problem is getting him to relinquish the toys he no longer plays with. He likes to keep all things that belong to him. It's not his fault. He comes from two parents who have sentimental attachments to their stuff too. We're getting better but we're not yet at the point where we can easily just let something go. My sister has mastered the "minimalist" life-style. We are still trying to simply stay off the show Hoarders.

Image from
Which brings me to the next holiday that's right around the corner - Purge Day. While most people are making their New Year's resolutions (which I don't do), I'll be cleaning out the cupboards, closets and drawers. The first thing to tackle will be the Little Man's old toys. This is equivalent to an archeological dig and actually does require the assistance of several post- graduate interns.

It's not just deciding which toys stay, and which toys go, they must first be reassembled into their original and intended form with all original parts in tact and in place. Only then can the toys be triaged: cleaned and given to the church or friends, or discarded. Since Little Man is creative and uses parts interchangeably from toy to toy and then puts the "left over" parts in various boxes, bags, totes and pockets, the reassembling of his toys is on the magnitude of reconstructing Pompeii.

Until Purge Day it is time to just enjoy the toys and the paper and boxes and the chaos of the week watching Little Man play with his new toys and watching husband construct the things that need "some assembly." Have a Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 16, 2013

It Takes Two to Tangle

Photo from
Little Man's new favorite movie is Tangled, the Disney adaptation of the Rapunzel fairy tale. He likes the chameleon, Maximus the horse, the action, and the music. He's too young yet to appreciate the subtle humor, the love story, the tragic loss, or the allusions to other pieces of classic literature and jokes. I'm not usually one to like the revisionist versions of classic fairy tales that Disney puts out since they tend to dilute the stories or change them so that their original moral value is all but missing. But this one doesn't bother me as much as others. I actually like this movie.

While we were watching it today for the third time in a row, I discovered that I have a soft spot for Mother Gothel. She is supposed to be the villain in this tale, but I find that she is more of a tragic character that villainous. And she reminds me of Cher in Moonstruck. See?

Image from gaiaonline.com
Image from collider.com

Anyway, I read on someone's blog, well, several different blogs actually, that the antagonist/villain is the hero in their story. I watched the movie from the point-of-view from Mother Gothel. She is an old woman who discovers the magical flower from the sun that restores her youth. The flower is harvested to save the queen but now Gothel will surely die of old age. When the queen delivers a baby daughter with the healing, glowing hair, Gothel visits the babe to take only a lock of her hair in hopes of restoring her youth. The hair doesn't work once it is cut so Gothel then takes Rapunzel with her. It isn't until Rapunzel's eighteenth birthday does our action begin.
Yes, Gothel snatched a baby away from her parents. Yes she kept her locked in a tower. Yes her motivation was selfish. But what really happened? She didn't harm the baby. She fed the child, clothed the child, taught her to talk, walk, read, write. Gothel would even travel for days to bring back the special paints Rapunzel liked. She made Rapunzel feel loved and safe. In the end, she meets her demise - a justified one because she does turn to manipulation and murder - but all she wanted to do was to stay young.

 Her story started me thinking once again about the revisions I've put off for far too long and what is the story of my antagonist? How can I make that more compelling? How can I make my antagonist more sympathetic? (It was very well done in the movie Falling Down) How can I get my antagonist's story and my hero's story to be more intertwined, more tangled? It's time to get back to writing.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Bucket List

My long-time friend from all the way back in college recently had the opportunity to be a balloon handler in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. She was part of the crew that led the Kool-Ade man. Pretty cool. She said it was something on her Bucket List and she felt good about crossing it off. Soon, a friend is taking off for a cross-county adventure. He’s relieved himself of his worldly possessions and will heading west to see what there is to see. I don’t know if that is on his Bucket List per se, but it sounds like something that should be.

Image from
So I started thinking; what exactly is a Bucket List? What are the criteria for something making it onto the Bucket List? Are these items things you really, really want to do and actually work toward doing? Or just stuff you’d like to do if you can? If it’s the later, then that’s more of a Shrug List. Are the things on the Bucket List fluid? For example, if I wanted to climb Mt. Everest, but now it wouldn’t be possible for whatever reason, can I take it off the list and replace it with something else? What if I don’t complete my list before I kick the bucket? Does my child have to take on my list? Do I spend time in purgatory watching others do those things? But I digress.

For me, a Bucket List consists of things I’d really like to do, fantasize about doing, dream about doing and try to plan toward. It is fluid and it changes with my personal circumstances. There are several items that were once on my list that no longer make the grade. Others I’ve accomplished and they’ve been checked off. For kicks and giggles, these are ten things on my list.

1.      Get a Mustang convertible GT (done and I recently totaled it)
2.      Build a house (done)
3.      Have a family (done)
4.      See every state (I’ve seen a good number of them already)
5.      Learn to tat. I should say, learn to make Irish lace.
6.      Take an Italian cooking class – in Italy!
7.      Be a published author (revising my first novel!)
8.      Ride on the Orient Express
9.      Complete my family tree/history (working)
10.  Travel – see South America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Iceland
What’s on your list? Let me know.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Believe It Or Not

At a recent critique group meeting I had the pleasure to read a piece from one of our members and someone I consider a friend. Usually I really like his writing - it's clear, well developed, unique, a pleasure to read in general. This time, I was befuddled. His characters lacked introduction, he jumped too far into the action, there seemed to be contradictory information. I was so confused. This was not like his writing. What I didn't realize until later that what I was reading was the third installment of a story he's working on. I missed the first couple of chapters. Yes, I missed a month of critique group meetings due to family engagements so I was out of the loop and therefore justly confused by his story.

What I missed was the initial premise. Every story has one and the reader is expected to willfully suspend their disbelief in order to enter this new world, the life of the character, to follow the story. This is necessary for the reader to accept the story and "get into it." How else can you expect science fiction to be successful, or horror, or even romance? No matter how I tried to suspend my disbelief, I didn't have the initial premise of his story.

The initial premise is vital to, well, everything. Every story, every situation in life has an initial premise that we are expected to willingly suspend our disbelief and therefore agree with. But what happens if you don't agree with the initial premise? What if you just can't suspend your disbelief? As a writer that would be bad because then you've lost your reader from the beginning. We've all read books we "just can't get into." But what about in other applications?

I don't usually get political here and it has been my policy to leave that alone as much as possible so I will NOT make a political statement but an observation on something that is a political topic. I saw posted on Facebook an article from watchdog.net about female voter suppression. This was a blurb of an article was linked back to a longer article from Occupy Democrats. You can read the articles for yourself by clicking on the links. Anyway, the longer article is about the voter ID law in Texas and how it will suppress voter's rights by requiring photo identification.

The articles go on to establish their arguments:
  1. There are only 81 DMV's in 254 counties and rural citizens are burdened by the lack of a local DMV.
  2. Most of the rural inhabitants are minorities and therefore it is restrictive of minorities.
  3. Many poor and elderly citizens don't drive and therefore do not have a need for a photo ID and now they are being required to get something they don't need or want.
  4. The law also requires the ID to have the person's legal name and this is particularly discriminatory to women who are changing their names due to marriage. *The shorter article finds this the most heinous because it doesn't effect men.*
The woman who posted this was particularly insulted because men weren't effected by a name change and that's her privilege. She was willing to suspend her disbelief and agree with that part of the argument.

Here's my question: what if you aren't willing to suspend your disbelief? What if you don't buy into any of their arguments? Not just these, I'm speaking generally. What if we as citizens didn't readily believe any premise that was presented to us from either side of the argument. What if we, instead, required our representatives to work harder for our disbelief?

I think, perhaps, if our citizenry was as skeptical and suspicious of the initial premises instead of labels of Progressive, Liberal, or Conservative, we'd have a better run country. And that's my initial premise for today. Believe it or not.