Thursday, August 18, 2016

“Started out Clean but I’m Jaded”

I have to be honest here, this post is one of those long winded rants where I talk about everything and nothing at the same time. Where I tie in all the issues plaguing an entire country, world, and bitch about something I can’t ever fix on my own.

Where I also become a hypocrite, doing the same thing I’m questioning about society. Sigh.

After all, a blog is supposed to be nothing more than a marketing tool, right? Stuffed with all the things people search for on Google so it wins in page rank. Nothing about the actual words matter other than their ability to drive traffic.

Then somewhere near the end is where I’m supposed to tell you all what to do next – subscribe to my newsletter, buy my book, be a better human by being more like me by supporting my career!

Isn’t that what all of us online business people are trying to say, after all?

I mean, without selling books I don’t have much of a career and, these days, it’s all but impossible to sell unless you have a full online presence. And so I do. Just like everyone else, trying desperately to convince you and the rest of the world just how very awesome we all are so you read our stuff, invest in our coaching, buy our books…

Buy into our “unique” perspective.

The one that happens to sound as generic as every band to come out during the Everclear/Third Eye Blind/Gin Blossoms/Goo Goo Dolls/Better than Ezra years. I sometimes get all of those bands from the ‘90’s confused with each other because they all sound pretty similar.

Ah yes, the music of my bitter, jaded, cynical generation is there to point out one very important fact – everyone is exactly the same. Nobody has a unique twist. But, these days, as long as you’re loud and in-your-face enough, masses of people will listen to everything you have to say. As if somehow that one opinion is the one we should all adopt, you know, to be different.

Um, what?

Aren’t we supposed to be authentic? Unique snowflakes of personality so when the people come they will know who we are in an instant?

How can any of us do that when we’re all trying to be authentic in the exact same way?

These days, anyone with a cell phone and an internet connection can record and share anything they like. When we listen to all of it there’s nothing but a big line of white noise ringing in our brains.

Listen/read then, just as quickly as we found and raved about the thing, forget it and move on. Never to return to the original again.

I’ve decided this is the “SQUIRREL!!!!!!!!!!!!!” theory of modern society.

The question, of course, is this: at what point does it depart from snark to outright bitter and devolve into a spiral of fear mongering, anger, uninformed “opinion based fact” because in truth nobody seems to take the time to look anything up anymore. At least, not past the first page of Google.

For one thing, the Republican presidential candidate has now done all the same shit that the Republican party chastised others for doing back in 2003. Back then, one single sentence was enough to almost kill the career of a band. Today, a man is revered, celebrated, encouraged, to question the President and more.

It’s easy to become a candidate for President these days, just refuse to release your tax returns, negatively stereotype everyone to prove how awesome you are, prove that being a hypocrite is an asset in modern politics, and you’re in!

Let’s make America the nation it used to be? Which time? The time we complained that foreigners were taking all our jobs, or, the time all the companies started taking the jobs away from Americans and outsourcing them to foreign lands without most of us even noticing it happened?

A quote from that article I just linked really got me thinking:

“It is essentially capitalism versus socialism in disguise – the government needs to keep the capitalists happy because they bring in the money and drive the economy, but it needs to keep the people happy because, after all, thats what governance is about.”

Is it? I mean, the tiny point missed in all of those words, the between-the-lines if you will, is that capitalists are bringing in money from other places, Americans aren’t making enough so they can run around spending all theirs, and the economy is a disaster because the people definitely aren’t happy.

Is 13 years too long ago to remember how an entire political party has flip-flopped? I guess it is when the majority of people clamoring for their ten seconds of fame were too young to pay attention when all that went down with the Chicks.

I mean, hell, the internet meme world basically got started by using just 2 little words:

“Thanks, Obama.”

Because, after all, the entire world’s problems are obviously the fault of just one man.

The “real world” is so real these days that it has gone full circle back to fantasy.

You know what I mean?

“Real” housewives. Random people posting their moment-to-moment experiences on any given social media platform. Check out my perfect life! The one that’s so hard because I just don’t know how to spend all this money I have. I think the entire world should see just how fucked up I am and why my problems should mean more than someone else’s who can’t afford a TV crew to film their life.

#boofuckinghoo

When did educating yourself to facts take a backseat to scripted reality? And since when did wardrobe take a front seat over talent and ability?

Even the Olympics are steeped in the drama that everyone seems to need in order to keep them interested in anything anymore. Why aren’t there any stories about how long shot put has been practiced as an Olympic sport, the years of training it takes to compete at that level, etc.?

Why? Because that shit is bo-ring to society. There’s no tooth in shot put. But the rise and fall of people? For instance, discovering a shot put competitor flipping the bird to a paparazzi? Bring on the negative reporting!

We like to set up gods with the full intention of toppling them. And they gladly fill the role even though they know what's coming. Controversy sells. Controversy keeps people talking. You have to be somebody before they can decide to turn you into someone else. And by “they” I mean the internet.

Test the theory. Next time you’re at a party strike up one of these two conversations:

The men’s Olympic shot put record hasn’t been broken since 1988.

Or

Did you get a look at Michelle Jenneke’s boobs this week? I hear she might run track or something.

And

Which one of those conversations do you think is going to last longer?

Another case in point, there are countless people commenting on the Democratic candidate’s wardrobe. Which you know makes me mental because, really? That’s the takeaway? Her pant suits are too, something?

Don’t dress like a man because people will think you’re an uptight bitch, but don’t wear something that shows your body, you slut. Boys can’t concentrate in school when your shoulders are showing so cover up or the men won’t learn enough about how to make all the decisions from the teacher who just spent half of her paycheck on supplies you’ll squander.

I personally care about her wardrobe as much as I care if the Republican candidate’s hair and tan are real. Neither of those things has anything to do with being the figurehead of one of the (quote) most powerful countries in the world (end quote).

But these are the things people focus on. These are the things that make someone a “good” candidate for President. Because nobody wants facts anymore. Nobody knows how to research. Our snap judgements are based on the shit we read in social media. Online. In the “real” world.

It stinks that sources and resources are so skewed and biased even when they claim not to be. Because getting informed ends up meaning reinforcing an already existing opinion as opposed to opening up room for understanding and acceptance of the opposition.

And as most of you probably know by now, I will never claim to be unbiased. I have my opinions and just as I’m not likely to change yours, you’re not likely to change mine.

And so it goes, which I’m sure is a direct factor in why we care about the meme worthy events over other more poignant moments that define character, not caricature.

So I’m going to stick to fiction from now on. Books. Movies. Television. Because the truth is that I was shaped by a bitter, jaded, cynical generation. And I’d rather spend my escape time in an actual land of imagination and fantasy.

Sure beats “reality.”

Title quote from Matchbox 20 Bent.

• • • • • • • • • • •
In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Cheering them On

Last night, Matt and I were hanging out, relaxing, and watching some TV. These days when we watch anything on television it’s 90% either non-commercial or old shows available to stream on Netflix. That’s because we’re both so tired of the he-said, she-said media circus that TV has become these days.

I just can’t do politics. The whole scene is so last season. Kind of like that clichĂ©. I’m over it because I hate being sad, depressed, questioning humanity. So instead, we like to live in ignorantly blissful worlds of fiction entertainment.

Our current obsession show of choice is Friends.

Friends has been one of my favorite shows since the season it debuted in 1994. When it came out I was close to the age of the characters and found myself experiencing similar stuff in life. Love, career, living on my own, and finding my own friend family. It was smart and witty and I found myself cheering for all of the characters regardless of how silly or irritating they could be at times.

It was one of the only shows I faithfully stayed home to watch on the night and time it aired every week.

Going back and watching the entire series on binge-level of episodes in a row has been fun. Last night we started on season 5.

(SIDE NOTE: If you haven’t seen the show then a lot of what follows will be spoilers. But it has been 12 years since the show went off the air so I’m taking the chance that those who wanted to see it have done so by now.

Come to think of it, you should probably stop reading here if you never saw Friends, The Office, Moonlighting, or Dawson’s Creek and wanted to do so without spoilers.)

Anyway, as we watched the first 4 seasons of Friends, I constantly remarked how the show’s creators had Monica & Chandler’s characters in a couple-holding-pattern the whole time. So, when they got together in season 5, it wasn’t entirely a surprise.

When the characters admit for the first time they’re in a relationship (not sure which “The One…” that happened in) Matt said:

“They were always my favorite TV couple.”

I thought about that a lot since he said it. Probably a lot longer than I should have but that’s just me. I have to agree with him, those two characters were maybe the perfect TV couple.

Once they decided to get together they stayed together. They laughed with and at each other but still put each other and their relationship at the top of their priority list. They fought and it wasn’t a perfect relationship but it worked on so many levels. Because it was funny and sad, real and fantasy, relatable and like nothing we’d ever experienced before. The writers who crafted those two characters were brilliant.

So of course that got me thinking about the other TV couples I’ve cheered for over the years. I thought, and thought, and thought. But coming up with them proved more difficult than I would have expected. And it left me with a short list.

Of course there was Ross and Rachel. Meh. They were certainly the central “dramatic relationship” on Friends but most of the time I liked them better when they were torturing each other instead of together. It was funnier.

Moving away from Friends my next favorite would have to be Jim & Pam on The Office. The writers made the characters and their struggles realistic but still gave them a happily ever after which I always appreciate. They were cute together and sarcastic smart-asses. Which I also always appreciate.

And of course there were David and Maddie from Moonlighting. Only trouble with them, after they got together the writing struggled to make it the same punchy banter they had before and the show took a dive.

Though I didn’t watch when it aired, Matt and I wrapped up a Dawson’s Creek binge last year. All I have to say about that – Team Pacey! If he and Joey didn’t end up together I would have been shocked and utterly disappointed. I was neither of those things at the end of the series. I was crying, but not disappointed.

Thus completes the list. Which wouldn’t surprise me except it feels like it should be longer. The problem with television is they need us to tune in week after week. Because of that, lots of shows create a “two tortured people who can never be happy” dynamic just to keep the tension going.

Personally, I think that stinks.

When my sister and I got our very first TV in our bedroom I used to stay up late night and watch Get Smart in syndication. And I’ve been a TV junkie ever since. But this list wasn’t about shows I loved over the years (a list too long even for this blog I think), it’s about couples I cheered on until the end.

Which, apparently, amounts to a total of 5. Well, 4-1/2 if I only count half of Ross and Rachel.

Regardless, it really has been fun going back to watch, in order, all 10 seasons of Friends. If nothing else it’s a nice escape from the daily news.

• • • • • • • • • • •
In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Phrase Your Response in the form of a Question

I’ll take Hermie and the Hermits for $1600.

     These are the only two things I have energy for at the moment.

What are home improvement and my job?

     Right. Go again.

Matt and I were up at Lowe’s the other night. Again. For what this time, you might ask? Oh, just bits and pieces of intermittent project stuff.

We’re trying to get a slow roll going on the laundry room completion. So far plumbing is done, insulation is done, dryer vent is installed. Drywall behind the appliances should happen Thursday night via Matt. I’ll be spackling Friday morning before our new appliances get here that afternoon.

Over this weekend framing goes up. Next weekend walls and door should be finished.

If we had weeks off to get this thing done, we’d just place the order for everything we need, have it forklifted into the garage and would likely already be halfway done with everything. Including the backyard.

But we both have day jobs so there are still swatches of paint gracing our master bathroom walls, lack of drywall in some places, and twenty some-odd cabinets in my living room still packed in cardboard just waiting to be installed.

Someday.

In good news, the book is really shaping up and I’m pretty excited to get this one into the hands of my beta readers then get her on the market. I have all kinds of new marketing strategies lined up to try after this book gets released and I’m kind of chomping at the bit.

Work is one thing going stellar right now. I feel like a garden hose with the spigot closed. Almost like I know that as soon as Reckless Mind is released there’s going to be a torrent of new work following. Now that I think about it, that is what’s going to happen. I actually have 2 titles in final stages of completion aside from Mind.

The fall is going to be very fun at work.

Thing is, all of this home “improvement” (<-- yes those are air quotes because I feel mixed about how much improvement comes with “improvement” sometimes) is a blessing and a curse.

Once everything is finished this is going to be the most functionally beautiful home either of us have ever lived in. But getting there is a huge challenge for me. Because I work in this chaos too.

Which, admittedly, has made my life a little bit tougher for the past few months. For a while I was still riding on the St. Lucia high of inspiration. I had no trouble writing through and not noticing all this stuff.

But the stuff is starting to overwhelm. Because its everywhere. And I’m stuck inside with every last zip-tie, floating piece of loose cellulose, and pile of stuff-to-yet-be-installed.

We’re heavy into Phoenix summer now, all I want to do is have a pool party and chill out, but there has to be somewhere to put people before we can invite them over.

Two kitchen’s worth of cabinets and temporary storage solutions that belong in the garage take up lots of space.

And that means they’re taking up mental space too. Time to wrap it up!

But then, of course, I come full circle to the day job thing.

We’re weekend warriors. But we’re weekday warriors too. Matt and I are the 100% into our job type of people. Work hard, play never ends up becoming the motto around here. We’re both exhausted.

But the way I see it, we’re on the home stretch.

By the end of August our lives will be a whole lot freer. My book will be out, the laundry room will be complete, and we should be putting finishing touches on our kitchen reno by then, too.

It might be 8/31/2016 but by god it will be August.

I’ve got our project managed in a details, budget, and cost spreadsheet. We know each step and cost before we get there. Hey, all those years working in/with construction and school for interior design are finally getting put to good use! This project is managed to the penny just like the last phase and so far we’re directly on track.

Just wish weekends could be 5 days long.

As for Reckless Mind, she’s almost there. Though it may not seem that way when I go back over the list of what still needs to be done.

Final red pen edits, beta readers, more edits, jacket copy, barcode, ISBN, copyright page, Library of Congress deposit, cover art approval, marketing blurbs, social media/online updates, amazon pre-order set up, final formatting, marketing, advertising, promotion…

So, yeah. The only energy I have left these days is for watching Jeopardy!

But we’re going to have the most kick-ass pool party in September.

• • • • • • • • • • •
In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.