Kyle’s Underpants

Now that my kids are grown, with their beliefs and choices so clearly out of my control, I begin to acknowledge how big an illusion that was – my sense that I could control who my kids became. Oh, sure, of course I shaped and influenced and taught and trained. Through the things I did, the things I didn’t do, and the things I wish I could do over.

I still catch myself trying to influence. Here in my 60s, for the first time I’m discovering how to be peaceful and open – and I catch myself hoping that this will inspire my kids to try to get to this point earlier.

I’m discovering how to be grateful, and how to cut people a break. People including myself. I catch myself scheming about life lessons, how best to share these perspectives with my toddler granddaughter.

After I catch myself, I fill with peaceful futility. I can’t. They won’t. Not through me, anyway. They will live their own lives and come to their own realizations and it is through living step by step that they will get to wherever it is they are going.

The other day, writing at my favorite coffee joint, I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on a young family and got reminded how stressful I found it, being the parent of small children. The struggle to say no and don’t constructively. We don’t hit, sweetie… Let’s give that back, it belongs to him and he wants it back …

Which sent me on a stroll down an overgrown memory lane.

My ex-husband and I agreed that we didn’t want our twin toddlers to play with toy weapons or watch violent cartoons. But it turns out that anything could be turned into a gun or sword if you held it right. One day our son brandished some innocent construction toy, yelling, “I got you. I killed you. I’m Batman. I’m a Power Ranger.”

Baffled and frustrated, his dad demanded, “How do you even know about these things?”

Our son replied, “Kyle’s underpants.”

Kyle was another kid at the pre-school, which had a communal diaper-changing area.

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Book Review: The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

I’m deep into – yet not half-way through! – the fantasy series The Wheel of Time. This is a famous, much-loved series of 14 books (plus 4 or more offshoots) that started publishing in the early ’90s and is now moving to TV.  In it, a group of teens discover that they and their world have a repeating destiny. They must leave their isolated, Shire-like home to become key players in the current round of an ages-long battle between good and evil.

My reaction at this point is an overwhelming Meh.

Some people complain about Jordan copying Lord of the Rings. Indeed, the first book shows heavy Tolkien influence, and also borrows important stuff from Dune. But Jordan soon takes us into his own rich, complex universe. (Ironically, Jordan may have also been borrowed from. He has a plot thread of scheming royals who play a “Game of Houses”. In name and details it’s quite like the “Game of Thrones”. Did Martin borrow from Jordan? Did they both borrow from some other source?)

I don’t know when or if I’ll keep going* with this series. Jordan has fashioned a great world and I love that the women are as strong and important as the men. But my favorite characters are not getting enough page time, some key relationships bore me, and the plot intricacies are leaving me, well. Meh.

I’m feeling the weight of all the books I have not yet read that I know to be truly great. This series is fine, no negatives, just not strong enough positives. It is taking time I’d rather put elsewhere. Also – I dunno why – it bothers me to pay full price for books when the author is dead and I don’t know who gets my money.

I’ve read the first five books in The Wheel of Time:

  • The Eye of the World
  • The Great Hunt
  • The Dragon Reborn
  • The Shadow Rising
  • The Fires of Heaven.

FYI, toward the end of the series, Jordan grew ill, brought in a co-author, then died.

*If you had a similar reaction by the end of book 5, but kept reading and are glad you did – let me know!

3-ish stars.

 

Concert Review: Jarabe Mexicano

Recently I attended a concert by Jarabe Mexicano and it reminded me why I keep going to concerts: sometimes I witness music like this. Music that taps something so true and connects so deeply that it simply has to exist. Mind you, that doesn’t mean it’s always serious. It’s just – right.

Jarabe

The times I’ve heard classical mariachi music, it did nothing for me. Of course, part of the problem has been encountering it through strolling players who insist on stopping to serenade me. Not an introvert’s favorite experience. However, I took a chance on this concert because its blurb piqued my interest by emphasizing the mash-up of musical traditions. Also, it was free.

The band was awesome. They were lively, accomplished, cool, friendly; plus, each of them had a singing voice worth hearing. Jarabe means mixture and they really did mix it up. Sure, they played powerful versions of traditional songs (some of which I’ve come to appreciate through my love of Gaby Moreno). They covered some oldies that were new to me (Argentinian rock! of the early ’90s!). They made doo-wop not just tolerable but enjoyable.

My favorite was their cover of “Get Up Stand Up”I’m particular about my Bob Marley so I was amazed at how right this song sounds in Spanish. In retrospect, it makes perfect sense.

Beautiful summer afternoon in a park with bright sun that wasn’t too hot thanks to breezes from the ocean, nearby. Crowd enthused yet considerate. Dance area packed with all shapes sizes ages. A shout out to the City of Ventura, who provided this free concert, which in me provoked a spiritual experience.

I sat on the grass, hearing this remarkable music and watching the dancers when, for one long moment, everything went slo’-mo’. The sounds stretched, the dancers froze, and I felt how lucky I was to be alive and in that park right then.

The next time Jarabe Mexicano comes around I’ll be happy to pay to see them. Here’s hoping that opportunity comes soon.

FRAMES for free for 1 day

Download it for free on Amazon on Wednesday July 25.

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When rookie private eye Nica takes on a mysterious case, she enters a world of multiple dimensions called Frames, where buildings and lawn chairs can be sentient, a stray cat has great powers, books can be killers, and clouds can be spies. At home, Nica solves missing person cases; in the larger reality of the Frames, she gets swept into an escalating battle with stakes that could not be higher.

That describes the first novel in my FRAMES quartet.

Those who’ve read it will be happy to see that the new cover features Monk and Miles…

Download it for free on Amazon for one day only, Wednesday July 25.

DDsE: New Compilation Free for 1 Day!

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A girl, a boy, a feral cat, pursuit by unhuman things… A 16-year-old girl keeps a diary about her formerly normal life, now twisted by horrible amazing events.

On Saturday, July 14, over on Amazon, you can get the first 3 novellas of the DDsE series, compiled into one ebook volume, DDsE: The Beginning.

DDsE is the diary of 16-year-old Ella … with occasional entries by the feral cat Grayfast. More generally, it is a young adult paranormal horror romance.

Learn more, read a sample, or get your free download of DDsE: The Beginning here.

(For those keeping score: DDsE started out as daily blog posts but most readers preferred to read it in longer compilations. Thus were the novellas born. DDsE will eventually consist of 9 novellas. All 9 should be done by the end of this year. I’m publishing the novellas individually over on Smashwords, where the first 6 are already available (and also free, through the end of July). I’m combining the novellas into fewer, longer books on Amazon. The second Amazon compilation (novellas 4, 5, 6) will publish in mid-September. You can pre-order DDsE: The Middle now.) (Ready for the DDsE publication quiz?)

Lessons, Re-Learned

For me, this is a time of imminent loss. One of my longest-standing, dearest friends is fighting for his life. Now, he is the proverbial tough old bird and if anyone can beat these particular odds it will be this guy. But for the foreseeable future, the next text or phone call could bring terrible news.

As I scrap this or that “important” plan in order to spend a few minutes clunking around his hospital room or assisting his family in some small way, I’m re-reminded of the few things that matter to me.

1) My loved ones.

2) Writing.

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3) Getting my head into the present tense so I can appreciate what is happening while it is happening. Such as walking on the bluffs by the ocean and… catching paragliders taking their turns at launch… or witnessing brilliantly graceful pelicans come in for their awkward landings, right next to harbor seals who lounge unperturbed:

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And, oh yeah,
4) My health.

When I was younger, I knew these things, too. But when I was younger, I more often lost touch with truth.

I’m so grateful I got to get old and I look forward to figuring more stuff out. While remembering the stuff I already figured out.

(The WP Weekly Photo Challenge was “lines”.)

I’m Still Here

steepbeachAccidents of erosion.

That’s how my first geology teacher explained the surface of our world.  He was talking narrowly, as scientists do, about seeing the history of the earth in its current landforms.

Landforms like this shoreline cliff and creek bed:

 

The phrase stuck with me. It covers so much. All the stuff I used to try to understand, that no one really can. Why why why I took the jobs I did, moved the places I went, lost these loved ones, saw those illnesses recur, effortlessly vaulted to success here, bashed my head against failure’s wall there. How it came to be so important for me to try to understand.

When I look at my life geologically, I see that things fall apart, and they form again in new ways, and what it looks like, well, it just depends – like erosion – on the weather.

What’s that the Buddhists say? You are the sky. Everything else, it’s just weather. (- Pema Chodron, maybe quoting somebody else).

Recently I moved, to be closer to the ocean. The move surprised people, including me. (More about that at some point.) My new neighborhood has spectacular views of the beauty of erosion. I especially love the trees, in varying stages of change.

This one I call Nessie:

Jurassic predator tree:

The alien and the protector of the cliff (you get to decide which is which):

(The WordPress weekly photo challenge was Waiting.)