Category: Observations about Life


IMG_5213I’m superstitious.  I throw salt over my shoulder to blind passing witches and will never pick up a penny unless it’s head’s up.  I knock on wood to stun the fairies (they’re mischievous), and I don’t like crossing under ladders.

BUT… I love the number 13, and I love black cats.  Did you know that black cats are the least adopted?  Did you know that October is a dangerous month for these precious animals due to their completely unfair reputation?

I don’t personally have any black cats right now, but I have in the past.  My sister in law has always had black cats, and they’re exactly the same as other cats.  Except, you know… they’re black.  Normally, I like scary stories, but not at the expense of a living thing.

So where did the whole black cats being unlucky thing come from?  Well, it comes from a couple of different places, but it boils down to black cats being evil, and often blamed for being a witch’s familiar.  Because we all know how often “old woman” and “cat” goes in the same sentence, right?  Apparently a witch was just the earliest crazy cat lady.  Here’s a link if you want a more in-depth explanation.

I bring this up because I want you to realize that there are some people who are superstitious out there.  If you have a beloved black kitty, please keep him or her close to home in October especially.  And next time you go to adopt, remember that black kitties need homes too.

What’s your favorite superstition?

Feel Good Friday

Hello, it’s Friday, so there are lots of reasons to feel good today!  Here are a few more…

Army veteran gets a happy surprise.

People thank people who have helped them.

Dogs stay with an injured woman until help arrives.

Man regains some sight with a bionic eye.

Facebook users save horse from an uncertain fate.

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Cedar Park, Texas Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Cedar Park, Texas
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

The world is loud.

I never knew that before. I was born with a hearing impairment, not a really bad one, but just enough to make certain things annoying. Like when I had jury duty. Or talking to soft spoken people. Or eating with a friend in noisy restaurants. I probably could have gone my whole life without hearing aids, until I became a therapist. Then I realized it was just impractical to be with someone who just told me about something awful and emotional, sometimes their first time telling anybody, and have to say, “I’m sorry, could you repeat that?”

I intended to get hearing aids back in Arizona, but then I found out we would be moving, and decided to put it off until I got to Texas.  Once here, I got tested by an audiologist, and got my first pair of hearing aids ever.  I told her that I primarily wanted them for work, or in as needed situations.  She laughed and said she was pretty sure that once I got used to them, I’d want to wear them all the time.

Um, no.

The world is a loud, loud place.  I never realized it before because I’ve always been insulated by my own limited hearing.  My first day, I wore the hearing aids for two hours, and then I had to take Excedrin from the pounding headache from being able to hear everything.

And they’re not even turned all the way up yet.

I’m so grateful for this wonderful technology, and I’m grateful that I had enough money in my HSA account to buy them.  But to wear them full time?  No.

You see, silence is one of my favorite things.  I love to sit and read or write or surf the internet in silence.  If I do put music on, it’s quiet.  I love being outside, but I can hear the birds chirping or the wind rustling in the leaves of the trees.  I can’t hear traffic.  Or my neighbors.

I knew that for me, hearing aids would primarily be a tool, but I didn’t realize how they would make me understand that my limited hearing has never been a limitation for me at all; it’s been a blessing.  I get to hear the world in a very different way than others do, and that’s not a bad thing.  When I want to hear more, I put my hearing aids in, and suddenly, the world is louder.  It’s easier for me to understand other people speaking and pull in background noise.  And when I take them out, the world is quiet again.

I asked my husband if he minded if I didn’t wear them at home, and he shrugged and said that after 14 years, he’s used to speaking loudly so that I can hear him.  <3  I guess most of my friends are.

Back to my audiologist… it occurs to me again that it’s an extrovert’s world.  She assumed that I would like hearing and like connecting with the world around me, when it’s the opposite.  I don’t feel disconnected.  I connect with the people I want to and leave the rest in the background.  I don’t mind not knowing what’s going on behind me or around me.  I don’t mind missing background noises or sounds.  I like my life’s soundtrack to be quiet.

Where do you weigh in on silence vs noise?

Feel Good Friday

Hi, it’s Friday, so it’s time to focus on the good in the world (but you’re already doing that all week, right?)

Blind dog has seeing eye cat.

Cop pays vet bill for service dog after hit and run.

College students tip pizza delivery man $1200.

Veteran who is a double amputee uses exercise to battle depression and ends up on cover of Men’s Health.

Not a specific news story, but a whole site dedicated to random acts of kindness.

“Today I bent the truth to be kind, and I have no regret, for I am far surer of what is kind than I am of what is true.” ~Robert Brault

I’m a fan of graffiti.  Not gang tags or kids destroying stuff for the sake of destruction, but I understand the need to carve your name in a wooden picnic table or write on a bathroom wall.  I’ve never done it, but I admire the artwork and creativity of others.

I don’t understand the need to destroy, when others deface artwork or “tag” things that were clearly not meant to be tagged.  I once saw petroglyphs in a rock where people had carved their names into the stone around them, and I wondered who would destroy something like that.

This post isn’t about acts of destruction though.  I recently ran into graffiti on a bathroom wall that made me smile and made me think.  When I read it, I thought, “This is kind of a low-tech Facebook.”

As seen on a bathroom wall stall...

As seen on a bathroom wall stall…

I really enjoyed this conversation.  In black, is:

“Don’t (sic) ever fall in love.  it’s a trap.”

“<– thats depressing.”

“<DONT (sic) EVER FOLLOW SOMEONE ELSE’S HEART.  THATS (sic) THE TRAP.”

Then it gets interesting.  (Extra points because she used mostly used proper punctuation, grammar, and spelling).  In brown, it says,

“Love is a choice, not a feeling.  Those butterflies are from infatuation.  Love at first sight is a Feb 14 hoax.  We should strive for love and grow more deeply in it daily with our partners.  Because when I see him for the last time I want to be more in love with him then (sic) I ever have been before.  But, Just my opinion. -CK”

It’s clear that the first girl had a bad experience, probably not long before she wrote that.  I picture her in the bathroom, getting a disappointing text message from her beloved.  Maybe her beloved broke up with her via text just then.  Maybe they had an argument over dinner.  Maybe her beloved didn’t send her a text when she expected one.  In any case, at that moment, she was moved to write those words.  She could have updated her Facebook status with that, and maybe she did that as well.  Or, maybe she didn’t want her friends and family to know that her beloved disappointed her yet again.

The girl in brown wrote that “Love is a choice, not a feeling.”  I agree with her sentiment, but not exactly what she says.  Anyone who’s ever been in love, especially after they’ve made it past the butterflies in your stomach feeling, knows that long term love is both a choice and a feeling.  Once upon a time, I dated a wonderful man, but I just didn’t have that feeling for him, and ended up breaking it off.  I could have chosen to stay, but without that love feeling, it can be hard to get through the ups and downs of a real relationship.  In contrast, with my husband, I’m long past the butterflies in my stomach stage, but I still have that warm and fuzzy feeling.  And that warm feeling helps me choose not to bash him over the head with a very heavy object when he irritates me.

In all seriousness, I don’t believe that you can choose who you fall in love with.  I believe in chemistry, and I believe that the chemistry between two individuals can be love.  I’m not just talking about romantic chemistry/ love, but also the platonic chemistry/ love that happens between friends.  Sometimes you just know that you’re going to be wonderful friends or lovers, and the relationship doesn’t take years to build.  Sometimes those relationships start immediately because of chemistry.  But at some point, there’s clearly the choice to put the hard work in or not put the hard work in.

Love isn’t the trap.  Thinking that love should be easy is the trap.  But, just my opinion.  :)

Feel Good Friday

Here’s your dose of good news for the day.  I’d just like to mention that one thing I noticed when doing my homework to post good news, is that a lot of good news stories are much shorter than their negative counterparts.  Click these links, look for good news, and show the news outlets that you’d like to see more of these stories.  That’s how change happens.

Vet with PTSD feels better with the help DD from Pets for Vets.

Finally, a mirror that tells the truth!

Cops rescue ring and save marriage proposal.

Man donates kidney to stranger.

Firefighters clean up yard for an elderly woman.

“Good news is rare these days, and every glittering ounce of it should be cherished and hoarded and worshipped and fondled like a priceless diamond.”
-Hunter S. Thompson

 

Coffee and art.  :)

Coffee and art. :)

My husband’s friend recently visited from out of town for a weekend, and it was fun.  We always enjoy having this guy around.  Not only is he my husband’s friend, but at this point, he’s mine too.  It’s nice that I can say that and mean it.

We got to talking about Facebook.  I mentioned that another friend of mine is on Facebook but never goes on Facebook because he blames it for the disconnection of society, which led to a rather interesting discussion on social media.

Social media, at its best, is a tool, like a phone or a hammer.  If I use my hammer to pound in a nail (what the tool is made for), it works perfectly.  If I use my hammer to open a jar, it’ll work.  Once.  :)  The point is that social media is a tool.  If it’s used to keep in touch with old friends, see their pictures, and stay up on their lives, then in my opinion, the tool is being used correctly.  However, if it’s used in place of a social life, if I’m checking my Facebook feed instead of interacting with another human being, then it’s being used incorrectly.  If I’m using Facebook to be passive aggressive or start arguments that I’d never start in person, then it’s being used incorrectly.  I’m I’m using Facebook to put people down, compare my life to others, or brag, then I’m using Facebook incorrectly.

Back in the 1800s, everyone wrote letters.  They had lovely handwriting and wrote lovely long letters to one another, filled with banal details of life.  The Facebook feed is nothing new; it just takes a different form now.  It’s faster and without filters.  Sometimes I read critical statements about how people share “unimportant” information about their lives, and that’s the problem with the Facebook feed.  Personally, I’d rather read about someone “checking in” than a passive aggressive post telling an unidentified person to stop something.  I don’t mind seeing food pictures or reading that someone is tired, because it’s real life.  We act like things have to be “important,” but why?  Maybe that’s what leaves us feeling lost and disconnected, that idea that others have more important things to say/ do or that others are having more fun.  Why can’t we just be?  And if the most important thing that happened to me today is that my eggs and toast looked like a smiley face, why shouldn’t I post that?

A guy in Australia is in the process of having coffee with all 1,088 of his Facebook friends.  What a fun idea! I would too if I had unlimited income and could fly to Pennsylvania, Maryland, Montana, and more places, spend a few weeks there to see everyone, and have coffee (or lemonade) with all of them.  Still, in my opinion, the point isn’t what he’s doing so much as it is that he’s connecting with old friends, some of whom he probably hasn’t seen in a long time.

All that being said, while I love Facebook and accept it for what it is, I also don’t want it to take the place of real human interaction.  Real human interaction doesn’t have to be face to face.  For example, I have a childhood friend who I was very close to while she lived up the street, but in the pre-social media days, we lost touch when she moved away.  I missed her, but keeping in touch was difficult, and we moved on with our lives.  About 20 years later, we reconnected through the magic of Facebook, and she’s just as zany and interesting as I remember.  I comment on her feed and vice versa, but we also “talk” via messaging and email.  Without Facebook, I probably never would have reconnected with her.  She lives in Montana, and I live in Texas, so we probably won’t be getting together for coffee, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t raise our virtual cups together!

What do you do to connect with old friends?

Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Arizona Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Arizona
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

I laugh sometimes when I watch movies, and the disclaimer comes up at the end that any resemblance to real people is unintentional.

I think that most writers are inspired by true events at some level.  I walk in the mall and see someone dressed in a certain way and think, “Hmm, I wonder if…”  I read the news and think “What if they…?”  A story grows from that tiny seed.  I’m not a visual person, so when I describe characters, I use other people as models, mostly actors and actresses, but still…

I starting thinking about this after the recent controversy between Stephen King and the BTK killer’s family.  The BTK killer’s daughter was angry by what she saw as exploitation by Stephen King in being “inspired” by those events.  He responded and explained that his recent movie, “A Good Marriage,” was inspired the the events, but that the story isn’t about the killer; it’s about a “brave and determined woman.

I can’t even begin to imagine what the BTK killer’s family went through, but I do understand that drive to understand.  Most people avoid what scares them, but writers will often get inside things that scare them, that seem foreign or alien, and ask questions, make assumptions.  In the best stories, the characters drive the story, and most of the time, they go unexpected places and get there in unexpected ways.

I have a story that I’m currently working on, and the story was inspired by a PostSecret.  The story was meant to be a short story (under 2,500 words), but because the characters wouldn’t allow their story to be told that quickly, the story is currently topping 11,000 words, and I now have to decide if I want to go back and edit the beginning and hope that the story is told, or if I want to expand the story and just make it into a short novel.  I didn’t plan for it, and I tried to keep the story shorter.  As a result, I now have to do a lot more work than if I had just listened to the characters in the first place.

I sympathize with the family, but I believe King meant no harm.  Those of you who read my blog on Feel Good Fridays might be confused by my attitude on this, because I’m all about giving positive things most of our attention.  And while that’s true, I never meant to suggest that we should ignore things that go on in the dark.  The things that go on in the dark can be scary if we don’t shed light on them, if we try to pretend they don’t exist.  I try not to live in fear, because I truly believe that fear gives power to things, and that exposing them takes that power away.  Early man sat around the fire and learned that stories could chase away the dark more powerfully than fire.  They told scary stories for the thrill, yes, but also because telling scary stories is like whistling in the graveyard.  It’s a talisman, bravado, but also a way to understand and take some of the mystery away.

So gather ’round my fire, and I’ll tell you a story.

From the Phoenix Art Museum Photo Credit: Doree Weller

From the Phoenix Art Museum
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

This week, September 21-27, was Banned Books Week.

I love the idea that people attempt to ban books.  Why?  Because people wanting to ban a book means that it was provocative, that it touched a nerve.  I’m all for entertainment, and some of my favorite books are just entertaining, with no other “value.”  I don’t think that art needs to have value other than entertainment, but I like it when art provokes and inspires.  Art at its best should have an effect on the reader or viewer or listener.  It should touch some chord within, even if it’s not in a positive way.

Art is a reflection of life, sometimes a truer reflection of life than an actual reflection.  One of my favorite quotes is:

“Artists use lies to tell the truth. Yes, I created a lie. But because you believed it, you found something true about yourself.”
― Alan Moore, V for Vendetta

Life isn’t always pretty.  It’s not always neat.  Sometimes it’s ugly and difficult.  Sometimes it disgusts.  Which is why art should be provocative.

Don’t get me wrong; I have been personally offended by art.  I sympathize with people who want certain books banned.  But there’s only one type of censorship I favor: the ability to choose.  That’s right, if something personally offends me, I can choose not to view it or read it or listen to it.  I think parents should always have the right to choose what their children are exposed to, but that doesn’t mean that a certain group of parents should be able to choose for all.

Personally, when I see a list of banned books, I want to read all the ones on the list.  I’m not easily offended, and I always find it interesting to see what offends others.  I’ve read The Hunger Games and Fifty Shades of Gray, but those are the only ones on the list.

Here’s a list of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2013.

It’s Friday, everyone!  Time to celebrate!  Here’s your weekly dose of good news.

A Bengals football player wants to spend more time with his daughter, who has cancer, so the team puts him on the practice squad to make it possible.

High school sweethearts marry… 63 years after their first meeting!

Young Muslims are taking to social media to make it clear that violence carried out by ISIS is #notinmyname.

The number of Federal inmates has decreased as lawmakers decrease penalties for non-violent offenders.

Victim of Ice Bucket prank is being sent a “nice bucket” by strangers.

Just a note about the “nice bucket.”  When we saw that kid was a victim of that horrible prank, we could have decided to sit back and just say “How horrible!”  Some people decided to do what they could, by sending him words of encouragement.  I don’t post good news because I want to pretend bad news doesn’t happen, but because I want us all to remember, as human beings, that while we can’t stop the bad stuff from happening, we can control how it affects us.  Do you throw your hands up in the air and say, “There’s nothing I can do about that!” or do you take what action you can?  We all make choices.

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