Writebrainit

March 29, 2008

"That’s so hetero…"

Filed under: Uncategorized — writebrainit @ 5:06 pm

I was saddened yesterday. I like to believe that I sometimes insulate myself in this safe little bubble. I don’t watch the news, I don’t read the paper and I rationalize that this is okay because the children I work with often have stories that are worse or similar to those that I see in the news. I believe that it is a coping skill for me, that it allows me to leave my work at work and at home – I get to focus on myself, my friends and my family.

I have known for a long time that the majority of us suffer from some sort of discrimination or another. Again, I protect myself from these situations – I don’t always go to the theater because I am too big and the sits are uncomfortable – I don’t fly because I worry about the comfort of others. Last night I was invited to go to a bar with a friend – it’s not always the safest bar and I learned that a lot of times it depends on the type of music, but it can be a little sketchy. I said no because of the safety, I joked that it was because my friend would be the the one talking and getting us in trouble, but I would be the one who gets stabbed – that’s my luck.

Later I realized how many different bars I shy away from because of my safety. I have absolutely no qualms about going into a sports bar and in fact, I tend to enjoy them more than the gay bars. However, when it comes to the nightclubs – I don’t like the straight ones. As I was was thinking and considering it, I realized why I don’t like them. I don’t feel safe in them. In a time when Americans are more educated and ‘accepting,‘ it doesn’t always seem to be the actual case. I am constantly shocked at when I hear the word ‘gay’ used to describe something and more and more I am bothered by it. It’s simply wrong, I wish that I could start the trend of saying ‘that’s so hetero…‘ Can you imagine how ridiculous that would sound – try it, the next time there is something that you have the chance to say it, do. Say ‘oh my goodness, that’s so hetero.’ I am guessing you will be looked at as if you were very odd.

Anyways back to my commentary on discrimination. I am not blind and unaware, I know that we are all affected by it in one way or another. I know that I have been a victim of it as well as having discriminated against others. Last night was a time that I was able to recognize that it has begun to affect my quality of life. In the work I do, I even know what I would say to a family who has a behavior or thought affecting their quality of life. ‘Take it back, make it yours, put yourself in situations so you feel in control.‘ Hmmmm…how stupid does it sound thinking, okay, I am not going to let my fears/thoughts/concerns keep me from living my life – I guess I am going to a straight nightclub.

March 23, 2008

Reading, Writing and Watching

Filed under: Uncategorized — writebrainit @ 1:26 pm

I just finished watching In The Valley Of Elah – too depressing on this day we celebrate Easter. Last night I made the mistake of watching Borderland. I can’t say either of them are bad, but they are nothing that I will probably find myself watching again. I believe In the Valley of Elah was written or presented by someone who was making a political statement – the very end was predictable to me – not that there is anything wrong with that, it just didn’t surprise me. The movie was sad and I don’t even want to think of what some of our soldiers have suffered over in Iraq. Borderland was just way too gross and gory. I think the thing that disturbs me most about some of this new ‘slasher’ porn as Josh Stolberg called it (I believe I am using the right phrase). The thing about Borderland is that it was a horribly scary story with just the premise alone – but then they feel this need to make a viewer physically ill after watching it. I needed a break after watching it, so I just watched some television and added another country that I never plan to visit to add to my list.

I am in the process of reading several books right now – I don’t know if I have developed adult ADHD or what – but I have a hard time staying focused on one book at a time. Is it possible that I have become so technological that I just want to get to the point. I am reading two books on weightloss – both of which approach some of the reasons for gaining weight in a fairly different approach. The first is Ultrametabolism – which is interesting in that it is supposed to help you to find out how your specific body’s metabolism works and then to identify foods that will help to speed it up. The other is this book that is called The Four-Day Win which I am loving.

Although I have to admit that I wish that both of them just had a short and sweet definition of what I need to do. Unfortunately I am having to do some reading in them though to learn what I am supposed to do. The thing I am loving about the Four-Day win is that I am learning something that I can take to my client’s and I like that the philosophy is being addressed with the psychological. She talks about a doctor she knew who helps people to cure their Obsessive/Compulsive tendencies. The short and sweet of this is that the next time they have an urge to follow their compulsion (i.e. hand washing) to instead do something that they enjoy for 15 minutes (like gardening) supposedly after just two times of doing this, there is a decreased need for the compulsion. I am just about at the part that talks about how this works with eating – I am hoping it will be a tool I can use with my weight-loss group.

I am being strongly drawn to read Joe Hill‘s 20th Century Ghosts book (it’s a book of short stories). I know that I really enjoy writing shorts. The other book I am trying to get is a book called Click which I find an absolutely fascinating concept. Ten writers all wrote a chapter of one man’s life. I find that kind of inventive thinking absolutely brilliant. I think an idea like this would be a great experiment in writing. I shared my excitement to read this book with the person who leads my writers group and she didn’t seem as excited about it. She said she might look at it in a store, but would never buy it. I was kind of surprised – she said that she might look through it in a store, but wouldn’t buy it. She then went on to complement me. She talked about the writers in the group and identified 4 of them as having a strong identifiable voice. I was one of the four. She said that meant that if stories were put in a box anonymously, she would be able to identify the writer just by reading the story.

At first I wasn’t sure how to take that – I thought it might initially be saying that I was not unique, so I left the email alone. Then later when I re-looked at it I was able to see what a compliment she was giving me. I didn’t even know how to respond (so I didn’t), but it was actually a huge compliment she was giving me. It’s funny because earlier this year one of the writers in the group commented on my tendency to write in the first person. What was funny was I didn’t take that offensively at all, but I did take it as a challenge. So that is why I wrote the story that I am currently editing for the Writers Digest short story contest – it’s all in the third person.

Well time to get going – got eggs to hide!

March 22, 2008

Not Much Time…

Filed under: Uncategorized — writebrainit @ 11:32 pm

..in order to post before the week is up. This has been one of those weeks. My whole week seemed to be appointment after appointment and when those appointments were done – I had another appointment that I needed to get to. My writing has been pretty well today. I am still learning how to use this program called Freemind
I believe it is supposed to help in outlining and other planning projects. I am using it to try and outline stories I have planned and am working on. One that I believe would make a good script (although I still have not developed the art of screenwriting). Then another that is a novel I have been working on for years and then another novel that I am trying to develop. One thing that I really liked about it is being able to add all these extra notes – the details I don’t want to forget, but am also not sure where to store them. It is an interesting tool – I am I sure I am not using it right, but I also know that I don’t have to write everything in order and can note when I do and don’t have something completed.

I have just started outlining the other novel that I have been working on (though not as long as the first). I even recently found the outline of a novel I started over 10 years ago – I am still not sure it is worth it or that I can even go back to working on it – but this might just be the story for storing it.

I also have a story that I was going to work on for the National Novel in a Month contest in November. Now November came and went much quicker than I expected and you have to write something like 2000 pages a day to meet the goal of completing a 50,000 + word novel. I have a junior novel that I considered starting this last November. I would like to give it a shot for this coming November, so I plan to get the outline finished, so again I have a focus.

I am in the process of editing a short story that I wrote and presented to my writing group recently. They noted some interesting errors in it and I plan on get it ready to submit next month to the Writer’s Digest Short Story Contest. I also plan on getting my Children’s story Wishes and Pockets out to at least 5 publishers this week. I would like to have it submitted to 25 by this June is my goal.

Recently, I was looking at a lot of my short stories and realized that I have a fairly common theme running through many of them – I seem to have a fascination with light and might see if I can bring them all together in a collection of short stories.

I guess this has been the week for really focusing on my writing. I have also been doing a lot of movie watching and television watching as well as reading. I will save that for a different post so I can get this one posted before midnight, lol.

March 12, 2008

Slingblade

Filed under: Uncategorized — writebrainit @ 12:14 am

I was telling my family recently that I think I have been alone for too long. I find myself talking to myself more than I ever thought I would. This I am okay with – with as many pets as I have, I can always pretend that I am talking with one or all of them. The thing that bothers me is that I have realized that I am becoming Billy Bob in Slingblade, I walk around grunting, groaning and hmm…ing throughout the night. I grunt and groan to emails I read, shows I watch on t.v. and I find myself yelling out loud ‘what in the fuck are you thinking’ to my reality shows.

I’ve been alone to long – that is evident. I am trying to make some changes there. Now last night I had to realize the absurdity of the whole thing – there I am checking email watching American Idol, grunting groaning, hmmmmm…ing and I recognize that I am doing these things. So you know what I do, I start talking to myself about how ridiculous it is making all of those noises. I had a full conversation with myself before I realized how utterly challenged I was behaving.

Well back to the writing stuff. I finally heard on that 24 hour contest – I won something from the grab bag (I don’t think that was as much a reward on the actual writing as it was just for joining the contest.) There is another contest at the end of this month, I am considering it, but I have to make sure I am going to be in town and around to be able to participate – Hell, it’s not like I am made of money and can just throw $5 here, there, and everywhere.

I read one of my shorts recently at my writers group and it was received with fairly positive response. The suggestions they brought up were very good – I think I have mentioned before that I usually put the piece aside for a few weeks before I attempt to rewrite it, and I really am not sure I am going to have to do that with this piece. The amusing thing to me is that this group is made up with a wide variety of writers – from poets, novelist and screenwriters. Most of the novelists have never written shorts and a couple have even told me that they wish they could write stories but they think of a story in the 200-500 page way of thinking. So I read this story and get a few responses who are looking forward to more on the story.

I felt bad last week because I was talking with one of the women – whom I actually adore – and I was sharing a bit about the story that I didn’t know how to break it to her. I said to the monitor that this was one of the things that I felt should be taught – that a short is evaluated and read differently than a novel. It kinda broke my heart to put it out there that ‘he’s dead, the story’s over.’ It was sweet – I just hope I didn’t embarrass her.

Anyhow, I am pretty sure that I am going to be working on the edit/rewrite of that story to be able to submit it to the Writer’s Digest short story contest. I also need to have a few hours this week to get the story of the Wishman submitted. I also heard from an agent that I was hopeful regarding this story, but she turned it down. So now I just start submitting it again. I think I changed the name of it too – I was thinking the title might be a little long – I actually have a few stories I have done that with. I believe that I am going to be titling it Wishes and Pockets.

March 4, 2008

Driving Without a License

Filed under: Uncategorized — writebrainit @ 2:06 pm

For those who don’t want the full story, jog down to the end. The shortened version awaits…

Last week was a ‘low on funds’ kind of week. Friday was payday and I had been carrying around a $3.60 check from my pharmacy refunds. Thursday was the kind of day where I had the change at home and could have run by home to pick it up in order to get an end of the day refill on my pop crock. However, I was right by my credit union and thought, ‘I’ll cash this and that will get me through.’

So since I was close to my credit union I went ahead through the drive through. With the combined change from the check and what was in my account, I was even able to get $4 cash and leave some change in there. I sign the little receipt and hand both copies back to her, asking her to please shred my copy (I hate taking those receipts because they dirty up my car and they have account information on it which I think puts me financially in ‘concern’ if anyone ever breaks into my car – truth be told you can’t even access the permanent $25 that is in the account, and there is seldom more than that.) Back to the bank, the woman asks ‘oh, do you want this envelope?’ in regards to the envelope that they shove cash in – another thing I hate (waste of paper, trash in car.) So I say, ‘No, thanks for asking.’ I take my $4 and drive off.

When I am all the way across town and getting ready to go to my evening appointment, I realize that the woman never returned my driver’s license. So, I look up the number (yes, I am smart enough to carry a phone book in my car). It goes immediately to voicemail. Even though the drive-thru is open until 6 p.m., the rest of the building is not open after 5:30. I leave a message that it is frustrating not being able to reach someone, knowing there is someone in the building. I try calling the other branches. I leave another message. I start randomly entering numbers, trying to reach someone in their office. I call back and leave another message. I make sure this time to leave more than ‘I need to reach you, you kept my driver’s license.’

Finally I recognize that I can do nothing about it at this time. An additional frustrating part of this is that I ran over to the casino after my meeting. I had a free $5 coupon to play with and as long as you play for ½ hour, you can go and get a buffet dinner comped. I went over and that $5 allowed me to play for ½ hour, so I went up to get my free meal ticket – guess what? You need your driver’s license and your players card to get your free meal. That sucked.

I received a call at 9:03 and remember thinking that I should have brought the phone into the bathroom. I thought it was amusing that I was making a big deal about being able to reach them, and here I was after leaving several phone messages, not answering their call.

The first thing the bank manager says to me after I explain who I am – ‘did you find your driver’s license yet?’ Are you kidding me? I explained that I didn’t not have it and she said that they have looked ‘high and low’ and they also do not have it. I explained that this is part of why I was frustrated with not being able to reach anyone last night – I am sure it went to the person who came through the drive-thru after me. I explained all of the above and pointed out that I have been with this c.u. long enough I know that one of the first things they do is put that D.L. in the white envelope so they don’t forget. She asked me to check my car again.

I have to interject on how calm I played it on these calls. I did point out that I have searched ‘high and low’ and even though there is no way to prove it, I have a very good visual memory for stuff like this and I cannot picture getting my driver’s license back. Yep, I said that. So now on top of everything else, I sound like a loon.

She asked me to hold a couple of minutes while she checked to see how many transactions were after mine and to check the little white envelopes and make sure it was not still there. She came back to say there were only a few transactions and asked that I give her until noon to contact all of them to see if they have it. I thanked her and said I could wait.

At 2:30 I was done waiting – we were now getting close to the time when the DMV would close and I would have to go the whole weekend without a license if I didn’t hear something. She apologized, but she had reached everyone but the woman was served directly after me. She said she was an OPS employee and even though she has left messages, she was told she wouldn’t be able to call until school was out. She said she would call by 5:30 at the latest.

At 5:40 she gave me a call. She had never reached this woman. I again shared frustration that there should have been a way to reach someone last night. She said, ‘sir, she hasn’t returned my calls all day, what difference would last night have made.’ I explained that it would have been a 14 hour head start and that many of the teachers don’t check their mail boxes on a daily basis (although they are supposed to) and most of them turn off their cells during the day because they can’t get reception in the school for most of them anyway. She then went on to say that we would have to wait to hear from her until Monday. She went on to say that the person after that has their disconnected. I said, ‘you told me you had reached everyone but this one woman?’ She said, ‘well we attempted, but their phone is shut off, we didn’t have a way.’ I cut in and said, ‘then you send a letter which now, it is too late to go out in today’s mail.’ She simply stated that she hadn’t thought of that.

I said, ‘wait a minute, you are open half the day tomorrow and if the license shows up tomorrow, I want to know.’ She said she was off tomorrow and I pointed out that she needs to make someone aware of the situation. She said, ‘so and so, the woman who got all of your messages this morning is well aware of the situation and will be working tomorrow.’ I again shared my frustrations and she told me, ‘well not claiming any fault of ours or yours – because really you should check to make sure you have received your license back before you leave.’ I cut her off with a simply, ‘ma’am.’ She said, ‘I know, but… and went on to explain that if I had to get a replacement, they would reimburse me.’ But the fact was that I could still potentially go a full weekend without a license. She asked me again to check my car really good.

I explained to the friends I was with the situation – they were laughing and when I went to the bathroom I heard two things. ‘It’s always Bill, that this stuff happens to.’ and ‘have you every notice that he has a kidney the size of a squirrel.’ Nice, huh? When I came out I joked with them that they are right, but I do not have a kidney the size of a squirrel. They asked what I was talking about and said that they had simply said, ‘if it’s going to happen to anyone, it’ll happen to Bill.’ Not at all what I heard, but I do believe them because they looked like they had no idea what I was talking about.

The next morning at 9:30 I received a call from the bank – the woman who had been directly behind me had just dropped off my driver’s license. I thanked them and said I would be in before closing. It’s nice to be right, but funny enough the bank made no acknowledgement of this. I am still thinking of sending a letter expressing both a thank you for your efforts and a note of frustration.

That’s the story – now for those who need the shortened version: The bank forgot the return my driver’s license, it went to the woman who went through the drive-thru after me. I got it back on Saturday.

The ART of STORYTELLING

Filed under: Uncategorized — writebrainit @ 12:35 pm

I am a storyteller which is a blessing since I am also a writer. Lately I have noticed this group of people who are not into the stories as much as they used to be. Thank God that I still am and blessed be those who have to listen to me. I don’t just tell the facts, I tell the story. I write long emails, I talk in long breathes and I often can’t finish talking until my story is complete. Try me – I come back to it. Telling a story takes me a little longer than most, but it’s well worth the time. Believe me I know it is or I wouldn’t tell it. I find myself interesting and wish I could find me in a crowd, I think I would love to hear one of my stories (I think I would).

I do have to admit that every now and then, after I finish telling a story, I think…’hmmmm…was that necessary and something I will want to share again? Last week we had a speaker come into our office and he spoke of generational differences. It was very interesting to me, and I was able to identify someone in my office who fit the different areas. The one that bothered me the most is this new, younger generation who is coming in to the workforce. They aren’t starting with a business to stay, average length is about 3 years, they do not recognize a hierarchy in the office and expect that everyone treat them as equals. I have totally notices this and it bugs the hell out of me, but it is calms me to know that this is a generational thing. I can learn to work with that.

The piece that really bothers me is the way they like their information. I work in the mental health field and everyone of the families I work with, have a story. Some like to tell it, some don’t. When I have a new person shadowing me to a an appointment, I like to give them a shortened history of this family’s life and interaction with me. I have become more and more bothered with the people who have started to interrupt me in the middle of my ‘storytelling’ with the questions like ‘how old is he?’; ‘what does he like to do?’, ‘how long have you been working with him/her?’ These are all questions that can be found in the chart or my notes. I even recently told one of the new people that if she wants me to tell her about the client and work we have done, she will have to listen. And if she just wants the basics, she is welcome to go read the chart and then approach me with her questions. I am thinking that might be the approach which I am going to take with most of the shadowing – read the chart and let me know the questions you might have after doing this.

I tell stories that have a beginning, a middle and an end. I am bothered when I don’t get to finish my story and there are times I wish to know, if you don’t want me to tell you the story, just let me know at the beginning. I am not Rose from The Golden Girls who’s stories go on and on and on. I don’t think I ramble, but I do like the stories that I am blessed to see in every day life. Recently at the Omaha Film Festival, I was blessed with the opportunity to drive around some of the presenters. One of the main presenters, Jeff Kitchen, was honestly a little hard to talk to. I could engage him in conversation if I found the right topic, other than that the answers were short and sweet. One thing he did say to me though after I had confirmed that I was, in fact, a writer was, ‘well then you know, that as a writer you get to see stories in everything.’ I couldn’t agree more, and that is actually almost exactly something I say often.

The funny thing is that this is probably one of the only things which Jeff and I agreed on – ah, that’s too general of a statement and probably not true. I was amused that he loved Michael Clayton and thought it was a brilliant thriller. He was hoping it would clean up at the Oscars and I, of course, didn’t even feel it was worthy of one Oscar nomination. I still stand by my thoughts that this could have been an episode of a television show or a movie of the week. I loved Atonement and Jeff thought it was horrible.

Anyways, back to my topic on storytelling. I have noticed some friends recently cutting me off or appearing bored with what I am saying. I can respect the bored response, we all have different interest levels and I am not always interested in what they have to say either. I take this as a challenge – to work on my storytelling. When I am telling a story, I will try to boil it down to the basic, but I won’t be shortening words, using numbers in the place of words or in essence turn my stories into a text message. Those that need this should let me know at the beginning – if you want the facts, ask for the facts, just don’t act stupid and comment, ‘you never told me that’ at a later time when you realize you didn’t get the story.

Often I admit that as I am telling the story, I am trying to perfect it, or get an idea if this idea will work on paper. I may embellish (although not often when I am first telling the story), but I will also tend to own up on what piece was truth and what was exaggerated. If I get a fair enough response from people, I try to put it on paper but the truth is that not everything which happens in real life, can be put into a story well (at least without an embellishment or two – consider it an accessory for the story).

Wanna hear what happened with my driver’s license?

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