Archive for February, 2012

One Thought at a Time

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

We all have our insecurities. For some it’s their crooked smile, for others it’s their weight, for me it’s my speech. Sure, there are a lot of things about myself and my body that I would love to change but none bothers me more than my inability to speak.

I know. You’re sitting, staring at your computer thinking I’m over exaggerating. I am a creative type, we are prone to the dramatics. But the truth of the matter is I have a speech impediment which gives me a slight stammer and a language disorder called cluttering, both manifest themselves when I’m nervous or extremely excited. I don’t like to say that I have a stutter because most of the time my stutter comes from the cluttering. Stick with me, here.

Everyone has their moments where their minds work faster than their mouths, unfortunately for those like me, it happens way too often. I’m left grabbing for any word to use causing me to start and stop several words before one finally makes it way out.

Thankfully, as I got older I’ve learned to control them but every now and then one of them, usually the cluttering, pop up at the most annoying, and often, embarrassing of times.

Yesterday I was on the phone with a dear friend and it happened. He has been a close friend of mine for a year now and is well aware of all my little quirks. Due to life, our friendship has had it’s ups and downs and we’re still trying to find that ease of friendship we used to enjoy. We check in with each other nearly everyday and once and awhile by phone. Yesterday I was pleasantly surprised when my phone rang and it was his name on the display. (more…)

A Worthy Pain in the Ass

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

A couple of weeks ago I was minding my own business when I got a notification on my phone that someone mentioned me on Facebook. Giddy at the thought of someone thinking of me, I hopped on my computer and brought up the message thread. It was between one of the instructor’s from my gym and a friend who goes there, they were trying to get a tag team together for the spin-a-thon.

I’ve seen posters for the spin-a-thon around the gym and half heard the instructors mention it before my weight-lifting class, but I left it at that. Spin classes scare me, I was never afraid to admit that. And this was one a monster of a class at THREE HOURS long. It was for a worthy cause to be sure, pediatric cancer research, but I just didn’t think my butt could handle it.

Come on, Karen. Do the spin-a-thon, it's only for an hour! :)

My friend didn’t think she could commit to the full three hours so the instructor suggested getting two others to join her in her efforts and divide the time into hour increments. And aren’t I lucky that my friend thought of me? :)

I wanted to say “no,” to politely make up a lie and tell them I will be coming down with the flu that weekend, but I didn’t. Instead, I agreed. It was just an hour, right? And it would be for a good cause.

After committing to the hour I thought it would be a good idea to take a class or two before embarking on the one for charity. So I did and I FREAKING loved it!

It was the hardest hour of my life, well besides childbirth (those freaking kids brought luggage out with them).  I’ve been working out for a couple of years now, but because of knee troubles I’ve been banned from running for about two months so I’ve been slacking on the cardio. After my first spin class my butt hurt from the seat, my chest was tight from breathing heavily and my eyes burned from the sweat dripping into them. I had a freaking blast! So much so that when the instructor approached me and said that there were bikes available for the full three hours of the charity event I agreed. (more…)

Favorite Valentine Memory

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Many of you know I’m not big on Valentine’s Day. I have my reasons and no I’m not sharing them with you. However, just because the holiday isn’t my favorite (not even in the top 5, it even falls after Administrative Assistant Day) that doesn’t mean that I don’t have a favorite memory from the “holiday.”

Actually, in all of my twenty-nine years, my favorite memory for Valentine’s Day happened just yesterday. (See? My favorite Valentine’s memory doesn’t even fall on the day!)

I’m a part of my community chorus called, We Sing. We’re a lovely bunch of people who get together to rehearse once a month and sing at various community functions. Yesterday we were invited to sing at a local senior assisted living center, Country Meadows.

I love singing at retirement homes, the generation living there appreciate music and even though they may forget how to button their pants, they remember word for word of their favorite songs.

After nearly missing two little old ladies and their walkers on the way in (this is why they say don’t talk on cell phones while driving, especially in a retirement home parking lot) I walk into the center with just enough time to take off my jacket and take my spot with the group. I didn’t even get a chance to take in the atmosphere before the piano started.

The first song we sang was “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” from Oklahoma! It’s a nice little, light song, one that is easy to sway along with. So, there I am, in the front swaying and singing along with the group and my eyes fall onto a gentleman in the front row.

His posture is relaxed, his eyes are closed and I notice his mouth starts to move. At first I thought he was just mumbling to himself, he really wasn’t keeping up with the music but as the song continued his head started to bob and before I knew it his one voice was carrying over ours.

My eyes left him and I took in the rest of the crowd. The ones who were watching were smiling and for a few a tear brought a sparkle to their eyes. However, many had their eyes closed. Lost in the music many swayed, others tapped the beat out with a finger, and most sang.

Many would turn to their neighbors and give them a little a giggle when we sang, Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree and I just wanted to sit at their feet and have them tell me stories.

Every song we sang, they sang along. From “When You Wish Upon a Star” and ”You are My Sunshine” to “Can’t Help Falling in Love” and “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” they were right there with us, never missing a beat. But it was that man in the front that held my attention for most of our set.

He sat with a woman, him in a chair with his cane and her in her wheel chair. I don’t know their relationship, they could very well have been placed their by the workers of the facility, but whenever we started a new song they would turn to each other and give a knowing smile almost to say, “OH! I remember this song!”

I said before that I love singing for this generation, they truly are the “Golden Generation.” I have the utmost respect for what they lived through and I never miss an opportunity to speak with them. Their memories, their laughs, their lives should be cherished and shared. I didn’t get a chance to speak with any of them yesterday, and although a word wasn’t shared between us, the connection I felt with them during the set was amazing.

We sang their songs, we brought smiles to their faces and for 30 minutes we gave them their memories. It was a truly beautiful feeling, one I hope I never forget.

So friends, although I hate the holiday, I love singing the mushy songs that go along with it. I hope you all have a wonderful day full of love and friendship and all that happy horse shit that goes along with the day. ;)

Until next time!

Slainte!

WAIT! Before you go I want to share this song with you! Like I said above, I may hate the holiday, but I love the songs and one of my favorite songs associated with the day is, “My Funny Valentine.” It’s a beautiful song that I always found odd because it basically says, “you’re kinda funny looking but I love you anyway.”

Love shouldn’t be perfect. It should be chaotic, overpowering, challenging yet at the same time safe, warm, inviting, and accepting. So, here ya go friends, a song I love to sing, sung by a man who can melt my heart with the first note.

Sing it, Frankie.

New Review of the Serial Bone Wires by Michael Shean

Saturday, February 11th, 2012

When I last reviewed Michael Shean’s Bone Wires, a cyberpunk noir featured weekly on Curiosity Quills, Detective Daniel Gray had just found the first homicide victim missing his spine. Now in its fifteenth week, two more bodies were discovered with their spines removed adding pressure on Gray to solve the case. Since the beginning of the serial, Detective Gray had his sights on that amber shield and with the identity of the bone thief now known, but not yet captured, he has finally achieved the shield and notoriety he so desired. However, with the killer still on the loose and being forced to accept an assignment for a Senior Vice Detective, Gray is learning that the road to the success he dreamed of is not as smooth and steady as he once thought.

Bone Wires is my first dive into not only reviewing but reading a serial. I was curious about how the pacing would flow and so far the story has moved along nicely. Shean balances development of the case with the development of the characters beautifully within each installment. His placement of plot points, introductions of new characters along with the further development of existing characters are well thought out and keep the story moving fluidly from week to week. (more…)

Interview with Michael Shean author of Shadow of a Dead Star

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Oh happy day! Michael Shean, author of Shadow of a Dead Star, stopped by the pub today to talk science fiction. Now if you’ve hung out in the pub before you know that only a few science fiction writers have made their way onto my bookshelves and Michael Shean is one of them. I love noir stories and the way he’s combined the two into a gritty and captivating story just blew me away. With that said, I’m super excited to have him here to talk about the possibilities of merging human with machine. And the best part about the interview? The Balvanie Scotch Michael has introduced me to. So pull up a barstool, grab yourself your favorite drink and listen up. Oh, and if you stick around after the interview I hear Michael’s buying a shots of Jaegermeister for everyone. Is this guy great or what? ;)

KD: Where did the inspiration for Shadow of a Dead Star come from?

MS: I was in a dark place a few years back, very angry with certain aspects of the world and how it was affecting myself and other people I knew – I started having strange dreams about the future, and I came to feel very distant from people and society.  Shadow is an artifact of that alienation.

KD: Your novel, Shadow of a Dead Star and your serial, Bones Wires, both take place in a futuristic Seattle. What is it about this time period and Seattle that draws you to set your stories there? 

MS: At the time I just thought Seattle was a good place to set the story.  It can be beautiful but also very grim and dreary, and I had friends who lived there talk about the penetrating gloom that they felt after living there for a few years.  It’s the paradox of the area that draws me there: I hear stories of isolation and despair, but also stories of vibrance and color.  I try to capture that, and I hope that I’ve done the city justice.

KD: You combined the darkness of noir with the endless possibilities of science fiction to create a bleak future full of illusions and disconnect. Is there a message hidden within your words regarding the path that we’re on in respect to technology?  (more…)

REVIEW: Shadow of a Dead Star by Michael Shean

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

In Michael Shean’s futuristic noir, Shadow of a Dead Star, we follow the gut instincts of Thomas Walken, an agent with the Industrial Security Bureau in Seattle, 2078. In a world where technology and commercialism is god, it is up to Walken to keep black-market technology off the Seattle streets. He has no idea that when he’s sent to intercept a shipment of smuggled Princess Dolls, which are little girls turned into sex toys, that his entire world, and the world as he knows it will be lost to him forever. When the dolls are stolen out of custody, Walken is put on the spot to find out the who and why behind it and this time it’s not just his job on the line, but his life.

Shean’s writing rips you out of your comfortable chair and hurls you directly into the story. It is one thing for a writer to write a story about a dark and brooding place, it is something entirely different when the reader can actually feel the coldness and the despair emanate from the page. Shadow of a Dead Star captures the spirit, or actually, lack-of spirit that the noir genre is so popular for. (more…)

Michael Shean

Monday, February 6th, 2012

Michael Shean is a web professional and graphic artist living in the Washington, DC area. A lifelong devotee to science fiction, weird fiction and noir tales, Michael enjoys weaving complex stories involving troubled, colorful characters and deconstructing the darker side of the worlds in which they live.

It’s All Downhill From Here

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

I don’t know if you know this about me, but I like to be a little bit reckless sometimes. See, I was raised pretty sheltered. I’m the youngest of four children and the only girl. Now granted if you read my last post with random facts about me, you know that I can handle myself in a sticky situation and I don’t take kindly to people stealing my friend’s money or my soccer ball. However, self-defense and bully bashing aside, I was the good girl growing up.

I did what I was told when I was told to do it. I hated being a disappointment and I always colored within the lines. The only dangerous situations I put myself in were kept to the soccer field and dealing with a bully here or there. Oh, and there was that knife fight outside of… you know what? Never mind. Let’s just say that I played by the rules.

When my husband introduced me to snowboarding ten years ago I was totally against it. I walk into walls on a daily basis and he wanted to strap me on a board and have me hurl down a mountain, trees and other skiers be damned. The first couple of times I hated it. Partly because I hate sucking at things and partly because I was just too damn scared. Scared of hurting myself. Scared of being laughed at. Just plain scared. And snowboarders? Aren’t they a bit dangerous and careless? I felt a little spark at that that thought, but like the good girl I was, I ignored it.

Then half-way through that first season something happened. I stopped riding my back edge down the trail and I discovered I could go fast, really, really fast. The light bulb went off and the little devil on my right shoulder drop kicked the angel off my left and away I went.

I always liked the “thought” of going fast but I just could never let go. I could never trust my instincts. The more I practiced, and the more confident I got in my abilities, the more I realized just how much I not only enjoyed going fast, but how much I needed it. It isn’t until you’re flying down that mountain under your own control, trusting your own instincts that the freedom truly captures your spirit and you’re free.

Something happens to me when I go fast. When that adrenaline rushes in I feel like no one can touch me. Don’t like my stories? That’s fine, you’re entitled to your opinion, which sucks by the way, but you’re still entitled to it. You don’t want me as a friend, a sister, a confidant? Who needs you? I’m my own person. I can do this. I can do anything!

I can, and most likely, will run into that tree. Just kidding. Maybe. ;)

OK, let’s face it, becoming a totally awesome snowboarder will not turn me into an independent snob who doesn’t need anybody. The truth is I need people a lot more than your average Jane. But knowing that I can handle speed and trust my instincts to work the bumps and divets along the way is very empowering to the sheltered, scared little girl hiding within me.

We went snowboarding last night for the first time in five years and once again I heard that whiny voice creep into my thoughts. Wouldn’t you know it’s the same voice I hear when I write? That damn bitch was telling me that I couldn’t do it.

You’re going to fall and bust up your knee again.

You’re going to make a fool out of yourself when you get off the lift and take out thirty people including a ski patrol guy and be kicked off the mountain.

You should just go home. 

But as usual I kept her voice in my head and put on a happy face. That’s what I do. I smile through the fear, through the pain, because that was another life lesson I learned growing up. I learned no one needs to know your doubts, they’re yours, just deal with them. But I’ll save that train of thought for my therapist. :)

Anyway, back to last night… I laughed and joked with the people riding the lift with us, telling them stories about some of my worst falls.  As we neared the top of the mountain I braced myself for that first major wipeout off of the lift; my heart started to pump, my hands started to sweat and a nervous giggle escaped me. When it came time to push off the chair I took a deep breath, held it and glided about 4 feet before stopping. I didn’t fall.

Just got off the first lift of the night and I didn't fall!

I wanted to kiss someone but no one was around me so I just did a little dance and strapped myself back into my board. As the night wore on, my body remembered the flow of the mountain and I found my rhythm. I remembered that feeling I had five years ago, I remembered the freedom that boarding gave me and I felt that craving to have more of it.

Then the voice got quiet.

It was replaced with real, genuine confidence. I didn’t go as fast as I would have liked, but I had fun, I trusted my instincts on certain trails and I kept going. Sure, I wiped out getting off the lift twice, but the other times were smooth dismounts.

I’m tired of doubting myself, friends. I’m tired of thinking everyone is better than me. I’m ready to take on a bigger mountain, to shut that damn voice up once and for all.

I’m ready to write what I want to write, in my own time, no one else’s.

So shove that in your half pipe and smoke it. ;)

 

And for everyone who requested it… here is a little video I put together of me on the mountain. It gets a little choppy in the middle; I played with the speed of the clip because we were on a “mosey” part of the mountain. Enjoy!