Day 28. Grateful

This last day of my journey is going to be two days, as we opt to let some of the long drive spill over into tomorrow. It’s okay, I’m going to consider this a journey of 28 days anyway.

The final stretch is a trip through the deep south; our slightly longer route determined by the need to pick up my husband’s car at an airport in South Carolina.

We end up spending the night in town in which the only open restaurant is a fast food chicken place, and the only open grocery store is whatever they sell at the bait shop attached to the local gas station. We patch together a meal from what’s in our car.

The TV at our place has no reception, but we find something to watch in the collection of old VHS movies that are provided.  (The Client, with Susan Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones. It’s not bad and it speeds the evening along.)

The next day, as I finally drive up the road to my own house, my last rule of the road, #28, is clear. Be grateful to have made the journey. Be grateful to have made it home.

I’ve been listening to my playlist of “25 songs with home in the title” ever since I dropped my husband off to get his car. When the list is done, Gabrielle Aplin’s Home is the one I play twice. Make that three times.

I don’t see the video until after I’m in the house and finishing this blog. It has such a creepy start that I almost don’t post it, but I watch it a few more times and it wins me over. Besides, so much of the country she travels through looks like where I’ve just been.

I could swear I passed the guy in the yellow truck at least once in my travels. In fact, I might have stayed at his Airbnb. Or maybe I saw him at Burning Man. At any rate, the video resonates with my journey, and her song leaves me smiling … because I’m finally home.

If you’d like to read a short blurb from each day of my journey, check out
Day 1. The Journey of 6000 miles
Day 2. Rules of the Road
Day 3. Just Don’t
Day 4. Bloom Here.
Day 5. Yes Aretha. Respect.
Day 6. No Trucks. Just Corn.
Day 7. Cry
Day 8. There’s No Place Like Home
Day 9. It’s Okay to Ask a Human for Help
Day 10. Always Bring an Onion
Day 11. Gimme Three Steps Towards Nevada
Day 12. I Want to Scream.
Day 13. Dusty Virgin
Day 14: Magical ride
Day 15. As Nice as I Want to Be
Day 16. What Rules? What Road?
Day 17. If you get interrupted by a parade …
Day 18. I, Human
Day 19. A Border Crossing
Day 20. Someone to Help Me Get Home
Day 21. Time flies like an arrow and ….
Day 22. Stop, or Else …
Day 23. What’s Your Reality?
Day 24. If it seems ridiculous …
Day 25. Backing Up
Day 26. To Stop a Hurricane
Day 27. Lights Along My Path
Day 28. Grateful

 

Day 23. What’s Your Reality?

I’ve spent several days at Burning Man, which I think we can all agree is a world unto itself. Now that I’m back in what burners call the default world, I seem to be hyper aware of the fact that none of us live in quite the same reality as each other.

We choose different forms of entertainment, and of news. We spend time with different sorts of people. We treat our bodies differently with our food, our rest and our recreation. Our surroundings, which we have some ability to choose, vary radically. It may be amazing that any of us agree as much as we do.

The point is really brought home today when I go visit my husband’s brother and his wife at their ranch. I admire these two a great deal. Years ago they made a choice to live off of the grid, growing or raising most of their own food, hauling in their own water, generating their own solar power. Their food is pure, their bodies work hard.

The vision has morphed somewhat, allowing more modernization and convenience, but they still live a harsh and solitary life in a stunning location. Today’s big news is that they have found a way to have hot running water. They’ve both just taken their first shower at home at the turn of a knob since they began this life about a decade ago. They are quite pleased.

For all that I find their place beautiful, and their choices admirable, I realize that I’m glad I don’t live their life. I enjoy hot showers and baths, among many other creature comforts.

Then I realize, I don’t have to be them, any more than they have to be me. I choose my reality, more or less, just as they’ve chosen theirs.

Isn’t that nice?

But as we visit with each other, it’s helpful to remember that we communicate across a membrane; they in their world and me in mine. While it may be less obvious once I’m back in the town where I live, I vow to remember this insight. Rule 23. It’s a good one for the road and off.

As to the odds of each of us getting to end up in the reality that truly suits us? I think Jimmy Cliff had it all figured out years ago …

 

Picking a President: “Holding Out for a Hero”

So I am adding to the music page on this blog, and come to “Holding out for a Hero” by Bonnie Tyler and suddenly current events sort of click for me. I confess that watching this presidential primary process has left me disturbed like never before. What does an 80’s song have to do this? Walk with me here, because I think I’m on to something.

superheroWhy is the protagonist in a novel, or movie, or TV series usually called the hero of the story? We love our heroes (male and female) because we not only love to cheer them on, we also live through them vicariously. In fact, we are so used to being entertained by heroes that I think we’ve evolved into a society where many of us don’t want our politicians to be leaders.  We certainly don’t want them to be politicians. We want them to be our heroes, and that’s a different thing.

Some politicians thought to have a good shot at the presidency are having a hard time fitting the hero image. Hilary Clinton, Mark Rubio and John Kasich are all struggling with it, and Jeb Bush failed at it along with eleven other GOP hopefuls.

On the other hand, Bernie Sanders has risen as a hero to the left. It’s fair to tell you that I like a lot of Bernie Sanders ideas and if he wins the primary I will vote for him, even though I do not think he would be particularly good at the business of governing these United States. My point here is that I don’t think his followers are focusing on his abilities as a statesman. He is a hero to them for speaking out against the injustice in our nation.

fractal 6On the other side of the aisle are an array of heroes to chose from. Does your hatred of the federal government run so strong that you cheer on a man willing to shut the entire government down if he doesn’t get his way? Have we got a candidate for you. Fancy a quiet neurosurgeon whose medical feats don’t qualify him for politics but sure are impressive? Step this way. Or is your idea of a hero someone who is wildly rich, terribly confident and never backs down? Ohhhh boy, you are going to love what we have for you.

I’m afraid that as a nation were not looking for the most capable leader we can find. We’re each looking for our own particular kind of hero out there. We want someone we can rally behind and yell “hell yes”, the country be damned. It makes sense in a very visceral way, even though I don’t think this is what the founding fathers had in mind for democracy. However, as our society has become ever more entertainment-saturated, this might have been inevitable.

I think it would be a good idea to be more aware of what we are doing, and to ask whether heroes have historically made good leaders. What do you think?

While you ponder that question, enjoy this 1984 video of a young Bonnie Tyler and her 80’s hair as she sings “Holding out for a Hero.”

(Learn more at bonnietyler.com/. You can buy this song at Amazon.)

z2 is a story about becoming a hero when necessary. Enjoy this short excerpt about one of the moments when my protagonist has to act like a hero. And no, I do not think that being able to handle a situation like this qualifies one to be president.

“It’s probably just the cat,” he muttered, mostly asleep.

“It’s NOT the cat!” she said. “It’s coming from the front lawn.” Lola stepped into the hallway and could see a bright glow coming in through the front windows. “Oh my god, Alex.”

Alex could recognize genuine panic when he heard it and he went from barely awake to completely awake in about two seconds. This was his job. He protected this house. He strode into the front hall and saw through the glass panels on either side of his front door an angry and probably drunk mob of white hooded people on his front lawn, most waving burning torches and chanting something about his house, shelter and Satan.

“Call 911,” he barked to Lola, heading back to the bedroom to grab some pants. “Then see if you can make it out the back door and get to a neighbor. Bring back some help if you can. I’m going out there to see what they want.”

It was an indication of how serious the situation was that Lola didn’t even pause to discuss his plan with him.

He opened the door, and saw that a cross about the size of a grown man had been erected on his front lawn and was being doused in liquid from a metal can. As he opened his mouth to speak, the crowd noticed him, and the chanting was replaced by a plethora of epitaphs.

 

How not to name a book ….

Authors note: z2 is currently on blog tour through the fine folks at Reading Addiction Virtual Book Tours. The post below is part of that tour and it appeared a few days ago on a blog called Clutter Your Kindle.  My thoughts were inspired by a post I wrote here back in 2013, two whole books ago. A lot has changed for me since then, but apparently other things haven’t changed much at all.

vampireI confess, I never got into the thrill of the whole dragon phase that fantasy lovers went through a couple of decades ago when I was a young adult reader, and maybe I shouldn’t tell you this but I’ve never been all that into vampires either. Hey, different things appeal to different people. I do confess to a certain lingering fascination with werewolves, however, and maybe it is because they helped me figure out how much I just don’t like the dead guys. So enter the whole zombie fascination. Okay, to each their own, but zombies turn my stomach.

Which does make the fact that I called my third novel z2 a little problematic. Zombies showed up a few years ago and they are still around. Brad Pitt even stared in a movie called World War Z last summer. Every search I do that starts with a z continues to turn up zombie books, zombie movies, and just plain more zombies. We really do have a zombie problem.

cake-topper-xoSo why did I pick that name? Well, I had already made the mistake of naming my first novel x0, only to discover that you can’t make superscripts appear on a blog or anywhere else that matters. I wanted to name my second novel x1, but my love of X-men got me to change it to y1, not wanting to seem like an imitator. So it looked like my third novel needed to be called z2. You know, x0, y1, z2…..

It fit the story well for the book’s hero Alex Zeitman to form a club at the high school where he teaches, and for him to call the club z2. He pronounces it “zee squared” and it is for those who can warp time like himself and for others fascinated by time travel. I refer to the book as “zee squared”. Everyone else calls it “zee two” because you can’t tell it’s a superscript. This was definitely not the way to name a book. Worse yet, some readers have told me that they thought my book was about a second coming of zombies. Good grief.

Have I learned my lesson yet? No. Of course not. The last three books in the 46.Ascending collection have superscript titles too. c3 came out in Kindle a few months ago and d4 will be out this fall. I guess I like the consistency. Maybe I like doing things the hard way. Maybe it just fits to have superscripts for super heroes. Yeah, that’s it. Superscripts for super heroes.

Normal people

We have a 6 ft by 9 ft ledge in our house that sits over our front door and can only be accessed through an upstairs closet. It’s a small room, really, open on one side to the entry way and totally useless.  I’ve filled it with plants.  One day my son asked me “What would normal people do with a space like that?”

Not Normal

Not Normal

I’ve now had the privilege of having a few dozen complete strangers read and review my three novels.  Seeing my stories work, or not, through their eyes has been one of the most exciting things in my life.  I cannot begin to tell you what a growing experience this writing thing has been.  Sometimes a particular comment in a review overwhelms me, but none has more than the offhand remark of av0415 in her review of x0 on Library Thing.

“It’s quite different from normal books.” That’s just what she said.  “Normal books.”

It seems that with each novel I write, I have some sort of new personal confidence crisis.  I’m about 1/6 of the way into c3 (cee cubed), the fourth novel in this collection, and I am having my crisis already.  This one has to do with my writing style being too inaccessible. I change points of view too often and jump around too much and my last novel z2 took this even further than the first two books. I need to write more like everybody else.

So thank you, so very much, av0415 whoever you are. Thank you for reminding me of my son’s question long ago.  For although my son apologized quickly for any implied insult, he was astute enough to know how inwardly pleased I really was. Yes, I am happy that I don’t decorate like everyone else. Or dress or think or live in a way that is too easily described as normal.  And although I do want my books to be read and enjoyed by many, I am not trying to write them to be read and enjoyed by all. I need to remember that.

These aren’t normal books.  They aren’t written by a normal person. It’s okay. If your particular lack of normal has a common wavelength with mine, then you might enjoy these non-normal tales and that would be great.  But if you don’t, it’s fine too. We’re all not normal in our own way.

No, this book is not about zombies……

dragonI confess, I never got into the thrill of the whole dragon phase that fantasy lovers went through about thirty years ago, although I do have to say that it appealed to me more than the vampire thing (that is, the previous round of vampire interest) which got going a few years after that.  Nothing wrong with either, mind you, but …

Fast forward a couple of decades. I’m still not so fond of the the vampire thing, part two, althoughvampire I do confess to a certain lingering fascination with werewolves and other such creatures.  But vampires — just dead guys.  Ick.  So enter the whole zombie fascination. Okay, to each their own.  But double ick for me.

Which does make the fact that I’ve just called my third novel z2 a little problematic.  Zombies are everywhere. Brad Pitt stars in a movie called World War Z coming out in June.  Every search I do that starts with a z turns up zombie books,  zombie movies, and just plain more zombies. We really do have a zombie problem.

cake-topper-xoThe title of my third book was supposed to be x2, where the 2 is a superscript.  You know, x squared.  But as I explained on my other blog in a post called “Hugs and Kisses“, when I named my first novel x0 I discovered that you can’t make superscripts appear on this blog or anywhere else that matters. And, as I pointed out in “Why why one?”  my love of X-men and respect for Patrick Stewart made me change the name of my second book from x1 to y1.  I just didn’t want to intrude.

When fellow indie author and blogger Hock Tjoa interviewed me on his blog last August, he joked about my third novel being called z2. Ha. I was still playing around with x2. Or with 2x because that fit my theme better mathematically. Or maybe even 2z just to blend the three titles together better. And then I realized that Hock, who I’ve never met, was absolutely right. The logical next name was z2 and I simply had to go with it.

So ….. the book’s hero Alex Zeitman now forms his own club, z2, for time warpers like himself and other interested parties.  He calls his club “zee squared”. I call the book “zee squared”. Others call it “zee two” because you can’t tell it’s a superscript and many of them suspect it has something to do with a second coming of zombies. Arrgghhh.

Have I learned my lesson yet? No. Of course not. The last three books will have superscript titles also. I’m not sure why.  Maybe I like consistency. Maybe I like doing things the hard way. Maybe it just fits to have superscripts for super heroes. Yeah. Superscripts for super heroes. I like that.

and the winner is ….

February is music awards time and the novel z2 begins with hero Alex Zeitman sitting dejectedly in a hospital room watching the 1981 Grammy Awards.  Alex likes his music uptempo and he’s rooting for Fame, made famous by Irene Cara, to win song of the year.  He’s just torn his ACL and his dreams for playing professional basketball are going up in smoke, and to make the evening even more miserable Christopher Cross with his soft rock sound of “Sailing” ends up winning in every major category. Christopher Cross even beats out Pink Floyd for album of the year.  What is the world coming to?
Check out this video to see why Alex was cheering on the song “Fame.”
Purchase the music to Fame here.

Alex Zeitman is, of course, made up of a good bit of Sherrie Cronin, as are all my characters, the sympathetic and the less so.  My tastes in music run more towards stirring lyrics and less towards rhythm than Alex’s tastes do, but I think that he would join me in cheering for Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know”.  It’s a haunting two-sided song yet it has that mesmerizing tempo that Alex loves.  I was glad to see it win record of the year, and to know that in spite of Alex’s concerns thirty-two years ago, good music has hardly died!