gypsyanna: (Default)
2012-06-24 12:38 pm

Bye-bye LJ...

My residency at LiveJournal has now been terminated, as of a couple of weeks ago. I disliked the annoyance of their ads, but when they limited my Friends page to just the last ten or so entries I had enough. Sure, it's a free service, but LJ is no longer the only free blog service around.

So here I am, for my infrequent blogging urges. :)
gypsyanna: (Default)
2011-02-04 09:23 am

A Day in the Life: February 4, 2011 -- SNOW DAY!!


I’m not fully convinced it’s snow. I always believe its ice, down here in Louisiana. Ice is a pain. Snow is fun! Either way, state and city government buildings are closed so I have the day off. Probably without pay, too, which really sucks. But the extra free day is nice! I can work on my resume, work on Hellgebra, clean my house, help my niece do her taxes, get the StarRise stories organized for editing, cook up some food for next week, for lunch and for class night…

Wait. That’s not a ‘day off’ is it? Huh.

Today begins the real test of resolve for the South Beach Diet. Home all day, I might get bored. I probably will. Boredom leads to snacking. Snacking is bad. It happened last night – but last night I managed to just snack on permitable things: roasted chickpeas and almonds. I over indulged in the almonds. And I wasn’t even really hungry. But, I didn’t reach for anything I should not have had, so – yay, me! I’m now approximately 2 lbs less than I was on February 1st.  I’ve been weighing myself ever day, as soon as I get up. The second morning alarmed me, since that day I weighed more than I had the day before. But I stuck with it! Cathryn, a coworker, is doing this with me, so that makes it even easier to stay focused. 

I need to go to the store at some point this weekend and replenish stuff for my breakfast casserole, and get more veggies. Maybe. I have to re-evaluate how many veggies I have now! I should go ahead and just premeasure them into two-cup portions so I can really plan. So far, so good, however. It’s before 9am and I’ve just finished breakfast. 

My brother is a sweetheart. When he came home this morning – very early this morning, around 2 or 3 am – he woke me up to suggest I take his car to work because the roads were getting bad. Waking me up isn’t a bad thing – he knows most of the time him just walking in the door will be enough to wake me up. But it was very sweet of him to be that concerned for me driving to work. I think I’ll keep him around a while still. 

I WANT this quilt…

I’ve been feeling an urge to redecorate my bathroom and bedroom lately. Considering today is my second anniversary for being planted in NW Louisiana again, this shouldn’t be surprising. Usually by this time, I’ve moved on, or I’m planning to!  We all know that if I’m not planning a move, then something needs to be changing.

I have been contemplating for some time now setting up my own domain and web page again. I would like to use that website for hosting a forum for writers and artists to gather and discuss, trade advise and resources, ask questions and get answers. I know there are already forums like that out there so there’s probably no point it in, but I think it would be nice. Set up a separate shared-world forum for folks who like to write and RP. Maybe publish a bi-annual magazine of stories from that shared-world.

And yet another forum for fanfiction escapades. 

But I’d really someplace where I could invite experts to share their knowledge. Someplace I could go, or any writer could, and ask, “So, if I want to feed a community of 500 through a 7 months cold season, how much land do I need to have under plow, and how much food will we need? How much corn is grown in an acre? How many people will that feed, for how long?” Or if I want to ask, “If Betelgeuse does go nova, how long will it really take for that to reach us? Would the light travel faster than normal, or would it take 640 years, since Betelgeuse is 640 light years from us?”

Or even, someplace where I could go and ask guys frank questions about their thoughts and motivations so I know I’m writing a male character as realistically as possible. And in return, male writers could ask women frank questions to make sure they’re writing female characters as true to life as they can.

I really, really want to do this. I just have one little problem: coming up with a domain name. I want something that’s short and easy to remember, something that indicates what the site is about, something that doesn’t sound new-agey, because this would actually become my ‘professional’ email address and since I’ll be using it on resumes to be sent out soon… gypsy.anna just doesn’t sound very permanent to a prospective employer, does it? 

I thought of – merging together writer and envision. It also sounds like revision, which is suitable since writers tend to do a lot of revising, and what is writing but a revisioning of reality via words?

But I don’t know if I like it. And I need a catchy slogan. I don’t want this to be something that’s just me, but something a lot of people will enjoy and find useful – and something that professionals can be lured into checking out and participating in. I imagine that it’ll be a lot of work, initially. I think I’d have to end up seeking out the professionals for specific questions and relaying question and answer – if I get an answer! – back and forth… But hopefully I’ll get other Type-A like people who wouldn’t mind helping out. 

But still! The problem of a domain name! I’m begging for suggestions!
gypsyanna: (Default)
2011-01-26 04:10 pm

A Day in the Life: January 26 2011


Although I can’t tell you why that should be so exciting. :-) This week’s check is going to be particularly short, since last Monday was a holiday. I was asked to come in to work, helping with a project for Jean in accounts payable. That little project, which I hoped to last at least 4 hours, lasted 45 minutes. I wasn’t happy last Monday. Not only did I miss a chance to sleep in, but I also earned less than $10 for it. :-/ Then there’s the missed afternoon on Tuesday because that was the first day of the semester and student-loan-check-pickup day. :-D That day always makes me happy. For the first time ever, I did not need this check to bail me out of any financial crisis, or to buy a car. This check I could stuff in a savings account (after taking care of some little vacation plans…). That is, until Murmur decided he wanted to be Really Sick and Scare Me To Death. I think he timed it – and thank God he did. {{{{{Murmur}}}}} Murmur being sick, however, cut another chunk out of my check: three hours on Friday morning. Yes, this is going to be a painfully short check. It may all have to go in the household account and leave nothing for my personal account. :-( Next week’s check, though, should be back to what it’s supposed to be: I only missed two hours Monday because of his vet appointment, and I got one of those back by skipping lunch hour that day. I’ll try to get some, if not all, of the other hour back by coming in early the rest of the week.

I have been very bad this past week. I should have been working on Hellgebra, studying hard, or writing. But I have not. Instead, I have returned (again) to my frustrating fixation on Threadfall charts. This is not my world. I did not create it. I should not care. BUT. Most of my writing is based on Pern. It’s a comfortable home where I feel like I know what’s going on. I know my characters. I care about them. And because I care, I want to write stories for them that make sense and are as real as possible. For me, that means that stuff that happens to them can’t always happen at convenient times. Their lives have to revolve around when Thread is going to fall. So, in order for me to understand how they feel, how tired they are, when they’re training, what the odds are of them getting hurt, or killed, I need to know when Thread is falling. In order for them to be able to go off and attend a gather or see a friend at another Weyr, I need to know when Thread is falling in StarRise’s territory, and in the other territory. I don’t like just making it up, because what if sometime later – or sometime before – someone’s written a story on the same date with conflicting information? Sure, chances are no one will notice. But someone could notice, and question, and I would know that the information was knowingly faulty simply because it was eas or convenient for me. And I need it to be right, because that’s the whole point. It’s fiction, but isn’t the goal of writing fiction to transplant you to another place, time, world, setting where you can envision these things happening? Where you can put yourself in the main characters place and feel/understand their motivations, emotions, goals, desires…? If that’s the case, then how can you comfortably just fudge one of the central facets of their life?

Perhaps it’s just me. Most people don’t seem to have a problem with this, and I envy them that. Perhaps there’s too much of the logical, by-the-book in me for the truly creative, imaginative person I want to be to have a chance. I remember when I was 15 or 16 and just starting to write. I knew how to do it for fun, then. How to just write for the writing. I have lost that ability, however, and now my writing is centered around questions like, “Could this really happen this way?” or “Does this make sense?” I once spent three hours researching coal mining methods online to write a paragraph…

So anyway. I’ve browsed online for years looking for Threadfall charts. I’ve found the ones that have been published in McCaffrey’s novels, but honestly – they’re not much help. As they are, they’re confusing. Conflicting information is found in the books. Don’t get me started on the whole idea of Thread, either – the voice in my head that’s long said, “That just doesn’t make sense!” has gotten a LOT louder since I took Astronomy 105 last semester. I’m taking Astronomy 106 this semester – I almost offered Mr. Moore the challenge of figuring out Thread for me. :-) So I decided that, to some extent, I was going to have to start from whole cloth. I took McCaffrey’s maps to determine the distance and angle covered by one Fall. I used the maps to determine the fact that Thread falls in bands: where one ‘Fall ended, another will begin, but not the NEXT ‘Fall. Other people, smarter in math than I!, determined that a new ‘Fall begins about 435 minutes after the beginning of the previous Fall. That’s 7 hours and 15 minutes. According to what I could determine on McCaffrey’s maps, Thread falls in two locations at the same time.

So, merging McCaffrey’s maps, math done by other, smarter Pern fans, and my own ‘this is the only way it can possibly work…’ assumptions, I created Threadfall maps that can be easily read and explained for the ENTIRE planet. Not only can I give dates, times, and locations for Threadfalls now – but also the duration of the ‘Falls.

And sadly, I think I’m about the only one who will use them without wanting to have the option of some creative license to fit a story plot. (Yes, I'm sort of quoting you, you-know-who :) But no one else knows who, so that's okay, right?) The idea upsets me (not the person who said it!) because usually stories are flexible on their dates. Why can’t story dates be changed to match the Threadfall that suits your purpose? Oh, you need a significant amount of time before ‘Falls? Thanks to polar regions, that happens on a regular basis – like every five weeks. However, I do realize that my fixation isn't everyone else's fixation and I can be out-voted one how stringently the Threadfall schedule is followed. Most people seem to think the schedule will be a headache to follow, and it really, truly, isn't. Just...look at an Excel worksheet, find the date, and it tells you when and where the Falls will be for that day.

I understand that this is fiction – and only fanfiction, at that – but I’ve always thought of fanfiction as a sort of training ground and practice arena for developing our writing skills for one day attempting to get published. I don’t see it as someplace where the writing doesn’t matter and you can just fudge your way through parts that you don’t want to bother with. That establishes bad habits. Even if you’re just there to play, don’t you want to play the best you can? Other people don’t feel that way, and I can understand it, on some level. And there are times when I don’t worry, or care, if a story has a plot. Honestly, plots are my weak points. I like the character interaction and the characters. If the character has something to say, then I’m not really concerned if there’s a plot to go with it. That’s one of the cool things about fanfic – you can write things like that. Books, you have to have a plot.

But anyway, that’s been my project of the week. :-) I have the first 5 months of turn 36 all scheduled out. I’ll have all of turn 36 done by the end of the weekend, I think. I’m happy with it and I’ll use it, but I think some people will be unhappy about suddenly having Threadfall charts to adhere to. But really – how many stories are written now that actually involve a Threadfall? Or take place outside StarRise’s territory? There’s a very good chance that most folk won’t even notice a change.

Although, sadly, I have now proven that there is absolutely no need for a Weyr in the Eastern Ring Islands. ::wince:: Oops.

Besides fixating (and appeasing!) my Threadfall fixation, I’ve been monitoring Murmur. It’s not so hard, during the week, keeping to a schedule and making sure he gets his shots around the same time every day. He’s also eating again. Since he got sick, I’ve cut both of them back to two cans of food a day – that’s half what they were used to. I noticed that Idiot only ate about 2/3 to 3/4 a can by himself. The vet said Murmur needed to lose 4 or 5 pounds (?? He’s a large boned cat and he doesn’t LOOK fat! Except for the neuter swag hanging from the belly…) and I figured since Idiot essentially looks the same, except being leaner and light-boned then I could safely reduce their food by half until Murmur’s appetite was back. Well, I fed them yesterday their half-can each before I went to class. They were begging and crying for me when I came home from class, about four hours later. I’m switching to the 13oz cans of food now, and will feed them one of those a day. That’s two more ounces of food than they get from two of those medium cans. We’ll see how they handle that. I may up it to 16.5 ounces a day and just feed them three times: morning, noon, and evening. Scott would have to help out with that, though, since I’m at work at noon. He won’t mind. :-)

I have several stories I need to get written for StarRise, by Monday. I’m usually much more on top of my writing than I am this deadline. I just haven’t seemed able to get the interest going. The month before and the month following a deadline is usually my most productive time, and that just hasn’t happened. I don’t know why, and it’s rather worrying me. Maybe it’s the getting-started that’s the problem. Or maybe is the issue 4 doldrums, when it starts becoming clear that, regardless of membership size, only a handful of people are writing, and not even all of them are reading the zine. What’s the point of doing the work and putting out the zine if only three or four people are going to bother even downloading it? How can I get our members more active, to want to write? How can I attract new members who will write? Would it be worth the effort? How will I find time to MAKE the effort? Is this even something I should worry about, or simply be happy for the handful who do write consistently?

Enough obsessing over Pern, StarRise, and fanfiction. :-) One would think I have no life outside of them. And I do! I have school. I have work. School is an obsession on its own. Lately I’ve been wondering why I bother, beyond the fact sheer stubbornness is keeping me going. There are several obstacles I have to overcome before I finally have my bachelors. One is Hellgebra. I honestly don’t know if I truly have a problem understanding it, or if it’s a mental block I’ve imposed on myself. I’ve dreaded and feared Hellgebra since 9th grade. But I also enjoy it – when I understand it. Unfortunately, it’s at those moments when I think I’ve got it, and I’m gleefully working the problem, that I usually find that I got the wrong answer. I have to pass it this semester, however – many of the classes I have left to take I can’t take until I pass Hellgebra, and then a couple of classes that also have to be taken after Hellgebra. The teacher, Mr. Evans, is a lively one, so that helps keep it interesting. He does more than simply write problem over problem on the board, too – he will stop and explain WHY something works the way it does. I like him.

Astronomy 106 will go well this semester, too! My new voice recorder works very well, and frees up my netbook so I can take notes. I’m familiar with Mr. Moore’s ways now, so I know what to expect. We started learning about the sun last week. This semester its Stellar Astronomy, which I’m really looking forward to. Last semester was Solar Astronomy, which apparently translated to “History of Astronomy where everything was wrong…” Tycho Brahe? I know how he died… Johann Kepler? I know his first occupation. Interesting stories.

Today is a beautiful day. I did have to scrape my windows this morning, but the sky was blue, the clouds were thin and pristine white, and the sun was bright. I’m wearing one of my new outfits to work – thank God for Ross: Dress for Less! Nice office clothes at very good prices!! Yes, I still have a lot of black in my wardrobe, but most of the outfits I bought have other colors in them. Today’s outfit has a tealish-blue jacket over a black calf-length dress with white and tealish-blue designs. Another outfit is a pink jacket with a black skirt with little pink flowers. For once, I’m happy with everything I bought to increase my wardrobe. Except the sizes, but I’m gearing up for South Beach Phase I to begin on February 1st. So those sizes should be dropping!

Hopefully. Even if my brother in law did laugh at me when I mentioned I would be starting South Beach…

And lunch was yummy. :) Cathryn and I went to Kobe's and had sushi rolls (three we've never had before - one was good, one was REALLY good, and one was good but HOT because of the wasabi in it!). The sushi chef gave us free cucumber salad, which was really, really good. And he let us sample seaweed salad, which was very interesting! And made us dessert: pineapple with whipped cream. VERY nice. :) I was 10 minutes late getting back to work, but it was oh-so-worth it!

And tonight...I'm going to break in my George Forman grill. Now, when it says to 'oil before first use' they mean with olive oil, right...?
gypsyanna: (Default)
2011-01-21 12:23 pm
Entry tags:

What price do you put on love?

Love for a person, or love for a pet. Life is life, yes? So why should the species matter? But it does. If a human becomes ill, hundreds of thousands of dollars can be spent to make that human well, even when the illness is one that will ultimately, most likely, end in death. But when an animal becomes ill with the same, or similar, disease, how much money spent on preserving its life depends on what its owner can afford. Often the choice is to terminate the pet’s life rather than spend money in on-going medical care.

But don’t judge these fiscally aware owners too harshly. Be assured, no one can judge them more cruelly than they do themselves. Setting the price tag on a pet’s life is heart-breaking and damn difficult. The owner must take into account basic requirements for their own life: shelter, food, safety. If they’re income only allows for these basic needs to be met, with a bit left over to provide the same for a pet, then what are they to do when the pet’s needs suddenly exceed the income they have coming in? Let the illness go untreated, and allow the pet to suffer until it’s too-soon death? Treat the illness and risk being unable to afford the three basic necessities of life?

Or should those who can’t afford to spend money hand over fist to give a pet as much care as a human receive be banned from having pets at all? Should financial limitations determine that people who already must do without some things must also do without the companionship, comfort, and pleasure of having a pet to share their life?

Vets refer to pet owners as ‘parents.’ People often refer to a pet’s owner as its mommy or daddy. This used to offend me, but on deeper thought, these pretend relationships are more accurate than I had previously assumed. A pet IS a child, totally dependent on the owner. And while owners don’t love their pets more than their children, most owners do love their pets with something akin to parental love.
So what price do you put on love? And how the hell do you live with yourself afterward, knowing that you drew a monetary line in the sand, and the pet you love so well just crossed it? Or is about to….
gypsyanna: (Default)
2011-01-03 12:59 pm
Entry tags:

Christmas Feast Amusement.

I’ve just finished two long weekends in a row. For Christmas, I had four lovely days off. For New Year, three. Christmas Eve was a lovely lazy day at home until about 6 or so, then off to Katie’s to spend a few hours and do her traditional appetizer dinner. Christmas Day, Scott and I woke up when we wanted to, opened our presents from our parents and each other, and enjoyed a leisurely morning, before heading to Katie’s. Katie had to work, so we weren’t in a hurry. Originally, I wasn’t supposed to do anything other than put the food in the oven for her. Tom, apparently, wanted her to cook. Either that was true, or Katie didn’t want to ‘fess up and tell me she just didn’t want me cooking. A few days before Christmas, however, she asked me to make the green bean casserole and broccoli casserole. Reality was beginning to dawn on her, I guess. :) Working and cooking a feast on the same day isn’t easy to do, after all. She insisted she’d make everything else, though.

Well, around 1pm, I put the turkey in the oven. Katie called and said she’d be home in an hour. The bird was still sorta frozen on the inside. I know this, because yes, I DID stick my hand down in there to make sure I got everything out. The neck came out, along with frozen, bloody ice. I rinsed, I stuck my hand inside. I felt around. I controlled my gag reflex (I HATE the smell and feel of raw meat). I dumped the bird upside down, then right side up. Ran water through the cavity, and figured – okay. No guts. Odd, but alright. AFTER cooking, we found the paper bag of guts. Inside the bird. IT WASN’T THERE BEFORE COOKING. I swear it wasn’t.

Besides, according to Katie’s plan, the bird should have ready to pop in the oven. So, NOT MY FAULT. Right?

Anyway, I prepared the turkey, got it in the oven. Figured – hour before she gets home? Okay, I’ll go ahead and prep my two side dishes. I get that done. I wait. And wait. Katie calls and asks if I can go ahead and prep the squash casserole, too. I do that, and wait some more. And a bit more. Finally, I figure the turkey HAS to be done. It had been cooking an hour longer than Katie estimated it should. The ham would take two hours to cook, so I decided to get the turkey out, put the ham in. In case you haven’t figured it out yet – it’s been much longer than the one hour Katie told me when she called after I first got there. :)

Boils down to this: I made everything for the Christmas Day feast except the mashed potatoes, ambrosia, and the pecan pies. Believe me, I don’t mind doing the cooking. I like cooking for others! I just find it highly amusing that ‘Tom wants me to cook,’ so easily became me cooking and Tom not making one comment or snarky remark about it.

Oh, and the turkey? Turned out gooood. :)
gypsyanna: (Default)
2010-10-26 10:46 am

Family used to mean something.

I am so angry, I cannot focus on work. I really need to, because it’s the last week of the month. I have a lot to do. Unfortunately my mind keeps shearing off to return to a path it’s been trampling since last night.

Family. It used to mean something. It used to be that family was the one guarantee in life you could count on. They were the people that, when you got in trouble, would be there to help you. They would be the first on their way, to lend a hand, to make an effort.

When did that change? Before I was born, certainly. And I am so very tired of living, behaving, believing in a concept that no one else in my ‘family’ believes in, except for my brother.

Scott is an assistant manager at Burger King. He works long hours. It’s an industry that will be open on Thanksgiving and Christmas. If not the days themselves, then before and after, which means Scott can’t go anywhere for the holidays. It would be wrong for managers in these industries to ask their employees to work when they themselves refuse. That’s my own principle, and one that Scott agrees with. So Scott can’t go home for Thanksgiving or Christmas. If our future plans work out, in a few years we’ll have our own business and I won’t be able to go home for the holidays, either. Our niece Lauren is now at the age where she’s working a job that won’t let her have the holidays off either.

I’ve spent Thanksgiving and Christmas alone before. No family around me, no way to get to them. It’s sad, depressing, and heartbreaking. Most of the time, I wouldn’t even get a phone call from anyone. The holidays are supposed to be a time of family, so when you can’t be with them – it hurts.

This time, however, we live close enough that I thought it was time to start a new tradition: a holiday family gathering that combines Thanksgiving and Christmas, half-way between the two. Scott would be able to get a weekend off, and while I might miss a day or two of work and Katie would need to take a vacation day or two from work, we’d have time for all of us to gather together and be together to celebrate the holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas could be celebrated individually, in the family traditions each are forming, but we’d still have our own special time with the parents, kids, grandkids all together. We could have the Thanksgiving feast, and exchange the gifts we’d gotten for each other, between those of us who wouldn’t be seeing each other Christmas morning. Like, Scott and I would give Codie, Austin, Mom, Dad, and Beth their gifts, and they’d give us ours. But Scott and I would wait until Christmas morning to give Katie, Tom, Lauren, Zach, Marissa, and Brooke their gifts, and that’s when they’d give us ours. See? Holiday as a big family, but the Thanksgiving and Christmas days reserved for the smaller family units to spend together.

To do this would require a little planning. A few little sacrifices. Scott & I would have to miss a day or two of unpaid work, make sure we had all our shopping for the AR branch of the family done, pay for the gas to get there and back, and help pay for the food for the feast.

Katie and Tom would have to make sure they had the five gifts for the AR branch of the family bought, pay for the gas to drive there and back, and take a day or two of paid vacation time.

Mom, Dad, and Beth would have the larger burden of making sure their Christmas shopping for the LA branch of the family is done: that’s 8 of us. Dad would need to take a vacation day, maybe. Mom would need to cook an extra holiday feast IF she decided against spending Thanksgiving and Christmas with another branch of the family (her parents, her sister, either of my dad’s sisters, or my dad’s brother – see? They have a lot more options). And, of course, I’d be happy to do the cooking for the ‘extra’ feast.

My mother and Katie, however, feel these sacrifices are too much to be worth the effort. My mother says that my dad doesn’t want a huge dinner on the 18th, just to have another one a week later. The 18th is his scheduled day off – if no one calls in or requests vacation, which would then make him work. Katie says that if she uses a vacation day over Christmas, it will be to spend it Christmas shopping, because ‘you know how I always shop right up to the last minute…’

I’m sorry. To me, this all translates to Scott not meaning enough to them that they want to make any effort of their own to spend time during the holidays with him.
HE doesn’t qualify for vacation pay, yet. HE and I would be giving up a minimum of $100 each in lost pay for this, something none of the rest would lose. So whatever they have to do or give up for special holiday family time together, we’re doing MORE. Willingly! Happily! Because it’s important!

But they, apparently, can’t look outside their own convenience to see the bigger picture, or the message they’ve just given to Scott, and to me. He doesn’t matter. Mom says, “My son can come see me whenever he wants, and I will make sure his visit is special.” That’s bullshit, and completely outside the point. Yes, HE can come see her, but if the goal was to have a FAMILY holiday together, then what’s the point of a ‘special’ visit that includes only him? There is none.

I don’t feel like I have a family. When I need them, they’re not there. I bend over backwards to help them out when they need it. Midnight phone calls, weekend babysitting, whatever, whenever. Me? I get a car repossessed and it’s a week before I can get it back or buy another, and I can’t even get a ride home. My car won’t start, call them for help – I’m too far away for them to drive all the way to my house to jump start my car for me – even if it is the first night of class for the new college semester. “Can’t one of your neighbors help you?”

I’m expected to go visit my sister once a week, at least, or I’m asked why I don’t. I’ve lived in my house for over a year and a half, and she’s been there maybe three times – and not at all in the last year and three months. Why? Because I have cats. And she makes fun of me for it.

Family used to mean something. I wish it still did. I’m done. I’ll make Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions for myself and Scott, and the rest of ‘em can celebrate their holidays without me. If I and my brother aren’t important to them, then they damn sure aren’t important to me and I am simply going to stop trying.
gypsyanna: (Default)
2010-09-22 08:36 am
Entry tags:

The sharp knife of a short life

My cousin and I weren't close. As children, we were infrequent playmates only because we were close in age. As adults, we didn't communicate. Communication had always flowed between our mothers, and then trickled down to us. Strangely, my mother always seems to get nervous whenever I initiate contact with any of my relatives. Odd.

So Amelia's death didn't - or shouldn't, to my mind - affect me too deeply. I've cried, a little. Those slow, few, quiet trickles of distant regret, with a more immediate care and concern for my aunt and Amelia's kids. I don't believe I have the right to pretend to really mourn for a woman I didn't know, a child I only fleetingly remember. I don't know her personality, her likes, her dreams... I have no right to mourn.

But there's a fairly new band out, and a fairly new song, that seems almost perfect for the situation. It reduces me to sobs every time I hear it - which isn't good when most of the time I'm listening to the radio while I'm driving.

Of one thing I'm sure: Amelia lived life to the fullest, and enjoyed it. She died young, but she lived well. She grew up, got married, had children, saw those children well-started in their life. Saw two of the three beginning to establish the people they would become, the personalities and identities that were uniquely them. She had a good relationship with her mother, a stepfather who doted on her, and a husband who loved her. For all that her death seems careless and stupid, perhaps it was what she was meant to do. She lived, she loved, and her death let others live instead.

If I Die Young
If I die young, bury me in satin
Lay me down on a bed of roses
Sink me in the river at dawn
Send me away with the words of a love song

Uh oh, uh oh.

Lord make me a rainbow, I’ll shine down on my mother
She'll know I’m safe with you when she stands under my colors, oh and
Life ain't always what you think it ought to be, no
Ain't even grey, but she buries her baby

The sharp knife of a short life, well
I’ve had just enough time

If I die young, bury me in satin
Lay me down on a bed of roses
Sink me in the river at dawn
Send me away with the words of a love song

The sharp knife of a short life, well
I’ve had just enough time

And I’ll be wearing white, when I come into your kingdom
I’m as green as the ring on my little, cold finger, I’ve
Never known the lovin' of a man
But it sure felt nice when he was holding my hand, there’s a
Boy here in town says he’ll love my forever
Who would have thought forever could be severed by
The sharp knife of a short life, well
I’ve had just enough time

So put on your best boys and I’ll wear my pearls
What I never did is done

A penny for my thoughts, oh no, I’ll sell them for a dollar
They're worth so much more after I’m a goner
And maybe then you’ll hear the words I been singin’
Funny when your dead how people start listenin’

If I die young, bury me in satin
Lay me down on a bed of roses
Sink me in the river at dawn
Send me away with the words of a love song

Uh oh (uh, oh)
The ballad of a dove (uh, oh)
Go with peace and love
Gather up your tears, keep ‘em in your pocket
Save them for a time when your really gonna need them, oh

The sharp knife of a short life, well
I’ve had just enough time

So put on your best, boys, and I’ll wear my pearls.
gypsyanna: (Default)
2010-09-17 10:38 am


Nothing makes you feel like a failure more than not being able to meet the expectations you have for yourself. Especially when that expectation is so minor, so easy, that damn near everyone can succeed at it, to some degree.

And you just...drop. What is wrong with me that I just can't get Algebra, even though I enjoy working the problems?

There have been so many distractions this first month of the semester, but they shouldn't have mattered. I should have managed. I should be able to do this... But today is our first exam. I've been studying. I opened a practice test. I stared at the first problem. And I didn't have the faintest, foggiest clue on what I was supposed to do with it.

Unfortunately, during a semester there are so few tests that if you fail one, there's almost no hope of recovery. So it becomes a choice: take the test, fail it, and get less than a C on the course, just to retake it again. Or drop it, promise to study hard and KNOW Algebra before taking it again next semester, and feel like you've failed yourself AGAIN.

Like most things in my life, Algebra is one of those things that I enjoy, but am a failure at. Right now I just want to curl up in a ball and cry. It shouldn't be this hard. I don't understand why I can't understand it. I take some pride it being able to figure things out. I may not figure them out the most efficient way, but I can figure 'em out enough to get them to work, consistently.

But not Algebra. And without Algebra, I can't take most of the classes I still need to take to get my bachelor's.

On the up side: I won't have to take 2 hour lunches anymore just to attend the damn class.

But I still feel like a failure.
gypsyanna: (Default)
2010-09-15 04:13 pm
Entry tags:

Just to prove the previous post right...

...I am so completely pissed, outraged, and horrified that I was, literally, speechless.

Last Friday we closed our office during the morning. Mr. McDonald's daughter's funeral was scheduled for 10:30am, so rather than scramble to see who would attend, who wouldn't, and risk telling someone they could not attend, it was easier to simply close the office so everyone who wanted to could go without worry.

Now, most of us didn't know Kimberley. I'd spoken to her on the phone just once. However. I have been working with her father for a year and a half. I like the man, I respect him, and I get along very well with him. I intended to go to the funeral out of respect for him. Not for his daughter, but for him. I made the choice to sacrifice my time and my pay because my respect and liking for Mr. McDonald are more important than $20.00. Yes, that's how much money I should have lost by going to the funeral. A whole hour and a half of work-time. I know, I get paid pretty crappy. What can you expect from Civil Service, though?

On Monday, several people in the office raised a bitch-fit when they found out they weren't being paid to attend the funeral. Can you believe it? They expected to be PAID. So what if hte office was closed? That's the company honoring the No. 2 guy. But the employees expected to be PAID? How fucking cold can you be?

I was infuriated at them for the attitude on Monday. I knew Cathryn was pissed, too. What I didn't know, until today, was that Mr. Hensley, the No. 1 guy here, told her to pay everything for that morning. I opened up my check, expecting it to be short because of Friday morning, and Monday being a holiday. It wasn't short. It was over. I KNOW I signed my timecard for only 29 hours for last week. I was paid for 33. Yes, I immediately went to Cathryn to find out why my time had been changed.

And she told me why. And she told me, "That's why I was so pissed off. That's why. Not at you, but at everyone else who complained about not getting paid."

I feel...dirty. Mr. McDonald would never know of the teeny tiny sacrifice I made for him. He was never meant to. It wasn't supposed to cross his mind. He lost his mother one week, his daughter the next. Me missing an hour and a half of work could never compare, in any way, but it was a gesture - MY gesture - that I chose to make to honor him and his loss. MY choice to attend that funeral was made to support him, let let him see and know that his pain and loss are sympathized with, understood as much as I can understand it, and let him know he has all the emotional support, good will, and well wishing that I can give.

And now, to be paid for that time... It horrifies me. And even with all this writing, I still can't properly put into words just how angry I am, and why. It's a gut thing. It defies words. It can only be felt.

And in all the feeling, the sense of nauseating disgust I now have for most of my co-workers makes me want to vomit.

I can't keep the money. I just can't. I couldn't look myself in the mirror if I did. Fortunately, I know where I can send it - instead of flowers, donations were solicited for the St. Vincent DePaul Society, or the NW Louisiana Food Bank.

At this moment, I honestly feel that most people in the world are just...revolting. What a cold, callous specie we be...
gypsyanna: (Default)
2010-09-15 02:07 pm
Entry tags:

A sign of decline

One would expect a class like British History to 1603 to be focused on, well, history.

Not when one has an interesting, intelligent, and interactive instructor. :)

Last night's class took a brief side trip into discussion of current society and how we can easily identify clear signs of the decline of our civilization. In two words: reality tv.

She's right, of course. Archeologists are digging up and discovering art, literature, science - great things from dead civilizations. If the life on this planet ended tomorrow, what would some far-future alien race discover about us? Big Brother. Survivor. Jersey Shore. Real Housewives.

No art. No literature. No great deeds, amazing scientific advances. Just a world that opened the door on endless possibilities, and never stepped through. And they'd see these reality tv shows and base their understanding of humans on them.

It's almost enough to make one want to shrivel in shame now, isn't it?

I'm all for escapism. I love escapism. I love being entertained. I've spent most of this morning, however, thinking about my favorite forms of escapism and I've realized - no, there's not great scientific value in those television shows, or those books. There's not something in them that makes me walk away, thinking and wondering and stretching my mind. But there are common themes in them, morals and ethics, that feed my soul, my idealism, even as the word-painted pictures entertain my mind. Heroes, justice, mercy, compassion... Right and wrong. Good and bad. Acceptance. Open-mindedness. All the good, positive, warm traits of humanity that are never shown on those reality tv shows.

I've long wondered: what is it about humanity that would make us a race worth knowing, admiring, respecting - even emulating? In groups, we do not show to advantage. As individuals, however, that's where we shine. Without the faceless horde of humanity to ridicule, mock or take advantage of generosity or compassion, the strength of the human spirit shines forth. One on one, we are worthy. As a species - we've a long way to go.

The question, however, we want to? I do. Do you?
gypsyanna: (Default)
2010-09-09 11:16 pm

Ashes to ashes; dust to dust...

I am exhausted.

As per my last post, my cousin Amelia died on August 17th. She was 34. She left three children, her parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, a husband... She was not the first of our generation to go. Robert, my mother's baby brother, preceded her by a decade. His loss still reverberates with pain amongst us.

This was the death that touched me most closely - but it was just the first in the last three weeks. We buried Amelia on the 20th. If anyone ever sings "You Are My Sunshine" around me again, they'd better have tissue handy. Katie, Scott, and I drove up to Blytheville on the 19th, came home on the 21st. My Auntie Bo was a miracle of grace and strength.

On the 24th, we received the news at the office that Mr. McDonald's mother had died. Mr. Mac had been going back and forth between here and Mobile, AL, where his mom lived, for two or three weeks. She'd gotten sick, had surgery, and was in the hospital. That's pretty much where she stayed until she died. On the 25th or 26th, I received word that Amelia's exhusband - the father of two of her children, and the adoptive father of her oldest - had died. Her ex had been in a serious accident sometime after their divorce and was left a quadriplegic. I never met the guy - but I felt for Amelia's kids. Within less than two weeks, they'd lost both mother and father.

The next week I was busy with school and getting ready for the family reunion. I won't recount how many times I heard, "My dog just died..." It was a great visit, bracketed by absolutely exhausting and oh-my-God-I-hate-the-car!!!! days. We left at 2:40am on Friday morning. We got to Illinois around 9:30pm. We stopped in Poplar Bluff to see Auntie Bo, and for the first time I got to meet Amelia's oldest child, Nicole. I think I managed to amuse her some. I hope I did. Being amusing isn't my forte. On the way back through, we stopped to see my grandparents and Auntie Bo met us there with Nicole and Alyssa, Amelia's other daughter. It was a nice visit. But that was a very long day, too. We left Illinois at 7:40am and got home at 10:30pm. We didn't spend as long in Poplar Bluff as we had the first time.

Tuesday morning at work, Cathryn was upset about something. She wouldn't tell me what, but it was obvious something was wrong. And Mr. McDonald wasn't in the office. I'd kinda expected him there. After lunch, Cathryn and Mr. Hensley called an emergency staff meeting to tell us that Mr. McDonald's 36-year old daughter had been found dead the day before, by her 14-year old son. Visitation and vigil were tonight - which I had to miss because I had class. Funeral is tomorrow.

Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. Death, begone. You've overstayed your unwelcome.
gypsyanna: (Default)
2010-08-17 07:33 pm

Rest in Peace, Cousin Amelia

With every death, there comes new life.
Within the soul, outside the strife
Of living cares and hearted knife.

With every death, there comes new grief.
A fallen, shattered silver leaf,
A crack in comfort, in belief.

With every death, there comes new birth.
Beyond the body, beyond Earth.
God waits and welcomes at his hearth.

With every death, there comes new doubt.
A need to cry, a need to shout.
Should not God’s will put Death to rout?

With every death, there comes new hope.
A peaceful stroll up Heaven’s slope,
Following Spirit’s golden rope.

With every death, there comes new shame.
Loved ones here to hate and to blame.
Tempestuous heart’s pain untamed.

With every death, there comes great peace.
Hope, happiness and sweet release.
With God, all pain, all sorrow cease.

Rest in peace, dear cousin. We weren't close. Distance prevented it as children, and established patterns continued it as adults. You were, and are, loved. You will be missed. Give Uncle Robert a hug for us, and tell him I still hear his laughter. You were both too young to leave us. Don't worry about your mom - I'll keep an eye on her for you.
gypsyanna: (Default)
2010-08-12 01:15 pm

Beautiful Things

Beautiful things are all around us, often unrecognized and ignored. Beautiful things are precious and plentiful, if we'll open our eyes and see. Stop our steps and stare. Pause and reflect, think and enjoy.

Beautiful things are the pale ghost moon in a sky blue sky. The splash of gold and crimson in a sunset sky. The dance of a branch before the breeze. The stalk of a cat through the tall grass. A raptor circling on the air.

Beautiful things are the laugh of a friend during a meal and the sharing of thoughts and understanding. The anticipation of seeing a friend again, of vacations remembered or planned. Of hearing, "It's okay. I'm here," or "You can do it. I know you can," or even just hearing the friend get angry for you.

Beautiful things are the sound of rain on the roof, a cat's purr, and music lifting your heart. Beautiful things are pantings with meaning and heart, a child's happy laugh, and the smile on a child's face, there only because she or he has just seen you. Let me see your blue-sky eyes and share a kiss with me.

Beautiful things are honeysuckle and jasmine. Daffodils blooming in the spring. Roses in summer and mums in fall. Ice-limned eaves and icicle wands. Snow on the ground, perfect and white, a blanket of innocence.

Beautiful things are family around the Thanksgiving table, Christmas morning breakfast, and tears in your uncle's eyes when he takes you back to the airport. Beautiful things are horses in the field, the wolfsong for the moon, and the burble of the spring through the field.

Beautiful things are birdsong and bee-buzz. Daisy chains and four leaf clovers. Good wine and music to dance to. Barbecues and pool parties. Grandma's stories and Grandpa's loud teasing. Or the other Grandpa's soft, "Hi, sugar," as you walk in the door. Yellow squash swords and Fourth of a the July sparklers in the country dark. Bonfires and hotdogs. Old graveyards and old cars lost in the brush.

Beautiful things are memories and dreams. Yesterday and tomorrow, and everything in between.

How can anyone say there isn't a god, or more than one god? Chance alone couldn't create so many beautiful things!
gypsyanna: (Default)
2010-07-07 04:25 pm

Leave me the fuck alone.

Ever have one of those days - two days - where nothing really goes wrong, but along about mid-afternoon on the second or third day you just want to dissolve into tears, slam your door, shriek profanites, and tell everyone that opens their mouth in your direction that you are TIRED of being the team player, the moderator, the peacemaker, and the problem-solver? You're TIRED of modifying how you do your job because someone else can't be counted on to do their job - or check/answer their fucking email?

Ever have one of those days - weeks - where you don't want to remind yourself that mature, responsible adults are not petty, spiteful, malicious, and vicious? At least, adults who are worth the dirt the covers the soles of their shoes. Days when you WANT to be petty. You WANT to say those things, mean and nasty, but true, to someone simply because you want to strike back. Days when you WANT to have the last word, just because.

And don't. Because that's not the kind of person you want to be. But if you have those urges, aren't you already that kind of person? Mean, spiteful, petty, hateful, malicious... Does not saying them make you a better person? Or should you just not feel them at all, and then truly be that good, honorable, respected person that you want to be?

But then you realize that no - you're not respected. You're not thought of, or considered. Your opinion holds no weight, your interpretation no value or insight.

And you're left thinking, "So why don't I just say what I feel, and damn how others feel on hearing it?"

And yet you still can't. Because that's not the person you want to be, and even if no one else sees you as that person, it doesn't matter.

And you're left with nothing to do, nothing to say, except, "Leave me the fuck alone."

But I asked my brother to deal with the dinner situation tonight, whatever, I didn't care. I'm just tired and hungry and sick. God bless him, he's ordering pizza. I think I'll keep my brother.
gypsyanna: (Default)
2010-04-24 03:12 pm

College instructors tend to be unrealistic...

...about a night student's time and ability to do out of class projects. ::rolling eyes::

One such instructor wants us to do a 'Best Self' essay. To do this essay, people have to honestly answer what they think about me. Now, when this was assigned, I sent out emails and posted on Facebook, asking folks to respond to about 7 questions about me. The goal is to compare how I see myself with how others perceive me.

Now, I know a lot of folks would be uncomfortable being completely honest in answering these questions, so I've set it up so that you can answer anonymously. I have no clue who's saying what, so my feelings aren't going to get hurt and you don't have to worry that I know that you said such and so. :)

Really. I need the help! I need honest answers, and I need more than the seven that are currently there!

So, if you would please, could you stop by this blog and post a response? As you can see, it's been up for more than two weeks. I need at least 10-15 answers. I want as many as I can get! I'd be really grateful!
gypsyanna: (Default)
2010-04-09 08:24 am

Meme from Xanath

1. Anna
2. Anna B
3. Anna Banana

Hm. I guess I just don't have very many nicknames at all. :)

1. Generic, cheap-ass sneakers from Walmart.
2. Sunglasses
3. Jeans

1. Ginger Altoid
2. Unlimited money
3. The patience and creativity to write a novel (or 100)

1. Eeny
2. Meeny
3. Miney

1. Bought 2 new tires. ::sigh::
2. Finished reading Persuasion
3. Submitted my third essay assignment in ENGL226.

1. Katie.
2. Cindy, from work.
3. Cathryn, from work.

1. Babysit.
2. Cook Katie a birthday dinner, or go out to eat for her birthday.
3. Hopefully attend orientation for volunteering at the rescue mission.

1. White Merlot, but it has to be from Leonesse.
2. White Sangria, from Ponte.
3. Vanilla cream soda.

1. The day has just started. With moronic drivers getting in my way. We need to give this a little more time...
gypsyanna: (Default)
2010-04-02 04:54 pm

God spare me...

....from spoiled brat teenagers.

Or someone start taking a bail money collection.
gypsyanna: (Default)
2010-03-28 10:49 am
Entry tags:

Guardian angels working overtime

Yesterday started out early.  My nephew and my niece both had baseball games.  Zach's was at 8am at Tinsley Park.  Marissa's was at 9:30am at a different, but nearby park.  Zach had his second game at 11:30am.  My sister had to work today, and my brother in law is an assistant coach for Zach's team.  So I was up and out early to watch a bit of his first game, then I took Marissa to her scrimmage.  Then back to watch Zach's second game.  My sister decided to cook out tonight, and my brother came over after work.  All three of us were together when we got the call.

My parents and my younger sister live in northeast AR/southeast MO, within about 10 miles of each other.  My sister had a fight with her husband this afternoon, and drove off in a fit of anger.  She went too fast down gravel roads, in a town so small that they've only got one paved road.  Okay, that might be an exaggeration.  Or not.  But that's how it's been described to me.

Never drive when you are angry.  NEVER.  My sister (Beth) spun out and flipped her car multiple times.  It took thirty minutes for her to be extracted.  She was flown to the nearest trauma hospital, in Cape Girardeau, MO.  That's about 97 miles from Cooter, MO, where she lives.  She's now en route to Barnes*Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, which is a level 1 trauma hospital.

She has a grade 1 liver laceration.  Translation: a small cut on her liver that will heal just fine on its own.

She has a laceration on her head that required 12 staples.  Because of that, they're keeping her on minimal painkillers.  They have to monitor her and make sure there are no brain injuries that take time to present.

She has numerous scrapes and contusions. 

Those are the minor injuries.

She also has multiple fractures on her pelvis, which is why she's being relocated to Barnes*Jewish.  Apparently no one likes messing with the pelvis.  She has an acetabellum fracture.  That's apparently a fracture on the ball that goes into the pelvis.  She has several thoracic compression fractures, in T8, T10, and T12.  She also has a burst fracture at L1, and it's impinging on her spinal cord.

Good news: she's neurologically intact, hemodynamically stable, and breathing on her own.  What that means is she's not gushing blood from anywhere and she can move her fingers and toes.  But the trauma surgeon has kept her in the C-Collar and on the backboard until she can be taken in for surgery on that burst fracture and get those bones away from her spinal cord.  Surgery on the pelvis is scheduled for tomorrow.  Surgery on her back is for later this week, I believe.

By all rights, my sister should be dead.  It's a miracle that she's not.  That girl has always had some pretty powerful guardian angels watching over her.

It's going to be a very long time before she's healed.  Our older sister, Katie, is a nurse practitioner.  She's the one who lives here.  She says that Beth will be in the hospital for several weeks, and probably be in a wheelchair for a while after she's released.

My dad is scheduled to have knee replacement surgery this week.  It's going to be in Memphis.  Beth will still be in St. Louis.  My poor mother needs a clone.

I think I'm a little in shock still.  My mom told Katie not to call our aunts and uncles.  That bothered me a lot.  I struggled with it for several hours...then considered how I'd feel if something happened to any of my nieces, or either of my nephews.  I called my aunts and uncle on my dad's side of the family.  I called my mom's brother.  The rest of her side of the family are nut jobs.  I'll let me uncle figure out when to tell my grandparents. Grandpa just came home from the hospital this week, so his health is fragile enough. 

I want to go home.  I want to spend this week with my family, so my mom won't feel like she's abandoning her husband, or her daughter.  I want to see my sister alive.  I can't go, though.  I don't have vacation time or pay at work.  I don't have money to make up for the lost time at work.  The only thing I DO have is Spring Break from school.

Maybe I'll do a hell-or-high-water trip home next weekend, for Easter.  I have a day off work, whether I want it or not. 

I don't suppose I really need to blog about this, but I need to write it out.  I need to work through the shock and fear.  I need to see, in black and white, the words that she's going to be fine. 

I want to send thank you cards to the paramedics who got her out.  If they'd been less skilled, less careful, she'd be paralyzed.  I want to thank the old woman who called in the accident and stayed with my sister until the paramedics arrived. 

Guardian angels sometimes are as human as you and me.
gypsyanna: (Default)
2010-03-16 04:19 pm

My God....I don't know anything!

So.  Our second essay assignment in my Creative Nonfiction class is now turned in, as of last night.  The first draft of our third essay assignment is due Friday.  I, of course, have class tonight and tomorrow night, which leaves me essentially Thursday night to do this assignment. 

The first essay was a memoir.  Easy!  The second, a personal essay.  Easy, again - but I did discover that I really shouldn't write essays when I'm irked or angry. 

This third essay is a bit more challenging.  It's a literary journalism essay.  We're supposed to reference other sources.  Do an interview.  But first, we pick a topic which - let me see, how did she phrase it?  Oh, yes:

"For this essay, you will write on a subject with which you are familiar--something you know a great deal about."

And I have realized.... I don't know a great deal about ANYTHING.

She uses the example of knitting.  If she were writing this essay, she'd write it about knitting.

Uh.  Okay.  That doesn't help me.

So I"m completely flummoxed on what this paper should be about, especially since I have to do at least one interview.  How sad is it that after 35 years of living, the thing I know the most about is Pern?  I can find three internet sources for that, sure - but the interview?  I"d have to hit up Todd or Anne McCaffrey for that 'expert' interview.

Maybe worldbuilding?  Character creation? 

I'm wide open for ideas because there's not a one good one rattling in my brain at the moment!
gypsyanna: (Default)
2010-02-28 04:33 pm
Entry tags:

Green Were the Hills

My first creative nonfiction assignment has been graded and returned to me. :) I'm posting it here, complete with instructor comments.  The assignment was a memoir.  Instructor comments and corrections are in blue.

Green Were the Hills


I was a teenager—thirteen or fourteen, somewhere around that age—this particular summer that we went to see my dad’s family.  We went to Missouri every summer to visit both sets of my grandparents.  Mom’s folks lived in and around Poplar Bluff.  Dad’s family was south of that, just outside of Campbell.  Two miles from town, at the top of a hill on a state highway, we turned off onto a gravel road.  A power-center was right there—one of those snaggled and tangled constructions of power lines and poles where many lines seem to collect before they go swooping off again.  We followed that road straight for perhaps a quarter mile before we took a sharp right.  [This is a “set-up,” in a sense.  Instead, why not locate us at a particular place?  Give us the view of the place you ended up, then provide the back-story to tell us how you got there.]

            Tucked into that area formed by the two arms of the road is an old graveyard.  We would walk down there sometimes, my sisters and me, when things grew boring at Grandpa’s house.  The tombstones are broken and leaning.  The engravings are nearly illegible.  Snakes slither through the grass, bushes, and tumbled stones.  I haven’t been to that graveyard for years, but I know it hasn’t changed.  Not much does, in Campbell.


            On this visit, as usual, we follow the road another stretch of straight, perhaps a half mile.  The ride is bouncy and rough from the gravel.  Dirt and dust fly out from either side of the car, and all three of us girls are hot and sticky with humidity and sweat.  Summer visits to Grandpa Claude are never very comfortable.  Where the road develops a T intersection, the driver can make a choice—go right and eventually hook up with another road that’ll dump him back on the state highway, or turn left and pull up the small hill to Grandpa’s house. 

            It’s a small house.  Grandpa built it decades ago when my dad was a kid after the first house they had—the one my dad was born in—burned down.  It has a sizable kitchen with many cabinets, a smallish dining room, a decent sized living room that holds an old wood- and coal-burning black stove, three bedrooms, and one bath.  He has a window unit air conditioner in the living room, but Grandpa never turns it on. 

            The morning after we arrive, I go for a walk.  One of my cousins is visiting, too, and he is willing to show me around a bit.  But my sisters follow, and he goes racing off with them.  I am not interested in racing around.  After crowded car rides from Louisiana to Missouri, I am ready for peace, quiet, and solitude.  My sisters never seem to enjoy their own company that much, but I like mine just fine.

            We never spend much time at Grandpa Claude’s.  Mom isn’t comfortable with Dad’s family.  I never really had a chance to just...walk around.  Once Katie, Beth, and our cousin go off, I head outside.  I go down the four steps from the door to the ground, pause a minute to look around, and another minute to push Grandpa’s dog No-Name’s big head out of my way.  I circle Grandpa’s garden, and wonder if he has any peas ready for picking.  I want to try shelling peas.  I’d never done it before.  The string beans look just fine, and I know my brother will like them.  The yellow squash is ready for picking, too, so odds are good we'd be allowed that Grandpa will allow us to waste a few in mock sword fights. 

            The garden isn’t big, but it is enough to keep Grandpa busy.  I wander away from it and down the track that leads to the old barn that looks more tumbled than standing.  Enough of a roof remains that the Duster that will kill the bull and save my sister in a few years will be able to shelter under it.  That’s another story.  I don’t go into that barn.  I am deathly afraid of snakes, and the country has more than its share of them.

            I follow that path past the old barn and wonder—where did they build the first house?  Will I be able to tell?  Young trees line the path, flexible and skinny in their youth.  The grass is high, and birds sing in the nearby trees.  The air lay soft and cool on my skin.  No road noise intrudes.  No shouts from parents and no petty bickering from siblings disrupt the peace.

            And then Then the path opens and the trees end.  A panorama spreads before me.  Hills—rolling, green, and lightly veiled in a mist that caresses the ground—stretch before me, to the right and to the left.  These hills aren’t plowed and muddy, or prickly with cotton bushes.  They lay fallow, left to green and grow as they will.  Overhead, the sky stretches endlessly, puffy white clouds sedately drifting in its depths and casting shadows on the hills below.  Sunlight flows in gold-gossamer streamers through the wisps and feathers of white that pass before it.  A bird, probably a hawk, wheels high up in the sky, and nothing disturbs his flight.

            In that breathless moment of perfection and wonder, I feel something I’d never felt before, something that is larger than the world in which I stand, more powerful and potent than anything I’d ever dreamt, and more humbling than any mistake or failure made in the past.  I cry under that touch, and I think, “This is the day the Lord hath made.  Let us rejoice and be glad.”  These words became more than something recited in church.  For the first time, I feel the words, understand their meaning, and revel in the gift of the day.

            I don’t know how long I stand there, at the break in the trees, and drink in the pastoral perfection.  Noise slowly intrudes.  My sisters and my cousin run by, and their laughter and shouts shatter the quiet peace.  My dad follows them down the path and stops beside me.  He looks out over the hills; the cloud-shadow dapples the grass, and says, “Church isn’t always in a building.”  We stand quiet for a bit longer, then he goes back to the house.


            I always knew that my dad had been born at home.  I always knew that his mom had died there, too, when he was just a little kid.  That was the day I realized that day that he had tucked a big piece of his heart into that quiet corner of Missouri countryside, and he planned to go to that corner when he retired.

            My aunts nagged Grandpa to move to town, so he sold the land.  I think it broke Grandpa’s heart, in the end.  He died just a couple of years after that.  Dad lost his inheritance, and I’ve not been back to that path since.  The path and that breathtaking view belong to someone else now. 

            The memory of that day and the perfection of that moment stayed with me for twenty years.  It was the first time, I think, I felt a sense of God in the world around me.  Afterwards I began to question certain foundational attitudes in my life and in my upbringing.  Part of this was because of age.  Teenagers always question and push boundaries.  Part of this was because I realized that I didn’t have to find God only in a church.

            I am not now, nor was I then, overly religious.  I believe in God.  I have many reasons for this belief.  This day is one of them.

You have a wonderful descriptive ability.  Work on the opening, though; make it more “scenic.” After reading it the third time, it seemed a bit too “telling,” too much of a setup.  A view of you, standing in that special spot, would be good; then you could “begin at the beginning.”  But always locate us at a particular place, at a particular time.

A good essay, in spite of my lament!