Author: smarthu (Page 1 of 5)

Knowing Not Enough, Knowing Too Much

I am officially putting myself on a “news diet” for my own mental health.

I have a self-diagnosed addiction to news (both trivial and serious). I’ve known it for years, going back to when I looked forward to reading the daily newspaper, interspersed with “junk magazines” that told me more than I wanted to know about who was who and who was doing what in the world of celebrities. The latter only serves to make me feel inferior (or old and out of it).

I first was reading news to try to inform myself about politics and the world.

This last few years though, as we all know, we have different biases for what defines “news.” We can switch between CNN and FOX and other news sites and get entirely different ideas of what constitutes news. It’s as if we are being bullied as a nation (and torn apart) by the very outlets that at one time served to inform, and only inform.

I know what my beliefs are by now, and so don’t need to watch any “talking head” shows that only serve to make me anxious or worried about our future. I know how I’m going to vote, so when the time comes I’ll educate myself on candidates and issues.

I also don’t need to read comments that only serve to bully others or bully readers of comments.

So, I’m limiting news to once a day (hopefully some kind of nightly news that isn’t biases one way or the other.

I don’t think I know it all, but I plan on knowing less unless I “need to know.”

War Between Generations?

While procrastinating during my “designation writing hours” in the morning, I happened upon an internet article decrying “the horrible foods Baby Boomers refuse to let go of.”

I confess to being a Baby Boomer, but not to eating or enjoying some of the foods on the list. Some, I still eat, like canned tuna (and, horrors, tuna casserole), canned soup, t.v. dinners (although now, isn’t it just a frozen meal?), and I admit to occasionally cooking with Velveeta. Oh, and I occasionally still make a meatloaf.

I don’t eat Jello much any more, despise Spam (unless eaten in Hawaii). canned meat spreads, fried liver (only made it once), Cool Aid, soda (don’t drink it much). fish sticks.

I’ll only say that food tastes and fads come and go, and they will come and go during Millennial’s lifetimes. Some of it has to do with availability of certain foods (Sushi, for instance was unheard of in the west at least , & hence we Boomers ended up eating fish sticks and canned tuna). Some of it was marketing. What better way to sell canned soup than to provide convenient recipes to women struggling to come up with meals for hungry families? Transportation of foods is better now, travel is more common, production is better for the most part.

That brings me to the point that we should be on the same team, we Boomers and Millennials. We all have something to bring to the metaphorical “table.”

Maybe we should agree or disagree on things like how to spend the government’s money (social programs via Democrats, or weapons and border security via Republicans), women’s rights, jobs, the state of our nation.

On a separate but related note, this very article (that must’ve gotten under my skin more than I thought), stated that Millennials, unlike Boomers, care about the environment, about people other than themselves. I have to say: 1975, Greenpeace Save the Whales (they saved a lot), Save the Trees (ditto), The Peace Corp (yikes, they now require Master’s Degrees to join), rebellion against the Viet Nam War, women’s rights, etc. etc.

Our generations may be more alike than we think?

Granted, a safer discussion territory is food. I seem to take refuge in food myself….I’m going to go make a tuna casserole.

Things That Are Not a Mystery To Me

I was asked why I don’t like horror movies and stories, since I like mysteries. There’s a huge difference in the genres to me. While there is an element of mystery in every book and every movie (that what keeps us watching and reading), horror many times involves suspending disbelief about things like zombies and witches and other supernatural creatures. Or, if not that, sheer violence and extreme fear. Not for me.

A little more subtle, is the difference in true-life stories and fiction. I’m drawn to documentaries, particularly those that have an air of mystery. Not so much true crime and mystery that I’ve lived to or watched happen live on television. That’s why I’m not much interested in watching the up-coming movie about former President Clinton and his drama with Monica Lewinsky. Nor did I watch much about 9-11 on the 20th anniversary of that disaster. I lived through it, watched almost every waking minute for a couple of months. I will never forget, but do not want to relive it.

I think we’re all attracted to different kinds of stories, ghost stories, murder mysteries, domestic drama, women-in-jeopardy. There are not rights or wrongs.

Squirrels & Sunflowers

Today I’m seeing symbolism in the lives of squirrels. Yes, squirrels. They have double-meaning for me. In Denver, we have many squirrels and in Denver there are two types of people; those who think squirrels are cute, and those who think squirrels are rats with furry tails. We are the former.

We actually (secretly) put out food for the squirrels that skillfully use our wooden fence as a balance beam, scoot across to the front yard, where they successfully strip our oak tree from all acorns, and take a bite out of each green apple and throw them down to the ground. They seem to be incapable of waiting until they are ripe. We’d gladly share.

The other meaning, aside from the literal meaning of a squirrel (cute animal or rat with furry tail), is that to “squirrel” is to divert from the intended path, to fail to sit with butt in chair and work on whatever project I’ve set some liquid goal for myself. I’m expert at “squirreling”, which is really just a rat with furry tail way of saying “procrastinating.” I even have a sticky note on my bulletin board instructing, “No Squirrels.”

Which brings me to the sunflowers. I’ve grown some giant zebra stripe sunflowers this year, which grew to astronomical heights (above our house roof). I eagerly watched the flower buds begin to grow, and they promised to be over a foot in diameter. However, now when I go check them in the morning, the flowers are missing, taken most likely by a squirrel.

If only they knew that if they waited, the payoff would be much greater for both of us; i could have a beautiful flower to look at and they could have a large sunflower with hundreds of seeds.

Nature provides us with lessons of patience and procrastination.

History & Mystery

What to read? What to write?

I’ve struggled (well, that’s a strong word) all my life to narrow down my reading and writing interests. When I first became a reader at an early age, it was Nancy Drew mysteries (because that was available in the library?), Little Women, and my favorite L ‘Engle’s A Wrinkle in time. Three decidedly different genres: mystery, SyFy and somewhat romance.

As I got older, I read what was on the best sellers list, with a few literary novels thrown in.

Now I read mostly mystery, because that’s what I’m aiming to write.

But lately I’ve found myself drawn more and more to history, Colorado, British and world history.

What I don’t want to do is to abandoned the mystery genre because “It’s too hard.” Is it, or is all writing hard?

I’ve decided that I can meld mystery & history, meanwhile I won’t try to add any more genres (distractions) to the list.

I think with writing as with life, it’s hard to narrow down our interests. What should we focus on? What are we good at? Where do our passions lie?

Can We Pick Our Battles Better?

I don’t usually get political–too busy trying to learn how to write novels & non-fiction. But, some political “noise” becomes the circle on the Venn Diagram that intersects both my belief system and my health and my family’s health.

How did we come to battle over whether we should be forced to wear a mask (for our health and the health of others), whether our children should be forced to wear a mask to school to protect themselves and their teachers, and whether or not we should be required (forced?) to be vaccinated against Covid19 in order to stop it from evolving into even more terrifying variants?

I get that some people cannot or will not get vaccinated. At least think about whether you want to win the battle, but lose the war. And, on whose behalf are you fighting the battle not to wear a mask or be vaccinated?

That’s all. Back to reading about writing.

I Got My Covid Vaccine

I’m not quite sure how being vaccinated became a polarized political topic. I’m old enough to remember polio and how we lined up for our sugar cube (what ever happened to that method of vaccine delivery). I remember how relieved our parents were and how they got theirs (after the children were vaccinated). I also remember grieving families who lost their children or whose children ended up on the first type of ventilator (the “iron lung,” which required the sick person to essentially live in a tube that looked like an MRI machine).

I believe in people’s rights to choose whether they get vaccinated and whether they choose for their children to get vaccinated. I believe they should choose based on the science and the facts of vaccination. If they have had a bad reaction to previous vaccinations, then don’t get one, but be safer; wear a mask, stay out of crowds, protect yourself and your family.

I watched a news show (and was immediately sorry) where a man was saying that some cities are going door-to-door to see if someone wants a vaccine. They’re not insisting that the person get vaccinated, they’re just supplying vaccines to areas where they might not be readily available or to people who cannot leave their houses. This particular pundit said that it could be a trick, they could be coming to take your guns away.

I’m tired of polarization and hope we can come together as a country. Let us remember that many of the pundits and politicians who say our freedoms are being taken away (as in freedom to say no to the vaccine), have themselves been vaccinated. Donald and Melania Trump, for instance have been vaccinated (and also received the very best medical care in America when they both came down with Covid before they were vaccinated).

I have my beliefs and I try to respect other’s beliefs.

I believe I’ll get the booster when it comes around. I believe I’ll wear a mask when appropriate or required. I believe I’ll wash my hands more than I once did. I believe we’ll come out of this just fine. And, if vaccines become available for children–that is a good day.

Readjusting to New World After Covid

The world seems a little more dangerous (okay, maybe a lot more dangerous), and is changed from the world I grew up in.

I’m trying to make sense of the fact that I was so careless before, so clueless about the importance of constant handwashing, constant use of anti-bacterial wipes, constant binging of moves and t.v. shows (okay–there was no internet and no streaming “back in the day.”)

I grew accustomed to having my husband at home a lot more, adjusting out routine to daily walks (good), more snack food (bad), worry about friends and relatives perhaps getting Covid. We were braver than most though, going out to eat because there was almost nobody in the restaurants (those that were open), and venturing out on two long road trips (Yellowstone & Grand Canyon). These were two of my favorite vacations–though we were previously into river cruises and trips to Hawaii.

Like many, I wonder where the year disappeared, how it lifted like a heavy fog, leaving me wondered if I did enough “real” work during the year, knowing that I worried too much and accomplished too little.

If it happens again, I’ll know what to do. Or, will I?

What to Write?

I envy writers that have always know WHAT they want to write. Mysteries? Thrillers? Romance? SyFi?

I always been told to “write what you read,” but what if I read a variety of books/articles/genres? I read all of the above with the exception of SyFi, unless you count Stephen King as a SyFi writer (I like his characters).

I most admire literary women’s fiction and women in jeopardy thrillers, both of which seem a little beyond reach for me. I’ve written and started about six mysteries and thought they were cozies (and was told by an editor or two that I had in fact written two “failed cozies.”) Cozies have strict rules, which I found maddening. How can a cozy mystery be such a fast read and be so difficult to write? Same with YA (Young Adult) books; fast reads, hard to write to that audience (for me anyway).

So, I’ll continue to work on writing a cozy or two, a mild “thriller” or two and maybe some non-fiction. I’ve come to realize that while I read and occasional romance novel or women’s literary fiction–I’ll most likely never write one.

Historical mystery? Maybe. We’ll see. My new mantra: get on with it.

Perseverance

per·se·ver·ance /ˌpərsəˈvirəns/

noun

  • 1. persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success: “his perseverance with the technique illustrates his single-mindedness”

I always thought of “perseverance” the word as a verb. As in “I persevered.”

As a noun, the word becomes a trait, a quality, an — advantage.

All of us get discouraged when we don’t seem to be “winning” or “succeeding” at our goals and dreams. For me, it success would be getting more acceptance notices about manuscripts and more positive reviews and criticism.

I’ve learned to take each little “failure” and turn it around. It isn’t failure. Every time we receive and accept criticism or accept a loss and continue in spite of it–we are persevering (there the word is as a gerund!).

I have to (well, I don’t have to, but I’m thinking of it today) again mention my foray into bird watching. The Boulder Fairgrounds Osprey cam this year was “blessed” thanks to a very loving Osprey pair with four eggs–none of which seemingly will hatch. This couple has had nest losses in the past and yet come back each year to build again and have some successes.

Sure–they’re birds and have bird-brains, but we (I) can learn something from them about perseverance.

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