This and That

Musings on Being a Writer and My Life

I Love My DVR

  • May 24, 2016 2:36 am

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Our lives are filled with time saving gadgets. We have dishwashers, washing machines, leaf blowers, lawn mowers we can ride, computers and printers—and my favorite, the DVR. What a great gadget! I wish I could thank the person who invented it personally.

While we’re busy living our lives, doing necessary chores like grocery shopping or more enjoyable things like attending a child’s  dance recital or graduation or just hanging out with friends, the DVR is there, making sure that we don’t miss any of our favorite TV programs. It even allows us to watch one show while it dutifully tapes another show that can be accessed later. We can even read the newspaper or a book basking in the glow of the red light that tells us that yes, our beloved TV program will be ready when we are.

I realized how much I like—no love—my DVR recently while watching a playback of a network TV show.  First of all, I was able to watch a half hour sit-com (my favorites) in 22 minutes. I was thrilled when I realized how much time I saved! I was able to skim over all of the ads which saved almost 10 minutes. That meant that I could watch almost three sitcoms in the time it would have taken to watch only two. What a time-saver!

But the best part for me was that I was not forced to watch any ads with Matthew Mc Conaguhy driving high-end luxury vehicles while talking to his dogs. That alone made using the DVR worth it.

Yes, The DVR is a great invention—easy to use, convenient and reliable. And it is my all time favorite gadget. It has saved me time and I have been released from the tyranny of Matthew McConaguhy!

Thank you, DVR.

 

Image –Pixabay

 

 

 

Ordering from Amazon

  • May 1, 2016 2:17 am

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One of the great conveniences of the modern era is ordering stuff online. Because I live a healthy 45 minute drive from any decent retail (the nearest stores are Publix (groceries) and Wal Mart,  the expediency and ease of looking up whatever I want on Amazon.com has hooked me. In addition, I bought the Prime membership a couple of years ago primarily for the free shipping which was a money saver at Christmas—and now, of course, I enjoy all the perks of the endless TV, movies, and music that membership entitles me to. And getting the stuff I order delivered to my front porch in two days or less with FREE shipping –well, how can you beat that?

In addition, I don’t really enjoy shopping. First, there’s the drive to the store, finding parking, and then browsing through the thousands of items that populate a typical retail outlet. Temptation lurks all around and it’s easy to buy something because its cute –or it might be nice to have. Then you have to drag the bags or packages out to the car and then haul them into the house. Shopping eats up the better part of a day.

Online shopping eliminates many of these problems. You search for the item you want, read a description, decide whether or not to buy it–and then sit back with a good book.

Lately, though, I think that I’ve returned more stuff to Amazon than I’ve kept. The list includes a Kindle Fire  (which was a duplicate of an order), a pan, a Kindle Fire cover, and two jackets.

It occurred to me tonight as I was printing yet another return label that I’ve become quite the expert at returning things to Amazon.

I wonder if the experience of having to schlep the re-boxed and re-labeled items to a UPS outlet or a post office  so frequently will convince me to drive to the nearest mall and shop in person.

Nah! Ordering on-line is just too easy!

 

Picture Credit Pixabay

 

The Future and the Past

  • April 9, 2016 3:06 am

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After my recent shoulder surgery , I went to a rehabilitation facility to hasten my recovery. It was an unusually pleasant place—attractive, clean, with attentive staff.

During the ten days I stayed there, I experienced something that shook me to the core of my being.

I was much younger and healthier than the typical resident at the facility. It was like being a teenager at your grandparent’s fiftieth anniversary party.

Like most facilities of this nature, the staff provided stimulating experiences: entertainment by local people, bingo games, and movies. I attended several of these functions because the days often felt incredibly long. I soon realized that most of the people who attended these functions were “long-term residents”—a euphemism for people whose memories and personalities had been ravaged by aging.

I went to a community birthday party one afternoon. (The draw for me was the cake and ice cream!) I chose to sit at a table with a man and his wife—people I saw every day. They appeared to be in my age range so I thought that we might be able to visit with one another.  The woman resembled me somewhat—she was obviously of Irish descent, with dark, wavy hair, dark eyes and fair skin.

But when I attempted to chat with the couple, it soon became obvious that the woman had dementia. I watched as the husband tenderly attended to her, spooning ice cream into her mouth, and wiping her lips and encouraging her to take sips from a cup of punch.

At one point, I looked at him and smiled.  A tear trickle down his cheek. I wondered if I reminded him of his wife in better days; and that my presence was a reminder of all that had been swallowed up by his wife’s illness. It felt like entering into his private hell.

Looking around, I realized that the staff who took care of the long-term residents could have been me at the height of my teaching career.  And the long term-residents could be my future.

It was chilling to see my past and (possibly) my future.

 

 

 

New Year’s Resolutions

  • January 8, 2016 2:41 am

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The New Year is underway, and somewhere, a well meaning soul is trying to stick to his/her New Year’s resolutions.

I wish him or her good luck. However, I haven’t made any resolutions.

Making resolutions is a time honored tradition at New Year’s. For most people, the resolutions are broken within the first month of making them.

That includes resolutions to lose weight that may include joining a gym or a weight loss program, both of which can have a hefty price tag.

It includes resolutions that have a tangible reward: a new wardrobe, a trip, better relationships, and better health.

It’s a documented phenomenon that New Years’ resolutions don’t work.

I wonder why this happens.

I think most people who make resolutions are sincere—they want a better life, to be healthier, slimmer, kinder, and all the other rewards that keeping the resolutions would grant.

Is it because we see New Year’s resolutions as something that can be broken?  After all, aren’t promises made to be broken, according to an old saying? Or is that making the life style changes necessary to fulfill the resolutions are too challenging?

Whenever I’ve done something to improve my life, it was a decision I made after realizing that  continuing to do what I was doing would not make me happy. In other words, making changes, at least for me, is not contingent on making a promise to myself or a time of year.

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Have you ever kept any?

 

Image courtesy of Pixabay

 

 

Her Favorite Color

  • December 18, 2015 10:48 pm

christmas gift clip art

It was her birthday and Lori woke up feeling apprehensive. Leave it to her husband to have to be out of town until the weekend. She would have to celebrate alone.

“Jack, can’t you get someone else to go to Rochester to fire those poor schmucks,” she’d asked.

Jack had slurped his coffee noisily.

“They’re not schmucks. And no, that’s my job.” Another slurp. “Jeeze, you’re forty five—it’s not like you’re a kid and I’m missing your birthday party. I’ll make it up to you when I get back.”

He downed the rest of the coffee. A peck on her cheek, and then he was gone.

Lori cleared the table. Grabbing her lunch, she checked the clock. Crap, I’m going to be late if I don’t get out of here.

The car seemed to be on auto pilot as she hurried to Healthy Smiles Dental Clinic where she spent the day picking tartar off other people’s teeth.

“It could be worse,” she’d tell her friends, after a few glasses of Merlot.  “My mother wanted me to be a teacher.”

Just dropping her children off at school when they were little was enough to give Lori a headache that lasted the whole day. She couldn’t imagine being locked in a room full of screaming kids.

After gliding into an employees’ only spot on the perimeter of the parking lot, she flipped the vanity mirror into the down position.  Tiny crow’s feet etched her eyes and mouth. Her smock stretched a little too tight across her chest and the elastic waist on the scrub-style pants pinched.

“Oh, well.” Lori sighed. At least Jack had stopped nagging her about the new rolls of fat that had settled on her midriff. She struggled out of the car and surveyed the distance to the office. Huffing and puffing, she finally reached the door of the building. The walk seemed more strenuous every day.  She promised herself again to get serious about losing a few pounds—or else get a job at a building with more convenient employee parking.

Three dreary days later, the weekend arrived and Jack reappeared.

“I’m beat,” he said, when Lori greeted him at the door.

She concocted a couple of martinis and clicked the remote to start the faux fire logs on the hearth.

Lori perched on the edge off her chair, waiting for her gift. She was dressed in her new one size larger black pants and a loose fitting tunic top.

“So, when do I get my birthday gift, Jack?”

Jack’s face was usually a mask. But this time, he looked alarmed.

“Oh, yeah. That…u-m-m. Hold on.”

He dug around in his overnight bag and fumbled with a package.

“Sorry, honey, I didn’t have time to get you a card.”

“Really? I would have thought that you might have passed about 200 Walgreen stores between here and Rochester. Isn’t there one just around the corner from the house?” Lori asked testily.

“I’ll get you a card later—when we go out to dinner. You did make a reservation somewhere, right? I hate waiting for a table on Friday night.”

He handed his wife a box with Lord and Taylor emblazoned on the top.

Eagerly, Lori opened the elegant box.

Nestled in crinkly, almost sheer tissue paper was a spaghetti–strapped silky wisp of a nightgown.

Lori drew it out of the box. The scent of an exotic perfume wafted from it. She thought she recognized Chanel #5, an indulgence she just dreamed about.

She examined the garment. It would be a perfect fit for a woman the size of a Barbie-doll.

Holding it up in front of her size sixteen body, she looked up at her husband. At that precise moment, a card slipped onto the floor. Lori and Jack bumped heads as they both bent to retrieve it.

“Sorry, honey, I guess I left the saleswoman’s card in the box,” Jack said nervously, as he slipped the tell-tale card into his pocket.

Lori stared at her husband. Seriously, she thought. Does he really want me to believe he bought this for me?

She watched him squirm.

Then in a voice hard with sarcasm, she said, “Jack, don’t you remember that red is not my favorite color?”

 

Picture courtesy of Microsoft Clip Art

 

 

 

Morning in America

  • December 3, 2015 3:12 am

 

 

Another mass shooting today—it must be morning in America.

I don’t know which is worse: the feeling of helplessness that overwhelms me when these things happen, or the fact that they happen so often.

This one hit especially close to home for me. San Bernardino, where 14 people died for going about their daily business and 17 more were injured, is where my daughter works. Thankfully, she was never in danger. The shooting occurred at a county agency and she teaches at the university several blocks away.

Still, I was anxious—at first because I didn’t know exactly where the shooting had taken place. It took almost 15 minutes to find out. And because my daughter has friends who teach on that campus, too, people I know and like.  I worried for their safety as they traveled home later in the day.

Then I found out that my daughter was traveling through the city to another campus. I hoped that she wouldn’t be affected by the manhunt that was underway for the perpetrators.

Now I wonder how she and her colleagues will handle this tragedy when they gather with their students tomorrow.  I feel deep sympathy for the people who tonight are mourning loved ones or keeping a bed-side vigil for an injured friend or family member.

Both my daughter and her closest friend posted on Face Book that they were safe and had not been in immediate danger. Then they both admitted to being exhausted from the stress of dealing with the events of that day.

The fallout from this incident will play out for many days ahead.

Those of us who were not directly involved will forget and move on. Those who were in San Bernardino at the time will have to process what happened and attempt to make sense of it.

I wonder if we are safe—anywhere. Shouldn’t people be safe at work, at school, in movie theaters, in restaurants?

We all know we aren’t.

Instead, we try to compensate for our lack of safety. We’ve armed our police with combat gear. We’ve taught teachers how to properly lock-down their classrooms. Children understand the terms “active shooter” and “mass shooting.”

And the only solution many politicians and other well-woman-511849__180 Pixabaymeaning people can offer is “thoughts and prayers.”

 

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Full Moon Rising

  • November 22, 2015 11:38 pm

 

 

When I was teaching, we could always tell whenever there was a full moon by the children’s behavior. If previously mild mannered, cooperative children began acting slightly crazy and hyperactive, the teachers would console one another by predicating that the full moon was either upon us, or looming. Most often, on days like that, I’d check the nocturnal sky and the moon would be displayed in all of its rotund glory.

For the last few years, I’ve noticed something strange. Whenever I feel especially down or blue, it’s caused by, you guessed it, the full moon. How relieved I am whenever I see that huge yellow orb hanging in the nighttime sky!

Whew! Seeing the full moon reaffirms that I’m not terminally depressed and that I don’t need to rush to the doctor for a stronger anti-depressant. Rather, like the children I used to teach, the moon is causing some kind of disruption in my emotions.

I don’t remember the full moon having that effect on me in my younger years. Perhaps I was too busy dealing with the erratic behavior of my young students to be able to notice that I, too, was affected by the lunar cycle.

Now I know what it feels like to want to “Howl at the moon!”

 

Picture courtesy of Pixabay

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It’s Always Something

  • November 20, 2015 2:33 am
Kathy Joyce Glascott

  It’s always something: Something to celebrate, something to mourn, something to regret, something to attend to. I miss my husband. Because it is always something: a phone call or three; a doctor’s appointment; walking the dog; visiting friends, laundry; cleaning; the list is endless. I do it all alone. Alone. If I need help,…

Tell the World You Liked It

  • October 27, 2015 2:33 am

Elvis Saves a Marriage Book

 

One of the most powerful boosts for many writers is Amazon.com. It provides a platform for unknown authors to bypass the stranglehold traditional publishing houses have on the industry. Services like Book Baby, Create Space and others support the independent writer by providing an accessible and affordable platform to bring their work to life.

There are many reasons why an author may resort to self-publishing. In my case, I made this decision after pitching my book for several years at writer’s conferences (where I paid a fee for the privilege) and sending numerous query letters to agencies. I sent the required three or whatever chapters, synopses of the book, author bio, and cover letters to agents I had investigated.

It was time consuming and ultimately fruitless—although I had at least two agents who would “have loved to promote my book if only…”

So, I turned to a small press publisher who did bring my lifelong dream of being a published author to life.

Then the hardest work began—promoting the book. I am not naturally good at self promotion.

I rely on word of mouth and whatever opportunities come my way to talk about my book and my writing.

But the one thing that all authors—including me—must have to survive is book reviews. And that’s where you, dear reader, come into the picture.

The five or ten minutes it takes you to write a few simple sentences telling other folks that, yes, you enjoyed the book you just finished are the greatest boost you can give to any writer. Just log onto Amazon.com, find the title and author of the book, and choose the option to review the book.

You don’t have to do an in-depth analysis of the plot, the nuances of character development, or compare the book to others in its genre. Just say that you liked it (or not) and why.

Easy.

And speaking for all struggling authors like me, your review will be deeply appreciated.

 

 

Chasing a Dream

  • October 9, 2015 2:48 am

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It’s hard to chase a dream. Dreams are ephemeral and unpredictable. They’re illogical. They don’t follow the rules of physics.

Dreams can make you feel elated or leave you empty and confused.

When you wake from a dream, it can be a hard landing back to reality.

I feel like I am chasing a dream right now as I face the most difficult part of having my latest book, Elvis Saves a Marriage…published: trying to foster interest in it.

It’s an intricate ballet of pushing the book a little here and there and exhausting people. You don’t want your efforts at promoting the book to feel like forcing people to watch a never-ending telethon.

But it is a necessary step in being an author. Even mid-list authors have to promote their books—through personal appearances, radio interviews, and book signings. The only ones who are somewhat exempt are A-listers who are a sure sell. And they have staffs to plan their promotion campaigns—and get to travel to exciting places and be on TV interview shows.

Writers like me are the author and promoter all wrapped up into one person. It can feel daunting.

From the time I was old enough to envision a future, I knew deep in my heart that I wanted to spend my life writing. I describe myself now as a writer who was disguised as a teacher for many years.

But I am a dream chaser. And no matter how upside down, how illogical, or how difficult it is, I will continue to follow this dream.

 

Graphic courtesy of Pixabay