Dear Don José…

Dear Don José,

You, Sir, are a liar and a cheat.

You are a disappointment among humanity, an epic failure as a man.

I feel the passion of a thousand Spanish suns on my face with the heat of my anger with you. You are, worst of all, disingenuous. Inauthentic at best.

I think most would also fault Carmen as well. Yes, she flirted. She suggests. She sang her siren song. (She may or may not have actually  cast a “spell” as there is part of this story that makes me sad that the Romani people were often cast as the enemy,  but I digress) He listened, initially appearing to be disinterested, or distracted? (Perhaps by his “alleged love” for Micaèla”?? HA.) Her behavior, while rude and brash, was at least somewhat logical. Carmen is true to herself above all (ok… and maybe she IS sort of magic…, but whatever… Carmen will always be free…)  

She gave him the flower (a literal reference, as any “literary” bloom had long since left her possession), he tosses it away, only to manage to squirrel it away in his uniform so it is with him in prison…. for what? #spoileralert… allowing her to escape after slicing up another chica in the cigar factory.

So, dear Don José, this is why I left at the end of the first act. I know how this is going to go, and on this misty, rainy, can’t make-up-its-mind Sunday afternoon I didn’t want to watch or listen for another minute. In retrospect, I should have offered the tickets to someone else. As a bright spot in the otherwise cloudy afternoon, it was easy to exit the parking garage….

Oh, and D-José, one more thing….. thanks.

Because of your little story-turned-opera today, a figment of the vivid imagination of one story-teller named Prosper Méremée, circa 1830, from a novella, as I later discovered (thanks, Google). Anyway, because of your work then, your imagined story of love-lost, and love-squandered (poor Micaèla, btw). A story that is nearly 200 years old made me really angry!  Which made me think. Isn’t it wonderful that the written word, albeit sung in this case, is still capable of stirring emotion? I was inspired to blog about it now, I’m inspired to write more of my own stories, with fleshed out broken, dysfunctional characters as well. I want my readers one day to yell into the book, to cry, to laugh!!

So, Don José, although we parted ways earlier than we should have today because I couldn’t bear to see you make such grievous errors in the name of love. I’m going to have to forgive you for all of your flaws. Quite simply because in spite of them, I was able to see that one unifying human condition is the desire for a good story.  I can only hope that my words someday find a place on a stage… to inspire or enrage,but  most importantly, to breathe emotion into the hearts of those who hear them.

 

 

 

 

An Octothorp & an Ellipsis walked into a bar…

# and …

Seriously, that “hashtag” thing everyone (cooler than I am) is using to “tag” their Twitter and Instagram feeds is actually, seriously, called an Octothorp. Here’s a link to my source on that (BTW,thanks, Oxford dictionary

True confession time: apparently, I overuse the octothorp in my texting, Facebooking,  general writing. At least according to my kids I do (you know I overheard you all talking at Grandmas house, and you are ALL in agreement, but no one wants to have “that weird conversation with Mom” #awkward, #dontmakemomcry, #whywontshestop)

And, the ellipses . . . ?

Again, thanks, Oxford Dictionary… but I’ll take it from here…. My own writing group The Plot Sisters  has pointed out gently, patiently, calmly… that I overuse THAT particular bit of punctuation in my fiction-writing.

So, what am I? Some sort of punctuation slaphappy slob?

Bordering on illiteracy?

Do I throw punctuation rules out  the window like uncooked fish at the end of a long weekend? Am I insensitive to the nuances of the octothorp? Irreverent with its purposeful use in the world of coding, dismissive of its actual role in sorting all of the shit out there in Tw!tterland? And the ellipsis point? The set of ellipses… three of them, like my children, obediently marching in a line . . .  #wonderingwhowilltellmom, #rockpaperscissoranyone?

I’m at an impasse … #conundrum

Until I stopped for a moment and gave pause to the cause. I, like millions (OK, maybe only thousands) of Octothorp-Offenders use the # for the simple fact that it makes you notice what we have said. It turns a phrase into a clever joke, #dontwant2misreadanything. #busyfeelingcool. #relevant. Ah yes. Relevant. 

The bane of growing older in our plentiful American society is “relevance.” I’m guilty, I’ve shifted a glance to the younger set, to see what is coming next? What’s new? What’s cool? I’ve set aside that which was perfectly fine, for what is perfectly new. Perhaps I should spend this next year re-thinking that strategy? Instead of hash-tagging something sassy and bold, I’ll just say it! Or write it! Least of all, tag it.

And, about that other problem of mine . . . my Emphatic Ellipses. I tend to use them to slow things down.

The pacing of a story. . .

I’m buying time . . .

I don’t know what to say . . .

Gah! There I’ve said it out loud. I use the  . . . when I don’t know what the Hell to write next, and I’m stuck. So, I trail off and slip off of the page for a moment. Only problem is, I tend to put my reader to sleep. So I need to cool it in my writing. 

It’s T minus 15, Folks, I’m finishing this blog post, and looking down the barrel of 2016. Time to put the punctuated foibles and faux pas of 2015 to bed, and dare to do better in Sweet 16.

Be better.

Be Relevant on my own terms. No Octothorp needed.

Time to finish the damn book, too. Period.

I’ll catch you on the flip side, Folks.

Happy New Year!

Be your best you ever, on your own terms.

 

 

 

 

12 Days (Before) Christmas…

So, I’ve been really cognizant all day today that there are exactly “12 more shopping days before Christmas”. (Actually fewer, since my husband’s family will be over on Christmas Eve and stuff needs to be purchased/made/wrapped before then…) But I digress, 12 days on the front side of Christmas, I’ve never really paid attention before this year, and if it hadn’t been for the priest today (who looked/sounded a LOT like the doctor in those Seinfeld episodes with the “remarkably refreshing” Junior Mint and the one where Susan died “she’s…gone”. My mind DID wander off for a moment or two, but I think I got the gist of what he said today)

12 shopping days.

12  days to panic.

12 days to freak out about your family coming to visit/or traveling to visit your family.

The priest actually SAID it. Then he reminded us in less than 5 minutes, (mass was really short today) that the point of TODAY is to feel “Joy”.

Joy of what is to come.

Joy because of Jesus’ sacrifice for us.

Joy because we are saved.

(He also pointed out that he is wearing “rose” not “pink” the color of the emotion “joy”. … I don’t have a problem with “Pink”. And that there are only two days in the entire Church year when our focus is on an emotion.  (not sure what the other day is, I’m thinking it’s sometime in Lent…)

So, here at the end of the “12th day BEFORE Christmas” I am happy to report that I have been focusing on “Joy” today, not stress, not panic.

Joy.

May the next two weeks bring you Joy.

Merry Christmas!

 

I’m a rational woman, really I am….

I’m a rational woman, really I am.

Honest. I have nearly 52 years experience with “rational”… but today, I staked out a car from a Tim Horton’s parking lot, caught a glimpse of “Sonic Blue” as it headed to the highway, and then, like some sort of crazy person, I TOO JUMPED ON THE HIGHWAY to tail it! … at a distance, of course, at least that’s what I told myself… I wasn’t going to get “too” close. I didn’t want to be “seen”. And I drove, and drove, and DROVE…. close to 80 mph before putting myself in check, and realizing that it was OK if I didn’t see the “sonic blue” Escape for a couple of days. It was OK that he had put “just the bare necessities” in the back. This included, by the way, his IKEA mattress (rolled up and tied), his Bronco’s flag (neatly appointed), and a guitar.

“Do you have enough underwear?” I asked. (necessities, right?)

“Don’t worry, Mom, I’ve got this.”

So, if you happened to be travelling northbound on I-675 today around 7:30PM, you may have caught a glimpse of me clutching the wheel, straining my neck, I would have been muttering ‘just one more hill, and I’ll see him again.’…oh, and I was crying, and breathing through my mouth because when I cry…. I REALLY CRY… That ugly, can’t hide it, puffy-eyed, snotty cry….

I got off ten miles after I started, and began the return trip home. Tears that refused to be denied running down my face, and I drove the rest of the way home thinking I was an irrational loon. Who does this? I had driven to the gas station with him to fill up his tank…. we hugged again, I handed him a little cash “Chipotle money” and kissed him on his cheek. I got in my car, waved and left first….. (only to drive across the street to the Tim Horton’s to wait for him to ‘drive past’…. )

And then I lost my marbles.

He’s safe at his buddies’ house in Columbus (3 text messages in the last few hours prove it). He’ll be job-hunting tomorrow (he promises more text messages, as new information warrants).

Those moments this evening that caught me unawares, were a repeat of feelings I had nearly 23 years ago…. I decided then to trust The Universe and walk in a path of honesty with this little bundle.

If I didn’t know what to do, I told him. If I did know what to do… I told him.

So, now, I don’t know what the Future holds for you, Son. I didn’t know then, and haven’t a clue about it now. But I do know that if you walk with Integrity and Honesty. If you live your life in the Light, it will all work out the way it’s supposed to. It’s worked out OK so far.

If you need to come back to regroup, that’s cool. If you don’t come back except to visit , that’s cool too.

Listen to your Heart.

Trust your Gut.

Follow your Bliss.

Live with Passion.

I love you.

 

I just figured out how to put my “physical fitness” bracelet to sleep…. instead of “tapping it twice” as the instructions stated to do, it responds to a “rapping with the knuckle”…. that’s right, I’m KNOCKING on the bracelet to put it to ‘sleep’, and to come out of the ‘sleep mode’… and, I’ve named my bracelet Walter… Comment below if you get my sense of humor. LOL.

I’m a PhDropout…

Reading on the 11th day of ChristmasSo, somewhere during either one of my Qualitative Research classes, or before finishing a Seagram’s 7-7 at the local blues pub, I decided to drop out of my PhD cohort. Oh, I still wanted to publish,  all right. The word count wasn’t even a reason, I LOVE writing…just not a thesis…. with a review board and a dissertation chair…

I wanted to publish and be read at  the BIG bookstores….and the INDEPENDENT bookstores…. and at YOUR house, and MY neighbor’s house, and the LOCAL coffee shop….I wanted it all.

So, before the ice melted in that drink, I had decided to close off the part of my brain storing how to clinically observe, and I let the part that observes the story begin to write…

This blog is where I go when I need to stretch in a different direction. It may at some point contain a scrap I’m actually writing…but probably not much, since the current advice from agents and publishers is that they don’t want freebie versions of our work floating around on the Internet.

I get that. Thanks for reading.

It’s raining and I’m thinking of Socrates…..

Socrates-@ the Louvre, Paris France What would Socrates do if he were to time travel to our time coordinates on the Universal Continuum?

Especially if it were raining, and he were sitting here in my living room as I attempt to clarify my thoughts about   the man. Socrates, this grumpy toga-wrapped 70-year-old man, the curmudgeon, the gadfly, the “wisest man in all of Athens”…. what might he talk to me about??(assuming that time travel also allows for instantaneous linguistic skill and fluency….)

I would tell him I am on a quest of sorts to discover the qualities that make an excellent leader. I would clarify and say, that I’m specifically thinking of leadership in the realm of education, but that I do believe the qualities of a just and moral leader would prevail in any group or classification  of leadership. And I would ask him to talk to me, to tell me what drives his thinking, and what thoughts he is thinking even now? …the following is how I would imagine that conversation might go…

He would look at me, I’m sure, puzzled and ask about this institution known as “Education”?  He would most likely be suspicious of it. The Sophists of his day who  were paid for their services, and delivered a polished rhetorical  product, “a great mind” who was able to speak on the classic topics of the day, but who were not, according to Socrates,  creating a thinker or great mind as much as they were polishing a field stone into a smooth talker. The edges were rounder, but the depth would be  finite.

Socrates, as a leader among Thinkers, did not seem to believe that the result, the last thought, was ever really final. The depth of  that thought as well as the next, and the next was dynamic and fluid; a person (man in his day, but we’re going to forgive the sexism of the times-it is after all my blog) need only have the willingness to admit that s/he does not know it all, and the openness to dig deep within one’s own imaginings and THINK of possibilities, and the connections to be made. He did not fear the unknown, or the question of “why?” If those depending on a leader know that the status quo, the ipso facto, the because things have always been done this way, “…in the past…” are not statements which will be accepted, that the Socratic leader will truly want to know “why” they will have to come to the plate with more than the status quo in hand.

As a leader, in whatever field, Socrates would struggle with our American “time-management conundrum.” He  would not have a planner to write his appointments and commitments. Since he rarely thought in terms of the future in a specific, time-based sense.He might like to have an iPod, or a laptop upon which to journal or blog. I’m guessing he might also  enjoy an iPhone a lot, especially one with web-browsing capabilities. No sooner would he have picked up a Wi-Fi signal that he could begin the discussion, he could Skype with people all over the world. He could post his thoughts on his iGoogle, or whatever web page and would have 24/7 contact with people from all over the world who would want to talk, and question  him. I believe he would probably become fully saturated with questions and conversations. I contend that he was wired to handle a much longer and deeper level of communication than his contemporaries. He thought beyond the “what I need to know to get through the day”.

Socrates thought to live. Ironically, his thinking contributed to  his death.

This Socrates, this man who irritated his contemporaries, who challenged the presiding thoughts of the day, and who inspired others to write about him for future generations definitely typifies some of the characteristics of  a good leader.

A leader must:

  1. Think, think  actively, and think often.
  2. Question everything going on around you. Favorite question to ask is “why?”
  3. Do not accept an answer you do not believe to be whole and true.
  4. Do not lie, to do so would be to cut your own throat.

The Socratic Leader in education, would struggle with Federal grants, and state-mandated timetables. There is a practical side to education wherein we find that while we must not get too caught up in the details, we do still have to pay the light bill  and buy the supplies to run the school. A Socratic model is not the ideal model in Education, unless one is focusing upon the teacher as leader. In this capacity the teacher who actually converses with a student, who challenges their thought process and who gets them to bring their thoughts to fruition has done no small thing. This openness to other thoughts, as opposed to the delivery of information system of so many teachers, is how connections and trust form between the student and teacher. A student who feels trusted, or valued, in a word respected will reach to fill his or her potential. Because in Socrates’ eyes the potential is never fully experienced, and the child will always continue to reach.

I had a poster in my classroom once, that said

Reach for the moon, if you miss,  you’ll still land among the stars!

Socrates as a leader would encourage his charges to reach! Whether they were teachers on faculty, or the students in his room, I contend that he would encourage each to reach, to think, and to ponder the possibilities.

The Socratic Leader will need a strong administrative assistant to corral the details, the appointments, the lists, the schedules and specifics of the school day;  but s/he would certainly do much to expand the creativity of the young minds who remain dependent on the quality of the leadership at hand.