Tag Archives: life

Ant Attack

Ant horde
Ant horde by Jonathan Fox used under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

I think the apartment I currently live in was built on an ant colony. We have them all year, but they’re the worst in the summer. Mostly they come in looking for water, but sometimes they find the cat food. And in very horribly moments they find the crickets (I am so very, very sorry, crickets).

See, I have a small mammal that adores eating crickets. I don’t always keep them on hand because she doesn’t eat them as fast as I would like, which means I have to then add crickets to the creatures that I have to keep alive. And they are tricky, sometimes. Plus, they are insects, so their life spans don’t always wait her appetite out.

My relationship with the crickets is complicated. I feel bad when they die in the cage they stay in until it’s time to put them in her cage to be eaten. Sometimes I think this is a silly sentiment, because I don’t feel bad when they get eaten. Perhaps this is because I have made their fate food, and when they die stuck in a tiny, plastic cage, their lives lose some of their meaning. And then part of me remembers that they are, in fact, crickets. But they are still living creatures, and I feel bad that I have cause their lives to be less than their wild existence would allow. When they are attacked in the tiny, plastic cage I’ve trapped them in by a horde of ants, I am horrified. As soon as I see their tragic turn, they get released in a effort to provide some space to live – because being eaten alive by an ant horde seems ghastly to endure.

And I am sure people will think that this response is unmerited for creatures that are generally despised. It is my philosophy that a person’s true nature is revealed in how they treat beings that are completely helpless. I buy the crickets for my small mammal to eat, because I have taken her from her natural habitat and shrunk her space to a 40 gallon fish tank. She seems happier when she has something to chase to eat (since most of the time she just has a bowl of food). But in doing so, I take on creatures even more vulnerable that I feel obligated to ensure only suffer when they serve as food.

At a time when so much is not good* in the world, remembering to care for the most vulnerable creatures that surround us seems to be the fastest pathway to making the world good again.


*A post about how I use the word good is forthcoming, because I see it carrying so much more weight than its typical use indicates.


Hey, March!

So, February blinked past, which seems especially awkward this year considering the extra day and all. I’m not sure what kept everyone else busy, but February 2012, was a packed month.

I got assigned to assist on developing my work’s new website. And then I got promoted to full-time in the Higher Education Services Department. I took a break with the Gallifrey Twenty-three, this year’s incarnation of the annual Los Angeles Doctor Who con. And in the midst of everything finished applying to Ph.D. programs.

But my life has calmed down now. The website went live, and I have some time to think again.

It will pick up again, I’m sure, especially when I start traveling for work, but, for now, I’m enjoying the time to myself and the space to write more.

When the world crumbles

I’m sitting in my car waiting for the time when I can meet my mom for lunch, and I’m listening to Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under and wondering what is going on with the world.

This morning started by reading NPR‘s Andy Carvin’s live tweeting of Qahdafi’s speech to Libya. He seems to have lost contact with the world the rest of us live in. Which would almost be laughable if he didn’t also control the means to begin the “cleansing” he threatened.

And then I read through Amanda Palmer’s blog about New Zealand. Which is about the same time I realized my heart was breaking for the rest of the world.

Because the world appears to be in the midst of another of those moments that have marked my interaction with the Earth – it’s tumultuous.

Perhaps you’re from a generation that managed to not have major uprisings or world breaking moments. I wonder what this looks like through you eyes. Is it more terrifying? Are you hoping it will all stop? Or are you more peaceful about it? Because for me, everything that’s happening in the Middle East and New Zealand falls in stride with the way of the world.

Growing up with family in friends involved in Desert Storm, watching the Berlin Wall tumble down at the hands of the people, seeing the revolutions and civil wars of the Balkans, seeing the horror of a home-grown extremist attack people who never harmed him, and then beginning college amongst the ashes of a terrified country makes for a perspective that sees how appalling the world can be.

But this kind of experience also places turmoil in a broader perspective. One that demonstrates the impermanence of each moment.

Because this too shall pass.

Which is no guarantee that the next moment will be better, but this moment will not last forever.

And so I will embrace this moment’s sorrow and joy and do what I can to help those in need. And when I feel like the next moment will never end, I’ll look back here and remember.

Hamlet and a Timelord

Most of the seniors are reading Shakespeare’s Hamlet currently and hating it. I find this greatly distressing. Not because I hold 2 degrees in English and am expected to love Shakespeare, but simply because I love the character of Hamlet.

The play is fantastic and full of lines I quote frequently. But dysfunctional, brainiac, sad Hamlet keeps me coming back to the story. I can’t abandon a character reflecting the inner-workings of my brain. (which should probably terrify me at least a little more than not at all) Continue reading Hamlet and a Timelord

On storytelling

Our placeOne of the most nerve-wracking moments for me as a writer occurs when I hand a story to a friend for them to read. Sending it out for random editors carries its own stress, but in those instances, the connection routes through my professional side which moves criticism to a non-personal place.

I have yet to reach that level of maturity with my friends. Which adds the necessary barbs to each comment in order to pierce my being. And if the friend who snuck into the story more than I had anticipated reads it, I’d rather visit another universe for those moments.

My discomfort doesn’t stem from fear of/for  the story, or lack of confidence in my writing. It reaches much deeper.

Continue reading On storytelling

I dwell in possibility

I haven’t been writing recently because I couldn’t. Journaling led my mind down unhelpfully distracting bunny trails; stories stagnated after the first line or two; frustrations over minor setbacks roadblocked my blogging.

Maybe you’ve been in this kind of situation. You think it’s writers block or something only mastered by pushing through and continuing to write. That’s what I thought, but when my inability to write only grew, I knew the reason was something I’d never encountered.

So I followed the only logical path and stopped writing. I hardly even tweeted original thoughts, leaving my feed to pass along information from other people I wanted to share. I embraced the lack of writing in my life (although begrudgingly) and opted instead to think through the potential causes, to reconnect with friends I made not online, to make new friends.

The distance from my current way of life showed me that the possibilities were happening so fast they were overwhelming my ability to organize my thoughts. TCA moved so fast that I had more opportunities than I knew what to do with, new options for sharing my writing kept appearing, everyone had a great idea that I wanted to help with all at once, and I had so many stories running through my head I couldn’t tell them apart.

I know for many people these kinds of moments make life exciting. And it was exciting. But I hadn’t prepared for the onslaught of possibility, and so I was overwhelmed.

But the time away from everything, especially those that I love and make my life fantastic, gave my brain the space it needed to get itself organized.

So now I can dwell in possibility, embracing life and what I love.

Bookmark I dwell in possibility

it never rains but it pours

I had one of those weeks last week. All the news that came in was bad, and I kept expecting it to get worse.

I’m still recovering from it, but that week started me thinking about creativity and life.

I have been keeping a distant eye on some really neat creative projects that launched last week. (I will be posting more a little later) And there are some fascinating collections that are calling for submissions. And there are projects I was in the middle of and that I still need to finish. But I couldn’t track with much beyond my own life last week. Not that I think I needed to (the deadlines are still far enough away that giving myself the necessary time), but I still chose to be fairly isolated.

Writing this now, a line from the end of James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. “[Mother] prays now, she says, that I may learn in my own life and away from home and friends what the heart is and what it feels.” I have loved this line since I first read it, but what I see now, added to everything else I’ve seen in this quote, is the absolute need for space, both physical and mental, to understand your life.

I gave myself some space, and I found the beginnings and concepts for more stories than I now have time to write. Not that I won’t try to write them all, but in that time of turmoil, I discovered my brain was working on ways to process and siphon of the influx of emotion and information.

T.S. Eliot is quoted as saying something like: I have lived through enough for an epic. The timeframe given is not long before he leaves to write The Wasteland.*

I don’t know about you, but I frequently remember quotes like Eliot’s when I’m in the midst of events or situations where I don’t have control.  I’m also a believer in signs, so I don’t discount the appearance of these random quotes. I go with whatever my first thought is in response to the quote, and see if it’s something helpful.

This time it was. What I took from the confluence of events is that I have lived through much, because I have been living. So what is there to stop me from taking all that experience and emotion and using it to create something new?**


So I’ve decided that the rest of this week, I will work on all those stories that knocked on my consciousness when I had proclaimed: Do Not Disturb.

Life is what it is. I’m going to embrace it. Time to get cracking on those stories.

    *I can’t remember off the top of my head where I found this. But I know I used it in a paper for the MA, and those notes are currently packed away.
    ** I’m a big fan of the Modernists, and could bore you for hours with minutia from then.

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You probably never met my friend Des. I’m sorry for you. But I don’t want you to miss out on what I learned from his life, so I’d like to introduce you to him through the stories I’ve cobbled together.

I’ve spent around 6 months in Brisbane, Australia over 4 trips since 2004. Each trip has been different in the adventures and experiences. Each trip has remained consistent in the people I’ve shared the adventures with.

Des and his wife Lena were and are 2 of the people who were always part of what made my time in Australia joyous. And they were and are part of the group of people who have become my family.

One year, I mailed them an Edward Gorey Christmas card that showed an assorted collection of creatures throwing fruitcakes into an ice hole. The next time I saw Des, his first word to me were “What’s with the fruitcake?” It had been a year since I’d seen him. That was the only greeting I got from Des for most of that trip. I hadn’t realized that fruitcake is actually eaten in Australia. I will never forget that now.

I saw Des last summer. The schedule was crazy, so there were fewer moments to share. My favorite is rather longer.

20 or so of us, U.S. and Aussies, traveled 6 hours north and west from Brisbane to the tiny town of Eidsvold on the edge of the outback. We were doing some work around the Christian Centre which the community uses for day care and events that need space.

Des was leading the 20something U.S. boys in the cleaning up of junk that had to be taken to the dump, but they were working through lunch. And since we were all there together it meant that we were all waiting until they were done to start eating. People were starting to get restless, and I figured they didn’t know we were breaking for lunch, because when to 20something guys ever listen to group announcements?

So I wander over to the very short fence that marked a border on the property, and I told Des that it was lunch time. Des’ deadpan response was, “Well, you may be here to fill your belly but some of us came here to do the Lord’s work.” To which I calmly responded, “Shut your face and get over to the lunch table. You’re holding up the food for the rest of us.” And then I walked back to where everyone else was, with Des and the boys not too far behind.

Later that evening there were pockets of conversation, and Des and I happened to be in one of those pockets. I’d been thinking about our exchange earlier and I told him that I thought people who didn’t know is might think that we didn’t get along. And he seemed surprised by that.

I think these stories are so clear in my head because they explain so much of who Des was. He was straightforward and dedicated and funny. And he wasn’t too concerned with the way other people saw him. He was himself and never apologized for that, but he didn’t try to drive other people away either. He accepted people without hesitation but was never afraid to call people on the crap they were pulling.

He was a very dear friend whom I admired greatly. 33 is far too young to have your heart attack you, and I am having a hard time believing that he is dead.

I wish I had told him more of this the last time I saw him.

But I hope for so much more. I hope the stories of his life encourage people in his stead. I hope that Des’ example of a fearless life inspires those who know it to walk a similar road. I hope that sad regret does not cloud the memory of his life lived well.

I hope for life

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Shared Grief

I follow Neil Gaiman on Twitter, which means for the last several days I’ve been following his grief over his cat Zoe.

I am a complete cat person, and I have a (I think) 14-year-old cat that I love dearly. I’m already dreading the phone call that will tell me she is leaving or has left this world.

I don’t know that I will post that news everywhere, but I don’t think that Neil Gaiman has overstepped any bounds. I may not keep the people I’m connected to solely by electronic means updated, but I will be keeping the people I am most connected to updated. I will need to in order to still be connected to life.

I think there is extraordinary value in sharing grief. The act of sharing grief with others makes the experience real, and the act of sharing balances death with life. The loss of life makes the live moments precious. Neil Gaiman sharing his grief with the thousands of people who are connected to him electronically reminds us all of the high cost of living.

The beauty of the interconnectedness of our lives now is the way we can share whatever we want whenever we want. In this case, it’s the deep grief over the loss of a small cat first shared with me, and now I’m sharing with you. Perhaps together we can all take the grief and appreciate the life.

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