Catching up….

Ever feel like you’re constantly playing catch up? I certainly do, especially these past six months since I’ve gone back to grad school to study Crisis Management.

It’s left little time for writing and even less for blogging, which I’ve come to enjoy since I began “The Far Places” blog. I apologize for being absent, but we do sometimes have to sacrifice hobbies for educational opportunities and other life-changing events. I’m glad I’m going to school again: in a strange way it has helped me fight the migraines and the allure of pain killers. I have to be mentally sharp to cope with the class load (reading those hundreds of pages of textbooks; writing research paper after research paper). I don’t want to use the migraines as an excuse to not turn in an assignment on time. I don’t want my mind to be too fuzzy and doped up that it can’t comprehend what I’m reading. The forced mental exercise is helping to re-awaken my brain.

Even if school has robbed me of spare time to write new stories, my brain’s enlivened neurons are spitting out ideas. I am once again accumulating scraps of paper filled with scribbled plot concepts, creepy visions, new interpretations of old legends, warped characters, and interesting little tidbits I come across. I’ll be starting a new class in a few days, but I’m determined to get at least an outline written for a couple of short stories.

I’ll also be sure to take a break from classes here and there. After all, there are more things to do than study and more places to see besides the local library. I’m hoping to get in a nice vacation this year, and hang out with friends. Dawn_BLogNot sure I can top last year which held a family wedding and a chance to reunite with childhood friends, Lisa and Dawn, who I hadn’t seen in more than thirty years. Lisa_BlogBut I’m sure 2015 will offer something exciting…I just have to be not so busy catching up with 2014 that I miss it.

Speaking of catch up…it would seem I’ve missed a couple episodes of “Sleepy Hollow” because I’m feeling lost in tonight’s episode. How did they kill Henry? How did Frank get his soul back? DID he get his soul back? And……I’m thinking a certain writer(s) got really drunk, watched “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” and then wrote this episode while hungover. Still, I must scour on-demand for more drool-worthy Tom Mison/Ichabod Crane and those missed episodes.

Crisis Management 101

Bender_blogThe trackpad on your MacBook Pro begins to malfunction, making it nearly impossible to navigate through your hard drive, let alone through the internet. What do you do?

1) Resist the urge to throw the computer across the room and/or out the window.

2) Repeatedly swear at computer.

3) Feeling a migraine attempt to explode behind your right eyeball, give up, take medication, and go to bed.

4) Get perhaps three hours of sleep before your brain wakes you up with a “pssst….hey, you have an old trackball plugged into the much older non-functioning desktop over in the corner.

5) Try to sleep anyway. Not much success.

6) The next morning, try plugging in the trackball. No success.

7) Borrow laptop from very nice neighbor and finish the paper about a fictitious disaster along the Mississippi River for your “Crisis Management Law” class. Turn assignment in. Get a 92% (That’s an “A”)!!

8) After perusing the Apple User Forums, you take MacBook Pro to Apple Store where it is diagnosed with a bad battery (bad battery! bad!). When batteries go bad, they swell and – being located directly underneath the trackpad – place pressure on the trackpad, confusing it. New battery: $140.

9) Start working on next assignment for your “Crisis Management Law” class. The cat – the most sweetest, calmest tabby ever – sitting at your feet suddenly flips over onto his back and makes like a turtle which has been flipped onto its back and can’t right itself. Seizure lasts nearly a minute.

10) Forget homework. Rush cat to vet. Battery of tests: $300. Results negative.

11) Hope it’s a one-time event. Cat has another seizure three days later, doing the “drunk walk” like his back half and front half aren’t speaking to each other.

12) Rush cat back to vet. More tests and x-rays: $300. Results negative. Most likely diagnosis: neurological. Conclusive results would require $1500 MRI at neurologist. I don’t have $1500.

13) Put cat on phenobarbital to control seizures. Hope for the best. Drugs: $40

14) Suffer through series of tension-related migraines during the next couple of weeks.  Run out of migraine medication.  Order more: $15

15) Only with the help of the calming influence of acupuncture, manage to complete the next “Crisis Management Law” class assignment. (And some really nice friends who proofread.)

16) Start working on final research paper for “Crisis Management Law” class and discover the MacBook Pro’s problems have not been completely solved by replacing the battery.  Symptoms not as disruptive, but still damn inconvenient. How’d you like it if your computer spontaneously minimized windows you were working in, or thinking you had clicked on something you hadn’t?

17) Decide to work on WordPress blog posting instead. Malfunctioning computer “publishes” the blog before it’s finished despite the fact that I never clicked on “publish.”

18) Delete half-finished blog and do it over again.

19) Resist the urge to throw the computer across the room and/or out the window.

20) Instead, go give love and attention to ailing cat.

Penguins, Sharks, Zombies, Shatner…and Crisis Management

Two weeks ago, I vowed to finish the first draft of my latest zombie short story. And I’m proud to say that I did! (I even finished it a day earlier than promised.)  It’s not quite ready for publication. I need to allow a little time for it to marinade…I suppose I could get gross and make some kind of zombie analogy about stewing in bodily fluids…but I’ll save that for the story. I did express concern to my first readers that the story wasn’t quite creepy or gruesome enough and was promptly informed “Oh, yes it is. Eeewww.”  What I need to work on, I’m told, is some character development. So I’ll be revisiting the story this coming weekend.

In the meantime I’ve started a new Twitter feed under @TheFarPlaces describing the adventures of #PenguinAboutTown. It was inspired by the humorous Twitter feed of @BronxZoosCobra and two of my fellow travelers in Baja during March who brought along stuffed critters for photo ops. So, last week when I needed to make a quick business trip to D.C., I took along Penguin (yes, my penguin’s name is Penguin) and took him barhopping.PenguinMetro Here he is hitching a ride on the D.C. Metro. After all, penguins can’t fly. They can’t buy Metro passes either (no pockets for money or credit cards) but I don’t think the station attendants noticed him sneaking on board tucked away in my bag.

Watch Twitter for future #PenguinAboutTown adventures.

And to further wake up my brain – dare I say celebrate the reawakening of my brain from the fog of migraines and pain killers – this week I am beginning a graduate certification program in Crisis Management. First class up: constitutional law. Yeah. Really. I’ll see if I survive the eight weeks without case law turning me into a zombie. Wish me luck. (But, hey, I might get inspiration for yet another zombie story! Do you think they’d let me write a case study of the zombie apocalypse?)

But before I delve into Marbury v. Madison and Jew Ho v. Williamson, etc., I gave my brain a break and thoroughly enjoyed “Sharknado 2: The Second One.” If you love cheesiness, this is the movie for you. I think it was even better than the first one. In the first 5-10 minutes alone they managed to parody “Airplane!” (itself a parody) and the classic “Twilight Zone” ‘Nightmare at 20,000 feet’ episode with William Shatner (who frequently parodies himself). I knew I was in for a great ride the moment I saw Robert Hays in the cockpit.