Too Much, Too Much

DEATH: Terry Pratchett and the Discworld Paul Kidby (Official Ilustrator):
DEATH by Paul Kidby

There’s been too much death this year. I suppose there’s always too much death any year.

But now comes word that my friend, Eric Weaver, has died.  According to his daughter he was on his way home from work and had a hypertensive heart attack.  He was a year younger than I.

I suppose it’s to be expected as we enter our 50s.  I suppose.

Eric was one of the patient, kind, good guys who lived in my world of geekiness.  We met when we worked at WhoWhere?  I knew we would be friends because he named one of the servers Ridcully.  We both had a fondness for Luggage and Death too.

We both rotated around Don too.  Eric’s mind worked in ways mine didn’t, and we both puzzled over how he could so easily pick up coding, while I looked at most of it as gibberish.  Even with a translator like Eric, I never got the hang of it.

We exchanged quite a bit of email as I settled into my job at the Computer History Museum.  Always pleased that I had found such a unicorn of a workplace, in complete agreement that Don would have also been pleased, and convinced they will eventually hire me.

I’ll always remember his goofy giggle, his uneven smile and those silly fanny packs he wore.  I’ll also always remember his friendship and our fondness for Terry Pratchett characters.

Eric, I’ll miss you greatly.  I hope you and Don are up to no good.  I hope I remembered to tell you how grateful I was we were friends.

Coming Clean

I’ve been using the excuse of working to not write daily.

“Oh, I’m too tired when I get home to even turn the computer on.”

“My computer is so slow, it’s not worth turning it on during the week.”

Truth is, those are just excuses.  I got stuck on an article for a client, and have been using work, the holidays, etc. as excuses to not just do it.

And it has been bothering me.  A lot.  Especially recently.  I tell people I made the commitment to write every day, but then I got a part-time job I love and stopped.

But I find I keep telling stories.  I’m just not writing them down any more.  Or, writing them here anymore.

I don’t really know what I’m hiding from aside from the fact I am stuck on an approach for this article.  My client has been very understanding.  She’s happy I’m working again with steady money at a place, and with people, I adore.  Truth be told, I feel like I’ve let her down.  I haven’t told her I can’t figure out an approach to the article she wants.

The holidays are always a mess.  They’re a really handy excuse to not do anything except be depressed and feel sorry for myself.  Except that’s not working anymore either.

Thanksgiving was a mess.  A literal mess because while attempting to fix the toilet, it overflowed.  Yuck was all over the floor.  I threw my hands up, threw some towels down and walked away for the night.

Christmas was better somewhat.  New Year’s was its usually noisy self with fireworks all around me.  Living in a Mexican neighborhood, which is also not far from a Vietnamese neighborhood, makes any holiday noisy with fireworks.  Fire crackers go off at all hours of the day.

After the debacle a year ago with the roof leaking, and the ensuing repair, the roof started leaking again.  My home doesn’t feel like home.  There are buckets and towels on the floor, tarps on the roof, and plastic over some of my shelves.  Especially the books.

Things kinda went sideways a little at work.  Just a tiny bit, but I was convinced I was about to lose my job.  How could I be expected to come home and write under any of those circumstances?

Books pile up after I read them, waiting for me to review them.  Once I get caught up, I promise I’ll review each one after I’ve read it.  But it doesn’t happen.

I know this is not unusual behavior for anyone, most especially creative people.  We live in our heads a lot.  We lead with our hearts.  We feel big, and we take everything seriously.  At least I do.  From what I know of other writers, I suspect this is true for them too.

I’ve known for several months that I was at what’s called an inflection point.  In business it means, “a time of significant change in a situation; a turning point.”  I can feel the changes.  Actually see things are going in a different, better direction for me.

This came home to me last Friday when something happened which was incredible to me.  Something I never expected to happen.  Something I wasn’t even looking for.  I had a date.

It went well.  I enjoyed myself very much.  I like to think he did too.  We talked, sharing horrible landlord stories.  Somehow, my writing came up.  And I realized that while I wasn’t exactly lying to him about having made the commitment to write every day, I hadn’t told him that book reviews were mostly what I wrote.  And not every day.

I’ve been very emotional for the past few days.  I suppose it’s normal dating roller coaster riding.  “Will he call me again?”  “Will we really go out again?”  All that sort of stuff.

Let me be clear.  I’ve had relationships in the past.  None of them worked for various reasons.  Mostly because of me seeking fulfillment from them, and attracting men who didn’t deserve my time.  And giving it to them.  Not all of them, mind you.  But most of them.

Since the last one, I’ve spent a great deal of time and effort working on myself.  Becoming comfortable in my own skin, loving me, loving who I am, learning to take care of me.  And, most importantly, finding fulfillment from within.

Last August, I knew I was there because I walked in like the badass I know I am.  Things have been wobbly from time to time, but overall I am pleased with my work and attitude.  And so are people who have the influence to hire me when the time comes.

It was the same way when I met my date.  I was just being me.  Snarky, sarcastic, book in my hand me.  And, things went from flirting to my inviting him to dinner.  To us actually going to dinner and sitting and talking.  It was fun.

But, as with all change, things are unnerving.  I’ve been thinking about my writing more, and thinking about keeping true to myself in the throes of all this change.  The weekend wasn’t easy for me.  I could feel change, and I haven’t been handling it with as much grace and aplomb as I wanted.

Several things have come out of this.  One of which is my writing.  At least two different people have told me that to not write would be false to myself.  It’s my heart and soul.  Aside from loving the job, and the (not enough) steady money, I need to write.  And I keep denying myself that.

I’m not openly declaring a re-commitment.  But I am openly declaring an attempt for every day.  Because, apparently now, more than ever, I really need to write.

Review: The Dark Wind

The Dark Wind
The Dark Wind
Tony Hillerman

Title: The Dark Wind
Author: Tony Hillerman
Series: Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee #5
Published: 1990
ISBN: 0-06-100003-5
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks

The typical Hillerman mystery involves Navajo culture;  either an action meant to look Navajo or something which disturbs the Navajo Way of harmony with the universe.

There’s always conflict between the White people (men) who have strict rules and believe they know what’s best for everyone, especially the Native Americans.  They are usually portrayed as arrogant buffoons who know absolutely nothing about the case or the people against whom the crime was committed.

Sometimes, there’s conflict between two Indian tribes, which is usually resolved by being respectful.

In The Dark Wind, Jim Chee is handed three cases, which all become entwined with a fourth.  The fourth is a small plane crash right in front of Chee while he’s on stakeout waiting for the vandal of the windmill, part of a complicated political gesture by the BLM towards the Hopi Nation.

The plane crash is most decidedly not assigned to Chee, the white FBI, and his captain, make that clear.  He is to stay away from it.  So as he goes about his days driving long distances to chase down clues, he does his best to not get involved in the crash and what turns out to be missing cocaine worth about $15M.

It becomes obvious that the federal agents are up to no good and keep trying to set Chee up for the fall over the missing drugs.  The brutality of these thugs made me wince as they tossed Chee’s small travel trailer he calls home and smack him around.  At first, I thought they were just stupid, prejudiced white men.  Later, it’s revealed that’s only part of their makeup.

While trying to identify a Navajo John Doe discovered by some Hopi men gathering sacred spruce for a ceremonial, Chee encounters the trading post’s owner, Jake West.  West performs magic tricks, which Chee mulls over throughout the book, trying to solve how they’re done.  This proves to be a crucial key to the solution of the missing drugs and the dead bodies which keep piling up.

What keeps me re-reading Hillerman’s mysteries (this is at least my second time through) is the use of Navajo culture and sensibilities to solve the crimes which are jurisdictionally complex.  I read them to re-visit a part of my life in which I was surrounded by Native Americans of several nations, and maybe for a better understanding of my own life.

I also read them because they expose me to other ways of thinking, relating and solving problems.  The Navajo Way is explained as keeping in harmony with the universe, and making course adjustments as necessary.