Friday, April 29, 2005

Night Verse

Yes, it is dark in my head a lot of the time. It helps to get this stuff out occasionally.


I hear him walking,
Silently stalking.
My heart is knocking.

I crouch in my nest,
Holding my breath,
Waiting for death.

He knows I am here,
Senses my fear,
Grins ear to ear.

Enveloped by night,
I can't reach the light,
Too frozen with fright.

He has no remorse,
He's chosen his course,
He takes me by force.

However I shout,
He's never found out;
Somehow they can doubt.

So while all are sleeping,
He still comes a'creeping;
His secret they're keeping.

-Copyright 2002 S.Cone

And yes, I know that "nest" doesn't rhyme with "breath"; any ideas?

Thursday, April 28, 2005

It's Not Poetry, It's My Life

In honor (or possibly dishonor) of Poetry Month, I'm posting some of my own verse. For most of my growing-up years, I was infatuated with "modern" poetry-- which at the moment seems to be considered the only "real" type-- the kind that doesn't rhyme except by accident, that has no meter, but that looks good flowing down a page. I played around with it for a long time. I even sat at the throne of the great Russian hack Mayakovsky for a while.

Then one day, I looked at it and realized that it didn't take any more talent to throw a bunch of words at a page than it did to splatter paint on a canvas and call it art. So I turned to, yes, regularly metric verse, with the thought that maybe I could learn to create poems that also have form. So far, I'm not good at the poetry part, but I do all right at the rhyme and meter. So here, for my own benefit, if for no other reason, is this episode from my life (and yes, a David Byrne song was a big recent hit on the airwaves):


"Drive!" she says,
"More speed!" she cries,
And spurs her steed through dark'ning skies.
The wind whips through her auburn hair;
She leaves in her wake only air.
For try as may, she cannot find
A way to leave her tears behind.
And all the demons, large and small,
Still cast o'er her a deadly pall:
Pawing, grasping, clawing, clasping,
Their fingers icy, venom-drenched.
Straining, striving, she keeps driving,
Her hands around the wheel stay clenched.
All is lost to her unless
She can unburden and find rest.

Suddenly she's at land's end,
The wilding sea her only friend.
At the water's edge she leaps
To seek the comfort of the deep.
A dash across the sandy beach—
Can she outpace the demons' reach?
In she plunges, sinking down;
Too attached to life to drown,
She bobs among the rolling waves,
Determined her own life to save.
The sea's voice whispers in her ears
Words which only she can hear,
And slowly understanding dawns...
One by one the demon spawn
All ebb away on flowing tides
That mix with tears of joy she cries.

-copyright S.Cone 1997

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The Royal Recognizer, or Whose Reality Is It, Anyway?

If I were in a Terry Pratchett book (specifically, Mort), I'd think that I'd somehow taken a turn into the wrong reality. That would explain why everyone else seems to believe that we're moving any day now. I think I've finally convinced my husband that we won't be moving for at least a year (although the sign's still in the yard), but no matter how many times he tells his ex, his lawyer, and everyone else in town, they still keep asking: "Are you moving?" Not at the moment, now will you please adjust the child support before the Apocralypse happens? Thank you very much. Sheesh!

One of these minutes, before the end of Poetry Month, I'm going to post some of my writing. But not right now.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Family= Thicker Than Blood

I spent the afternoon regaling Kory with exciting tales of pregnancy, giving birth, and child-rearing (I'm an FDA-approved birth control method-- totally sanitary *and* reusable!), but now I feel I need to make it up to the tykes by saying something nice. So, let's think...

We got Punkin Baby's hair cut last week, so he no longer looks like the lost blonde Beatle. He's back to his normal red-haired self; don't ask me how he does that. Turns out that under that moptop, he looks just like his oldest brother did at age 2. Wow. Even Pirate Boy got confused when looking at a picture of #1 Son. ("That's Punkin Baby!" Nope, it's not.)

That brings me to a couple of weird points. First, we don't have any pictures of #1 Son from before I met his dad. Reason? Mommy from Hell took the ones she wanted with her and cut the rest to pieces. So when the boy asks what he looked like back then, I can't tell him, because I don't know. And when he asks why we don't have any pictures of him, I can tell him the truth, but it's so weird that he doesn't believe it. And then "Mommy" shows him her pictures and he thinks she's such a doting parent... OK, enough on that topic.

The other thing was the weird genetics going on in our kids. I love to fiddle around with heredity grids... But just try to draw this grid, Fr. Mendel: Husband has blonde (verging on brown now) hair and hazel eyes. "Mommy" (aka "The Evil One") has dark hair and dark eyes. So #1 Son is a blue-eyed platinum blonde. Right. Then there's me with the mousy grey-brown hair and blue eyes. I represent the recessive genes in my family, but Pirate Boy somehow got the dominant genes: shiny brown hair, olive skin, and tawny brown eyes. Oh yes, and Mongol eyeflaps; don't ask me where they came from, but my sister has them too. I think he's a gorgeous child. Then we get to Punkin Baby, who was born with flaming red hair (which has only faded a bit), gunmetal grey eyes (now with a green-brown corona), and a set of cheeks and chin I couldn't identify until I was watching "Blue's Clues" one day. Aha! Those pieces of my baby's face come from the Patton side of the family, none of whom I've seen for years, but they all have that same face Donovan has.

So now on our bedroom wall hangs a beautiful picture of our three sons-- one blonde, one brunette, and one redhead--as superficially different as can be, but they love each other to death. And that's the most important thing. No matter what their chromosomes say, these boys are brothers where it counts. In the heart.

Literarily Fluffy, or Fluffily Literary

I've been meaning to post this for a while, since Purple Elephant did this meme. (A lot of other people did it, too, but I told PE I'd do it about a million years ago.) Finally getting around to it. Filling space? Maybe; who's askin'?

Which authors have I read 10+ books from?
  • The Apostle Paul
  • William F. Buckley, Jr.
  • Terry Pratchett
  • Agatha Christie
  • P.D. James
  • Orson Scott Card
  • Isaac Asimov
  • Dr. Seuss
  • Elliott Roosevelt
  • Robert Ludlum
  • John LeCarre
  • Ken Follett
  • Len Deighton
  • Ian Fleming
  • Oh yes, and Shakespeare, 'cause PE says we can count plays
  • And freakin' Anton Chekhov (much of it in Russian)
  • Possibly Kurt Vonnegut, Dorothy Sayers, Ellery Queen, and Ngaio Marsh

I've read a lot of other stuff, don't get me wrong, but let's face it, most of the "classic" and/or "literary" writers aren't prolific. And I don't generally like Dickens. And Douglas Adams died too soon. Don't talk to me about Hemingway. Wretched man.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Whither the Scone?

Novelizing lately. (Yay!) And working, of course. And reading to the kids, and putting the kids to bed, and trying to stop the kids from falling on their heads or from re-editing the articles on my laptop while I'm catching someone else doing a somersault off the edge of my bed. In case you were wondering why I haven't posted much lately. Still. Again.

I took a very leisurely stroll around the yard today, snipping ragged rosebushes on my way. I should NOT have done this, no matter how badly they needed it. I absolutely killed my back. Killed. Ouch. Will never recover. Didn't take my meds on time, either, and that doubled it. Ouch, ouch, ouch...

The pirate boys have discovered that our deck is a pirate ship. Of course it is. I recognized it as soon as I saw it. Spent a lot of time outdoors this afternoon. It did most of me a lot of good. Just not my back. Looks like my lilacs might actually bloom this year, finally. As long as no one mows them again. (Yeah, like anyone's going to mow our lawn this year.)

And I wanted to clarify, at least for Kory, that I do think that #1 Son is quite intelligent and that if he pays attention and works hard, he'll do fine in life. Probably. I do worry about what he's inherited from his mother. It's not his fault; he's a great kid. It's just a fact of genetics that he's got some handicaps to overcome. Dyslexia is one of them, but I'm not sure the other kids don't have that, too. He has to work harder at learning than his brothers do, for whatever reason. When I said "passing him" I meant that they're reaching certain milestones earlier than he did. OK, all milestones. But he can still beat Pirate Boy at chess 9 times out of 10 and is way beyond both of them with his times tables. He's doing fine.

Still, I worry. Mostly, I worry about my ability to effectively parent a "normal" kid-- and by this I mean one who's a good reader, is interested in science, and whose personal best is a B+ in fourth grade. Which is fine. Fine, really! Honest. Argh. My parents always expected me to get A's, and I did, so I don't have a real frame of reference or an example to learn from. I'm much more comfortable dealing with prodigies than I am with a perfectly good "above average" kid. I feel awful about it. Rotten. I wish I could convey in a loving way that when I just keep my mouth shut about his achievements, it's because I'm defective in appreciating them. It wouldn't help. I always suspect he can do better.

I'm such a jerk, I know. Maybe I'm not a "real" mom after all...

Just asking...

Do cars still backfire these days? You know, like in the old movies, when everyone thinks it's gunfire but it's just someone's old jalopy...?

'Cause if they don't, I'm getting steel shutters.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Week in Review

As I mentioned, I've been back to work the past couple weeks, and I'm kinda taking a beating physically because of it. So, not blogging as much lately. Which doesn't mean that things have stopped happening. Here are the things I can remember at the moment:

Our spring blizzard was all over the news a few days ago. It wasn't actually news, nor was it new. It happens every year around Easter weekend-- except this year Easter inconveniently moved and left no forwarding address, but the blizzard came anyway. The previous week had been blissfully warm and totally spring. Then (as always), BAM! We get a couple feet of snow. Two days later, all the snow is gone and it's 70 degrees again. Two days after that, it's gone cold again. No telling what tomorrow will bring. Except possibly haircuts. Definitely haircuts, if I have my say. People keep telling us what a beautiful daughter we have. Punkin Baby has taken to punching people and yelling "Bam! Bam!"

Pirate Boy started writing stories this past week, and even came up with a poem last night. OK, sure, a poem that goes "A&W Root Beer" and "SQL Server Magazine" but I challenge you to find a 4-year-old in your neighborhood who can write those from memory. Bit of a smarty, that kid. He casually commented the other day that "a trapezoid is a quadrilateral." I looked at my husband and we counted under our breaths. It took 5 seconds before #1 Son said, "What's a trapezoid?" Pirate Boy explained it. I find myself getting nervous about this. Fortunately, #1 Son is a bit oblivious and has a terrible memory (OK, it's only fortunate in this context), so he might not realize for a good long time that his younger brothers are passing him intellectually.I just wonder what will happen when he does. But maybe not everyone's as arrogant as I was at that age.

We had parent-teacher conference this week, and it looks like #1 Son is back up to his usual B+ average. In the area of "shows self-discipline," he managed to work his way up from deplorable to merely awful. This is good. Lesser teachers have torn their hair out and sent him back to kindergarten for this problem. Daily. Fortunately, his current teacher is really understanding and can see through his inability to sit still to his constant curiosity about everything and the fact that he's still way smarter than the other kids in the class. I'm still fed up with the school, but I'm glad he has an ADHD person for his teacher and that she lets him bounce around the back of the classroom when necessary. College is going to be a challenge, but at least at this rate, he'll get there.

Which brings me to this topic: this week, I made it to my 6-year anniversary at the company I work for. On the one hand, I'm luckier than a vast majority of the people I worked with when I started: I still have the job. On the other hand, it was not supposed to take longer than 5 years for my husband to finish college. When he left the military, he was *this* close to an associate's degree, so they told him. Great, we figured, two years of full-time, or 4 years of half-time; we can do this! But of course, military schools aren't the same as civilian ones, and almost none of the courses transferred. Neither did many of the courses from his previous college career 10-12 years ago, so basically he was starting as a second-semester freshman. This was discouraging, but not as discouraging as looking up one day, realizing it's been 6 years already and he's still got 2 years to go! And since we can't leave the freaking state, he'll have to get a degree he doesn't really want now, anyway. Frick, frick, frick....

However, I'm not to the point of chewing my own arm off yet, so I guess that's good. It probably has something to do with not having a lot of employment options-- yet. I can tell the tide's turning, though, even in our impossible industry, by the number of highly skilled people who've quit lately for better-paying jobs. In this area. It's happening, as we knew it would: The rats are leaving the sinking ship. (Technically, the rats are running the ship, but it's a metaphor. You know.) And instead of offering better pay, those in charge are offering lower pay-- for those jobs they're bothering to backfill. 'Cause obviously the few of us that are left can keep on sucking up the extra work indefinitely, right? With no pay raises and no thoughts of bailing out, either, of course. It's started and it's not going to stop. It'll be interesting to see whether they'll notice the hemorrhage and try to stanch the bleeding, or whether they'll say they can't afford the bandages...

Another thing about my anniversary date that made me thoughtful was the realization that I've now been an editor longer than I was a writer-- professionally. I always considered this kind of a stopgap measure, and here I am, 8 years down the road... But at least I'm giving writing another try. Maybe someday I'll be a professional writer again.

And when I sell that killer novel and get a million dollars for the movie rights, I am SO moving out of this neighborhood. Always something exciting and scary going on. F'r instance, yesterday I'm sitting here reading, with the windows wide open because it's so beautiful out, and I hear these scraps of conversation from the backyard behind ours (it's like 20 feet away and not fenced, so it's practically in our house). Some guy's saying, "What happens is...(mutter, mutter)...they get a warrant for your arrest...(something indistinct, and by this time, I was listening)...If I turn myself in...(fades into muttering again)." Eyes wide, I peek out the window, and this dude's got big ol' sunglasses on, cap pulled down low, nondescript denim jacket and jeans... I'm thinking, "Oh great, another one." Then I remembered this story from CNN and wondered whether it was related. I'm hoping that he's not the one that got away.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

On the Books

I was doing well for a while there... then this meme came along. And it's about books. And I love books. End of argument, no resistance. So here goes:

1. If you had to pick five fictional literary characters who would best embody you (in some aspect, either now or in the past), who would you choose?

Here are the four I could think of:

  • Harriet the Spy
  • Sydney Carton
  • Esmerelda Weatherwax
  • Sam Vimes
  • Half of 'em are men, but what do you expect with my brain gender score?*

    2. Which five books (any genre) have had the greatest influence on you?

    • Lord of the Rings trilogy (if Psycho Kitty can do it, so can I)
    • Harriet the Spy
    • The Southern Rules
    • My first Isaac Asimov novel (no idea what it was)
    • Frank Herbert's Dune series

    3. What is your favorite commonly censored book?
    I haven't the faintest idea. The idea of censorship is mythical to me. I mean, OK, I've heard of it, and people tell me it exists, but I've never seen it personally.

    4. If you would ever burn a book (God forbid), which book would it be? Why?
    If I were cold enough, I'd burn any nice thick pulpy-paged book for warmth. I'm too pragmatic to be afraid of what my intellectual-snob friends will think. 'S prob'ly why I don't have many friends. ;-)

    5. Are you a monogamous reader, or do you like to read around?
    I can't read just one.

    6. Last one, and be honest: Do you skip ahead to the ending?
    No, almost never, unless I've already read it and want to refresh my memory. I like surprises. I don't peek at Christmas presents either.

    * Brain gender: 53.33% Female, 46.67% Male

    Your Brain is 53.33% Female, 46.67% Male

    Your brain is a healthy mix of male and female
    You are both sensitive and savvy
    Rational and reasonable, you tend to keep level headed
    But you also tend to wear your heart on your sleeve

    Thursday, April 07, 2005

    Keeping Busy

    I started back to work this week, part-time. In case anyone was wondering where I've been. It's actually been pretty nice to have something useful to do that other people appreciate. But it has taken more out of me than I expected. I have to lie down after I get home every day, and I haven't blogged or written anything on my novel because by the time it gets to be 10 p.m. and I'm done with my work, I don't want to even look at a computer screen anymore.

    But I'll be back.

    Saturday, April 02, 2005

    Always Look on the Bright Side of Life...

    The great thing about being on medical leave and receiving a reduced salary when the full amount isn't that much to begin with is...

    ...paying less than a dollar in federal taxes. Seventy-two cents, in fact.

    I love that.

    Now that we officially can't move, people are swarming all over, wanting to buy our house. My husband the optimist manages to herd them away by saying, "Well, we can't actually sell it until next year..."

    As if. I can't get him to take it off the market, though. Maybe in a year.

    Anyone got any hope to spare? I'm having a hard time working up the enthusiasm to go on like this.