Thursday, September 4, 2014

Storify: Curious Queries

Sometimes the work is not ready. Sometimes the work is not right for me. Sometimes, the query is not a query and the work is already published.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Shihanisms with my Dad

I make this kick look pretty
My father's upcoming 64th birthday will include a surprise reunion for his martial arts students. We're expecting 60-75 people in attendance with 10-15 joining us via Skype from their various military locations. Many of my dad's students went on to join the military in the 90s during Desert Storm and were (some still are) part of the Navy Seals, Green Berets or Special Forces.

My dad, as the senior instruction and 10th degree Black Belt, has always been referred to as Shihan in the dojo. He's also a Shuseki Shihan but I won't go into that now. Anyway, we have put together a Facebook Page for his dojo, American Open Karate and asked his students to post their favorite Shihanisms: the phrases he would use to motivate them in his drill sergeant ways and remembering them has been a great blast.

The student becomes the master
So here are a few:

"Don't look at me! I know I'm good-looking!" - usually said while waiting for you to do the kata he's spent the last hour going over.

"Don't cry! Girls don't cry in Karate. They get even!" - self-explanatory.

"You're not having an asthma attack. You're just not breathing hard enough!" - as he's tossing you the inhaler and watching for any signs of oxygen deprivation out of the corner of his eye.

Orange Blossom Classic 1991
And the one all of them remember because it's how he'd calm the little ones before going to their board-breaking ceremonies:
Shihan: What's behind the door?
Student: A dinosaur
Shihan: What color is he?
Student: Pink and purple polka dot.
Shihan: What's he playing?
Student: A piano
Shihan: What's he playing on the piano?
Student: I feel good by James Brown
Shihan: Now, go break that board.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

In Memoriam: Robin Williams (1951 - 2014)

I'm staring at the blinking cursor willing the words the come. Willing the thoughts to stop swirling in my head so I can properly explain what Robin Williams has meant to me. But I just keep staring at the cursor and my eyes continue to water with every second that goes by. I need to put my thoughts down, you see. I don't know why it's such a fervent need but it is. I can't concentrate on work. Can't redirect my focus to the tasks on my to-do list. Can't even look at social media without gravitating to the thousands of memorial posts, pictures, videos of a man who was a part of so many lives, he was family and MADE us family through our shared love for him.

For me, his death is a reminder that even the greats suffer but most of all, he's a link my father and I share. He's a year younger than my dad and when he first appeared on the scene, he was one of my father's favorite comedians. I grew up listening to my dad retell the jokes Robin told on stage with a few of my father's one-liners thrown in for good measure.

In the 80s, when we moved to Florida from Puerto Rico, my dad and I would watch the Comic Relief specials on HBO and practically pee our pants with laughter over the golden trio: Billy, Whoopi and Robin!

When the news first broke about his death, I was at my parents' home singing happy birthday to my 15-year-old niece. I read the news in a text alert from my local news channel. I was instantly shocked and despite not really wanting to, found myself clicking on the link to read the full news report then mentioned his passing to my family who instantly stopped what they were doing and stared at me with the same shock I'm sure I was showing as I continued to read the news reports as thousands of people flooded social media with memorial posts. I couldn't look at my dad. He looks too much like Robin did in his final days and I couldn't see what it would mean to him to know another of his favorites is gone.

The Guardian, 2010 (Getty Images)
I don't know why we have such a fascination with death in the US and I guess Robin was right when he said that we mythologize people when they die but I can understand why we memorialize those who affected our lives one way or another. We do it to keep their memory alive. To share in the pain and to keep a part of the person we've lost close. I suppose we do it because we don't like to lose.

I'm going to spend most of my day playing Robin Williams videos in the background while I work today. Not just to memorialize him today but to keep his voice and spirit alive for one more day.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Blog Challenge #20: Down time is critical

In her Mashable article: 7 Reasons You Should Unplug This Summer, Kyli Singh includes things like improved health, career and sleep among her reasons for giving your brain a tech break. In my house, we have had to implement a daily "no-tech" hour for our son who suffers from seizures. It wasn't until he pointed out how many hours I work in front of a screen that I realized how much I needed a break from the screen as well. This weekend, I vowed to spend less screen time reading and more paper time reading.

Reading for pleasure is such a rarity these days for me that when I can do so without guilt, I savor every second of it. This weekend, I did a full unplug and only read on my iPad if I was in a non-wifi area. Yes, I can just turn off the WiFi on my iPad and read without distractions but I like to play Frozen Free Fall and The Sims FreePlay on my downtime too so I tend to leave the WiFi turned on.

But because I also edit manuscripts on my iPad when I really want to unplug and not be tempted to check email, switch to iAnnotate or Evernote and do agency work, I pick up a paperback, sit in my reading chair (now comfortably located in my bedroom) and immerse myself in some good ole book reading!

Is there anything more incredible than the worlds you get to explore when you're reading? This weekend, I picked up two books: Seanan McGuire's Discount Armageddon and Tiffany Reisz's The Siren. Both books I've been dying to read for months and just couldn't find the time to sit and savor. Now, reading more than one book at a time is something I do regularly so it's not uncommon for me to have several books in my "Currently Reading" shelf on Goodreads. After finishing The Death Cure, the final book in The Maze Hunter trilogy last weekend, I decided to spend this weekend with kick-ass female authors writing about kick-ass female main characters.

It felt great to spend a little time with my paperback friends. Next weekend, I think I will truly unplug and see how long I can last without any technology. I'm thinking it'll only last one day, but hey... it's a start, right?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Blog Challenge #19: What do you mean you're bored?

My teenagers are home for the summer so that means my house is a mess, my fridge is empty and the piles of laundry are threatening to consume us. It also means I get to hear things like, "there's nothing to do" and "I'm bored, Mom!"

Really? You're bored? Well, if you didn't stay up playing video games until 2 AM then woke at 2 PM to stare at the ceiling (which could use some dusting, just sayin') and actually did your chores on time, picked up a book, went outside (and take out the garbage while you're at it), you wouldn't be bored, son!

In the course of one day, I get more done than any of my teenagers (or husband) and I don't know if it's because I'm just a can't-sit-on-my-ass-all-day kind of person or if it's because they are! Either way, I know I've shared my workday with you before but today was all kinds of special in its ability to pack a whole lot of work in a short period of time.

Behold, my day of Thor! Or as the modern mortals refer to it: Thursday.

  • Attended three hour-long conference calls. Two which required me to actually pay attention!
  • Washed, dried and folded two loads of laundry. Actually have to move third into the dryer, don't let me forget.
  • Wrote two pitch proposals. Awesome proposals if I do say so myself.
  • Spoke with two clients over the phone and nine via emails.
  • Posted random Harry Potter Diagon Alley stuff to Facebook. Everyone needs a break, right?
  • Answered discussion board questions for Writer Digest Boot Camp for two hours.
  • Reviewed one query, synopsis and sample pages for a Brenda Novak auction winner.
  • Made revisions on a client manuscript. (Just 230 pages left to go on that one!)
  • Tested software systems for day job.
  • Cleaned up server files for day job.
All while maintaining my level of awesome. I'm sure there was more but I can't remember it all right now. Right now, I'm thinking of dinner and wherefore art thou, dinner?