“The Pain of Progress”

I read this phrase in reference to a theme in FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, and it struck me deeply. It explains so much, including the world we are living in now. Because I follow the news, I can often fall into pessimism when I look at the world today, which is why I choose to read and view only light, humor-filled, man-conquering-obstacles, uplifting stories. The backlash against voting rights, LGBTQ+ rights, climate change, the environment, and the state of war (invasion), poverty, income inequality, and racial relations can cast me into darkness from which I find it difficult to climb, so my entertainment requires something that will let me escape from reality.

I get it. People my age are terrified because the world is undergoing a major shift that is foreign to their world view. It’s a good shift. It’s a great shift. Most of the younger generations, especially the youngest, don’t think in the same way my generation does. They are more pliable, more open, more fair, more accepting. I honestly believe once this old guard is gone, things will get better (except for the minority whom they were able to poison) in general. There are some of us old people (and, yes, I do count myself as one) who can and are willing to learn and bend and rethink, but sixty plus years of thinking in one way is difficult to overcome for most people. It takes work, effort, and an admission of, well, if not guilt, then at least that you were wrong. Admitting failure and ignorance is sometimes the hardest thing to do.

I’m not excusing my generation. I despise that some people are hanging on to their old tenets with tenacity, closed-mindedness, and stubbornness. Power is one motivator. Power is heady and addictive. And corrupting. They don’t want to lose it, and they see the only way to hang onto it by riling up fear. Speaking of which, fear is another motivator. They fear being obsolete or irrelevant, and that their actions and legacy will be viewed cruel, inhumane, and short-sighted. (We all are still struggling with how to accept that historical figures can be both amazing and horrible at the same time—our founding fathers, for example). Greed is another motivator. That one pisses me off the most.

It’s far easier to NOT think for yourself and parrot the loudest, most powerful “leaders.” Thinking takes work, and ideas are often scary. Making changes in how you live isn’t easy. Accepting that the life you expected you or your children would lead won’t follow your plan means giving up on a dream. Acknowledging that the way you think is wrong hurts. Progress is painful.

Arizona sunset from a dirty car window on my way to a volleyball tournament where we won gold.

I’m trying to choose to be optimistic. I try to find joy and beauty where I can, and I love the hell out of those I love. And I open myself to learning and rethinking. I make mistakes (unlearning pronouns is HARD), but I make the attempt. And I need a haircut. Why is that so hard to do?

–Gabi

Books I’m reading now:

Jhereg by Steven Brust

Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

The Strange Case of the Alchemists’s Daughter by Theodora Goss

A Life in Search of a Plot

I went to Phoenix, actually Tempe, this past weekend. On the drive home from AZ, we stopped for gas and a restroom. Admittedly, my gait wasn’t as spry as the previous day’s. In the ladies’ room, the door to the handicapped stall was wide open, and the opening plus the door blocked the view of the entire length of that end. As I stumbled into the restroom, a woman came in right behind me. I moved the door and revealed a second stall. She said, “I can tell from the way you walk you need the big one.”

I burst into laughter. My shuffling gait was the product of winning gold in a senior volleyball tournament. I had played in the Arizona Senior Olympic State games. I had hit well, run well, served well, passed well, and at times awesomely in all areas. My team got the gold in the ladies 60s division. Whoot whoot! When I was 25, if someone had told me that I’d be playing better volleyball at sixty, (Jesus, sixty!), I never would have believed it. But, yes, I do believe I play better now than I did back then. The difference is the price that I pay at this age for playing volleyball from 8:30 AM to 6:00 PM.

Ah, the way the world finds a way to bring you down to earth.

Books I’m reading now:

Beach Read by Emily Henry

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler


The Reason I Like Writing Better than Speaking

On paper (or screen–showing my age here), I am eloquent, witty, erudite, logical. At least I like to think so. I’m not here to argue my delusions. The reason I can believe myself  those things is because I can edit and revise before my words become public. Because in real life I stammer often, I transpose letters often, and I just say stupid, awkward things. I always warn people I’m in-person friends with that I will, at some point, say something either insulting or inappropriate when I didn’t mean to.

Case in point: Many years ago, I met a famous, successful author at a book signing. She outsells me by orders of magnitude. I won’t mention her name because she is rather well-known (not Nora Roberts). It was a free book giveaway at a writers conference; her line was long, so I didn’t have a conversation with her. Just a week before I had read a review of her latest that said her books were all the same. I was thinking about that review–don’t ask me why it stuck in my head–while waiting to meet this author. So what do I say to her when I get to the front of the line? “You’re books are all the same, but you suck me in every time.” Yes, I actually said that. She was magnificent; never blinked or said anything rude back to me, and handed me her book with a smile. But from the shocked look on her face, I know she heard me.

What was I thinking? Yes, there is a sameness quality to her novels, but the sameness is her style, her voice that envelops me like a warm comforting blanket when I read her. I read her before then, I read her now. I still enjoy her books tremendously, and several appear on my keepers shelf. Why couldn’t I have said the blanket thing to her instead? I started to worry about her remembering me for that stupid line. I know she meets a million people who have said stupid things to her, but we tend to remember those people, and I believe I stick out anyway at a woman’s conference because I’m rather taller than most attendees. But it’s not like we wear honking big name tags that advertise who we are. Oh, wait, we do. It’s a conference.

A few years later I passed her walking down a hallway, and our eyes connected. She smiled at me, in friendly manner. I immediately turned my head away so she wouldn’t see me. Yeah, ’cause that works really well walking down a hallway when you’ve made eye contact with someone. Mortification can make you do stupid things. So in essence I’ve snubbed her twice.

Another example: when talking about a subject and someone makes a humorous observation about that subject, I often don’t laugh. I understand it’s a joke, and I understand the humor. It’s not even that I didn’t find it funny, but for whatever reason it’s not funny enough for me to laugh. I will then proceed to address that point as if their joke was serious. I know it wasn’t; I just missed my part of the underlying social cues needed for a non-awkward conversation. For some reason this happens all the time with my sister. With others too, but at least once per conversation with my sister.

We all have our quirks.

–Gabi

Books I’m reading now:

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (Yes, I’ve seen the show)

 

 

 

The Foggy Years

I am old.

Not so old that I dodder, but old enough that injuries don’t heal as fast anymore. I’m old enough to remember a world without cable TV, but not old enough to remember dinosaurs. (Ha! That’s a a bad old joke.) Okay, not old enough to remember communicating via telegram but old enough to have received telegrams on my wedding day. Old enough to have gray hair, but not old enough to completely let go about caring that it makes me look old. I’m old enough to see the years whizz by, but young enough to stop and notice details.

People will say that I am middle aged. Not unless I live to be 120. I’m old enough to play in senior volleyball events across the country, but not so old that I can’t pound the ball. Seriously. I think I’d surprise you. I’m old enough to know my knees hurt, but not so old that I want to take up golf instead. Besides, my retirement sport plans to be birdwatching. I’m old enough to have lost one parent, but he died when I was young. The other one is still going strong.

I’m young enough to learn new things. I’m a year and a half into Taekwondo (Orange belt, thank you very much), and I just received my Open Diver Certification this last weekend (for the second time–long story).

But I’m old enough to have failed in my career choice, despite some hopeful and fitful starts, and young enough to have it hurt like hell. And now I fear I’ve reached a point where no one will take my desire to try again seriously. And I want to try again.

So I figure I have about thirty years left in me. What do I want to do with those years? I have family members to take care of, my own health to look after, and a couple of dogs I like. I am old enough to be sensible, but young enough to dream.

Those dreams are still as big as when I was twenty. And I remember twenty. And I feel twenty. So… thirty years. Here I go again.

–Gabi

Books I’m reading now:

The Age of Wonder: The Romantic Generation and the Discovery of the Beauty and Terror of Science by Richard Holmes

Battlemage by Peter Flannery

 

Things that Need to Come Back

No, I certainly don’t want to bring back the 1950’s, but some things are disappearing or gone, and I think we should fight for them to stay.

  • First, the use of whom. It’s not that hard, folks. If you’d use the word him or her when you replaced the interrogative or relative pronoun, then you use the word whom. The dog rescue sticker I see on many automobiles? It should read, Who rescued whom? You have a crush on a celebrity and you meet him? I met the celebrity whom I love. But if the celebrity has a crush on you? I met the celebrity who loves me. [By the way, there is a well-covered song and not one singer has fixed the grammar error in it. In “Life is a Highway” a line in the song goes, “There is a distance between you and I.” I want to scream every time I hear it. It’s “between you and me,” damn it!!! You’d think one person would sing it correctly. (You probably don’t want me to rant about the subjunctive here.)]
  • The passenger pigeon. Yes, I know the subject of cloning is fraught, Jurassic Park and all that, but I don’t care. I want the passenger pigeon. While we’re at it, let’s bring back the great auk, the northern white rhino,  the ivory-billed woodpecker, the Tasmanian tiger, and even the dodo. Wouldn’t it be cool to see a real live dodo? Heck, let’s bring all them animals back that should be here.
  • Firefly
  • Comfortable air travel
  • More big publishing houses (or the opposite of bringing back, fewer conglomerates)
  • Art and music in the schools
  • And vocational training

Anything else you want to add here? Please feel free.

–Gabi

Books I’m reading now:

A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole

 

Valentine’s Day Blog Hop

Welcome to this stop of the Safari Heat Valentine’s Day Blog Hop. Grand Prize is a Kindle Fire HD 7”. All the rules and how the hop works are listed on the Safari Heat site. Follow the link:

http://safariheatbooktoursandauthorservices.blogspot.com

 

So Valentine’s Day—the day the world is forced to consider romance and love. Go nuts, if that’s your thing. But, contrarian that I am, think a little bit differently.

 

Some people consider the building of the Taj Mahal as one of the world’s grandest romantic gestures. The Mughal emperor had it built for his wife. Okay, it’s beautiful, but the empress never saw it because it was her tomb.

 

Personally, I want my romantic gestures to be something I can enjoy. Just the other day, I had one of my most romantic experiences with my husband. Before you think I’m going this post will have TMI, let me start by saying we went to the zoo.

Greeters at the zoo.

We took my youngest and her boyfriend (both special needs young adults) on a date, but I think Robot Guy (that’s my nickname for my husband because of his nearly thirty years in robotics) and I had just as much fun. We talked, laughed, and learned as we walked. We admired the beautiful creatures we saw and gave respect to the toxic ones behind glass walls or separated from us with moats and high cement walls.

 

Romance isn’t the chocolates, jewelry, dinners out, or flowers, although those can be great, right? It’s always nice when someone thinks about you. It also isn’t sex, although that’s a lot of fun too. It’s the sharing of little moments. It’s the laughing at the dumb jokes he tells (because I never tell dumb jokes >clears throat<) holding hands, sharing information we hope the other finds interesting, and spending time together even in silence. Sometimes, it’s crying together.

 

In my novel MYSTIC,

MysticCover

there isn’t a lot of time for big romantic gestures (Okay, so there’s one at the very end, but that’s to be expected in a novel). The hero and heroine are on the run, but they learn they can rely on each other, and come to admire each other. They find themselves understanding each other and sometimes even taking on the other’s quirks. That happens in relationships. In spite of the magic in the story, I strove for realism. And humor. Because I believe laughing is one of the world’s great ways of sharing one’s soul.

 

Hope you enjoyed your visit here with me. There are four ways to get extra entries into the prize giveaways:

Leaving a comment

Leaving your email (so we can contact you if you win)

Follow my blog

Following me on FB and Twitter

 

You don’t have to do all four, but you must at least leave your name and email.

Here is an example:

Name: Carey Abbott

Email: careydoucet@yahoo.com

Comment: Great Post

Twitter: Followed

FaceBook: Followed

Blog: Followed

 

There are daily prizes from the Safari Heat site, but for those of you who comment here, I will assign a number (only one) at the end of the hop to you in the order of your response and select one randomly to receive a copy of MYSTIC, a tote, and a little stuffed cat. (Yes, the cat is in the book—not a stuffed one). Please let me know if you don’t want to be added to my newsletter. And although the Blog Hop prizes can only be won by US or Canadian readers (except ebooks—those can go world wide), I’m willing to send my prize anywhere.

 

Each day the coordinator will choose a different blog to visit to give away prizes to those readers. At the end of the hop, the coordinator will collect all names with the required info and give award grand prize.

 

To keep hopping, don’t forget to follow this link:

http://safariheatbooktoursandauthorservices.blogspot.com

 

–Gabi

Books I’m Reading Now:

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

It’s Here!

My latest novel is out and available. MYSTIC is the story of skeptical novelist who has to help a psychic find sanctuary. Although it has romance, MYSTIC is more of an urban fantasy with lots of action. I’d love it if you read it. And, yes, the cat on the cover is relevant.

MysticCover

–Gabi

Books I’m reading now:

THe Secret, Book, and Scone Society by Ellery Adams

Five Reasons I Will NOT Survive the Zombie Apocalypse

We’ve all done it—played the mental game “Will I survive the Zombie Apocalypse?” or other variations of that game (What if I had to go on the run? Would I survive the Nazis? What if Armageddon happened today? What if the Yellowstone Supervolcano erupts? What if Aliens destroy the world? And so many more). I do have rudimentary survival skills—fire building, camping, trapping, etc.; they’re rusty, but I’m sure they would come back—but that’s not the reason I wouldn’t survive. Here are five reasons I would be among the first to go.

 

  1. I need to floss my teeth.

I just read a sentence somewhere that said, “We’ve all fallen asleep without brushing our teeth.” Nope. I can’t. Not only that, I have to floss. Have to. I’d be a month into survival, when the floss would run out, and I’d hang it up. It’s over.

  1. I need to wash my hands.

I can hear you saying, “What’s so bad about that? It’s hygienic.” Nope. I can’t stand the feeling of having dirt or other things on my hands. It’s why I don’t garden. I can’t have the dirt on my hands for any length of time. And don’t tell me to wear gloves. The sweat and lint from the glove is just as bad. I have to wash my hands after I pet my dogs, after I touch dough or vegetables or meat (Cooking is a nightmare and please don’t make me decorate cookies), after filling the gas tank, after loading the washing machine and after doing dishes.

  1. I need to sleep.

I love to sleep. I don’t do it well, but I do like my 8.5-9 hours in bed. After a couple of days without that much sleep, you’d want to shoot me yourself.

  1. I am not in the best shape.

Yes, I play a mean game of volleyball. For my age, I am an outstanding player and even strike fear into the hearts of many younger players. But even though I play well and often, I’m not in great shape. Yes, I’m not a slug, but I couldn’t imagine being on the run for several days in a row. Or even running. I can do the quick bursts of speed needed to play VB, but I don’t run. My knees are shot after forty plus years of volleyball. I can ignore it on the court, but you should see me get up in the morning.

  1. I don’t play well with others.

There’s a reason I write books. I create them, I set the plot, I can do it alone. As soon as I disagreed with the group, I’d want to set off alone, and I’m smart enough to know that’s dumb. I don’t take orders well. You won’t catch me doing the wave at a stadium. No one can tell me what to do. When I do play with others, as in games, I play to win. I love games, but I’m not a nice player. I’m ruthless. Heck, I never even let my kids win at Candyland when they were little. If they won, it was on their own merit.

 

My novel MYSTIC (coming soon, real soon) is about a cross-country chase where my protagonists had to leave their lives behind and survive. They don’t floss.

 

–Gabi

Books I’m reading now:

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker