Whatever Works Wednesdays

Ahh, was there ever a more noble device invented than the slow cooker? Here’s one of my favs to toss in before heading out to work.
 
Easy Beef Stroganoff
 
1 pound of cubed stew beef (thawed)
2 cans of cream of mushroom soup
1 pkg of Onion Soup mix
egg noodles
 
Put meat, mushroom soup and onion soup mix in the slow cooker before you leave for work in the am on low (8-9 hours cook time). When you’re ready for dinner, boil the noodles, put on plate and pour stroganoff over them. Voila!

Monday’s Mad Minute

Would you rather…

Get a dream vacation for two people             or            spend five days with any and everyone in the
                                                                                        world, but in your home town.

Hmmm….
I guess I’d rather get a dream vacation for two. Not because I’m dating someone, but because most of my family and friends are here. A break from here might be nice for a while. Change is as good as a rest, my Dad always says. And I could get my best friend away from her scene for a while and just hang out. We haven’t seen each other in almost two years. I kinda miss the face-to-face, ya know?

What about you guys?

Bullying is NOT a spectator sport

 When I was sixteen years old, my mother hounded our family doctor into putting me into the hospital for a week. To say she was concerned was an understatement. She was downright scared. She and my father had to physically force me to go to school every day. Once there, I did my best to hide in the band room during breaks and free periods (my tormentors found me in the library at school once…it wasn’t pretty). When I was home, I stayed in my room, headphones on, nose stuck in a book or a pen in my hand as I went away. I was afraid to go out in public in case the tormentors’ parents saw me, because they were just as bad as their kids. I was ashamed to be alive. I hated myself, stopped singing, dancing, playing and making friends. I started carrying a knife in my pocket and would take it out, testing the edge of it against my skin, working up the courage to just slice the wrist and get it over with. My mother was terrified that she was going to lose me. But I was lucky. She fought for me when I had given up.

What was so bad? What did my tormentors do that was so horrible? Was I beaten on a regular basis? No. That was too easily recognized and my tormentors knew that they needed to hide from the adults. What did they do instead? They glued my locker shut. They set a fire in my book bag. They chanted and shook as if in an earthquake whenever I walked from class to class. They yelled every name in the book as I walked by (I was a slut, fat ass, wide load, bitch, trailer trash…). They pushed me into walls and lockers. They knocked things out my hands as I walked by. They spit at me, put gum in my hair, chew their food and threw it in my face. They slapped me, they pinched me, they tripped me when I walked on the stairs. They threw things at me in the classrooms when teachers backs were turned. Rigged desks to explode and break when I sat down on them. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. For four years I didn’t want to go to school in case I ran into these people. I didn’t want to be told I was worthless.

But I could have handled it. Really, I could have. I could even have handled their parents stopping my parents and saying some of the same damn things at the Fire Hall or pulling things out of our cart at the grocery store because it was ‘part of the problem’. I could have dealt with the teachers saying that bullying builds character, that those were the good kids and they wouldn’t do anything like that. I could have dealt with it if somebody, anybody, had just called my tormentors on their shit. If one person had said, sincerely, that what they were doing wasn’t right. Instead of laughing along with the bully. If one person, besides me, had turned to them and said grow up.

Thanks to my mom, I made it out of high school alive. I went on to university and graduated with a teaching degree.  And then, because I remembered what had happened to me, I went back into the trenches. I call the bullies on their behaviour. I tell them to grow up. But it feels like I’m fighting a losing battle. I need help. It doesn’t have to be hard. When you see someone being bullied, say ‘that’s not okay’ and TURN AWAY. Don’t let girls call each other sluts and bitches in front of you and laugh at it. Don’t spread rumors about people and when you hear rumors, squash ’em (ask where they got their information, how can they know its the truth, what would they do if someone said that about them? Call them on it!). Call an adult in private if you don’t want to be involved and TELL THEM WHAT IS GOING ON (do this with multiple people), get involved with the person being bullied, don’t let the victim walk away feeling like you approved of what the bully did. Don’t let them think you agree with what the bully was doing. You don’t have to make friends with them, just tell them that they didn’t deserve that treatment, that no one deserves to be treated as worthless. Even the bullies. Don’t watch it happen like it’s reality television (and BAD reality tv at that) and gossip over it. It’s not entertainment.

And don’t, for heaven’s sake, think that just because you do it on the internet it means you can say ‘Just Kidding’ or ‘I wanted to get a rise out of people’ and that makes it okay. Make the world better, not worse. It’s easy to tear someone down. What’s hard is building someone or something up. Be better than the bullies. Be better today than you were yesterday.

And for anyone being bullied out there, hang on. It does get better. Stay with us. We need you. Please. 

Top 10 excuses…what are yours?

Writing, at least lately, seems to be about getting over the fear. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear that this book is going to suck and I should just quit and start over on the shiny new idea that is bouncing around in my head.

But I never face fear as fear. No, my fear is stealthy, sneaky, seductive. My fear procrastinates, my fear stresses, my fear distracts. Basically anything my fear can do to disguise itself and not call it fear, it does. Let me explain.

It’s 5:35am. I don’t have to get up until 6ish. But I’m awake. I think to myself ‘Hey, you should get up and get writing, get an early start to the day’. That sounds reasonable.

Excuse 1. But you don’t know what to wear. 

Pathetic, I know, but…sorta. I’m  substitute teacher for my day job and sometimes don’t get called in. So it’s a jeans and t-shirt day, a comfy bra sorta day, a nobody-is-going-to-see-me day. Okay, yes, it’s sad.

Moving on. I finally get dressed (in something I can change out of quickly) and suddenly remember THE LIST. This is actually…

Excuse 2. I have a zillion things to do             
                 BEFORE I can write.                      

This one is particularly henious. I can waste DAYS like this. Blog posts, twitter schedules, ancient Viking undead and weaponry…FACEBOOK! The ways to waste time in the name of preparing is
literally endless. This doesn’t even include housework or necessary social interaction so I’m not the lady rocking in the corner yelling about marketing and stinky cheese when I’m in the old folks home.
This leads, inevitably, to the next excuse.

Excuse 3. I AM OVERWHELMED!               

Yes, cue the swelling music and the southern-belle-swoon attitude. I know my inner Diva is feeling under-appreciated when this comes out. I feel choked. I CAN NOT WRITE! It’s like a kid with medicine. NO NO NO NO NO!

Eventually, I coax myself into my chair at my desk only to find…

Excuse 4. There is too much clutter.                 

Seriously. I organize my change, color-code my pens, get out a highligher, an eraser, a ruler, a pencil and a rainbow selection of stickies EVEN THOUGH I WRITE ON A COMPUTER. Still, I cannot write.

So I do the only logical thing left to me. I move to the kitchen.

Excuse 5. There’s too much noise.                     

You think I’m trying to be funny, but I’m not. I plug in my earphones (seems logical, right?), and
boot up my tunes. This is not the boon to sanity it seems.

Excuse 6. I need the RIGHT
                playlist.                                               

So an hour or two disappears as I search through the 4000 plus songs I have only to discover I don’t have the one RIGHT song and therefore must go online to the store to search out the songs that capture the mood I’m trying to achieve. I debate a goodly while about dishing out the sum demanded. Does my writing career really need this? Yes, damn it!

So, music achieved, writing space settled, supplies organized and to-do list conquered, fear must now attempt a frontal assault on my peace and quiet.

Excuse 7. Your writing will never be as good
                 as (insert fav author du jour), so
                 why even start?                                  

I have tried various methods to argue this point with myself. Because I can’t not write. Because the stories are always there, have always been there. Because no one has to see it if it really sucks. Because you have to start somewhere. Every first draft is terrible. Because you don’t take dictation from Divinity, you take hints for directions…yadda yadda yadda. The one come back I can’t argue with? Because I sleep better at night. It’s true, I do sleep better if I’ve written. The more I write, the better I sleep, in fact.

Not to be outdone, my fear rallies.

Excuse 8. You’re never going to sell this.          

Maybe. Scary to think of this fact. But writers do it all the time. And to be honest, that’s not why I write. I want to know how the story ends. I saw this character/world/problem and it interested me. I’m not a quitter. Not in my writing.

I finally managed to screw my courage to the sticking post, or whatever that saying is, and then, fear comes back strong with a one-two punch.

Excuse 9. Why write it down at all?                 

 If all I want to do is see how it ends, then daydream. Doodle, make shadow puppets, anything else than write. Why write? Which is true, except that I have no confidence in my memory in order to re-tell my daydreams. I can’t evoke the emotions I was feeling at the time. I need to write it down so I can share it with someone else. Because stories are how I make sense of the world and my place in it.

Excuse 10. There is nothing new under
                   the sun.                                           

Maybe that’s true. But I haven’t heard everything under the sun, haven’t seen it, haven’t tried it. So my writing is my take on things, my opinions, my VOICE. Everyone deserves to be heard.

Fear generally backs down at this point. At least until I sit down and realize my keyboard isn’t centered with my laptop screen and I feel like I’m writing crooked. But that’s a whole other post.

Acking and Hacking…

Acking comes from the whole ‘Ack I’m not finished the Damn Book yet’. I’m close, but something is missing. I have a general idea of what is going to happen but someone is dragging their feet getting there. Not sure if its the mc who doesn’t want to face what’s happened to her family, Tyr who doesn’t want to fess up to what he’s done or me because if I finish the book then it will be over. I know this is the first book in at least four, so I won’t technically be away from these characters for long, but it’s like going to visit friends sometimes. You really don’t want to go, you’re having such a good time with them (or in this case, awful things are happening and you don’t want to leave them just yet). It’s not like I won’t have to go back and edit this one before I let it see the light of another person’s hard drive, except my CP (God bless and keep you!). I’m being a ninny, I know I’m being a ninny and still… I’m a ninny.

The Hacking comes from being sick. A good patient, I do not make. I’m not the one who wants to cuddle and get kisses and be coddled. Don’t give me chocolates or stuff animals, magazines or books I haven’t chosen myself. Leave me alone, preferably WAAAY alone. I do not want to be touched. I’m gross and phlemy and if you want to touch me like this you’re insane and I have no bones about telling you…and while I’m picking these bones, there’s a list I’ve been meaning to ‘discuss’ with you. I have to do a lot of apologizing when I get better. Most people I love know to leave me alone, when I’m sick. They pop in to make sure I’m eating (something I don’t do much of when sick, which makes me more sick, I know), might cook me soup (I love soup) but they don’t interact much with me. And I’m grateful. I had to put on my ‘Happy Face’ for the kiddos that came to visit today. Which makes me grumpy, because I’m hacking and coughing and sputtering and going through tissues a box at a time. The kids think I’m a freaking moron, my cousin gives me a pitying look, and my mother tries to keep me away from everyone so I won’t have too much apologizing. And my cat tries to permanently attach herself to my lap…even while standing. She loves the computer, the table I’m sitting at, she’ll even give the kidlets love (not much mind, she’s a little skittish around the minis), all in an effort to make me feel better. I love her, I really do, but come on. Cuddle on the bed, while I’m sleeping.

Now excuse me while I continue acking and hacking my way to THE END. My book will not die at this point.