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2023 – Next Verse, Same as the First…

A quick recap of my 2022 for those of you that don’t follow me on social media.

And for those that do follow me on social media, feel free to skip down past the image so you don’t have to relive the hell of this past year with me again.

~

Almost free of the new year craziness at The Day Job, my boss had a major medical issue… we’re talking medical coma, is he gonna wake up, what tests haven’t they run, sort of major medical issue. As his second-in-command, this made The Day Job a living hell for several months… never mind the fact that the man’s actually my friend, too, and I was worried sick about him.

In the midst of this, Girl2 is hit by not one but two drunk drivers (in the same incident). The first drunk rear-ended the car she was in. As everyone was checking personal and property damage, the second drunk hit her and sent her flying across the street. Shattered shoulder, tore ACL, MCL, and PCL in her knee, hairline fractured the other leg, and gave her a gnarly scar on the back of her head. All free time was spent at the hospital with her (updating group texts on the health of my boss from her bedside – I was not okay) until she was released. Then came appointment after appointment, then surgery, then more appointments and physical therapy. This continued until almost Thanksgiving, when she was finally released from physical therapy and now only has follow-up appointments here and there.

While Girl2 and my boss were in separate hospitals, we had a couple of fire scares. Because… why not? Right?

We said goodbye to my father-in-law at the end of summer but thankfully managed a little get-together to celebrate his birthday before that. I even had the foresight to take my laptop and set up a video chat with several of his grandkids scattered across the US. He enjoyed that. And he doesn’t have to deal with illness and pain anymore.

Yule celebrations were delayed due to illness. Then delayed again due to more illness. In fact, they just happened a few days ago.

Just before Yule was postponed the first time, I learned of the passing of a friend and colleague. For several years, we served similar roles at The Day Job so we worked together a lot… like A LOT a lot… and became pretty good friends. Fuck cancer, by the way.

And with the New Year on the horizon, I whispered my last goodbyes into the ear of one of my dearest friends (also one-time coworker, and distant cousin, as we discovered by chance one day).

So… yeah… 2022 pretty much beat me all to hell. Let’s look ahead, shall we?

Everything from last year’s New Year’s post is still in the queue…

Wondering about my job announcement peeve? Happy to report that, once it was brought to their attention, HR changed the announcements so that they are all career opportunities. I know, it’s really not a big deal in the grand scheme of things… but if 2022 taught me anything, it’s to embrace every victory – no matter how small.

Until next time, friends…
Don’t fear the future… just don’t go alone. 💖

Language!

Language is an incredibly powerful tool – Captain Rogers’ WWII-era sensibilities notwithstanding…

Seriously – if you’ve ever spoken with me (or read pretty much anything I’ve ever written) – you know damned well that the only time I watch my mouth is if someone puts a mirror in front of me while I’m talking.

Still… words are powerful things.

Storytellers agonize over words. We change the words we’ve written almost every time we read them and continue to do so in our heads even when the piece is a “finished product” because sometimes there’s a better word. Sometimes the tone of a whole statement changes… a whole scene… based on the words used to tell the tale.

But let’s steer out of the crazy storyteller brain for a minute… because, even in the “real world,” words are powerful tools that, unfortunately, a lot of folks use pretty carelessly.

Take, for example, the inspiration for this particular post:
Job postings at The Day Job™

As you know, The Day Job™ resides in the world of Academia.

I work in education, yes, but I don’t teach in the classroom. In fact, as far as my job description is concerned, I don’t teach at all.

(This is the part where I give my boss a dirty look because he keeps trying to convince me I should be in the classroom – and I don’t think he reads this, so I can get away with glaring 😠 🤣)

Here’s the thing… for over twenty years, now, I’ve worked in the same place. I’ve done a couple of different jobs in that time but there’s one thing that’s never changed…

I’m helping students. I’m helping people change their lives.

Does twenty years doing basically the same thing say “career” to anyone else?

Well… academia apparently runs by its own rules.

Faculty (teaching) positions are advertised as “Career Opportunities” but Classified (non-teaching) positions are “Employment Opportunities.”

Going back to that power of language thing…

Job postings at The Day Job™ – where we’re all supposed to have the same mission (helping students succeed) – are written to fall back on the bullshit rhetoric about how jobs are somehow less than careers… how you have to push to advance and win the rat-race or else you’ll be “stuck in a job.”

Making the non-teachers somehow less before they even start the hiring process… I mean… what the actual fuck?

Twenty-one years (and counting) helping change lives and it’s not a career?

My career is old enough to buy its own drinks, thankyouverymuch.

Maybe it’s unintentional… a case of “oh, we didn’t realize…”

Yeah. I’m sure that’s it. I mean… it’s not like the whole state-wide system umbrella The Day Job™ sits under is actively training everyone in microaggressions and biases or anything. 🙄

Bottom line, friends: words are weapons.

If you don’t know how to use them properly, someone’s going to get hurt.

If you do know how to use them but are careless with them, someone’s going to get hurt.

It doesn’t matter if the pen or the sword is mightier… both can change lives, save lives, and destroy lives.

Until next time, friends…

By all means – say what you mean… but think about the meaning of what you’re saying, too.

2022 – On Deck

Well… here we are.

We’ve made it this far.

I don’t even want to guess what this year has in store for us but, if you’ll join me, we’ll begin with a spin: traveling in the worlds of my creation…

Oh, for crying out loud… you’ve been here long enough to know some amazing crazy music’s gonna find its way into the blog post 😉

New Releases

Looking at two (maybe three) new releases this year. I don’t really have a timeline yet but keep an eye out: you never know when one might slip in under the radar.

Also looking at the possibility of some new editions…

And the possibility of some sort of serial is dancing on the wind…

Merch

Plans are still in the early brainstorming stages but I’m hoping to be able to introduce some book-related merchandise this year. This will be an extremely small-scale endeavor but could result in some fun gifts and/or great conversation starters.

Whatever finally makes the cut – you’ll see it here first.

Updates

I’m not going to tease regular updates here because… let’s face it… I do that every time I get my life together enough to post and then…

Well…

We all know how that ends up…

~~~

Until next time, my friends…

Take the time to see the magic and make the time to love yourself.

Out with the old…

525,600 minutes.

How many of those minutes were filled with fear and pain and suffering and loss? How much has this past year cost us?

2021 hit fast and it hit hard.

Friends… if you’re reading this: you’re still here.

We’re still here.

And we’re in this together.

So here’s my wish for you as we say goodbye (good riddance?) to 2021…

My friends…
May we all have the strength to stand back up no matter how many times we’re knocked down…
May we all have the resolve to keep moving forward whether we run, walk, or crawl…
May we all practice kindness so freely that it ruins the economy of hatred that has taken over our society…

New Year's Toast

Happy New Year!

A Christmas Story

I wrote this several years ago.

Some of you may have seen it on my Facebook page at that time.

Some of you may have seen others share it there, too.

I still really do like it, though… so I thought I’d share it here again.

* * *

I’ve watched for years from my place in the tree.

I’ve watched boxes of cordial cherries empty as if by magic and batches of fudge and carefully painted candies be packed into pretty boxes.  I’ve watched them dance around different living rooms singing Christmas carols.  And I’ve watched the sleepy-eyed daughter become the sleepy-eyed mother with four sleepy-eyed daughters of her own.

Every year, for the last several, the daughters have marveled when the mother pulls me from my sleeping place: in awe of my apparently very old age and, probably more amazing, the way the mother’s eyes light up when they start trying to find me a place on the tree.

I’m almost always one of the first of the old ones to find my branch.  It’s hard to say why, but that’s how it goes… and I must confess, I rather like it that way.  The lights on the tree sparkle in the mother’s eyes, you see, and I am reminded of the way her eyes used to shine when we were both much younger: when there was more joy and magic in her every day than work, pain, or fatigue.

Some days are better than others and some are worse: some days she’s dancing around singing to herself and others she’s forcing her face to smile to hide the pain in her body or heart from the smiling face requesting a hug.

The other old ones and I seem to possess a particular magic, though…

No matter how hard the day has been, how her body aches, or how she tries to fight back tears while the rest of the house sleeps, we are able to make her eyes sparkle.  If only for a moment, less time than it takes for one of the lights to blink, she smiles.  The expression might not even make it all the way to her lips but it shows in her eyes and I, for one, am always glad to see it.

The time will come, far too soon, when the other old ones and I will go back to sleep.  I wonder if the mother, our precious sleepy-eyed little girl, realizes we dream of her while we wait…

***

I plan to be better about keeping current here… but it seems like I always plan on that. 🤷🏽‍♀️

I know I teased one more release earlier this year…

Life in 2021 saw fit to make sure that didn’t happen.

Keep your eyes open, though… maybe soon.

Until next time, friends…

Whatever your path in life…

Merry everything and happy always!

I Write [insert] Not Tragedies

I didn’t want to write this.

I still don’t want to write this.

I am not in a good place with “humanity” or the trappings of our “civilization” right now, so please bear with me.

I would much prefer to write pretty much anything else right now: escape into one of my fantasy worlds… any of them really… but I can’t turn off reality right now and that means you’re stuck with it, too.

I spoke too soon when I said Delta had chosen not to enroll this semester. My team is healthy. My job’s not going anywhere. But what it’s going to look like for the foreseeable future is foggy in its best moments. We have reached the place where mandatory vaccinations have been approved and that policy will impact the Day Job at all sites – hardly unexpected but unwelcome by a loud many. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

I told you last time that my friend S.J. McMillian was facing some hard times. What I didn’t tell you was that her husband has been in the hospital for over a month and that he is now facing the need for a double lung transplant. Being America, the price is exorbitant and the family must be able to prove they can pay their portion before the process will even be fully considered by the power$-that-be.

Here’s the GoFundMe link…

If you can donate, please do.
If you can’t (and I get it – I’ve been there far too often), please share.
And as I asked last time (and will continue to ask as my friend walks through this waking nightmare), please ask the Universe to send a little light in the McMillian family’s direction.

And while you’re sending that light, please have the Universe direct some toward the family of Bessie Walker, as well.

Bessie was a local girl – a classmate of Eldest Spawn in their school days – reported missing by her family early this month. She vanished without a trace and, though her family feared she was in danger, the official search didn’t result in any clues. Her family didn’t stop searching and family members found her body this past weekend.

I know the pain of this runs deep (and that the pain I feel is nothing compared to what her family is facing) and fear there will be much more before any sort of healing can begin.

To find out more about the #MMIW and #NoMoreStolenSisters tags, please start with this Women’s Policy Journal op-ed and, for the love of all that’s Holy, read it completely and let it sink in.

Until next time, friends…
If someone is important to you, tell them.
Show them.
Make sure they know and that you know they know.
Don’t miss that chance.

Wow…

So, it took no time at all for me to get a month behind. That’s refreshing. 🙄

The DayJob, as should be expected by now, has been a relentless flurry of madness for the last week. Those of you that know me personally (or have followed my exploits online over the years) know this is a normal thing – it is the first week of the Fall semester and… well… F-A-L-L… that spells crazy.

(Yeah, I know that’s not the line… but it works)

In addition to the normal madness, we have returned to campus. Many classes have returned to campus. Delta has, thankfully, not decided to enroll at this time.

I continue to massage several projects – many of which are beginning to resemble the plans that originally erupted in my brain.

I continue to reluctantly pay attention to the news: particularly regarding the pandemic’s revival, the return of the Calinferno, and the unchecked aggression and unapologetic idiocy that plagues the central valley.

And I continue to hope people will do better.

Be better.

Until next time friends, do what’s right… do what’s decent… and above all, be kind.

One more thing…

My dear friend (and fellow masochist… er… author) S.J. McMillan and her family could use some prayers/positivity/good vibes etc. I’d appreciate it if you’d have the Universe send some her way 💖

Change of Scenery

After working remotely for more than a year, the process of returning to the Day Job’s normal location is underway. With the office having been mostly abandoned since March 2020, the process is far more arduous than one might imagine.

While I have not missed the commute, it will be nice to return to the “normal” routine… one year at home isn’t enough to break the normalcy of nineteen years into the career after all.

Yes, I’ve been at the Day Job for just over 20 years.

It doesn’t seem possible, but here we are.

The commute means a little less me time but it also means that me time won’t be interrupted by the lingering aura of work – so that’s a plus.

Look forward to more… there’s still at least one more release to look forward to this year and who knows what’s on the horizon…

Until next time, friends… look at what’s around you, then look at your place in it. You’re an important part of that picture ❤️

Who Says You Can’t Go Home

It’s been a while but it’s summer and you know what that means…

No, I’m not talking about the fire warnings or the extreme heat or the terrible air quality (although it does mean all those things, here in the Central Valley)…

To accompany all the standard summer craziness, it’s time to add a road trip… a couple hours east of California’s backbone highway, SR 99, on a two-lane to nowhere, the last stop before you branch to either mountains or empty desert is the forgotten little town of Rio Hevrir.

That’s right.

A Darkness in the Desert, the long-awaited 5th book in The Rio Crew Novels series, is available now.

(Someone’s been waiting for it, I’m sure.)

Time to grab your favorite cold beverage, set the AC to a comfortable level, and dust off books 1-4 to refresh your memory and get ready to return to Rio Hevrir and find out what the summer has in store for the Crew…

Until next time, friends…
Life is what we make it… make it something awesome 😎

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Bonus: post title earworm banishment

Burning Questions

  1. Am I crazy trying to keep up with multiple projects?
  2. Why is this post late?
  3. What the hell is left to burn in Central California?

Answer 1:

Yes. I must be. I mean… right?

In the active queue: Heroes of Vadim 4, another monster hunter, an on-again-off-again space pirate, and a snippet of a high-magic steampunk idea.

Answer 2:

Multiple reasons.
First, the Day Job vacation didn’t start as planned – meetings were rescheduled and priority things popped up even though I was supposed to not be there. So, today’s really the first day… and it threw me off.
Next, being that it’s California and summer, we have another fire. This one popped up yesterday about 8 miles from us and, as one would expect, exploded to a 400 acre monster overnight. It is, however, burning away from us and toward the still-devastated area destroyed by last year’s Creek Fire.
Also, the temperature is still reaching triple-digits. I had to go get my granddog some ice blocks.

Answer 3:

Apparently more than you’d expect. In just the last week, we’ve had 2 major burns in the Fresnosprawl proper and multiple fires of various sizes in the foothills and mountains surrounding.

And yet… I write. Not just for you, but for me.

Until next time, friends…
Stay hydrated.
Stay cool.
Stay safe.