Saturday, February 25, 2012

Tagged By Pearson Report - A to Z Co-Host

***This is a game of blog tag that I'm attempting to play; the text below is pasted from elsewhere and my answers to the questions are in red. Lord only knows if I'd doing this right, and if I'm not, please forgive - I'm largely clueless.***


Have you ever wondered what would happen if we played TAG out here in Bloggerville?

TAG = The Answer Game

You'll be asked the following questions and you answer them on your blog! (A simple copy and paste event - no biggie.)

Then you pose the same questions to your Followers and so on, and so on…

If you play the game...I’ll add your blog to my TAGGED BY PEARSON REPORT Blog List - where everyone will know you are a team player who's kickin' it with me and the A to Z team. Our goal is to see 1,000 participants, on the sign-up list, by March 1st...so here’s your chance to pitch in and show your support by playing TAG.

HERE ARE THE QUESTIONS:

Are you signed up for the A to Z Challenge?
As I noted in my previous blog post, I completely lost my mind and did, in fact, sign up for the Challenge. God help us all.

What is your sign-up number?
Edited to note: as of March 17, I'm #635.

I'm #637, Some Dark Romantic, at the moment (I was #638 just the other day...someone saner than I must've dropped out).

Are you ready? If yes...explain yourself.
I'm getting there. Came up with a theme ('cause I heart me some themes, y'all) and plugged in some ideas for a number of letters. I'm deliberating over exactly how to execute the theme and need to peg stuff to the other letters (whatever fills those blank spaces may guide me in the theme's execution). So I reckon I'd say I'm a third of the way along, more or less.

If you’re not ready...what’s your excuse?
Geez, take a chill pill - what are you, like, my mother? (She's never satisfied.)

Just copy and paste these questions in your post and have at ‘er! Let’s see what makes you a Blogging from A to Z participant!

Tell Pearson Report when you post your answers and you will be added to the TAGGED BY PEARSON REPORT Blog List which is on the side of the page just under the list of A to Z Co-Hosts.

The spotlight’s on you…all you have to do is play The Answer Game (TAG).

So what are you waiting for...you’ve just been TAGGED!

And a little perk for Pearson Reports' Followers of Note - if you participate I will enter your sign-up number into a draw basket for an original artistic creation from my daughter, Courtney, a designer in Animation. The piece I have selected is called Life and is a series of four prints - they can be seen HERE

***OK, fellow Bloggers - and you know who you are - Don't just stand there, let's get to it! Play the game, there's nothin' to it - TAG!!!***

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Crazy insane...?

The title of today's blog (apart from being a short, if hilarious, line from the movie Weird Science) accurately describes me, as some of you may have guessed and others know for a fact. I out myself as a loon because I've signed up for this year's Blogging From A to Z Challenge. (Witness nifty badge to the right.) Basically, I've committed to blogging at least 100 words per post on subjects spanning the alphabet, in order. (So, April 1's subject must begin with the letter "A," April 2's with "B," and so on.) Blogs may be themed or not, it's up to each blogger's particular brand of bonkers.

I don't know what the hell I was thinking when I decided to throw down with the alphabet, blog-stylie. Rather, I don't know that I was thinking - a primal urge to engage in battle bubbled up from my reptilian brain and completely overrode all reason. I saw the sign-up page and it suddenly got all Eye of the Tiger in my mind's ear. This surge of writerly recklessness took no note of how I'd utterly failed to complete NaNoWriMo back in November 2008 (though my frenzied efforts, while they lasted, did form the beginning of a story I'm keen to expand upon). (At some point.) (I'm dead meat if Chuck Wendig ever reads this: see point #8 of this blog post.)

Anyway, I believe I will successfully complete the A to Z Challenge because it's a different sort of time investment - 26 100-word blogs don't seem quite as daunting to write as a 50K-word book. Too, I can write some, or all, of the blogs in advance and have them automatically publish on their due-dates. (That is to say, it's my understanding that the rules allow this. I encourage anyone who knows different to please set me straight.) This Challenge appears to be a more manageable endeavor for a single mom who works full time but, as I said before, I'm nuts. (NVTS)

In other news, R. Mac Wheeler's blog post inspired me to Wordle my mythological romance, That Fatal Kiss, which I've been shopping around. A Wordle is sort of a word-collage of selected text, or set of words, which emphasizes repeated words by increasing their size in the collage. The larger the word, the more often it's used. Check it:




Here's another one; I dig how it looks like Hades is breaking through a ground of words to get to Persephone:


PS, y'all: It would be super groovy if you'd vote in my poll, up yonder at the right-hand tippity-top of the page. Thanks!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Aspirations…

Faithful readers of this blog (and unfaithful, all sneaking around, checking out those other blogs and whatnot – how could you???), y'all know I seek to publish my writing. You also know I’ve been unable to snag a literary agent, to date. And even if my publishing angst wasn’t on your radar, at least you must be familiar with the painful sting of rejection. (Well, I’m assuming everyone knows what rejection feels like, but I reckon I could be wrong. Can anybody out there honestly boast of having never been turned down, for anything, ever?)

Anyway, though I force myself to press on, in spite of my disappointments, I've experienced some dark moments indeed. However, I’ve learned there’s yet a deeper wave of torturous wanting than these. Going through the college application process with Balthazar has kicked up a simmering anxiety within me that’s, like, totally burning me out, Dudes.

I believe every (sane, warm-hearted) parent must know where I’m coming from: your kid wants a school so badly, and going to the right one for her or him is so vitally important that you super-want it too, so desperately that you can’t sleep, eat, or think straight. (For the record, I’ve yet to grow so distraught over a thing that I can’t manage to get food down my gullet. But still, this shizz is pretty danged stressful, y’all.) Once you know if your kid's made it or not, you can sort of unclench but, as Tom Petty famously sang, the waiting really is the hardest part.

Balthazar applied to nine schools (which seems an inordinate amount to folks of my generation and earlier, until you consider that there are significantly more people in the word today, some of whom are applying to about twelve schools each, thus ratcheting the competitive level up to unprecedented heights). He’s heard back from three and is, right now, 2 for 1 (2 acceptances, 1 rejection). We’re pleased, of course, with the acceptances, though one is to a school we’re not likely able to afford. The rejection was more of a blow to me than him, as it shared the dual le awesome! factor of having a respectable program for his desired major (film) and a price tag my wallet didn’t go all fetal over. (*Sobs*)

We’ve yet to hear from his number one school. We both know it’s a long shot, so if he got in, it would really be a dream come true. (Though it’ll take a miracle for me to be able to pay for it.) But, as the Portuguese say, “Quem não arrisca, não petisca.” (Nothing ventured, nothing gained.) I’m really proud of The Kid’s courage in this kind of risk-taking, and I dearly hope it reaps him only the best of all possible fruits.

What about all you Moms and Pops out there? What dreams have your kids aspired to, for which “the waiting” drove you nuts? How did things turn out? WHAT DID YOU DO TO STAY SANE????? (Not that "staying sane" is really an option for me anymore, but you catch my drift.)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Shooting at the Devil...

You wanna pass me over a what, now?
I recently discovered a blog which has quite gripped my fancy - As the Crowe Flies by author Penelope Crowe. Her book, 100 Unfortunate Days, is described on Amazon as being "...the diary of a woman of the verge of a breakthrough--or breakdown." With an opening like that, you can bet this'll prove to be a wild trip. I've not read it yet (it's available as an eBook right now and I've no eReader, so I'm waiting for it to come out in paperback format in the coming month or so, 'cause that's just how I roll). But Crowe's put some excerpts up on her blog, from the amusing Day 10, which provides "profiles" of a variety of pet owners, to Day 23, a dark fable which left me feeling rather hollow. In another post, Do You Believe in Possession? A True Story, Crowe writes about her friend, a young woman who suffered from and succumbed to Wilson's disease, though Crowe wonders if demonic possession was at the root of her illness. An unsettling post, certainly, but what really struck a strange chord in me was that the friend was in Portugal when the spooky stuff went down.

I'm a first-generation American of Portuguese descent. One thing about my peeps across the ocean that's always perplexed me is that, for a ridonkulously Catholic country, the folks there got superstition oozing out their what-whats. For instance, you can't say with any certainty that a thing you're planning will come to pass - you say it will, "Se Deus quiser" ("If God is willing"). For this reason alone, if you wish a Portuguese a happy birthday before that event takes place, you may induce a stroke in the poor unfortunate. Belief, whether real or "just in cases," of O mau olhado (the evil eye) is so pervasive that folks will give a newborn to the family a charm bracelet meant to protect the babe from supernatural harm. If a kid's stretched out across the floor, God forbid you step over him or her - the child's mother will insist you cross back over because you've just opened the kid up to eeeeeee-viiiiiiiiiiiil and you must close that "circle," imediatamente! (For realz!) Mind you, not all the 'guesers are that twitchy but the average native buys into this stuff just enough to make him careful not to cut a homemade loaf of bread when it's fresh out of the oven and still hot (because that would be the same thing as cutting into the loaf's maker, as everyone knows).

I myself have long been interested in things mysterious and spooky, from tarot cards to ouija boards, runes to gemstones, witchcraft to astrology to dream interpretation, vampires to werewolves, you name it. I've been told that my occult bent stems from a branch a little higher up on the family tree - my dad's maternal uncle (my great uncle), Tio Nuno*. (TEE-oo NOO-noo.) AND, as it happens, though the gentleman never met me in person, he did diagnose me as being "possessed" of some kinda yuck.

Tio Nuno was a typical, chouriço-fed farm boy from a podunk village in the middle of Portugal, until he traveled to exotic Brazil to make his fortune. This he did, and came back an "Espiritista," or Spiritualist, to boot. With his newly earned coin, he set about buying some forested land, a vineyard, and whatever else seemed a good money-earning prospect, and the man did well for himself. But he developed the reputation for being involved in bruxaria (witchcraft) and, to be honest, alcohol. My dad tells some entertaining tales of Tio Nuno's exploits, which frequently transpired in the black of night, while Tio Nuno made his way home from carousing with women and spirits of the liquid variety, his trusty pistol within easy reach. One time, as he made his way along the dusty road to the neighboring city of Aveiro, Tio Nuno was surprised by the Devil, who straddled the cliffs that bordered the road and effectively blocked his path. He told Old Scratch to get bent, who (unsurprisingly) wasn't inclined to oblige him. So Tio Nuno whipped out his pistol, fired off a few shots, and, when that failed to yield the desired result, prudently took an alternate route to his destination. Another time, as he engaged in his nocturnal rambles through the woods, he saw a light flaming from the top of a pine tree. Tio Nuno called out but heard no answer. He resorted to his pistol again, shot at the light, but it wouldn't go out. So he took an alternate route home. Yet another time, as he approached his parents' house in the wee hours of the morning, he found a lamb chillin' by the front door. He couldn't get past the lamb and couldn't shoo it away. Thankfully disdaining his pistol this time around, he scooted around to the back of the house, thinking to get in through the backdoor, but that tricky lamb was already there, once again blocking his access to the house. So what did Tio Nuno do? Well, he took an alternate route to Dreamland by snuggling underneath a nearby haystack, where he was discovered by his parents in the morning.

These stories are great for a laugh over a glass of vinho verde and some tremoços, but the one involving me is slightly less goofy.

Mom and Pop brought me over from the States when I was a wee one so the family could meet their first born. Apparently, I gave them a bit of trouble - I stayed up crying the first nights they were in Portugal, growing cold and clammy from getting so worked up. Nothing they tried soothed me. I hadn't been colicky or anything up till then, so there was no reason they could discern for my fussing. They took me to a local doc who assured them that I was medically fine. So my Mom put it down to me feeling out of sorts from being in an unfamiliar environment. Or, you know, the evil eye (I dig that she didn't rule anything out). Shortly after the doc visit, Tio Nuno stopped by my paternal grandmother's house and my Avó told him about my peculiar spells. Because my Grandma's husband had recently passed away, she wondered if he might somehow be "visiting" me and generally freaking me out. Tio Nuno thought there might be a larger problem and asked her if any of my clothes or belongings were lying around. She found something of mine and brought it to him, which he examined carefully. After a while he told her that someone in the family wished me ill, but he wouldn't specify who (the big tease). He gave her the following instructions to pass on to my parents:
  1. Make the baby a wreath of garlic and sprinkle her with holy water.
  2. Make a bonfire and toss into it some rosemary, rue, and eucalyptus.
  3. Pass the baby through the smoke of this fire and pray to some saints (which specific ones is lost in the mists of time).
When my Mom heard all this from my Grandma she nodded politely but privately thought there was no friggin' way she was going to pass me over a bonfire (the Portuguese equivalent of this thought, obviously). Instead, when she went to put me to sleep that night, she laid me on my back and prayed the Apostles Creed over me three times, all the while making the Sign of the Cross over me, asking God to liberate me from whatever ailed me. And, according to her, from then on, I did get better.

I have to admit, I'm disappointed that she didn't try the bonfire thing. Also, I think I'd look pretty smashing in a garlic wreath (kickin' it old-school!). But seriously, I'm proud of my Mom for turning to her faith during this peculiar phase in our lives...I hope I'll always turn to God, in good times and in bad. Still, I'd love to know who hit me with the bad juju, so I could avenge myself (and my parents) by TPing her house.

*Nuno was not his real name, but it is a common - and unique - Portuguese name, for an uncommon man!
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