Trouble with Tribbles and Lieutenant Uhura

We made a tribble.

My son loves the original Star Trek. He wants a model Enterprise, and he spent some time this evening trying to draw one. My son never takes half an interest in anything. He has his Star Trek action figures (though from the recent film, not the series), he has a Star Trek calendar, he wants to find a pattern to make an origami Enterprise (no luck there yet), and he wants a Lego Enterprise as well.

Tonight we made a tribble. More accurately, we took one of the torn up dog toys, salvaged the good parts, and stitched it together into a ball-like shape. Tribble! My son fell asleep with it, but I took it away and put it on a shelf lest the dog try to take it back.

But as we were working on other projects this evening, my 8-year-old son asked, “Why didn’t they give lieutenant Uhura more stories where she can be the hero?” While I struggled with how to answer this, he added, “Aren’t there any where she’s the hero?”

We’ve been going through the old series on Netflix, and I can’t recall if Uhura could be called the hero of any of them.

How do you explain a problem in the world without sounding…well, I don’t know, but I want to sound sane and reasonable when I talk to my son…nor do I want to end up sounding condoning of a way of thinking… It’s complicated!

But I told him that in those times women just weren’t given much to do in stories, and African-American women certainly weren’t. And times haven’t changed much. “How many shows do you watch where you see a black woman get to do much of anything?” I asked him.

He thought about it. “Not any.” He thought some more. “That doesn’t make any sense. That should change. I like Uhura. She could save people. She’s always helping.”

Indeed.

I looked for a video of Uhura that showed her fighting (she does!) but mostly all I found were videos that focused on the kiss between her and Kirk or on how sexy she was. This says something about the state of things in 2011. Oh well, She did have a lovely voice, and this little song she sang to Spock, stuck in my head for years–not the words, but the tune.

Uhura is cool.

Surprise!

Maybe I am just too used to rejections, but I thought this wee story had been rejected by this nifty little online journal. But here I was, late at night, being silly by googling my name, and, lo! here it is. My 50 word (or thereabouts) story–Drifting through Space.

Wow. That’s two stories out in the world! That’s crazy.

(If you want to go and leave a comment, that’d be nice.)

Adding rooms, decorating, and opening doors…

This is my asylum and I’ll scream if I want to.

What?

It seems that pursuing this creative life is crazy making, and never mind my own feelings about being published or not being published, how does your family feel about your successes and failures? To keep on trying do you need them to believe in what you’re doing?

In the meantime, I’m adding stories to the sidebar. I’ve also added a slideshow of my art. So there. Take a look around. But don’t stay too long or you might get locked in. Ha.

Can’t I Just Ignore the Question?

My son woke up around 7am the other day–which he usually does when there is no school–and instead of coming to wake my husband or me up, he turned on the TV. The TV is set to come on to the Science Channel.

How dangerous can the Science Channel be at 7am?

Well, the show my 8-year-old son happened across was a forensic science show and they were investigating murders. One murder–my son later told me–was about a man who killed a taxi driver. This was sad, my son thought, but since he can easily avoid being a taxi driver, it didn’t worry him.

The other story was about the murder of a mother and daughter.

My son didn’t tell me the circumstances but their story–and I assume there must’ve been a reenactment–kept him from going to sleep. “It’s okay during the day,” my son said, “but in the dark it’s different.”

This lead to questions about why murder happens, how murderers choose their victims, and what would keep something bad from happening to us.

As for the last question, my simple answer of, “We live in a nice area,” was answered with, “But bad things happen in nice areas too. Just because it looks nice doesn’t mean anything.”

Well, true. Terrible things can happen anywhere. But this is not something I’m eager to tell my child.

Sigh.

We talked about why people kill–which I don’t claim to have an answer for but I have to say something. We talked about emotions out of control, the influence of drugs and alcohol, greed, and a lack of empathy for others.

We talked about how murderers choose victims–and I can’t be sure of this either, but I tell my son that people are most often hurt by people they know, people they have an emotional problem with, but also criminals choose people who won’t be missed or seen.

This is a terrible conversation but he has questions. To say, “This is not something you should think about” feels false and unhelpful because my childhood taught me that these things are possible…just unlikely. And we talked about that. Life is unpredictable but certain things are unlikely.

I told him that we can’t live our lives afraid of all the terrible possibilities. We wouldn’t live if that were the case.

What can an 8-year-old be expected to understand?

So I told him an extremely watered-down version of a story about a student at my school. My point was to tell him that even though this young woman had been through many difficult things, she came to school, went out with friends, laughed, and was thoughtful and friendly. Here is someone who has every reason to live in fear, and yet she doesn’t.

Then my son and I decided he needed to read something funny before bedtime.

I certainly needed something funny.

Versatility Is Good Either Way

Nancy Lauzon over at The Chick Dick Mysteries thought of me the other day and gave me this Versatile Blogger Award.

Most of the time I think I’m alone here and any attention comes as a nice surprise. And I’m trying to be versatile. At least in my thinking.

So, the award asks for a link back to the giver. Done.

Share 7 things about yourself. Hmmm. What could possibly be interesting at this point? Well, I won’t try for interesting and see what happens.

1. I want and hate attention, and when I get awards I tend to take them home and hide them in the back of the closet. I got a trophy for a poem once. Eventually threw it away. Now my son wins trophies and medals and I find places to display them.

2. I caused a fender bender a few days before Christmas and I’m in something of a snit about it. In 27 years of driving and I’ve never hit another car. But that doesn’t matter when the officer gives the ticket for $167 and the only damage to the other car was a bit of paint off the fender under the license plate and the driver of the other car wouldn’t acknowledge me until the police arrived. My fault though. So. I can’t say anything in my defense.

The lady was actually quite nice when she finally did speak to me. “Now don’t you let this ruin your holiday!”

3. One of my least favorite ordinary questions is: what do you want to eat?

4. My mother’s death from an aortic aneurysm was terrible. But I’ve always been secretly glad it happened at work. If it hadn’t happened at work it might have happened when she was alone in her apartment. It would’ve been days before anyone found her. Or it might have happened while she was driving on the Interstate. I’m sorry for her coworkers, but…

5. For a few years I believed that I could make this writing career thing work with enough determination. That belief has changed.

6. I’m a wee bit irritated that my boss waited until after I left the meeting to announce his plans to resign, and then no one from work contacted me to let me know. I got the news through a facebook status update. Wouldn’t that annoy you?

7. If they ever invent a pill that makes sleep unnecessary, I’m going to take it.

The next step is to link to 15 blogs you enjoy reading.

This is where things get tricky because part of me thinks a shout out to some blogging friends is a good thing. You wouldn’t mind if I said I liked your blog, right? But another part of me thinks that you don’t want to share things and find 15 other blogs to link to and it seems like a lot of work. But then I think it isn’t that much work, and you must like 15 other blogs you’d like to give attention to, right? But maybe this feels like social pressure and it strikes you as chain-lettery and popularity seeking…

oh, whatever…I’m going to link to blogs I like and if that happens to be you–carry on as you wish. I like you and just want to say so. I like Nancy too so I want to play along. I do suspect a couple of folks of reacting with a rather aurgh-I-don’t-want-to-get-sucked-into-this sort of reply. Gnash your teeth and pretend you saw nothing here.

If I don’t link to you it is probably because I’m flawed and miss great things all the time.

1. Running After My Hat. His Friday posts are the best if you like poetry, quotes, and other gems.

2. Shelly Lowenkopf. read his blog because you probably can’t get to his class.

3. 7 Impossible Things before Breakfast. I love this blog but avoid it often because it is impossible to read just one post and then I miss breakfast.

4. Sherri Blossoms. Because she’s a writer that understands me.

5. The Querulous Squirrel. Querulous and sharp. We need more of that.

6. Warrior Girl. Writer and artist. I’ve got one of her pictures on my wall. Now if only I could have a book by her on my shelf…

7. Write out in the Open. I just discovered a friend has this blog and she’s been writing about her mother’s death. I hope she keeps writing.

8. And the Walls Came Tumbling Down. Aother soul I’ve met in cyberspace whose point of view and insights I like.

9. The Gray Pen. A young man who writes. I noticed he hasn’t been blogging lately and I think he has a lot of things getting in the way. Maybe a nudge from new readers would get him back to writing again.

10. Ami McKay. My college roommate who is a published author! Buy her books, people!

Oh…5 more…

I’m going to think about them and post them later. Who knows what will pop into my head before I fall asleep.

Crappy Books

There are different book likability levels.

One. Finish book and think, “I liked that.” Put book on shelf.

Two. Finish book and think, “That was great. Who do I know who ought to read this too?” Send a particular someone a message. “You should read this book.”

Three. Finish book and think, “Oh my God. Why didn’t I write this book? This is amazing.” Hang my head and feel like crying.

When talking to others about writing books, I often hear people say something along the lines of, “There are so many bad books out there. I know I can do better.” Or maybe, “I can’t believe the crap that gets published and I can’t get an agent.”

Yes. It is motivating to believe you can do better, and it is annoying that people named Snooki get book deals. Of course, it is annoying.

Now, I don’t read books by the Snookis of the world, so maybe I’m missing out on under appreciated gems. You can’t fit everything into one life, after all.

But I really don’t know what are all these crappy books? I love the books I read with a few exceptions. But even the books I was indifferent about, I wouldn’t say they were crap. My thinking was more, “Yeah, I can’t get that excited about Italy.”

So usually I finish a book and think, “I am never going to get published. Of course this got published and I didn’t.”

Does this mean I have no taste and will like anything?

Does this mean I am just so discerning I pick up only good books?

What books have you read lately, and how well did you like them?

If it isn’t readable, maybe it’s wearable.

My writing--can't you tell?

So much time has passed since the last set of query letters I sent out, I forgot about a few of them. Therefore, the rejection email that popped up this evening took me by surprise. That rejection was from an agent. Well, okay. Less than an hour later another rejection showed up in my inbox. This one was from a literary journal.

There I was not even thinking about my stories out in the world begging for love from strangers, and I get hit with two rejections nearly side by side.

Makes a person feel ganged up on.

But when the rejections added their sparkle to my day, I was finishing up a bit of…art? I don’t know. I’d cut up my short stories, lined the pieces with silver tape, poked holes in the strips, and threaded them together. Viola!

And the point of all that?

I’ve no idea.