Tuesday, August 30, 2011

On dedication

    It had been a long week. We had meeting after meeting after meeting and in between those most of us were rushing to set up our classrooms and photocopy what was needed to start the school year. I was caught between helping another teacher catch up on those copies and restlessly pacing the halls, waiting on the 11th hour changes to the Chemistry schedule. On a whim, I paused to check in on another teacher. We were just starting to talk about the start of the school year when it sounded like one of the maintenance workers started dragging equipment across the roof.
     That thought lasted all of about five seconds. It was about the time that the hanging lights started to look like swings on a playground. Both our eyes grew wide as reality hit. We were in an earthquake and it was quite the ride. Once it was over we stood, mouths agape and looked around. She said it seemed big and instantly thought about the nuclear plant just 30 miles from here. I pulled out my phone and started texting first my husband, and then my brother. He works about 80 miles from here and I wanted to know if he felt it.
      As we wandered, more excited then dazed, into the hallway a few of us started to smile and laugh. What a moment. Just hours before the school year was to start and we experienced our first earthquake. As the reports came in we shook our heads and looked over the inside of the building for damage. Initial reports said it was a 5.8 and out of Mineral. We are only 25 miles from there so no wonder we felt what we did. The administrators checked in on all of us and then the most amazing thing happened. We shrugged it off, grabbed our "gear" and went back to work like nothing happened. Talk about dedication! There was a job to be done and no 'quake was going to stop us!
      The administration stopped us instead. While six of us stood in line at the copier, comparing texts and tales, the announcement came that we had to evacuate the building. We just looked at each other like "But..but...we have all this work to do!" With a sigh, I took the stack of papers back to the teacher I had been helping and apologized for not being able to complete it. Then, wheeled bag dragging behind me, I started for the door...and immediately stopped at the other Chemistry classroom. Unable to help ourselves, we just started talking over the first day of school and the schedule issue and all that "teacher stuff." It took another administrator reminding us that the evacuation was not optional before we locked the doors and went outside. That is dedication.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Midnight to Morning...

     For those who know me personally and have been following along on social media, this blog post is a long time coming. For the rest of you, well now you'll know too!
     In the autumn of 2009, after years of encouragement and comments from friends and family, I decided to take my love of writing and start doing something with it. At first, the idea was to use the binders full of stories I had written about one particular character and turn it into a series of smaller books for young adults. However, about fifty pages into it, I was frustrated beyond all measure. It was about that time that I started having a series of "nightmares." They were not the true wake-up-in-a-cold-sweat kind of thing, but they were eerily realistic and deeply personal. These dreams happened night after night for nearly three weeks. I was disturbed by them and told a few people about them. All said the same thing, "You should write about that instead, it sounds like a great book."
      So I did. I sketched out all that I remembered from the dreams - 27 pages full of sentence outlines. After many days spent "day-dreaming" the content order and filling in some blanks, I started. That was in December of 2009. In January of 2011 the first draft of "Midnight to Morning" was completed. It is a long novel and was written to be the first in a four book series. Through the rest of this year there has been numerous edits, a lot of soul searching, research into how to make this dream get onto published paper and more sleepless nights than I can remember. It all has been wonderful though.
      The novel is almost ready for print, and now the big choice must be made. Do I pick a couple of sites that work with large groups of publishers, write a proposal, pay the huge fees to post it for six months and sit and wait? As someone who has only had minor poetry published and has only written a handful of online articles, I don't have much on the "wow factor" outside of the first two chapters that are posted with the proposal. I'm virtually an unknown. The other choice is to self-publish and hope that enough people take interest in the novel that word spreads and enough copies are sold. I'm not very good at talking myself up, but would have to learn quickly in order to sell the heart I've put into the book.
      The decision will need to be made fairly soon and I would enjoy input from as many people possible. Today, I'll be putting links to this blog on the social media sites I'm involved in and linking to blogs I read frequently. In other words, this blog is going live today, even though I've been working on it for a month (see that hesitation thing going on?) Thank you for joining me on this wild ride of life.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thoughts on Friendship

     Had to think this post over several days before actually sitting down to write it. In this ever changing world we are now exposed more and more to the "virtual world." From social networking sites and message boards to strangely obsessive simplistic games and the world of MMO's, it is all there at our fingertips. With those things becoming so much a part of our daily lives, it is only a matter of time before people start to talk about things outside of whatever subject or system brought them together.
     It can be uncomfortable to talk with someone whom has most likely have never been seen, or whose voice might have never been heard by the other person. The back of ones mind could be tingling with ancient warnings about strangers and media reports of horror stories related to online relationships. However, there is some common ground or bond with this person, and the conversations start to flow. As hours and days past one of two conclusions can be come to. Either the person on the other side of the screen is an excellent actor or there really is common ground and a genuine enjoyment of the others company. If this had been anywhere else other than online, it would be the grounds for a real friendship.
      That makes me think hard about what defines friendship. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines friend as "One attached to another by affection or esteem" and as "A favored companion." Friendship is defined as "The state of being friends." All three sound simplistic really. A friend is someone you like, someone you enjoy being with, someone you have key things in common with. Yet near everywhere I go, there is a line drawn between "friends" and "online friends" with the latter being perceived as meaning less or not even real, just because of the platform that brought the them together.
      My first experience with "online friends" came about with the help of a message board I started reading and posting on. The people there had helped with a health crisis in one of my parrots. Over the months certain members of the board communicated with me outside of that site. I saw them as friends, not making a separate section in my mind between them and the friends I could see and speak to. As time passed, one of them ended up parrot sitting for me and three attended my wedding! (The wedding which happened because two people started talking on a moderated online dating site.) It was the first time these people saw each other face to face. During that time those "online friends" also gathered together to help one of us who was struggling with a dangerous illness. It seemed to me that we were there for her more than those in her "real" world. The lines blur so easily in moments like that. 
    Shortly after, I started playing an online MMO. At first those avatars on the screen and the words they said in the chat channels were distanced in my mind. I just learned the game and followed along. But, as with the message board, over time conversations deviated and one on one discussions began. Here was a group of people with a common bond through the game who discovered there was even more alike than once thought. Cautiously, the barriers came down and it was discovered who was being real and who was acting. I've had the privilege of meeting one of those friends face to face, and had many many hours of long conversations with another. They have become near and dear to me - two I would consider "best friends."
      Yet, there are so many around me that cannot see that "online friends" can be just as meaningful and vital to ones life as "real-world friends." Those online have been there when the others have not. Through the game we talk near daily, something that doesn't happen with the others. The miles drift away as conversations draw us closer. There is a real flesh and blood person there whom never would have been known about if not for the miracle of the internet and development of these platforms. There shouldn't be a differentiation between those we have gotten to know and love through work, school, church or other outlet and those we have bonded with online.