Saturday, February 15, 2014

Let's have a little chat

OK - so.  Here's a video that a lot of people have seen.  First Kudos to Ellen Page.  I've always liked her as an actress.  I like her even more now.  But that's not what I'm here to talk about.  I'm here to talk about some of the things I've been hearing after Ms. Page came out.  Basically.  "Ya know.  If you stop making it such a big deal when people come out.... "

So with all due respect folks, unless you're gay, lesbian, bisexual or tans...just be quiet.  Honest.  Shhh.
But here's the thing.  I agree with you in principal.  Yeah it would be great if people coming out didn't cause such a media storm.  But you know what? It would also be great if we could look at people's sexuality the way we look at their food preferences.  When was the last time you saw a church picketing a solider's funeral because someone likes sushi?  Or a family kicking their son or daughter out of the house and calling them vile names because they don't like bacon?

So bottom line.  When will people stop coming out?  When kids don't have to hear taunts of fag or queer or dyke or lesbo or trannie.  When will it stop being a big deal?  When the world makes it not.  When someone like Ellen Page or Michael Sam, or your neighbor doesn't feel like if they do announce who they really are that it might save a life of someone struggling.

And one last thing - remember who she was talking to.  She was talking to people that work with GLBT youths.  She was talking to people who are trying to help.  And in her coming out she was also helping.  She didn't go on Late Night or leak it to Perez Hilton.  Listen to her speech folks.  Her coming out was such a small part of what she had to say.

One day I hope that people will look on this video clip and not understand it.  One day I hope people will look back upon these times like we do the middle ages, wondering how we were so ignorant.  One day I hope gay will once again mean happy, fag again mean a bundle of wood, dyke mean a small dam, lesbo be the name of an island and trannie go back to being a transmission.  That day will come.  And it will come a lot faster because of people like Ellen Page.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

When to let go

Yesterday I witnessed an internet train wreck. Several thousand others did as well. Twitter was buzzing with it. In short, a blogger reviewed a book, the author took umbrage to the review and said so on the blog, there was a back and forth for a while between the author and posters until finally the author told everyone to F -off not once but twice. Then there was silence from the author's corner, but not from the rest of the internet. Her rant had gone viral and when last I checked the comment count was over 300.

At first I was with the majority. OMG how COULD she do that! She had just destroyed any vestige of respect she’d have in the community. Agents had seen her rants and no doubt would remember her, and not in a good way. People were suggesting next time she write she 1) go to writing classes 2) get an editor 3) get a pen-name 4) don’t bother to write again because she was awful.
The comments spilled over to Kindle where not only this book, but another one she’d written were on sale. When I had curiously checked Kindle for her book I had originally found 3 comments – all 5 stars. Today there are 35 comments. Mostly 1 star reviews, there are the occasional 5 star “pity” reviews. Many of the comments mention the blog this all started on and having to come to Kindle to check the book out for themselves.

And as I read all this I began to think of two things. First how the internet empowers us to say things we would never say to another person’s face. Would the majority of the people who commented on the blog and Amazon say the same thing the same way in person? Would the author act like she did on the blog if she was in a room with the blogger? I seriously doubt it.

But then I began to think about the author. She’d written this book. She’s spent time with these characters and had honestly thought she had a story to tell. She was passionate about it. Sadly, from what I could glean from some of the reviews the story itself was pretty good, the grammar was not. And being one of the grammatically challenged I can feel for her in a way.

So now the crux of this ramble, when do you let go of your work? You have spent months if not years with this manuscript. You have breathed life into characters, you’ve created worlds and places for them to inhabit. You eat, sleep and breathe your creation. So when, do you let go?

Do you start to ease your grip during your re-writes and edits? Is it when you start querying agents? When do you get that little bit of thicker skin growing that allows you to look at negative reviews and, maybe not shrug them off, but accept them and move on?

This whole kerfuffle will blow over in a few days and something else will take its place. The internet is funny that way. In a few months or years someone might say – hey remember the time that author blew up on that blog? People will chuckle at the memory, but for the author I doubt there will be any good memories of this. She couldn’t let go of her work, she couldn’t shrug it off and say “okay you have a right to your opinion.”

Yesterday I was aghast, then amused by what transpired. Today I am saddened because a person who obviously takes joy in writing couldn’t let go, and suffered a very public fall that could haunt her for the rest of her writing career.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Creature of habit...

I have learned I am a creature of habit.  My alarm goes off at the same time every morning, I hit the snooze every morning and curse that I'm getting up so early...every morning.  I take the same route into work every day and take the same route home.  I even park in the same spot and get darned upset when someone has swiped my spot!  I even have the same routine when I get to work, drop the lunch sack, login, check out the comics, then get to work.

But this week my daily routine got spun up and for a while I was not sure how to deal with it.  The ladies' bathroom is being renovated at work.  It will be closed for a month!  Now I have to change my routine!  I have to go down to the third floor!  I know I KNOW it's daring!  I mean what's to stop me from the third!  Maybe I'll go down and sneak into the OHSU bathroom (Oregon Health Sciences University for you non-Portlanders) - they have some of their business offices in our building.  I mean - this sudden break of routine is heady stuff!  I mean it's not like I'll suddenly go into the Men's bathroom or anything like that.

And today -driving home - I went a different way!  Yes yes I did!  I DID!  I was giddy with routine breaking!  It's actually kind of like my current WIP - ooo see I'm breaking my blog routine of NOT blogging about writing!  For over a year I'd been working on a historical novel...I was in the routine of research and write, research and write.  My critique group ( The  Always awesome Dead Bunny Club) were supportive, but I felt like I was stuck in the literary rut.

An idea had been festering in my mind for a while and so I decided to ... wait for it... break out of the routine... did you say it with me?  I shelved the historical fiction - no doubt my Main Character is spitting nails because of this.  I started brand new with the idea that had been festering and it's worked out great so far!  Where I felt like I was prying words and pages like a 19th century dentist pulling out teeth, I now feel like they're flowing from me like a quicksilver river!

So moral of the story - it's good to sometimes shake things up and not be such a creature of habit in life and in writing!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Food Glorious Food

Yesterday was my ... somewhat delayed...Birthday dinner.  I didn't mind really, it meant I got to stretch my birthday over several weeks as opposed to one day.  I had pondered long and hard about where to go for this special day.  Should we drive into Portland and perhaps try Le Pigeon or Paley's Place?  Both are on my list to eat at... some day.

No.  I decided to stick close to home and boy am I glad I did.  We ended up going to Roots .  If you don't know Roots you don't know what you're missing.  Brad Roots opened his namesake restaurant in 2003 in Camas.  Since then he's opened two more Lapellah and 360 Pizzeria .  Each has it's own distinct style and food offering.  But by far Roots is the most elegant of the three and well it should be.

The restaurant is not all that large, but it has a nice airy feeling.  We sat near the open kitchen and were able to watch the chefs do their magic.  The lighting was subdued but not the murky darkness that you get some places - I'm looking at you steak houses!

The one thing I like about Roots is that they have small plates as well as your regular dinner plates.  For people like my mother, this is a perfect idea and the list of small plates is quite large.  She ended up ordering a cup of their dungeness crab bisque and a small plate of their homemade butternut squash ravioli on melted leeks and truffle oil.

The soup first.  I think it was Lee Iacocca who said you can always tell how good a restaurant is by their soup.  Judging by the crab bisque were were going to have a great night.  Whole lumps of dungeness crab meat, a cream base that was light and flavorful.  Their "cup" looked to be about the size of a bowl so I'd be curious to see how big their bowls are.

They had three specials a fresh petrole sole on a bed of lentils, a 12 oz NY strip and an 8 oz filet mignon.  I opted for the NY strip as did my Dad.  I ordered my rare, I've learned in the past to order it that way because if I'm very lucky I'll actually get it rare and if I'm not I'll at least get it medium rare - which I don't mind either.

What came to the table was a thing of beauty - and I'm sorry I didn't take any pictures.  The steak rested on a bed of veggies and roasted potatoes.  Grilled onions rested on top of the steak and there was a small pat of balsamic butter.  I made my first cut.  I've been to so-called steak houses that couldn't cook a steak this good.  It was, at least to me, perfectly rare.  And Dad's steak was also cooked perfectly medium, for his taste.

The only drawback we had the entire night was that the red wine Mom ordered was a bit on the sour side and not all that good.  The manhattan I had was well made and I tip my hat to their mixologist.  Word of warning, if you order a martini with olives be prepared, the olives in Dad's drink were not pitted.

Roots mission is to use NW produce and vendors and the food reflects that beef and pork from Carlton Farms, mussels from the Puget sound, etc.

Bottom line - GO!  The food is very very good!  The atmosphere is very nice, however the place does tend to get a little noisy when it gets crowded.  The small plates allow you to have a nice dinner for a small price.

They're also opened for lunch and brunch.  Another fun thing that both Roots and Lapellah do is Sunday dinner.  A set dinner with a soup/salad of your choice, special entree, and a dessert of your choice all for $25. Not a bad price!

So, Vancouverites, stay on this side of the bridge and try a local upscale eatery.  Portlanders, come... come to other side of the bridge and find that your Northern neighbors have some awesome places to eat as well.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Entering into the surreal

I've entered into the world of the surreal, more or less.  A few weeks ago it was announced at my place of work that jobs were going to be outsourced.  They actually didn't use that particular word - they used something a tad more doublespeakish - but it was the same meaning.  Some of us would no longer have our jobs, not because of lay offs - but because the job would be now done by someone half a world away.

There was outrage, there was bitterness, a sense of betrayal, and for some there was the understanding that this is a global economy and times have changed.  I have to admit I was in nearly all those camps.  I understood the business reasons behind it, but I still felt hurt that our company would do something like this.

To put things into perspective - I am into my 17th year with my company - and in company terms I'm a youngster.  There are people I work with who have been with this company for 20 - 30 years or more.  There's a loyalty that is rare in this profession.

Years ago the company would give all the employees a gift certificate for a free turkey.  After a while as we grew a tad larger the free turkey became a gift card to a department store, then a day off, then a half day off.  Then, well...

But people stayed.  in fact some people would leave only to return.  Again how often does that happen?

And so the years went by and there were good times and bad.  We had layoffs, and we had hirings.  We had holiday parties and summer picnics and we had pay freezes and bonuses.

Today I was talking with a co-worker - I'd known him since I started work at the company.  We were admiring the sunrise - it was beautiful and quite a surprise.  The dark Pacific Northwest clouds were suddenly aglow with vibrant pinks.    It was probably one of the most beautiful winter sunrises i've seen.

Then my boss came over and asked to see me in his office.  I knew what was coming.  What I work on can easily be done by someone else. I followed him in to his office and he closed the door.  The HR person was there.  They were sorry, I could see it in their faces, they didn't like doing this.  But they had to.

And so begins my journey into the surreal. I'm a dead person walking.  I'll stay at my job until May or June getting things up to speed and maybe even training the people who will be doing my job now.  After that I'll get a severance package.

For nearly 17 years I've gone to work knowing I have  job, now starting tomorrow, I'll be just keeping the seat warm  for my replacement.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

thank you

At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month the war that was to end all wars finally came to its own tired, blood drenched end.  At that 11th hour on that 11th day in that 11th month a piece of paper was signed and the world was changed forever.  Innocence was lost, a generation of young men were lost, sons, and fathers were lost.   And we all know to well it did not end all wars.

Today on this 11th day of the 11th month we stand as one and thank those living and dead for their sacrafice.  Those of us who have never gone to war have no idea of its scope.  Those who have gone to war to protect us know it only too well.

 And may I just say that it is my most heartfelt wish that someday we will no longer have to pause and reflect on this 11th day of the 11th month.  It is my heartfelt wish that someday we will no longer have veterans day for we will no longer have veterans, and we will no longer have wars.

But until such a day.  I stand and salute you, you who have given yourselves to protect us.

Thank you.