Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Maintaining a Perspective

It's Thanksgiving, that special time of year when we gorge ourselves on turkey and/or pie* and then slip into the inevitable tryptophan-induced coma. It's also the time when we reflect on the things that we're grateful for. It's especially important because when times are tough, a little perspective about the good things in our lives can help balance out the negativity that seems to come at us from all sides. That said, here goes:

Stuff I Appreciate:

1) Family - Yes, it's a cliché, but it is also true. The fam is tight. Dad is my hero, Mom is a mamma bear, and Sis is my BFF. They always have my back and I have theirs.

2) Wife - CobraMrsFit is, without a doubt, the coolest woman I've ever met. She's fun, pretty, smart, and capable with a handgun. She puts up with my harebrained schemes, laughs at my bad jokes, and has more compassion for her fellow Man in one pinkie than most people have in their entire bodies. Why she picked me is anyone's guess, but I am eternally thankful for it.

3) Friends - I'm not talking second-tier friends that fade with time or distance, I'm talking people that know you, get you, and still like you. Most of mine are scattered to the four corners of the globe, but they are somehow always there when needed. 

4) Career - Say what you will about being a Cubicle Commando, the Day Job keeps the lights on and the fridge filled. Not to mention, it allows CobraMrsFit and I the opportunity to enjoy our hobbies.

5) Hobbies - Between writing, beekeeping, classic cars, golf, the gym, learning piano, singing with the Alexandria Harmonizers** and playing video games, there are plenty of amazing things to keep a man occupied. If I ever gripe about being bored, someone smack me.

6) This Nation - Again, a cliché, but true none-the-less. Despite the turmoil being broadcast across the airwaves, my loved ones and I live in a country where we are given the chance to do anything our hearts desire. There will always be struggles, but the magical things about this nation is that we have a voice. On a regular basis, we can vote leaders into or out of office. We have a say in how things are run, are allowed to voice our displeasure, and have the right to wake up each morning under a blanket of freedom that is hard to fully comprehend or appreciate. But anytime we begin to question just how amazing this country is, we need only spend a little time away from it. We may not be perfect, but we are a land of dreams, hard work, strength, and opportunity. 

6) Our Military - Not one thing above would be capable without our men and women on the front lines. They volunteer to spend holidays like this away from their loved ones so we don't have to. They are the modern-day knights, willing to stand between us and the darkness and they deserve more thanks than they will ever receive.

Anyway, that's my list. How about you all? What are you thankful for?

*mostly pie

**shameless plug

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Explaining Things

Sometimes it's not easy to explain writing. I'm not talking about a conversation with family or close friends who get us, I'm talking about the second-tier associate. The acquaintance. The, dun-dun-duuuuun, co-worker.

Co-Worker: "You look tired. Late night?"*

Me: "Yeah, I was revising one of my stories and lost track of time."

Co-Worker: "Writing? As in a book? Like Twilight?"

Me: "A book, yes, but a different genre."

Co-Worker: "Oh." (awkward silence) "So. . . what's it about?"

Me: "Uh, well it's a space opera about a faction that is creating zombie warrior ninja pirates in order to invade the Beltrakian Empire and overthrow the. . ." (passage of time) ". . . BUT, as they make their escape, the Evil Lord Pepperschmitt attacks and . . ." (more time) ". . . happily ever after. Until the sequel, of course."

Co-Worker: *yawns* "Is it going to be published?"

Me: "There's no guarantee, but I hope so."

Co-Worker: (pregnant pause whilst he/she thinks on this) "Wouldn't you rather spend your free time doing something more, I dunno, productive?"

Me: ". . . "

Granted, I wouldn't go into gory details with anyone except a family member, beta reader, agent, or Miss Tennessee, but you get my drift. To us, the story makes sense. So do the hours, days, months, and years we put into them. But to those who don't know us or share our passion, it can seem like a waste of time.

The difficulty is when we begin to convince ourselves of the same thing. Maintaining motivation can be tough, especially when your inbox is stacked with rejections. It can seem like all the time and energy is spent in vain.

The key is to realize that even if we aren't knocking down The Big Bucks or negotiating which scene of the movie version we'll make our cameo, we're certainly enjoying ourselves. We spend hours and years transitioning a plot bunny from the ethereal mist of our minds to the black and white of actual pages because we love it. And because we want to.

When you think about it, isn't that the only explanation we, or anyone else for that matter, ever truly needs?

*this conversation is 92% fictional.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Tweets of the Week: 11 Nov 11 (belated)

Due to participation in hometown festivities on Friday*, followed by a weekend of merriment and spine-tingling adventure with CobraMrsFit, I failed to click "Publish Post." Apologies for denying the masses this "week's" unpastuerized dose of awesome, lovingly referred to (*cough*onlybyme*cough*) as:

Tweets of the Week**

@alan_tudyk: When it comes to people, places, and things, lately, I find that people and places just complicate things.

@BadAstronomer: If I somehow became the richest man on Earth I would still stand in the kitchen at night and eat Honeycombs dry right out of the box.

@zachbraff: I just decided you're going to have the best day ever!

@AdviceToWriters: If writing seems hard, it's because it is hard. WILLIAM ZINSSER #amwriting #writing #writetip #NaNoWriMo

@hobronto: Everybody, this is important. Please pay attention: A scrub is a guy who thinks he's fly, and is also known as a buster. Thank you.

@rdonoghue: The only person who ever really objects to killing the messenger is the messenger. Sadly, that's only one voice.

@hijinksensue: "And finally, to Mr. Harry Potter, for outstanding courage and for murdering Professor Quirell, 60 points to Gryffindor House."

@DeathStarPR: Force lightning hits me so hard, Makes me say, "Ow, my Lord!" Thank you for blasting me With 40000 amps of electricity. Stop, Palpa Tine.

@Broslife: A honorary U-S-A! U-S-A to all the veterans out there. Your bravery inspires me to be even more awesome.

@AM_Preston: Appropriate: You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. Ray Bradbury.

*Thank you to each and every service member for your sacrifice and bravery.

**Note: All tweets are mostly as they appear in my feed to include RT credits (when able), trends, misspells, poor punctuation, lies, the Power of Love, dude looks like a lady, rocking around the clock, and hello-is it me you’re looking for?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Happy 236th Birthday, Marines.


Today marks the 236th birthday of the United States Marine Corps. Formed in the "hallowed halls" of Tun Tavern in 1775, the Marines have spent over two centuries building and reinforcing their reputation as one of America's finest fighting forces. From the early days of battling Barbary Pirates to recent engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Marines have always been ready to answer the call.

It's difficult to put into words exactly what it means to bear the title "Marine." It's more than just belonging to a world-wide fraternity and certainly much more than becoming a warrior. It's a designation that is seared onto the soul and forever marks you as a member of a very small, but very passionate group. The bond that forms between Marines spans generations. It is one that is forged in the heat of combat, the sacrifice of time and blood, and the shared understanding that out of everyone in this nation, they few chose to sign their name on the dotted line.


The process of becoming a Marine is long and painful. For three months, recruits are run ragged, forced to overcome obstacle after obstacle, and pushed to their breaking point in order to hone the skills that will make them an integral part of an elite fighting force. They endure hours and days worth of strife simply for the privilege to stand on parade deck, be handed their Eagle, Globe, and Anchor, and be called "Marine" for the first time. But once they claim that title, they keep it forever. 

As the old saying goes, there are no ex-Marines, only former Marines.    

Becoming a Marine also requires a certain mindset and one of the best examples was during my senior year of high school. We had an assembly where the recruiters from each branch presented their "cases" to the student body which was followed by an informal meet-and-greet. The Army, Navy, and Air Force all talked about the opportunities that their branch offered. When the Marine recruiter stepped up, he stated that the Marine Corps wouldn't promise us scholarships, promotions, or a good time. The Corps would make us dirty, tired, and frustrated. It would send us to crappy corners of the world, pay us next to nothing, and separate us from our loved ones for months, even years on end. We would be stressed, exhausted, and most likely placed in harms way if, and only if, we were strong enough and tenacious enough to complete basic training, follow-on training, and a myriad of other challenges along the way. 

"Suffice to say," the recruiter said, "most of you simply don't have what it takes to make it." 

When it was time of the meet-and-greet, the line to talk to the Marine recruiter far surpassed the line for the others.  

And it's not a fad. The Marines have always prided themselves on never going easy. A recent recruiting commercial depicts young men and women leaping through the boot camp process. In one scene, a recruit is thrown to the ground during hand-to-hand combat training. In another, a squad exits gas chamber training and one recruit pukes. For a service attempting to recruit our nation's youth, that's a bold statement.


And, of course:


But the cornerstone being a Marine is the tradition. Marines look to the past and honor the people and battles that paved the way. Spend an hour wandering the halls of the Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, VA and you'll be overwhelmed by the passion for the history and tradition. Spend an hour talking with an active or former Marine and he or she will gladly explain why they wear accessories that are outdated by centuries. Spend an hour standing at the base of the Iwo Jima memorial in Arlington, VA and you'll likely see a young Marine polishing the emblem so that it shines brightly in the Virginia sun.

It is the tradition that binds each and every Marine and part of that tradition is the celebration of the birthday. From large, formal balls in Washington D.C. to small, intimate gab-sessions at a local bar, Marines always celebrate their heritage. Every year on this day, units around the world pause to salute the Marine Corps' creation. Logistics commands will bend over backwards to ensure that birthday cake, or a facsimile therein, is delivered to warriors in dirty, remote outposts because every Marine has earned the right to have cake and clink canteens to honor the Corps. Retired Marines will pick up the phone and call their buddies just to say "Happy Birthday."

All because they are bound by the intangible, yet unbreakable bonds of tradition.

So on this, the 236th birthday of our Corps, let us remember the sacrifices of those who went before, the sacrifices of those currently serving, and the burning desire of those hoping to one day earn the title of "Marine." It may not be easy, but ask anyone who bears the title and they'll tell you it's worth it.

Semper Fi, Marines, and Happy Birthday.

*image courtesy of: http://usmclogo.net/.

**image courtesy of: http://www.warrelics.eu/forum/docs-paper-items-photos-propaganda/marine-recruiting-poster-15902/

***image courtesy of: http://www.acidus.com/MarinePosters2.html

Friday, November 4, 2011

Tweets of the Week: 04 Nov 11

The Twittersphere provided even more gems and droppings of wisdom for this week's installment of:

Tweets of the Week*:
@LGwenn RT @MacDibble “When the going gets weird, the weird turn professional.” ― Hunter S. Thompson

@LGwenn RT @EmperorFranzen Not to trivialize childbirth, but bringing a novel to full-term is much more difficult than popping out a brat.

@BronxZoosCobra Trick or treat, I have no feet, give me something good to slowly digest over several days. #happyhalloween

@LGwenn RT @dianagill Shoes that are hiking/work boots in the front and high heels in the back are footwear's mullets.

@badbanana A hat and cape used to mean you were well off. Now it means you're in a marching band.

@micheleboyd Ah, Halloween. The day when the cosplayers look at the rest of the world and say, "Aww. How cute."

@sirra_girl There are two types of writers. Some write for money, so they publish. Anything. The others write to pursue their dreams of being published.

@KellyMeding RT @LawrencePearce Good quote RT @jasonpinter: "Nobody but a reader ever became a writer." --Richard Peck #TweensRead

@WritersDigest "Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see." -Arthur Schopenhauer

*Note: Give or take a TON of human error, all tweets are mostly as they appear in my feed to include RT credits (when able), trends, misspells, poor punctuation, lies, misrepresentations, raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, and cows jumping over the moon.