Tag Archives: equality

It’s a Big Wide World, The Conclusion

Taken from the steps of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington DC.

Taken from the steps of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington DC.

On Sunday the 21st, I spent the afternoon at the National Mall.  I had been once before, five years ago, my first time in DC.  That was right before the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial was dedicated, and the Reflecting Pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial was being renovated.  So for this trip I had some goals.  I also wanted to see the Jefferson and Korean War Memorials, a lot on tap for a few hours in the capitol.

I want to preface this post by noting that I am not a political sort, nor am I especially keen on historical markers.  But for some inexplicable reason, I find this end of the Mall so moving.  Not sure if I’ll get to the other end, maybe one day.  My hosts and I discussed that if I return next summer, Arlington Cemetery would be our destination, perhaps the Holocaust Museum too.  But for this day, we began at the Jefferson Memorial, and would wind our way toward Lincoln.

So, Thomas Jefferson….  He’s lost some luster over the years, but one can’t deny his accomplishments.  This memorial is less than one hundred years old, which surprised all within my party, although it feels as old as the Washington Monument.  I was struck by the views of course, the largess of Jefferson’s statue, but what hit me hardest was one of the quotes along the wall.

I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions.  But laws and constitutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind.

Not sure how many folks fully grasp the power behind that statement.  Of course, taking photos at the Mall means capturing tourists, and we all had our reasons for being there.  I do hope some took a moment to read Jefferson’s words, reflecting upon that and other vital truths.

One of the many quotes in the FDR Memorial.

One of the many quotes in the FDR Memorial.

Words were everywhere we went, next to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial.  This is a rambling memorial, covering FDR’s four terms in office.  I loved the waterfalls, appreciated Eleanor’s inclusion, snapping shots of most of FDR’s quotes.  I don’t know if today’s youth can properly grasp the Depression’s effect worldwide, nor the magnitude of WWII.  But there is plenty of food for thought, if one is willing to seek it.

As we approached the MLK Memorial, I photographed quotations which lead up to the monument.  Again, time is necessary to read over King’s messages; it’s one thing to know who these figures were, another to understand their impact upon society.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.

Intriguing to contrast King with Jefferson, both seeking freedom, yet one was a slaveholder.  Changes in laws and constitutions must be enacted to ensure our continued advancement as worthwhile human beings.

In reaching the Korean War Memorial, my thoughts were twofold; admiring the sculptures, also taking mental notes; the Korean War figures into my WIP, one of the reasons I wanted to see it.  The sculptures are magnificent, bringing home the corporeal message of battle; they were fashioned by Frank Gaylord, himself a veteran of WWII.  I imagined characters from The Hawk standing amid the juniper bushes, then pondered the number of US dead from that conflict, over 54,000 people lost.  (As an aside, that was over the course of just three years.  A similar number of lives were lost in Vietnam over the span of two decades.)

After that, my friends and I had a bite to eat at the nearby refreshment stand.  I still wanted to trek over to the Lincoln Memorial for pictures of the renovated Reflecting Pool.  We split into two groups, one which would fetch the car, while my group would wait near the Korean War Memorial, preferably on a bench under a lovely grove of trees.  And that was what happened, slightly interrupted by an impromptu rain shower.  Visiting the National Mall stirs many considerations, which are still with me days later.  I pleaded my West Coast upbringing more than once, was that why these memorials touch me so deeply?  Is it the history behind those honored, their convictions and sacrifices?

Maybe it’s a mix of all those notions alongside the appreciation for merely seeing these monuments.  Usually I spend my time in my little corner, but how fantastic to step into another, and within those acres find myself transported many years in the past as well as to a foreign land.  As a writer, I want to soak up myriad experiences so my characters ring as true as possible.  But as a human being, lifelong learning is a must, for as Jefferson also said: We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.

IMG_20160821_125502

I look forward one day to accompanying my grandchildren to these monuments, sharing with them my gratitude for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  And if we’re caught together in a thunderstorm, all the better.  We’ll chat about the day Grandma first saw Jefferson and Martin Luther King together, and just what that truly means.

Not long after I took this, the heavens opened….

Courage and determination

A few days ago I was emailing with my NaNo writing buddy Laura, and in the course of our notes, she offered me her resolution for 2013.

To make art that is important to me and to do so with more courage and determination than ever before because I am in charge of my own art.

I was deeply struck in two ways; one was the combination of courage and determination, especially since last summer my mantra has been to not work so hard.  But work isn’t just about having one’s nose to the monitor, fingers on the keyboard.  Maybe it takes just as much courage and determination not to work constantly as it does to get things accomplished.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, you know.

The other point was that Laura, like myself, is in charge of her art.  Art covers a gamut of gifts; writing, music, sculpting, painting, underwater basket-weaving if one is so inclined.  I read her resolution, then asked if I could employ it within a post.  Lovely Laura said that was fine; we met last November via NaNoWriMo, a grand place to make new friends.  Also to tackle dreams, refine goals, stretch one’s wings.  The 50K or bust manifesto translates to other artistic endeavors; sometimes a swift but well-meaning kick in the backside is required to get the creative juices flowing.  And to do it in a manner that best expresses the heart of the artist.

I have plenty of get-up-and-go when it comes to writing.  In fact, while it’s been a pleasure to not work so hard in 2013, my brain is never still; plots continue to assault my gray matter as if I have nothing better to do than conjure drama all day long.  (My microwave’s interior would attest that there are other considerations within my sphere.)  But one never knows how, where, and when a plot will strike.  Or just how much bravery might be required to do that story justice.

I tend to write about relationships, familial and platonic, romantic yet thorny.  Exploring the in’s and out’s of various human pairings brings me closer to understanding why we fall in love with who we do, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, gender.  Right now I’m considering two ideas, one platonic, the other definitely a love story, but fraught with complications.

There’s no drama if there are no complications.

Both of these novels will call for some courage, especially the latter.  Also the chutzpah for me to let them unwind as they will; some of my novels occur so suddenly, I barely have a chance to breathe.  Others simmer for ages, letting me gather the necessary guts to write them.  Penny Angel is a great example; Penny’s deaf, what do I know about being hearing-impaired?  But I had to write her story, and after ages of dithering, I finally got it done, during November, which is quite apropos.  Writing, as with other imaginative callings, requires a great deal of determination, why NaNo is such a blessing.  But I write at other times of the year, about subjects that aren’t simple.  This spring I’m tentatively planning on finishing a series that concentrates on a polyamorous trio and their offspring; A Normal Life Book 3 will wrap up the Sabra Burkhart-Knight, Ty Burkhart, Steve Knight sturm und drang, with plenty of racial overtones for good measure.  I’d like to finish Kelly Tremane, which explores domestic violence and the sacrifice of one’s heart.  But these aren’t the novels that have been poking at me recently, I don’t even have titles for those ideas.  Just the sense of yarns that need to be spun, no matter how complex the tales.

But one thing I don’t have to ponder is if I can write them; of course I can!  It’s my art, my manner of expressing what I consider important.  Choosing to publish independently unleashed a thrilling freedom; genres went out the window, word counts were darned!  What mattered was the story, and if I was ballsy enough to tell it.  My family rolls their eyes at my synopses; someone’s dying, oh my goodness, they drop like flies.  But love runs thickly through my novels, love for family, for partners.  I try to keep an open mind, because love is too precious to be harnessed, it can’t be cowed.  It takes great courage and determination to make a stand; in some places on this planet, it means risking one’s own life.  I have such liberty to write what I like, publish what I will.  In 2013, I want to continue to challenge myself, be courageous.  With the overwhelming glut of violence that streams from mass media, I’m determined to let more than a little love shine through.  Thanks to Laura for this kick-in-the-pants; I also want to note that wordsurfer has another take on courage, maybe it’s just a theme for 2013 across the board.  I read that entry last night, just a coincidence that she was mining a similar vein.  But it further impressed upon me the need to up the ante.  2013 isn’t a make or break year in regard to how many novels I write or publish.  More is the love each conveys.

Amazon might not be cordial with Smashwords but…

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie have put their money where their hearts are, donating two and a half million dollars to defend the gay marriage law in Washington State.  I don’t distribute my ebooks through Amazon for two reasons; they don’t have a deal with Smashwords, and they aren’t keen on free ebooks.  Even if I charged for my novels, I just don’t have the time to format them for Kindle, when Smash already does that.  One of these days Amazon might become copacetic with Smashwords, but that’s getting away from what I wanted to note today.

When I read about this on the BBC, I was actually on a hunt about the Olympic Opening Ceremonies.  Sort of nice being eight hours behind, catching up as I drink tea, come to consciousness.  But this article was pretty much front and center, and while I sniff at Amazon’s attempts to take over the world, I am so pleased that when it came down to brass tacks, Bezos did more than Bill Gates or Steve Ballmer, way more.  Maybe it was an email written to him by a former employee from the early days.  Maybe this just struck some chord.  It does with me, a couple of my books noting this issue.  Not sure why I thought about it this morning, was just waiting for the kettle to chime, thinking how lucky I am to do what I love, and be married to whom I adore.  Sometimes those things get taken for granted, but they really are a priceless treasure.