Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Things I'd Like Millennials to Know About the 80s

I can remember looking through my sister's yearbook and laughing. My sister graduated in 1977. This was the 80s, and I was totally mortified by the long, straight, hippie hair everyone had.

"Just wait," she said. "Some time folks are going to look back at your 80s styles and laugh."

"Never gonna happen," I said.

After all, how could you NOT love the 80s? Neon. Hair teased to heaven. Parachute pants. These things would be trendy forever, right?

Okay, I stand corrected.

Each year, college professors are given a list that lets them know about the world of incoming freshman. The point is that not all of the students are going to get cultural references. After all, this is a generation that has ALWAYS had computers, and never remembers a time when Bill Gates was not the richest man in America.

Stirrup pants aside, honestly though, there are some things I'd like Millennials (such as my niece) to know about the 80s:

1. First and foremost ---and I think this is pretty darn cool-- I remember when things were transitioning to using the computers as a regular part of a classroom. 

No, incoming college freshmen weren't required to have computers, but there was always a computer lab in each dorm. I remember in 7th grade, so fascinated by the first Apple IIe . Of course, in 7th grade, all I did was this program that moved a mouse around a maze to get cheese, seeing this transition was cool.

So, 80s folks are not amazed by the new technology---we are amazed that the new technology doesn't doesn't $8,000 grand a pop. 

2. We were absolutely convinced that, at some point, the Russians were going to nuke us all to Kingdom Come. Just watch Fox's "The Americans" if you don't believe me. 

One of the things that blows me away is that my niece (born 1996) HAS NO CONCEPT OF THE COLD WAR. It was starting to warm up a bit in the 80s.

3. Yes, esp. looking back at the movies of that decade, we had some cringe-worthy lack of political correctness. I'm not proud of it. I'm just saying.

4. We all remember where we were during the Challenger disaster.

5. Teachers put the fear of God into us that by 1990 the U.S. was HONEST TO GOD going to be on the METRIC system. 

6. What Lady Gaga is doing now, Madonna did back then. And with male dancers. In cone bras.

7. Our music was better. Sorry. It just was. 

 8. I clearly remember seeing my first cell phone.

 A friend's dad had one for business and we were carpooling and he let me use it to call Mom. It cost like a gazillion dollars a minute. I thought I was so cool.

9. Republicans and Democrats still threw bricks at each other, but it was almost tame compared to the   level of things now.

 There was a lot of voter apathy in the 80s (I remember doing a speech about it for a class assignment.) Now it seems folks are gearing up to vote a whole year before the election. People were passionate about politics but they weren't bonkers over it.

10. Millennials will never know the sheer joy of wearing parachute pants. 

 Sorry. I pity you.

11. Yes, we really did wear neon and parachute pants and HUGE glasses and "jams"  and yes, we really did think it looked great.

 And while I confess that pictures of me from way back when make me think "what was I thinking?" I always get a bit sentimental when I watch "Halt and Catch Fire" on AMC.

12. Our high school had a special session where teachers taught us about AIDS and how it was spread.

 I'm not sure if this was a state thing or CDC or health department thing. The "press" over AIDS was like the coverage of breast cancer now. It was a big scare and teachers were trying to eliminate a lot of confusion over how it was spread. 

13. We loved computers, but movies like "Wargames" and "Tron" gave us a healthy dose of skepticism. 

If the Terminator worldview has taught us anything, we know that all machines eventually become self-aware and enslave us all.

Hey, hear us now and believe us later.

14. The first floppy disks for Mac computers sometimes got stuck in the drive, and you had to uncurl a paperclip and stick it in this hole to trigger a spring to pop it out. 

I saved my college roommate's English essay by using this method.

15. The suckiest printer of 2015 is gold compared to the best dot matrix printer of the 80s.  

We used to link different sheets together to make banners. 

16. Millennials: You don't remember the joy of reading the new "Calvin and Hobbs" cartoons.

 I had college friends who got a newspaper only to read that comic.

17: Airport security was, of course, nothing like it is today.

 I think that was the last time I actually enjoyed flying.

18:  Atari video games required a good bit of viewer imagination to make them work. And we were fine with that. 

19: I remember watching Michael Jackson (when he was black) debuting the moonwalk at the American music awards.

 Mom rarely let me stay up so late when I had school the next day, but she had a feeling this would be like my generation's Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show.  Of course, now everyone has seen the moonwalk, but when you saw it, for the first time on TV, it looked like this dude was defying the laws of physics. I remember thinking "how is that happening?" Of course, I shortly got out my penny loafers and learned how to do it myself.

20. I think this is one thing that really makes me pause: not only will my Millennial niece not understand the Cold War, she will NEVER remember a time of EAST and WEST Germany.

  I was in college (in the 90s) when the wall came down. I was blown away. It was something I never thought would happen.

In closing, I'd like to leave this AWESOME poster by Stephen Wildish. It's an 80s movies alphabet.

See how many you can name and check out the answers and his awesome cool stuff here http://www.stephenwildish.co.uk/images/Film_Alphabet_Answers.pdf

So, what do YOU want Millennials to know about the 80s? Or better yet, what do you want  Gen Xers to know about YOU?

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Is mental health the only remaining stigma? My mental health heroes (and a free book!)

May is coming to a close, but before it does, I wanted to share some information for Mental Health Month. May is Mental Health Month, designed to promote education and awareness of  mental health issues. Recently, John Nash, the schizophrenic mathematics genius featured in the movie, "A Beautiful Mind," was killed in a car accident, along with his wife, Alicia.

Mental Health is an issue near to my heart. My first novel, "Saint Jude," dealt with a teenager with bipolar disorder, and I have had dear friends struggle with this disorder. I have been amazed and dismayed that, at a time when it seems like nothing is taboo, that mental health still seems to be one of the few, remaining conditions for which it is "acceptable" to stigmatize. Angelina Jolie takes a preventative mastectomy, and she is on the cover of Time. Catherine Zeta-Jones takes a preventative hospital stay to deal with her bipolar disorder, and the response is something more like what you would see in a gossip tabloid.  (Before someone makes a statement that breast cancer is fatal and bipolar disorder is not, please remember that suicide is one of the leading causes of death among young adults and teens. I mean no disrespect toward either woman.)

I wanted to share some of my mental health heroes. Some folks who inspire me, and some pieces of information. Read down to the end of the article where you can get a FREE coupon for my novel, "Saint Jude."

In no particular order:

1-- Kay Redfield Jamison
Not only is Dr. Jamison one of the leading experts on manic-depressive illness, but she also has the disorder. Her book "An Unquiet Mind" is a brilliant perspective as a clinician and a  patient.  Here's a clip from a UVA interview...

2-Vincent Van Gogh
While his artistic temperament seems to be synonymous with the troubled artist stereotype, the bottom line is that he was a troubled, talented man during a time when there were few, if any resources available to help him.

I'm a huge sci-fi (and Dr. Who fan) . One of my all time favorite Dr. Who episodes was "Vincent and the Doctor," where he goes back in time and meets Van Gogh . It does a good job of showing the struggle with mental illness. Even if you're not a sci-fi fan, you'd love this episode. It's all over Netflix and several areas for free viewing I believe. Here's the full episode on You Tube.

3-- George Handel
Handel wrote one of my all-time favorite pieces of music, the "Messiah." (which , btw, is actually supposed to be performed at Easter instead of Christmas, which is when many places present it. ) Handel wrote this is a little over two weeks in what was believed by many to be a manic episode

Here is one of my favorite pieces from it - "And He Shall Purify"

4-- Nellie Bly
While Bly did not have a mental disorder (at least, not one that I am aware of), she made a big difference in how the mentally ill were treated. As a reporter in the 1800s, she went undercover in a mental institution to expose the conditions there. It was a breakthrough for investigative journalism. It shed light on many atrocities I will not go into detail here.

5-- Winston Churchill
"Had he been a stable and equable man, he could never have inspired the nation. In 1940, when all the odds were against Britain, a leader of sober judgment might well have concluded that we were finished," wrote Anthony Storr about Churchill's bipolar disorder in Churchill's Black Dog, Kafka's Mice, and Other Phenomena of the Human Mind.

This is by no means, an exhaustive list. The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill has a list of famous people who had mental illnesses.

If you or someone you know is battling mental illness, there is help. Speak to your doctor and find a mental health counselor.

If you feel you are in the middle of a mental health medical emergency, you should call 9-1-1. You can always call the National Suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255. 

And now for the free book.
If you would like to get a copy of my novel "Saint Jude" (which was rated one f the "best 100" books books for teen readers in a guide by librarian Nancy Keane) you can order it on Smashwords. Enter the following code for the coupon before June 6, and when you check out, the book should register as free.

Here is the page for the book: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/58667
And the code is: TR27J

Monday, May 18, 2015

Ice-T--- Sweet or not?

Without doubt, this is, quite possibly, the coolest sign I have seen in a restaurant. Period.
Props to Flaming Amy's Burrito Barn of Wilmington, NC.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Is your website mobile responsive?

I confess, as a writer I never gave this much thought until I started doing some research for this blog post. Don't know what a mobile responsive website is? Well, it's a website that is designed with mobile devices in mind, so the website looks equally appealing on your laptop and your cell phone.

Not sure if your site is mobile responsive? Google has a handy tool where you can test your site. Just click here.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

On meeting David Tennant

I confess, the last time I had my heart flutter was probably at some point during the Clinton Administration. But I was totally thrilled and, yes, a bit fan girl giddy, at the prospect of meeting David when he came to Wizard Con in Raleigh this year.  

Meet is probably a stretch.  I was one of the tons of people who lined up for an autograph, I was one of the few who got to ask him a question. 

" He smells so NICE" said the girl in front of me, who was waiting to  ask a question.  
"He really does," said someone else.
"So, is it a cologne or something?" I asked.
"No... he just smells so nice."

Well, because of my chronic allergies, I cannot attest to the scent of Mr. Tennant. However, I can say he is an incredibly gracious guy. I confess, it hasn't been since high school that I felt my heart race like this, totally teeming out over someone. 

Below is a link to the session where I asked him a question.  I am the girl with the radio voice at 13:00. I ask him about his role in the BBC TV movie Recovery, which was brilliant..


That is me in the blue, trying to suppress a fangirl squeal....
I know my interaction with him was probably a whole 30 seconds, but from what little I saw, he seemed like such a classy guy.  

Thank you Mr. Tennant.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Real-time blogging from Raleigh's Wizard World Comic Con - And top five David Tennant roles..number one may surprise you....

Hi all,
I am right now at a Holiday Inn in Raleigh,  gearing up to go to  the Wizard World Comic Con.  No, /i wasn't there yesterday, because I had to drive in from the coast, but I am gearing up today and will post periodically (with a hopefully great internet connection) and upload photos from the evening. 

I am thrilled because I will get  to meet David Tennant, one of the most popular Doctors to take on the lead role in Doctor Who. But aside from being a science fiction celebrity, Mr.Tennant has some serious acting chops.  

Following are my favorite David Tennant roles--hint, Dr. Who is only #3!

5. Peter Vincent in "Fright Night" -- for totally reinventing the character and doing it with humor and panache.  Following is the link (I hope it works)

4. Alex in "Broadchurch"-- while theAmerican version of this didn't fair so well, the BBC version is absolutely wonderful. Tennant brings such depth to the  character. 

3. The Doctor in "Doctor Who."
How you could not love him?  Not only did he take the role at a pivotal point in the series, but he broadened its audience, and I think was responsible for paving the way for a lot of new American fans....
here is a tribute post..   https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=cSXc9qkESkM

2. Hamlet
Just playing one of the most iconic characters in all of literature. No pressure there...

1. Recovery
Seeing Tennant as a man recovering from someone with a traumatic brain injury was so powerful it was almost
physically painful to watch...

More anon...

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Rise of Telemedicine

The use of telemedicine has increased exponentially. More than half of U.S. hospitals use some form of telemedicine. In addition, there are 200 telemedicine networks in the U.S., with 3,500 service sites....

...read more on my guest blog post for Proclaim Interactive.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Front Street Books... How cool is this?

Perhaps the only thing cooler was that a random stranger gave me a quarter so I could get one..  Did I mention I love Wilmington, NC !

Monday, March 2, 2015

Cool winter trees

Wilmington had a rare blast of cold weather ( this is Wilmington, NC, not Wilmington, Delaware. I am sure Delaware is used to much colder weather. )

Anyway, I was in the Staples parking lot and saw these totally cool icy trees... And with the lights and black pavement, it made an eerie and cool picture. I think this may be the setting for a fantasy world in my next book....

Monday, February 16, 2015

Zen and the Art of Packing Up Every Piece of Crap You Own: Part Three- The Seven Deadly Sins of Stuff

I guess I finally reached that critical mass.

In the mad fury to get everything together, my packing method soon resorted to "dump and sort later." I kind of think that's the way Congress operates: everything starts out with good intentions, we really will get a lot done this year... then near the end---- just dump everything and say you'll deal with it later.

I guess I finally reached the point where I had just had it with boxes. Some of the boxes I had barely gone through, but I just threw them away. I've got far too much stuff.

Here is what I see as the Seven Deadly Sins of Stuff---and hopefully I'll be set free from them this year.

 These are things moving has taught me that I need to let go of... both physically and metaphorically

1 -- Greed: Do I really NEED all that stuff. And why, oh why did I go to a consignment shop the other day looking for MORE stuff? Seriously.

2-- Sloth: Time to finally get cracking and get this stuff organized. Oh hey, what's happening on Facebook...

3-- Pride: Do we have stuff so that other people will see our stuff? I confess, I had a moment of "do I really want people to see this old couch? I need a new one" instead of--- this is the best couch ever. As long as it stays reasonably clean, don't ditch it!

4--Envy: I have a friend whose house is always in perfect order. Perfect. I have no idea how she does it. I want people to see me as this organized person. But to be honest, I'm kind of a mess.

5--Wrath: I usually get kind of pissed off at myself for "how did you let the place get to be this cluttered?" And then sometimes I throw things. Not usually. But sometimes. Esp. when the internet is out.

6--Gluttony: I guess any type of over indulgence can be seen as gluttony. I'm tired of the stuff. I'm tired of apartments looking like an all you can eat buffet of stuff.

7-- Lust: Okay, I can't make this one work. I have a picture of Johnny Depp on my desk. Can that count for something?

Anyone else had experience with these seven deadly sins of stuff? I never realized how much they were around me until I tried to move everything.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Over 40 and Single on Valentine's Day....No problem

I always feel I have to write some kind of post about my singleness on the day reserved for lovers. Or I feel the need to launch I to a tirade about men and what ( fill in your choice of insult here) they are. or maybe just make snarky comments about the greeting card industry, the floral industry , and how it is all a big conspiracy to get us to spend money.

But I won't. 

See, despite the fact that I haven't had a decent date since the Clinton administration, I still like valentines day. I am not sure when this took hold.  Decided instead of thinking of all the disastrous. Valentines days I had ( one boyfriend's "present " to me was a message on my answering machine of him imitating ALF and wishing me a happy Valentines day. I was not impressed.)

Instead Im thinking of those days when you bought the 36 pack of car to give to everyone in the class, and everyone got one---- even the kid who smelled funny and the guy who had boogers. that one day, we were reminded that we were Valentines before it got to be such a loaded word,  There was fun and, at the time I grew up, an innocence about it,

I like to think of Valentines day like that,  The point is to show as many people as possible that they are special. doesn't matter if they are friends or strangers.

so, this Valentines day, I will happily meet up with my writing group, spend some to eat a coffee shops working on my final book in a you g adult series... And I will return home to clean house for my parents upcoming visit. 

that is a good Valentines Day. why? Because I am loved, I have a home and a job.  I have a family and friends. I have a Messiah.  

love---- not the steamy, kind--- is around us everywhere, in simple things and unexpected places. I am going to look for it on Saturday. I will report what I find.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Moving Tips No One Ever Tells You About: Zen and the Art of Packing Up Every Piece of Crap You Own-- Part Two

"Now, pay close attention," My dad said, as if about to impart some long-awaited secret. "Be sure to write on the outside of the box what you put inside."

Um.. well, of course, I thought. Didn't he have any confidence in me? That should be obvious. And it is. But I've discovered something:

No matter how clearly you label the box, what is on the outside is no where near what is on the inside.

Packing up all the crap I own made me realize some tips that movers never tell you---or at least, tips I had never considered before.

1. Do you really need all that crap?

I've become convinced that I have much more than any single person should have. It's an embarrassment of riches, a wonderful blessing that I am both thankful for and mortified by when there are so many people in the world who have so little. Each time I move, I debate just getting rid of everything, and starting anew. I could sleep on an air mattress while I save money adding piece by piece to my home. And I almost do it.

Then I remember the sentimental pieces I have: my grandmother's rocking chair, the first bedroom suite my parents bought, the tin knight in armor a friend gave me for my 30th birthday... and I start packing again.

Keep what you want, but be sure you keep what you love. Clutter hinders creativity.

2. Whatever you put on the outside of the box will never be what's inside the box.

Because at the end you play, "hey, I have some space in this box, let's throw in hangers, washcloths, cat toys, bedroom slippers, knickknacks and basically anything that can fit in this narrow space. Then I open it up and it's like a buffet of madness.

3. Don't be afraid to ask for help

I like to fancy myself an independent person. Asking for help was a big deal to me, and I'm thankful for R who helped me haul some things away and E and C who gave me boxes, and some extra help.  C is even keeping one of my sentimental items that almost got lost in the shuffle.  But I should have asked for more help, because----

4. You will be (fill in the blank) sick, lost, on deadline, with sick kids, out of town, car broken, etc. the days leading up to or the day of the move.

I tend to be a pack rat, and I'm thankful that I had at least started to get rid of some clutter, but the week before I had bronchitis and a sinus infection (though thankfully escaped the flu this year)--and of course, that has a domino effect because I couldn't get work stuff done because I was sick, yada, yada, yada.

Just plan for Murphy's law.

5. Be afraid to ask for help.

This may seem to contradict what is before, but hear me out. Asking someone to help you move is not like asking them for a ride to the airport. In fact, other than asking a friend for a body organ or carrying a baby for someone, there's very little that can be more miserable than moving.

My point is--- your friends aren't moving professionals, and you shouldn't expect them to be. Likewise, be aware that, if they fall and get hurt, they won't get workman's comp.

6. Be aware of what places will and will not move.
My movers wouldn't move anything flammable. No problem, I thought.
But then I realized, that includes hairspray. Nailpolish remover.

They wouldn't move any toxic substances. No problem I thought.
Then I realized, that includes household cleaners. (and in some cases, my cook books)

So what may not be obvious to you at first should be evaluated.  (Imho, if you can at all afford it, hire someone to move you. It's like ripping off a Band-aid. Do it quickly.)

7. Your new home will be chaos for a while. Just accept it.

Everything will not be organized. Don't expect it to be. Take it one day at a time.

8. Put all your boxes in one room.

If you have a guest room, or office, or room that you will not be using on a daily basis, put as many boxes as possible in there. That way, you can gradually remove one box at a time while you live your life, and you're only walking through boxes in one room of the house.

9. Your cat will view this as both the ninth circle of hell and the best playground ever.
At the same time.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Zen and the Art of Packing Every Piece of Crap You Own ( part one)

Waiting sucks.
As much as I tell myself it is a spiritual exercise-- and I honestly believe that it is-- that doesn't make it any easier. 
I have returned to this blog after a long hiatus.  I was working through some personal issues and realized, that the more time I spent on this blog, the less time I spent on my novel writing,
I was waiting; my life was stuck in second gear. I tried to make changes, but circumstances never lined up. But now, thank God, things are moving now, and I am convinced it had unfolded in God's timing.

In short, I am in a new city.

At 43.

Starting over.

And I couldn't be happier.

 I am now in beautiful Wilmington, NC, on the coast. Being from the mountains, I love the novelty of being able to go to the beach every weekend.

Packing up all my things has made me realize how I need to take stock--what to take and what to leave behind. Not just stuff, but thoughts, ideas, misconceptions. I need to embrace truth and become introspective, letting the things a out myself that I don't like of that are unhealthy peel away and dissolve behind me.

I have learned that moving and packing is a metaphor for pretty much anything you want it to be a metaphor for... 

I started my packing organized, I was not going to carry any unnecessary thing with me, I was going to pack like a squirrel on Adderall,  I was going to have a completely clean slate. 

Then I got bronchitis, And a sinus infection.

That  organization soon turned into "dump everything into a box and go." After the movers had taken the big stuff, I had to stay behind for another week because I had missed too much of my work while I was sick, and the leisurely two-week notice I was working out ended up being one week of sick leave.

The movers took my furniture down almost a week before I left, so I was in my apartment with only the bare necessities.  I slept on the floor on a yoga mat. Although my back ached, it reminded me of a Maya Angelou quote I have hanging in my apartment: " We need much less than we think we need."

 I found out how much less when I tried to cram everything remaining I into my small Toyota and join the rest of my belongings on the coast. There was only enough room for me to safely see out the windows and for me to sit down.  I felt like I was strapped into Apollo 11, surrounded by things that promised adventure, but having very little legroom, 
Time to blast off.
Time to rediscover myself.
Time to find a new shore and a new world.
Time for a new adventure..