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Monday, January 11, 2010

My Mother's Earliest Memories

I come from several generations of farmers on both sides of my family. My father was born in 1920; my mother in 1923. Both of my parents were raised in wood-plank houses. The wind and dust from the sage-broom-swept yards blew through cracks in the wall. The children would lie on the floor to watch the antics of the chickens pecking under the house or the rooting of the occasional pig.

My maternal grandmother gave birth to five girls before producing a son. My mother was the fifth girl (the fourth to survive babyhood). I am sure her parents and other members of her family were thrilled with the birth of a son after so many girls. My mother was so jealous that she tried to attack her baby brother with a pair of scissors (why the two-year-old had a pair of sharp scissors is unexplained), managing to cut his leg.

Actually, this is not her memory. Her family harped on it enough that it became seared in her brain. She tottered in her father footsteps, so much so that one day when he drew water from the well, she was hit in the head when he released the crank (is it called crank??). Another head injury occurred when her older sister swung a baseball bat and my mom was behind her.

Everyone Writes

No big revelation that everyone writes. It's becoming more and more prevalent in our society with Facebook, Twittering and texting. Just as people once judged us by our spoken words, now they are judging us by our written words. Unfair, we may protest. But we all do it. Suppose you went to a doctor and he said: You got this here disease. We gonna put you on some medicine. It ain't gonna cure you but it'll help you some. Let me know if that there pharmacy got it cause I gone down there yesterday and they didn't have none." Brilliant doctor?? So if we write something such as: "Hi, their. Your looking good. I wished I looked that good to," how are we being judged? Of course, it's not just grammar that people use to judge us. They also judge by our tone. We may think we are teasing someone. The person may not see it that way. However, even if that person knows you are teasing, others reading what you've written may think you are being contentious. We all make mistakes and we need to cut others slack. Love always gives people the benefit of the doubt. And, as I said in an earlier post, very few, if any, fully know all the rules and exceptions in our English language. But we should all strive to be our best, especially as Christians. A comedian stated he wasn't even unilingual, much less bilingual. Perhaps we too are not fully unilingual. I for one want to be and hope others will help me along the way. So please let me know if I make mistakes, grammatically or with my tone. Someone recently corrected me on this: I lived through the 70's. Incorrect, I was told. It's suppose to be: I lived through the 70s. Or, if you're writing for publication: I lived through the seventies. That sentence explains a lot about me. :)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

This Is My Brain Continued

Hey, I know a lot of you may think that being forgetful, having senior moments, etc. is a normal part of aging. I agree. However, I think my problems were much more severe. I'll give you one example: When I still taught, I needed to change deductions that were being made to my check. I looked up the number to the school system. I looked up the city school system instead of the county school system for which I worked. Totally different names, different towns where each is located. The receptionist answered the phone, giving the school system's name. My brain did not register that this was not the school system for which I worked. When I was put through to the accounting department, the lady asked, "Are you sure you work for us?" Total humiliation. Do you suppose the people in the office were ROFL? :) What was wrong with my brain? I have a few theories. My father was in the army and we (my brothers and I) were exposed to several things. For example, a truck would come by spraying for mosquitoes and we would run after it in its fog. Another possibility, I was a science teacher and was exposed to a lot of chemicals that perhaps affected me. Thirdly, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in my early twenties. I was put on strong medications and maybe they led to my brain problems. It could have been a combination of the three. Who knows?? I had many other health problems but my nonfunctioning brain was by far my most difficult challenge. God has seen fit to return to me a portion of my brain. (How much is debatable.) With this second chance I hope to glorify Him to the best of my ability.

Friday, January 8, 2010

This Is My Brain

I was having trouble coming up with a title. I kept thinking of that old commercial with the egg--this is your brain; this is your brain on drugs. I'm rambling again--that's not what I intended to write. Sometimes I wonder if I'm channeling spirits. (joking, people)

I believe that many in their quest to be published read too much about how to write. Novelists need to be reading books they love and learning from them. It seems to me that it's getting harder and harder to find an original voice.

In many ways I think I was a better writer thirty years ago. But then I started having health problems that led to problems with my thinking abilities--I was going to say deterioration of my brain. Brain deterioration sounds worse to me than it actually was. Pretty bad, though. I worried that I had Alzheimer's. I was twenty-nine when I began to notice the problems. I started misspelling words that I usually never misspelled. I used incorrect words when I was talking and would lose my train of thought. It reached the point that I was afraid to talk to people--I stumbled over words so much and couldn't form a coherent sentence.

Gradually my brain seems to be returning to normal. Whatever normal is. By that I mean that I can string a few words together now without people ROFL. Well, maybe they are behind my back. (Some people still may not know that ROFL means "rolling on the floor laughing." I won't mention any names here.)

Hopefully my brain is functioning well enough for these words to make sense. Praise God. Perhaps by going through the deep fog I can now see even clearer. "Gone are the dark clouds!"

Writing Is Easy

English is like the Blob. Anyone see that movie? Steve McQueen is my favorite actor! (But I digress.) The Blob grows larger and larger, devouring all in its path. Trying to write the "right" way can devour you or at least leave you paralyzed with fear. If we as Christians are allowing the Blob to keep us from writing or teaching others, we need to figure out how to escape its clutches. Hold on. The Blob doesn't have clutches. . . . to escape its blobiness??? Writing is so easy. Doing it correctly is the hard part. I have been reading about writing for many, many years, and I'm still learning. I learned something new today. I was told to try to avoid "as." I think I understand why this is true. Many times it is used incorrectly. For example: As he ran to his house, he burst through the door screaming. This construction implies that he's running and bursting through the door at the same time. Impossible. But I would think that this would be okay: As he ran to his house, he got a catch in his side. Wouldn't it?? Some say not to use it like this: As the eagle soars, so does my heart. I suppose they would think this is better: The eagle soars like my heart. Yuck! That would really ruin one of my favorite hymns (also in Psalms): As the deer panteth for the water, so my soul longeth after thee. How could it be phrased more beautifully??? By the way, our tax system is like English grammar which is like the Blob. Unwieldy, not fully understandable and detested by many. The tax system is actually more Blob-like since it does actually devour people. Can anyone tell I'm dreading doing my taxes?