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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Critical Thinking

Sorry I'm late. Blame the refrigerator.

So, we got a new fridge yesterday. I was completely ambivalent about the whole thing. Our old one was slowly falling apart, and the water line froze if it got below 10 outside, but otherwise it worked fine. The thing was, it was a side-by-side. Next to a wall. So freezer access was ridiculous, and it wouldn't hold a full-sized pizza. (I'm not saying we laid down that kind of money just so we could have full-sized pizza. But it was a consideration.) Maj Tom finally got tired of my whining and found a slightly banged-up, new, stainless steel, bottom-freezer at a significant discount. I was still ambivalent. The voice in my head kept telling me it was a foolish expense and think about the kids with no clean water in Africa.

When the guy came to take away the old one, he asked how it was broken. I admitted it wasn't. Then I felt even worse. Shouldn't I have put it on Craig's List or something? Who discards a perfectly good fridge? How irresponsible was I?

These voices come out of nowhere. I have a friend who was plagued by her ex-husband's voice in her head for several months after her divorce. Everything she did, every decision she made, was accompanied by a corresponding response from the Idiot Boy in her mind. Down to what side of her new desk she put her mouse on.

When I was training for a marathon, a marathon addict gave me one piece of advice: don't run with whiners. If you happen by someone and they have a bad attitude (I'm so sore! This is so long!), either pass them or drop back. Road races--and life--are hard enough without carrying someone else's drama and expectations.

So, the guy who was taking away my fridge was Hispanic (not uncommon at all in Colorado) and spoke very quickly with a heavy enough accent I couldn't understand him well (too much BBC on my part). He rattled away for a good two minutes, me hardly understanding a word, until he pointed to the patch on his shirt: Ronald McDonald House. "We'll see if we can find a place for it."

Yes! I am not an irresponsible blight on humanity! I am donating to the Ronald McDonald House! Go me!

Of course, there was still the guilt over buying the fridge in the first place. Which was taken over by a different guilt as I realized that I wasn't selfish; I was ungrateful. Here Maj Tom is trying to do this great thing for me, and all I can think about is guilt.

Sometimes the whiner you need to step away from is yourself.

So what does this have to do with writing? Any number of things. A fitness expert on the radio mentioned that workout strategies don't work if you focus on the goal. They work if you focus on the process. If you're thankful that you can run (or walk, or bike, or play Wii bowling), you'll be more likely to stick it out. Similarly, I need to focus more on being thankful I can sit down occasionally and crank out a thousand words instead of beating myself up that I'm not as far along in my novel as I should be.

In other news...

Thanks for your patience with The Friday Challenge. Mrs ~brb is still going through chemo--and everything that that entails! (It's a Kipling thing.) As far as I know, Audrey is recovered from her uber-scary blood thing, but maybe Henry will tell us more. Maj Tom is trying to out-process, but his job keeps getting in the way. He retires in less than two months (yikes!), but his last conference is in a week. Once that's over, he should be able to finish out.

We do need to find a venue for the retirement, though. The cabin we were hoping to use was apparently a victim of arson this last summer. Now we're looking at a boring banquet room. *Yawn!* I guess it doesn't matter as long as he gets that DD Form 214.

Another thing to be grateful for! Back in Viet Nam, the Air Force, along with the other services, decided that majors should be allowed to retire, even if they didn't get promoted to LtCol. It's called selective continuation. What with the economy and all, officers aren't taking the RIF (Reduction In Force--voluntary separation to include a bonus) and getting out to try for big, fat contractor jobs. But scuttlebutt on the streets is that selective continuation will soon be discontinued--the AF is over-manned. Which means if a major is passed over twice and wants that retirement check, he'll have to either join the Reserves and wait until he's 60 to start receiving payments or--even worse!--transfer to the Army. But Maj Tom is on his way to a happy retirement. He plans on spending the summer with the creature while I work. I think it's a lovely idea!

Whilst waiting the proscribed 15 minutes after my allergy shot yesterday, a retired Army grunt sat next to me. Somehow, we got on the subject of SF, and I handed him the copy of Stupefying Stories I'd left on the waiting room table. Then I experienced what all writers must go through, but what I'd been relatively protected from: random fan talk. (Not fan of me, mind you. Fan of SF.) That was quite the experience. I don't think it's something I can graciously pull off, yet.

Kersley Fitzgerald has a confession to make. Whenever she gives someone a copy of Stupefying Stories, she always adds, "There's an odd story about bees in there, but don't worry! The author is really a very nice guy! Lots of kids, loves his wife...he just has an interesting way of seeing the world."
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