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Creeping Toward Vegetarianism

The thing about animal videos (Insta, FB, other news sites) is that animals become more human to us.

If I remember right, it’s called “Anthropomorphism.” Anthropomorphism is a literary device that assigns human characteristics to nonhuman entities like animals or inanimate objects. From Dr. Doolittle to more realistic books about animals like the series All Creatures Great and Small, we get insight into animal lives, emotions and relationships to us.

I remember as a child growing up on a farm, watching baby calves and lambs playing, asking my Dad, “why do they play if they are going to be hamburger.” I knew then, as many farm kids did, that the animals were going to be food and that we weren’t to name them.

Now, watching the animal videos of cute goats romping and playing, and a recent video of a doe walking up to a hunter’s gun, the hunter dropping his gun and petting said doe, I get tears in my eyes. I regret sending my pet lamb to slaughter. Sometimes I regret the hamburger I ate for dinner.

The book I’m reading right now for book club is Remarkably Bright Creatures, in which one of the characters is an octopus. Yes, an octopus, not only speaks (to us with his thoughts), but solves a mystery in the most clever way.

Not quite a vegetarian (love some bacon), but creeping there. That said, I believe animals feel, grieve, love and have compassion.

Fear of Women in Groups

I realize that I’ve had almost a life-long fear of going groups, especially “women’s groups.”

Having bypassed “traditional therapy,” I’ve finally after years (no, decades) of self-analysis, I’ve come to realize that early rejection, by mostly women, having to do with the fact that I committed the mortal sin at the age of 17, of becoming a mother “out-of-wedlock” as they used to say “back in the day.”

The judgement and scrutiny was intense, much more intense than my fragile ego, shattered self-esteem and shy demeanor could handle at such a tender age.

My daughter and I bravely, and sometimes not-so-bravely, navigated her upbringing (at times, she taught me more than I taught her), but in it’s wake, I was left with some phobias and insecurities.

I found during that time that it was usually women who were the most judgemental; members of my own family (sadly), teachers, employers, friends and yes, groups of women.

So, I avoided friendships (still do to an extent), walked away from groups before they could throw me out, and suffered classic phobia symptoms, such as shaking, panic attacks–all the usual.

I like Woody Allen’s quote (I do not, however, like Woody Allen’s behavior): I won’

I wish I had known earlier to be braver, more out-spoken, more unapologetic and yes, a better friend.

My daughter is all of these things, and I would not trade one second of my life with her (or my 2nd daughter).

So, if there is not a name for “fear of women in groups,” it might be “Gynophobia is an intense and irrational fear of women. The disorder differs from misogyny, which is hatred and prejudice toward women that people learn through social environments.” This is an actual fear, with this specific name.

I tend to believe the phobia is probably more common in men, but there you have it.

I’ve got that. I’m trying to overcome it.

Book Club

In an attempt to become “more social,” which, at my stage might be futile, I joined a book club. Eight women get together at one another’s houses, supplying food–and drink.

The first thing I noticed is the divergent taste in books. The first book felt like getting an assignment in school, it was long, dense, and in a dialect (English to be sure, but hard to read since the book was written in 1920). I put it off until the last minute, then read it in one week, trudging through it, and even consulting Amazon reviews to figure out what it was about.

Second book was an historical mystery–more up my alley.

I hosted one and worried about my book choice because I hadn’t read it ahead of time before my recommendation. It was okay–a lighthearted female spoof.

I think my foray into book clubs might be a “starter drug” into the groups I’m most afraid of joining; writing critique groups.

I’ll keep going and reading.

Latest book West With Giraffes

Lahaina, HI

Something personal about me (and my family); we own condos on Maui, Hawaii. We’ve owned there for years–Kaanapali beach (one of the most beautiful beaches in the world)–and have visited a couple times a year for decades.

Lahaina (old town) burned to the ground on 8/13/2023.

So sad, not only for us, but devastating for the native Hawaiians. We are, after all these decades, seeing the sadness, poverty and hopelessness for the native Hawaiians, and those transplants from all over who came to the beautiful place to settle–and lost everything. Hundreds died. We don’t know about animals yet–that’s to come.

There is anger. There is grief. There is helplessness.

We (they) will rebuild with much-needed help.

Answers needed. How did it start? Was it the hurricane-force winds? Was it the fault of the electric company? Was it space-lasers from a governement scheme (kids you not–conspiracy theories abound).

We are with them. We will not sell.

Osprey Cam Boulder, Co.

My go-to page for calm is watching an Osprey cam set up near Boulder, Colorado.

So cute.

Sure, nature is sometimes a “bitch” and things happen to the cute little things, but when things go right–it’s so comforting to slip into a bird-pair’s tiny little world.

Osprey “season” is around mid-March through August when the chicks fledge

Gun laws in Europe

While in France (again, humble brag), I didn’t hear one thing about a shooting or death from gun violence. Not one thing for 3 weeks.

I looked up gun laws for France: “No civilian may carry any weapons in a public place. A special form allows a civilian to apply for a 1-year carry license, which allows them to carry a handgun and a maximum of 50 rounds if they are “exposed to exceptional risks to their life”. In practice, these licenses are only issued to politicians.”

Not sure I would want “only politicians” to have guns, based on current news, but still…

Can we at least look at common sense gun laws for the U.S. With respect to the Second Amendment, was the intent of the amendment that every living person over the age of 18 shall have a gun–even a paramilitary or military-grade rifle?

I tire, as many do, of thinking about finding an exit while in the grocery store or big-box store.

I tire of wondering if it’s safe to go to a sports event, a concert, even a party.

I grew up in rural Colorado, learned to fire a rifle (okay–a 22, but still).

Comment sense anyone?

How to Reboot Writing after a Vacation

This is a bit of a humble brag; I found it hard to reboot my writing after returning from an almost 3-week trip to Europe (via one of those scheduled cruises).

It was wonderful and educational. Got to see parts of France that I’d never seen. Some good, some bad. I learned that Europe has many of the same problems we do in the U.S.; crime such as pick-pockets and a few violent episodes (nothing like our gun problems here at home; homelessness (the homeless have tents in Europe too and also prefer to live under bridges).

Once home, aside from jet-lag, I find it hard to restart a project that I’d started or left unfinished. I approach it with a certain dread. Re-reading my work after I’ve been away from it sometimes leaves me frustrated. It’s not good enough. It needs a whole lot of work. I might just pitch it and start over.

I know I’m not the only writer (such as it is) who deals with this.

With the exception of perhaps Stephen King and Danielle Steele, who profess to being able to write through anything. Everything. All at once.

Validation from a Chat Bot

I recently tried ChatGPT, google’s chat bot. I read on a writer’s forum about using it to generate ideas, validate ideas or even generate plots based on ideas.

I’m sure it’s got a ways to go before it replaces writers completely, but it can write poetry, write new jokes and do intensive research (although it usually boils research down to about five points or so.)

I typed in an idea I have for a new novel, and got more than I wanted or needed from it: validation.

“This is a great idea for a publishable novel,” it started.

There it was, validation for an idea that I’ve failed to get from any human (aside from my husband, who usually thinks my ideas are great).

Most of the time, I keep my ideas to myself, other than to share on a writer’s forum or group, or to my husband. Otherwise, any attempts to talk about writing bring comments akin to “well, bless your heart,” or “you can always try.”

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want someone to tell me all my ideas are great–I know they are not. I know that after years of writing, I will not be Steinbeck or even Danielle Steele on the other spectrum. I do like a little validation now and then that I’m not completely wasting my time, and that I shouldn’t regret giving up wanting to throw beautiful pottery and selling it on the side.

Validation from an artificially intelligent program…is it really validation? Has it been programed to give positive feedback? I didn’t ask it to love my idea.

So many questions, but I think I’m hooked.

Rational Fear

I, like many others, have wrestled with anxiety and fear. Mostly, I have had what people call “irrational fear,” of things that will probably not kill me (like speaking in front of a large group, or a small group for that matter). My anxieties and fears have had consequences. I once changed my college major to one that didn’t require the “Speech 101” class. When I was a girl, I “threw” a spelling bee when I realized that winning would require unwanted attention.

Lately though, I’ve realized how rational some of my fears are. I am less afraid of my daughter traveling to Africa on safari with her husband and MY grandchildren, than I am of them going to a concert in America.

I’m less afraid of my other beloved daughter becoming a member of her chosen airline’s 1K club (I am a notable white-knuckler during turbulance) than I am of her shopping at a mall.

I, for the first time in my life, have added such fears to my fear-list as going to Costco or other big-box stores, driving on the freeway in rush-hour, and thinking of my grand-children being dropped off at school.

The world seems scarier now. I believe it IS scarier now.

Whether its the fault of movies, guns, video games, mental illness, or any other factor–we have to figure it out.

I don’t want to resort to encouraging all four of my grandchildren to move to Australia. Or Canada. If everyone does that–American is just exported its problems.

Movies

In spite of having 3 or 4 movie streaming platforms in addition to cable t.v., my husband and I (who are movie buffs), find it hard to find good movies to watch.

I like a few series that he’s not into (Succession, for instance), but we occasionally find a 90-minute Netflix movie we like.

The last move we went to was “Banshees of Inishirin,” which we both hated. I got the connection between lonely and bitter people living on an island off the coast of Ireland, and the civil war going on in Ireland. But, to me the “comedy” was mean and pointless.

And, a donkey dies (I hope you didn’t see it yet–or hope you never see it).

I read a writing forum where the subject of the day was: “Can I kill a dog in the first few pages of my novel.”

The consensus was, “not unless you’re writing sci-fi or horror.”

Mostly, the writing forum consists of mystery writers, many of whom are cozy mystery writers, who will tolerate murder and mayhem as long as it’s not a child or animal. I agree–I expect there to be a murder or other crime against presumably–a person and not an animal or child.

I also expect it to be resolved in the in. Justice, and all that.

Anyway, the only thing on at the movies right now is another John Wick move (12 or 14?) I’m done with too much violence in a movie, and if any movies qualify, it’s John Wick movies.

Keanu, can you do something else please?

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