Archive for the ‘#bloghop’ Tag

Isn’t It Lovely?   9 comments

October 15, 2016

What do you think are the 5 most beautiful things in the world?

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I think the world is an amazing place filled with so many gorgeous things that it will be hard to whittle it down to just five.

But here goes … the top five more beautiful things in the world in Lela Markham’s view.

#5   There is something premordial about a fire burning in a contained fashion. We have a woodstove. There is the warm spicy scent of dried birch mixed with the evergreen scent of the spruce that forms the starter bed. There are deep dark caves in the coal bed and licking flames in the new wood which is slowing withering to black. Heat spills off the sides of the stove, wrapping its loving touch around your legs and lulling you into a state of relaxation.

#4 A baby’s eyes haven’t been used yet They’re wide and innocent and they expect everything to be good. That wears off over time as they interact with the reality of the world we live in, but don’t you just wish you could bottle that essence?

Image result for aurora#3 There’s a creek at the bottom of our cabin land, but you can find this anywhere there are creeks that run over rocks. Our rocks are mica-inflected and so as the sun shines through the water and touches the rocks, sparkles dance all around and make me smile.

#2 Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, specifically the movement called “Ode to Joy”. It makes me think of sunlight through birch trees. Birch trees are amazing — they have different characteristics winter to summer, but sunlight treats them well in all seasons. The images that flicker through my mind as I listen to Beethoven include sparkling trees and sunlight through bird trees and ….

#1 Aurora. You might have expected that since it’s my screen name “Aurora Watcher”. Sweeps of colors dancing across a velvet black sky, racing from horizon to horizon in sweeps of celestial grandeur.

 

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Posted October 15, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop, Uncategorized

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Fallacy of Persuasion   2 comments

What’s the most useless thing you know how to do?

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Propaganda Ride SharingWow, this is going to be a hard thing to say because I know a lot of really useless stuff. That happens when you’ve been alive more than half a century during a time of great innovation. As a writer of fantasy novels and an apocalyptic series, I sometimes use those now “useless” skills in my writing, which means I now I have to find something that wouldn’t have a use even in a fantasy world.

That means things that are kind of useless in our world today might be highly useful in the worlds I write about. For example, do you know how to adjust a butterfly valve in a carburetor? The other day, I mentioned rebuilding a carburetor to a friend of my son who actually knows a thing or two about cars and he said “Why would you bother when you can just replace the engine with a fuel-injected one?” Good point. Knowing how to rebuild a carburetor is pretty useless unless you live in a time when an EMP has wiped out the computers that run fuel-injected engines and then it becomes a highly valuable skill.

In the United States of America where it is very hard to even find a standard-transmission vehicle these days, being able to drive stick is an increasingly useless skill. Ah, but if you go to a 3rd world country, there are almost never any automatic transmission cars, so driving stick becomes a very valuable skill.

So, what is the MOST useless thing I know how to do? I know how to use propaganda to manipulate people to get a predetermined outcome. I trained how to do that when I was in college. But it’s a useless skill because you can’t really control other people. I recognized that in my first job out of college and so I don’t really use the skill anymore. While it is true that you can persuade people with reason and truth, it’s an illusion that if we just apply the right pressure, say the right words, whatever we do to sway other people, that we will get long-term willing compliance with things that are not true. Sooner or later,  people will rebel against whatever we’re trying to convince them of. Some people will recognize the falsehood immediately and others might take decades, but sooner or later, truth will work its way into people’s consciousness and then you’ll have a rebellion on your hands. The only persuasion worth investing a great deal of time in it is explaining reality to people who have been confused by propaganda.

Propaganda Testimonial.png

This past week, after six years of incredible pressure by local government agencies pressing arguments with questionable science trying to scare people into a specific and self-destructive course of action, the voters of my community rebelled and told the local government that it cannot be involved in air quality issues related to home heating for at least the next two years. The “victory” was won because the government itself boldly did what some of us predicted they would do back when this whole totalitarian regime first started – their hand-selected “community” taskforce y voted to force the entire community to use a fuel that will increase our not-inconsiderable heating costs by one-third. It was like they just decided to self-destruct. With them showing their underdrawers, the voters decided to take the power away from them. Now the individuals who make up the community will have to use reason and technology to solve the problem of air quality in a cost-effective way.

I was part of the community group that hoped to sway the vote to remove authority from the Borough. I helped with the social media campaign. The other folks kept looking for just the right words or just the right slogan to get people to understand what they were saying. I kept saying “Just be honest”. I told them to talk about how the local government’s actions have effected them personally. Meantime, the Borough and the useful idiots who support their draconian measures used hyperbole and end-of-the-world propaganda language. And in the end, about 15,000 people (in a community of 100,000, which is another issue) voted. More than 7500 voted to take away the Borough’s control over home heating devices, while less than 6500 voted to let them remain in control.

Propaganda CredibilitySo, I would say my skill with propaganda is the most useless skill I possess because human nature eventually pushes back against propaganda. Sometimes it takes years for the rebellion to occur, but it does eventually happen. As stupid as many people often seem to be, truth will out … eventually. I can put decades of effort into a propaganda campaign only to have information revealed that discredits the propaganda and … poof, I’ve just wasted years of my life on an illusion.

I’m pleased I learned that lesson very early in my career because it could easily be me as the Public Information Officer of the Fairbanks North Star Borough who now has egg on her face. So, it really is truly the least useful skill I possess, so I’m glad I’ve sworn it off as not worth the effort.

Posted October 8, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop, Uncategorized

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Angels Unawares   5 comments

October 1, 2018

What is the nicest thing someone has ever done for you or said to you? Why did this mean so much?

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We live in a pretty uncivil world these days. People just treat each other badly, often … in traffic, on social media, in the grocery store … it would be easy to get discouraged with the current state of affairs.

CoolerBut I’ve had lots of people do kind things to me and for me. Once when our family was going through a really rough time, I came home from work to find a cooler of Alaska wild-harvest products (jams, jellies, crabapple butter, and a raspberry and rhubarb pie) sitting on my front porch. Under the sweets was a caribou roast and a bag of potatoes with the dirt still on them. Twenty-four years later, I have no idea who did this. It wasn’t that we needed the food so much as someone knew we were having a hard time and they took the time to show me they cared. If you’re reading this, thanks for the cooler. We still use it on picnics.

I am an Alaskan woman which means I can change my own car tires and do simple auto repair because people (male or female) who can’t do that here end up dying of hypothermia waiting for rescue. Triple-A comes from Seattle, so that’s three days at 60 mph if the tow truck driver doesn’t sleep. We have cell phone service these days, but not everywhere. So skills are a necessity here. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like it when young military guys pull up behind my car on the highway and offer to “change that tire for you, ma’am?” I’ll compliment him on his skill and pull over at the nearest gas station to check those bolts are tight enough. Be grateful, but verify.

When I worked for an agency that was going through a rough re-organization, the Executive Director (who was not known for handing out compliments) said to me one day that he appreciated that I always kept a good attitude and never said “No, I can’t do that” without a good reason. That compliment meant a lot of me because I knew I’d earned it.

Hitch HikingI was one day sharing my concerns about my daughter’s gypsy musician lifestyle and one of the women in our Bible Study group apparently misunderstood what I was saying because she said “Isn’t it marvelous that she’s so brave and what a incredible testimony to how you and your husband raised her?” It was a different way of looking at the situation and changed my attitude toward Bri’s adventures. I am partially responsible for them because my husband and I raised her to be fierce and independent and comfortable with hiking in the wilderness with bears, so she’s not frightened by the highways and byways of America. I still worry about her (you never stop worrying about your kids, I think), but I now see her life as an adventure and believe that God has her back and will see her through many of the dangers associated with the life she’s chosen.

But the most heart-touching compliment I ever received wasn’t really a compliment. It was more like a prophesy. Several years ago, events caused me to decide to leave the church I’d been a member of for decades. I loved that church. That spiritual family had seen me and my family through some wonderful times and some hard times. It is still my heart-home. But the pastor at the time was insufferable and the other members were backing him up, so it was time to go. I made that decision on a Sunday morning just before church service. I was literally in the parking lot when I decided I couldn’t go in. So, I went to a gas station to buy a coffee and decide what church I would go to that day. My heart was breaking as I waited for the man in front of me to fill his coffee vase so I could fill my cup. He turned around and I smiled because I have a commitment to being civil with people in public and it wasn’t his fault I was sad. And these words came out of his mouth:

Bless you, my sister in Christ, for your value is far above rubies and you have come into this world for just such a time as this. Your feet are upon the mountain path and it looks scary now, but don’t you worry because He has your hand and will lead you home.

He was right. I did find another spiritual home. Ironically, I went to the church we are currently members of that first morning, but because we had several friends already at that church, we didn’t want to just make an easy choice. We wanted to be where God wants us to be. So we visited about 10 churches over the next couple of months, but we finally returned to the first church I went to that morning of the prophesy. And, while it isn’t like our old church in so many ways, the feeling of spiritual family has gradually grown so that when we were asked if we would come back to our old church after the insufferable pastor left, we decided it was best for us not to do that.

But how he knew my situation that morning — it was a pure God thing. I’ve since met him again. He’s a deacon at a local church and he says God gave him those words many years ago and he’s felt called to say them a couple of dozen times to various people for no reason that he has ever known. He has another one for men. It’s a prophesy of foresaying – speaking God’s word into the life of someone at that moment rather than some future event (foreseeing). It draws from four different Bible passages — it’s not new revelation. I probably already knew what he said, but I needed to be reminded of God’s word and he was there to deliver the message. He was quite blessed when I was able to tell him that his message was delivered to the right person at the right time that day. It gave him hope that he’s not just a crazy man spouting forth Bible verses to random strangers in gas stations. And here’s the rub — two seconds before he said those words, I had decided I was going to go home and not attend church that morning. Maybe that would have been a fateful decision. How that would have turned out, only God knows, but I suspect it wouldn’t have been healthy for me, which is why God arranged for me to encounter this angel unawares.

Storm Clouds Rainbow

We live in a divisive world full of people who backbite and strive to outdo one another, where civility is a limping, bleeding sacrifice to the tyrannical attitudes people hold toward each other. But there are a lot of bright spots if we keep our eyes open for them. Sunlight shines through the clouds and, even now, still creates rainbows.

Posted October 1, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop, Uncategorized

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Staying on Track   2 comments

What tools do you use to organize your writing life? Keep track of deadlines, blog appearances, guests appearing on your blog, etc.? What have you tried that didn’t work for you but might work for someone else?

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Calendar ImageI am not a huge “tool” writer. I think simplicity is an overall good thing in this way-too- complicated era. It’s not that I don’t know how to use technology, but that sometimes I just feel it complicates the process. I don’t, for example, use Scrivener, even though a lot of writers swear by it. Word works for me and keeping it simple means I have more time to write … in my opinion.

But I do have a few tools that I rely on to keep myself organized.

A calendar. I used to have a wall calendar that sat on my desk. It included kids’ appointments and writing events and deadlines. But these days the calendar is on my phone because that goes with me almost everywhere and it is similar to the calendar that rules my work day.

Sticky Notes“Sticky Notes” is a Windows’ program that allows you to put virtual “sticky notes” on your desktop. This is really useful for me because I leave all sorts of notes for myself where I will be confronted with them every time I open my computer. This “in sight, in mind” approach works really well for me.

So what hasn’t worked for me that might work for someone else? One Note seemed like a great idea when I first heard about it, but it’s not worked out for me. I’m not sure why. I just prefer to open a Word document and keep notes there. But it does have a lot of functionality that I suspect would be really nice to use if I hadn’t already gotten into the habit of using Word for that function. I think other people might get more out of it than I do.

I know … kind of boring and low-tech, but it works for me. I bet my fellow writers use more entertaining tools. Go check them out.

Posted September 24, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop, Uncategorized

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So What You Are Saying Is …   9 comments

How do you see yourself vs how you think other people see you?

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In today’s world, there is a growing trend to ascribe evil to anyone who espouses opinions or provides facts that disagree with your worldview. People can agree on all points, but one and when they disagree on that one point, the dissenter is then labeled evil and ostracized from the relationship.

Peterson

So this question of how we are perceived by others compared to how do we perceive ourselves is of vital importance.

It sucks to be misunderstood, but it kills to be mis-characterized. Those are two different things, of course. I can misunderstand what you say or mean when you make a comment. This is especially true on social media where there’s no body language or tone of voice to convey sarcasm, for example. We would hope such misunderstandings could be cleared up by reflecting on what the dissenter has said and asking pertinent questions with a view to actually listen to the answers. Unfortunately, that skill has long been replaced with close-minded attacks that ascribe disagreement on even a single point as a lack of character that requires sustained personal attacks or the refusal to interact.

For example, I am a natural rights advocate and therefore, I hold freedom of speech and religion as high standards that government should not interfere with … EVER. Misunderstandings only grow when we don’t talk about our differences and, sometimes, when we listen to those we don’t agree with we discover that we need to change in order to be a better person. I’ve had this experience myself. I’ve also learned things about others that have made me their opponent, standing against their message, but never arguing that they don’t have a right to speak. That way leads through dark woods wherein any of us might find ourselves a silenced minority if it’s our turn to be labeled inappropriate. I’d rather everyone’s right to speak be acknowledged so that reason may be left free to combat wrong ideas. You have a right not to listen, but that right extends only to walking away from a message or sticking your fingers in your ears and singing “la-la-la-la.” So, naturally, I’ve been called a Nazi.

Well, more accurately, I’ve been said to support neo-Nazis and to ascribe to their message. Why? Because I uphold the principle of the right of every individual, regardless of ideology, to speak his or her mind without interference from the government or threats of violence from their fellow humans AND I include neo-Nazis and enviro-wackos under that umbrella. I also include atheists and Baptists … gays and those who are creeped out by gays … post-modernists and Jordan Peterson. I stand with the American Constitution and Founding Fathers in saying EVERYBODY has a right to speak and EVERYBODY else has a right to oppose their message or not listen. Because I perceive rights as inherent in the individual, I don’t believe that some groups have a higher right to speak than other groups. They may have a better message … and that message will be received and accepted while the other is rejected … if we’ll only allow reason to counter bad arguments.

For that, I’m accused of being a neo-Nazi because nowadays, the United States of America has become a country where warring factions try to use government power to shut each other up and anyone who doesn’t think that’s a good idea is obviously evil.

Meanwhile, I don’t support neo-Nazis. I don’t subscribe to their message. Neo-nazism  might not work out well for me anyway as I am a tribal card holder and they object to the race-mixing that my mutt DNA represents. I’m not what I’ve been accused of, but it’s hard to counter mischaracterizations because those doing the mischaracterization will insist that their perception of you is far more important than your perception of yourself. They can read minds, don’t you know?

Personally, I try really hard not to ascribe evil to those who ascribe evil to me. I try to give people I disagree with the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps we just see some issues from different perspectives. Maybe, if we talk a while, we’ll find common ground. I’m not a big believer in compromise — I think we’ve compromised far too much in the past and we’re too close to a cultural and economic cliff for any further compromise to be useful — but I am a big believer in discussion and affording each other some grace. People can be wrong without being evil and it’s possible I can learn something from them, if only I’ll listen. Now if they would only listen to what I am actually saying rather than their perception of what they believe I am saying. But I keep trying – offering thought-provoking questions on Facebook, usually centered on libertarian themes. Everyone is welcome to join.

 

Practical in All Ways   8 comments

What’s the best purchase you ever made and why?

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ponchoI’ve bought a lot of things in my five decades of living from cheap $1 items to a house now inexplicably worth nearly a quarter-million dollars.  It’s hard to inventory all the purchases of my life and come down to “the best” and for what reason. Some things just give me joy. I like the look or feel of them. Other things are practical or were a great investment with a good return on value. It would take a great deal of soul-searching to narrow that most-worthy item down from the thousands of purchases I’ve made in my life. In fact, I am overwhelmed at the prospect because Brad and I are known among our friends as not being very consumer-oriented. Most of our “stuff” is second-hand and we are frequently asked if we ever plan to put furniture in our family room. Maybe … someday … if some neighbor in our garage-friendly neighborhood is looking to sell a sofa for cheap. Does a family room really need furniture beyond a bunch of bookcases and some cushions on the floor?

But not answering the question would be disingenuous, I suppose. Let me tell you a story.

Thirty years ago this summer Brad and I were working for a company that thought it needed our undivided attention, but we needed our annual salmon catch, so when they let us go for three days for the 4th of July holiday, we scrambled to load what we needed into the car and get headed on the 600-mile journey to Chitina Alaska and the red gold that are Copper River salmon. And, I couldn’t find my raincoat. I determined I would do it in a sweatshirt if necessary, even though I knew that would mean a miserable wet weekend.

Brad stopped on our way out of town to buy Meals Ready to Eat — military-issue rations that often find their way into the local military surplus stores. While he was deciding which of the menus to buy this time, I spied a shelf of Army ponchos. Jokingly, I said “These would make great tents.” Brad thought I was serious and he grabbed one and threw it on top of the box. Cost? $10.

The closer we got to Chitina, the darker the sky got. O’Brien Creek was running so hard we decided not to risk driving over it. I donned the poncho before we headed out. Except for the hood, which consisted of a Velcro closure under the chin to keep the rain out and a bill over my forehead to shed it to either side of my face, it fell shapeless to the tops of my Xtra-Tufs. The sides could be left open or there were grommets to hook together by any means desired. I had run lengths of 550 cord through them to form some sort of closure. It was so large on my tiny frame that I put it over my backpack to keep it dry.

We hiked in 2 1/2 miles to “the glory hole” and we caught 45 salmon in 2 1/2 hours. By pulling the 550 cord this way and that, I configured the poncho so that it kept my clothes dry while I clubbed fish to death as Brad was catching them two at a time. And meanwhile, it poured buckets of icy rain from the sky, flung sideways by the glacier wind out of the Wrangell-St. Elias ice fields.

When the fish had been caught, Brad began to load them into his “moose bag” backpack and it quickly became clear that he could only take half the load. I weighed less than the remaining fish. I would have to stay behind with them while Brad hiked the first half to the car.

It was dark and growing darker and I didn’t really feel that brave out there in the forbidding wilderness, but I told him I’d have tea ready for him when he got back. We both knew it would take two hours for him to hike out, at least a half-hour to pack the fish in the ice in the coolers in the back of the car and another hour to hike back to me. A part of being an Alaskan woman is not turning into a clingy suburbanite when your husband suggests he leave you in the rain-soaked forest beside one of the deadliest rivers in the world with 20 salmon and, possibly, grizzlies in the forest. Nope, I’d be fine. I’d have tea ready for him when he got back. I watched his Helly Hansen fisherman’s coat disappear into the darkness and didn’t ask him to come back.

Despite the monsoon-like ice bath occurring in the outside world, it was dry under my poncho. I could do this.

As anyone knows who has ever spent time in the woods, the key to building a fire is dry wood. Did I mention it was pouring and had been for several hours? I hiked around the cluster of wind-tough cottonwood trees, looking for twigs and leaves that weren’t soaked and I found some. Under a cut-bank near the river, I found a sheltered cluster of roots that I could hack off with my knife. Up in the forest, I found a spot sheltered among three trees that was less wet than the surrounding forest. I piled up my fire-starting treasure, sat down on the ground with my back against one of the trees and pulled my legs up into the sheltering tarp that was my poncho, protecting my treasure hoard from the deluge.

Rain dripped off the bill of my poncho, dropping onto my covered knees and rolled out into the wet ground. I dozed, buying time. Occasionally, the tree behind me would bend, groaning in the wind, and I’d be pelted with icy droplets, but my poncho didn’t move and my hoard stayed dry, warmed by the heat of my body. Time passed and stood still. My watch told me two hours had passed. Time to act.

I tied one end of my poncho to one of the three trees, pulled my head out of the hood and tied the other end to my back pack, creating a slanting roof. I knelt under the shelter to scrape sand together into a makeshift firepit and create a little nest of grass and leaves. Using strike-anywhere matches from the chest pocket of my poncho, I started a little fire, feeding dried twigs into it until it wouldn’t blow out at the faintest gust of watery wind. I warmed my hands over its tenacious warm. Smoke rose up to slap into the underside of my poncho and then seep away into the night. I filled the little tea kettle with rainwater as it ran off the edge. I sat with my knees drawn up to my chest, watching for steam to rise and listening to the steady drum of rain on the makeshift roof. Time passed and stood still while my socks dried above the little fire in the shelter of my poncho.

I was kneeling by the fire, preparing two cups of tea when I heard boots scraping on gravel near the trail. I was alone, a woman in the wilderness on the edge of one of the most deadly rivers in the world, guarding 20 salmon in grizzly country. I held my breath until Brad emerged out of the gray dawn, water pouring off his Helly Hansen coat.

“I have tea ready, just as I said.”

We sat on opposite sides of the fire, my poncho as our roof, sipping our hot beverage and eating a breakfast of pilotbread slathered with butter. While Brad caught an hour’s nap with his back against my tree, the weather broke, the rain stopped and sunlight spilled from heaven like liquid gold, sparkling through the wind-tough trees and casting the world in watercolor hues. I knocked the rain off my poncho and bundled it up loosely on top of my backpack. Brad stretched and groaned. I carried the camping gear and he carried the salmon and we turned toward our car that was 2 1/2 miles away, both of us dry and comfortable … because of my poncho.

That chance purchase 30 years ago still lives in my outdoor wardrobe. It is a constant companion, always packed for every expedition, though used only when necessary — as a coat, as a tent, as a tarp, sometimes a blanket to sit on. Once we bundled one of the kids in it on a canoe trip when she got cold. It’s kept backpacks dry, provided some protection from the damp dog that insisted she join us in the tent and been used as a bellows for building a bonfire. It still doesn’t leak and the only maintenance it’s required is replacing the 550 cord closures occasionally. And, thus it is the most useful $10 I’ve ever spent.

 

For Whom the Bell Tolls   4 comments

We’ve all experienced loss, what is a loss that has really struck you? Compare losing someone you knew with someone you didn’t, and your thoughts on how it affected you.

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Related imageI was an orphan by the time I was 22 years old. My parents were older when they had me and so they died when I was pretty young. It’s been over 30 years for Mom and 40 years for Dad. I can’t say I miss them anymore. I do wonder what our relationship would have been like had they lived longer. But at some point, grief just seems … silly. What’s’ the point of it? I guess I’m a product of my mother’s farming background … where death is just another part of life. I grieved at the time and then I moved on. I remember my parents fondly, I have some questions I wish I would have thought to ask them when I was a kid, but I no longer grieve their passing because I focus on life rather than death.

I remember when Elvis Presley died. The story came across the radio at work and some of my coworkers were sad about that. I was 16 years old and I don’t think I’d ever known a time when Elvis had not been a part of my life. My mother truly enjoyed his music. But my reaction to his death was different from theirs. I was sad for his daughter, but not sad for myself. I didn’t know him. Whether he was dead or alive didn’t really affect my life. And I think that’s been my attitude as any famous person has died … it doesn’t affect my life so why would I grieve?

Same sort of feeling with 911. I felt horror at the thought of all those people dying, but I don’t mark it as a special day of mourning every year because to me that would be living in the past and that’s not how I choose to live my life.

But some deaths are more personal than others.

When my friend Dick Underwood passed, I felt profoundly sad for myself because I would not see him again this side of heaven. I can still get a little choked up over that two years later. But that feeling of grief was and is tempered by the knowledge that as Christians we will see each other in heaven. I anticipate Dick paddling some celestial river in a canoe and I smile when that image comes to mind. For Dick, death was an upgrade not a tragedy and so, for me to remember his death is not really sad.

I used to work in a mental health-focused nonprofit. About nine years ago, a schizophrenic patient stabbed one of my coworkers to death. I wasn’t there when it happened. I found out about it the next morning. The feelings I had that day and in the months and years since are powerful – angry at the client (we’ll call him Brian) for taking this young woman’s life and at the staff psychiatrist who ignored warnings that this client was off his meds and had a history of violence, sad for Genine’s husband of only a few months, perplexed at the rage my coworkers aimed at the Executive Director rather than at the client or the psychiatrist, irritation at the judge who kept fracking with the case trying to cause a mistrial because he disagreed with Alaska’s governing law of guilty, but mentally ill …. Unlike “innocent by reason of insanity” the Alaska legal standard means Brian will go to prison for the rest of his life if he ever convinces a medical board that he’s sane enough to be released from the Alaska Psychiatric Institute. It does not risk this dangerous man getting out to hurt someone again. It recognizes that, while he is a schizophrenic, he is not the victim in this case — Genine was. That the judge disagrees with the standard … well, he’s been removed from office by a vote of no confidence by Alaska voters. Fitting … as fitting as the psychiatrist no longer being allowed to see patients at the local hospital. She still has her private practice, but she doesn’t have hospital privileges, which means she can’t work for a mental health agency any longer.

Probably the most salient thing to know about that experience is that I am pissed off that State law denied Genine the right to protect herself from Brian. When he pulled a big butcher knife all she could do was run and when she stumbled in the snow outside the emergency exit, he stabbed her three times in the back. In my current job, when we did an active shooter training, the FBI asked us how many of us had a plan for in case an active shooter came into our building. My plan is to take cover, let the shooter pass me by, and shoot the shooter in the back from my position of cover. The FBI trainer agreed that would probably save a lot of lives and only suggested that I put my gun down before the cops got there … which I already knew. So yeah, Genine’s death definitely left a permanent impression on me.

Now you sort of know what I have felt about different deaths I’ve experienced. I have a spectrum of reactions, highly dependent on the facts surrounding those deaths.  Everything that happens to us as humans can be used in our writing … even if that experience was germain to someone near us and not to us personally. In writing about Shane and Jill’s reactions to the bombings in Life As We Knew It, I drew from my observations of what my coworkers experienced when Elvis died and what I experienced right along with them on 911. Some of my descriptions of what Shane (who has PTSD) experiences in stressful situations are drawn from what I experienced while working at mental health. I also was a psychiatric transcriptionist for a while and sometimes I’m drawing on what I learned from the sessions I transcribed. Grief comes in many flavors and makes wonderful conflict for our stories.

So, we should go check out what my fellow blog-hoppers have to say on this topic. Has death coming knocking for them as well?

Posted August 27, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop, Uncategorized

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