Monthly Archives: November 2007

Feel. Like. Shit.

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It’s either bronchitis or pneumonia.  Lungs hurt/burn/ache constantly, and burn like fire when I cough.  Headache, dizzy, sleepy [after sleeping until one o’clock this afternoon].  Feel like Dog Shit [capital D capital S]

Ugh.

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Tell me this is not typical of Muslims… Please.

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071128/ap_on_re_mi_ea/sudan_british_teacher

By ALFRED de MONTESQUIOU, Associated Press Writer

KHARTOUM, Sudan – Sudan charged a British teacher Wednesday with inciting religious hatred after she allowed her students to name a teddy bear Muhammad, an offense that could subject her to 40 lashes, the Justice Ministry said.

The charge against Gillian Gibbons was sure to heighten tensions between Sudan and Britain. In London, Foreign Secretary David Miliband urgently summoned the Sudanese ambassador to discuss the case, the British government said.

Gibbons, 54, was arrested Sunday after some of her pupils’ parents complained, accusing her of naming the bear after Islam’s prophet. Muhammad is a common name among Muslim men, but giving the prophet’s name to an animal would be seen as insulting by many Muslims.

Prosecutor General Salah Eddin Abu Zaid said Gibbons was charged under article 125 of the Sudanese legal code and her case would be referred to court Thursday.

If convicted, she faces up to 40 lashes, six months and prison and a fine, said Abdul Daem Zumrawi, the Justice Ministry’s undersecretary.

“What will be applied is (at) the discretionary power of the judge to issue the verdict,” he was quoted as saying by the official Sudanese News Agency.

The meeting between Miliband and the Sudanese ambassador to discuss the charge against Gibbons would take place as soon as possible, according to the British Foreign Office.

“We are surprised and disappointed by this development and the Foreign Secretary will summon as a matter of urgency the Sudanese ambassador to discuss the matter further,” said Michael Ellam, a spokesman for British Prime Minister Gordon Brown‘s office.

Miliband would ask the “for the rationale behind the charges and a sense of what the next steps might be” amid an escalating diplomatic dispute in the case, he said.

“We will consider our response in the light of that,” Ellam said.

The Gibbons family declined to speak with The Associated Press, saying the British government had advised them not to comment to the media.

In Khartoum, the British Embassy said diplomats had been allowed to visit Gibbons on Wednesday. “She said she was being well-treated and that she was OK,” said embassy spokesman Omar Daair.

Gibbons was teaching her pupils, who are around age 7, about animals and asked one of them to bring in her teddy bear, said Robert Boulos, a spokesman for Unity High School in Khartoum. She asked the students to pick names for it and they proposed Abdullah, Hassan and Muhammad, and in September, the pupils voted to name it Muhammad, he said.

Each child was allowed to take the bear home on weekends and write a diary about what they did with it. The diary entries were collected in a book with the bear’s picture on the cover, labeled, “My Name is Muhammad,” he said. The bear itself was never labeled with the name, he added.

The Unity High School, a private English-language school with elementary to high school levels, was founded by Christian groups, but 90 percent of its students are Muslim, mostly from upper-class Sudanese families.

Several Sudanese newspapers ran a statement Tuesday reportedly from the school, saying the administration “offers an official apology to the students and their families and all Muslims for what came from an individual initiative.” It said Gibbons had been “removed from her work at the school.”

The Sudanese Foreign Ministry on Tuesday played down the significance of the case, calling it “isolated despite our condemnation and rejection of it.”

Ministry spokesman Ali al-Sadeq said it was an incidence of a “teacher’s misconduct against the Islamic faith” but noted the school’s apology.

The statement from the school in newspapers called it a “misunderstanding.” It underlined the school’s “deep respect for the heavenly religions” and for the “beliefs of Muslims and their rituals.”

Although Khartoum officials played down the case and said it was an isolated incident, Sudan’s top clerics said in a statement Wednesday that the full measure of the law should be applied against Gibbons, calling the incident part of a broader Western “plot” against Islam.

Northern Sudan’s legal system is based on Islam’s Sharia law, which harshly punishes blasphemy. Any depiction of the prophet is forbidden in Islam, for fear it would provoke idolatry. Caricatures of Muhammad in some European media last year sparked riots in several Muslim countries.

The Sudanese clerics said this was blasphemy and believed it was intentional.

“What has happened was not haphazard or carried out of ignorance, but rather a calculated action and another ring in the circles of plotting against Islam,” the Sudanese Assembly of the Ulemas said the statement.

“It is part of the campaign of the so-called war against terrorism and the intense media campaign against Islam,” they said.

Although an earlier report had suggested that only one parent had complained, the clergy statement Wednesday said that several had complained.

There were widespread calls in Britain for Gibbons’ release. The Muslim Council of Britain urged the Sudanese government to intervene.

 ~~~

This makes me ill.  I pray that this type of behavior isn’t typical of Muslims. 

Anybody need any extra hormones?

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‘Cause mine are on overload and making me effing crazy right now.  How is it that I’m 33 and still have PMS from hell?  I had some kind of jacked up premenstrual psychosis going for two weeks, and now that my stupid period has started, I’ve got cramps, I’ve had a migraine for three days, and I’m depressed as hell.

Hormones are the bane of my existence.  I think they’re trying to kill me.

Revise, Edit, Rinse, Repeat

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So like I said, the story I wrote the other day is like nothing I’ve ever written before.  But I’m revising it anyway.  This is kind of like my ‘test’ I guess.  I know I can blog like a fiend, but in all honesty, I’ve never written anything that’s publishable, and I’m beginning to wonder if I’m one of those people who wants to write, but will never be able to actually do it.

This is a test.  I don’t like the story because it’s depressing, but I like the story in the sense that if it were well written, it would be completely awesome.  I know it’s not well written right now.  It’s more of a synopsis or outline than an actual story, and I’m okay with that. For now.

The trick is to see if I have what it takes to make it as good as I see it in my head, because in my head, it’s a story that is beautiful and haunting, even if it is morbid and depressing as hell.  It has that much potential, I just don’t know if I have that much talent.

In a way, I’m excited to be revising it and trying to make it live up to my vision.  I’m tired of being a dreamer.  I think it’s time to put all I have into this and see if there’s any real talent in here.  If there is, great.  I’ll continue to hone my craft.  If it turns out that I just don’t have what it takes, then I’ll continue to write as a hobby [or when I get depressed] and I’ll continue to blog, but I won’t have this invisible pressure on me to become published.

Can I really figure this out with just one story?  I dunno.  I guess I’ll have to send the thing off to whatever short story markets there are out there and see what other people think.  I’m not giving up if it doesn’t get published, but what I want to know from this is, do I have any freaking potential?  Is there any talent for words that can really be developed, or am I like the piano teacher in Amadeus, who dreams of being a master, but will never have what it takes to achieve that goal?

My kids want candy.  So I have to go.

Thanksgiving Tomorrow.

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So yesterday was a gorgeous and balmy 70 degrees here in northwestern Missouri, and today, it’s a whopping 33 degrees.  It’s freaking cold!  I hate cold weather.

The wind is literally beating the hell out of the side of my house, and it makes me cold to hear it.

My mom and dad are coming up for Thanksgiving today and leaving on Friday.  Yay!  I adore my parents.  They’re not perfect, and they irritate the hell out of me sometimes, but I absolutely love them.  My mom is doing much better, although not fully recovered from her nightmare last month.

Both Shaya and Matthew caused the school to call me yesterday, though.  Shaya’s been complaining of pain in her leg and hip, and she told her teacher that when she looks at the ceiling, she feels like she’s going to pass out.  Um.  When I look at the ceiling, I get dizzy, too, and so do a lot of other people.  In fact, I bet if you do it just right, you can make yourself pass out for real, simply because it’s bad to bend your neck back that far.

So anyway, I think I may have a budding hypochondriac on my hands, which bums me out, but isn’t surprising.  If my mom and I can both get a symptom just by thinking about it, I’m fairly certain that Shaya can, too.

Seriously, I can get a migraine just by thinking the night before, “I haven’t had a migraine in a while.”  Migraines hurt like hell and make me puke, so it’s not like I really want to have that kind of pain, but sometimes the thought crosses my mind [usually when I’m feeling stressed out and wanting a break] and the next day, I’m bedridden.

It would be brilliant if I was faking the headache, but no, it’s really there, so I get a day off, but I’m miserable.  So I think Shaya is having real pains, but I think her head is causing them.  And how do you stop that?  Counseling?  She’s nine.  That seems a little young to me for something that’s not life-threatening, but still, I don’t really know how to deal with it since I do the same thing, and can’t stop myself sometimes.

Ugh.

So Matthew got into trouble for inappropriate behavior in the lunch room.  He’s a dork, and loves toilet humor, and that’s all I’m saying about it, but it was a very frustrating day for me. 

Oh yeah, just in case there is something wrong with Shaya, I made an appointment to get a physical done, so if I’m wrong and there is a real illness, we’ll know it soon.  In the meantime…

We’re having Thanksgiving with both of our families on Thursday.  There will be anywhere from 10-15 people here, which doesn’t sound like a lot until you factor in the fact that our house is 927 square feet, and about 300 of that is our bedroom, and we don’t have enough chairs for everyone to sit in.

Maybe I should have nixed the idea of having it at our house, but Steve suggested it, and I went along with it because it means that we don’t have to travel 100 miles twice to see our families for Thanksgiving.  I’m a little stressed, though, and I’m depressed right now, so it should be fun.  heh.

So I’m working on Holly Lisle’s Writer’s Block Course

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And damn.  She’s made me cry twice already with visualizations of conversations with my muse. So at one point, there was an exercise where I just needed to sit and write, basically to have a conversation with my muse and figure out what the fuck she’s thinking, ’cause I want to write funny, fantasy stuff, and she seems to want to write morbid, depressing, horrible stuff and it kinda bums me out.

But anyway, in the interest of showing you what I’m going through here, I’m posting my conversation with my muse, and the very short story that came at the end.  The story isn’t edited at all except for typos and grammar, and it’s written from a four year old’s perspective [so, you know, if it sounds like a four year old wrote it, it’s because she DID!]

Want the truth?  I hate the story.  Hate everything about it. It’s my least favorite form of fiction, least favorite topic, and I’m bitter that I wrote it in a way.

On the other hand… it’s the very first time I’ve ever EVER embraced the darkness within me and written what’s in there.  Which is why I’m posting it, because it represents a MASSIVE victory.

Okay, so here goes [I’ll mark my muse’s statements with “M” and my stuff with “S”]:

[s]I’m scared of fiction. I’m scared of letting go and letting my muse take over completely because the stuff that’s in me is so freaking dark, and I hate dark shit.

I don’t like where we’re going, oh muse y one. Why won’t you tell me something funny? Is it me?
What story do you really want to write? Which genre? What length? What subject matter? What life? Which themes? What story do you want to tell? Why? When can we start? How does it start? Is there any humor in it?

[m]Yes, but not much. Humor isn’t what we need to write right now.

[s]Then what is.

[m]mPain. Hurt. There’s a lot in there that we need to purge. Vindictiveness. The sins of your soul, Shelbi. If we’re going to have therapy and fun at the same time, you’re going to have to face your worst fears and write the fuckers down.

Write them down, Shelbi
Now.
[s]Losing a child. Losing my husband to death. Having my kids grow up and be bad people.
Wait, that’s it?
[m]Nope. What are the rest of them?
[s]Being hated. Having people think I’m stupid, worthless, a failure. Having people think I’m a freak.
Standing out in a crowd. Not being recognized in a crowd.

[m]What else?
Fears.

[s]That I’m really a bad person. Irretrievably so. That if I write evil stuff, people will think I’m possessed.
[m]Are you?
[s]No.
I have the living God within me, that isn’t even possible.
[m]Then fuck ‘em.
[s]Hey, you are funny!
[m]Well, yeah, but we’re still not there yet.
Fears.
Fears. Come on, Shelbi. There’s more in there.
[s]That people will read what I write and hate it, and therefore hate me, too.
[m]You’re kind of wrapped up in what other people think of you, aren’t you?
Think that’s a problem, kid?
[s]Yeah. It paralyzes me.
[m]So why does it matter so much?
*thinking*
[s]I don’t know.
[m]Not an answer. Try again.
Why does it matter to you what people think of you.
[s]Because if they hate me, they are proving me right.
Because I still hate me, too. I need constant appreciation and affirmation from others because deep down, my biggest fear is that I’m right about me, and I am only average.

[m]What????
Average? WTF?!?!
[s]I don’t hate me; I’m just afraid of never being famous. Or never being recognized as anything ‘special’.
[m]Is it really about being famous? Is that all writing is to you?
[s]No. But I want to be famous somehow…
[m]But why?
[s]Because I want to be special.
[m]Why?
Why does it freaking matter?
Again with caring too much what people think of you…
Don’t you know that ‘average’ is a lie? Everyone is different. Similar but different. You have a gift in your writing. You have me, and I’m awesome as hell. God gave this to you so you could have fun while bringing him some glory. You love writing, so write.
Even if you never get published [yeah, right… HA! I’m awesome, so you don’t need to worry about that one, okay.] Anyway, even if you never get published, God gave you this gift and expects you to use it.
This is your ‘get out of the boat’ moment, Shelbi. Will you have the faith you need to trust God, and trust me, and write what comes?
Even the evil stuff you will write is okay by God. It’s real, even if it isn’t pretty, it’s part of you, part of this world, and by writing it down, you can exorcise it. Bring it out into the light and see what’s really there. Then let go of it and move on to writing something else.
The humor and love and joy are there, too, and it will shine through the darkness, because that is true too, and it is from God.

So.
Are you ready to start?
*deep breath*
[s]Yes.

What story do you want to write? I’ll write anything. It doesn’t matter what it is, I will write it. I will write whatever you tell me to. We will write masterpieces together.
Let’s get started, okay?

[m]Good deal, kid. Let’s go!

Short story written immediately after above conversation:

A small child sits alone, playing in the dirt. She has an old doll in her hands, and she’s wearing nothing but underwear and a raggedy shirt. She has dirty hair, and her shins are lined in bruises. Her feet are caked with days’ worth of dirt. She doesn’t make a noise as she plays, but her eyes are alight with a dreamy expression. She holds the doll up, and to her, it isn’t a ragged, third or fourth hand doll, she is a fairy princess, and she is coming to rescue the little girl soon.

Mary’s mother is upstairs, with an ‘uncle’ of Mary’s. Mama goes to sleep sometimes, and it’s hard for Mary to wake her up. Mary has three brothers and a sister, but they were taken away. Mary is four. One of her brothers was six when they left, the rest were younger than she is.
Two of the boys were born at the same time, when Mary was two. The baby Sarah was born last year.
Mary didn’t know why she was the only one left at home, but now she plays alone.
Sometimes it’s hard for Mary to find food. She eats dry cereal out of the box most days, and sometimes mama will get bread and peanut butter.
Mary’s mama used to be the most beautiful mama in the world. She had long brown hair, and Mary used to like to wrap her fingers up in it. It was so soft and Mary felt safe when her mama’s hair fell over her face like a blanket.
Mama had a beautiful smile, and her skin was smooth and soft to touch. Now there are spots on mama’s face, and her smile looks mean.
Mary is scared of mama, especially since Joshua left. Joshie used to make sure Mary was fed. But it was Joshie who called the lady that came and got them. But the lady forgot Mary, and Mary was all alone.
A slow drizzle begins to fall on Mary’s head, but she keeps playing. She knows she can’t get into her mama’s house anyway, and she doesn’t really want to. She’s been in there when mama has an uncle before, and it was scary.
Her uncle had been naked, which Mary thought was yucky, but he had hit Mary’s mama until she fell asleep. Mary ran and hid in a closet, Joshie had taken the twins and baby Sarah down stairs and outside. While she was hiding, the lady had come to get Joshie, the twins, and baby Sarah, and left Mary alone.
Mary’s uncle comes out the door while the drizzle falls, and Mary shivers and plays with her dolly. He looks at Mary, but Mary is making herself too small to see. Mary sees the uncle out of the corner of her eye. He stands there for a long time, and then gets in his car and leaves.
Mary goes up stairs, soaked from head to toe and shivering. Mama is shaking. Mary doesn’t like the smell in the room, but she’s too cold to care, and goes inside anyway.
Mama sees Mary, and comes across the room. Mary reaches up for her mama, hoping mama will help her get warm. Mama is bleeding and crying, and scratching her arms. She picks Mary up, turns, and starts running across the room.

Mama is running toward the big window, and when she gets there, she doesn’t slow down. Mary hears the glass break, and then something warm and hot is on her shoulder and arm.
Mama holds Mary tight as she and her mama fall, and then everything goes black.

~~Yeah, so I hate it.  Every bit of it.  But I did it.  I wrote some fiction for the first time in months, and it sucks, but it’s mine!