Monday, June 16, 2014

There is Nothing Wrong with a Two-Year Degree (Repeat from 2012)


"It is not in the cards for me to get a bachelor's degree. It never is and likely never will be. Easier to say than to believe but it's the truth and for once I'm inclined to accept this as such." - This is what I told myself in July of 2012. 

Today, my son is on the verge of his senior year at Texas A&M University and my daughter just finished her first (and most likely last) year at Blinn College. It's true and I still believe that there is nothing wrong with a two-year degree. 


Now that I have had a roller-coaster of a ride as a parent of two college kids (first row, no hands) I have come to realize that there is also nothing wrong with no college degree at all. It's not for everyone. My daughter doesn't like it and doesn't want to go right now and I support that whole-hardheartedly. That's not just $ talking, though I'll be the first to admit it's not a lot of fun to shell out tuition dollars if a kid isn't going to make an effort to finish out a semester. That's sheer fact. College is not for everyone.

"Money, the driving element of all things is what is holding me back. It’s always about money. Always has been and likely always will be." 

This was also written by me in 2012. 

Well, yeah. Money WAS holding me back. Now it's the element of balance and time. I no longer care about the money. Life is not about how much money you make. It's about how much of a difference you make. Money pays the rent but it doesn't make good things happen. People do, money or no.

My daughter wants to write. How do I not support that? Pfft!

My son likes to party. "It's what college kids do." he recently said to me. Oy!

It doesn't matter what your kids do (unless it's illegal -then it matters). It matters that you support them. Even if it's writing poetry or setting the college record for drinking a pitcher of beer.

Don't say you're happy because everything is alright. Be happy because even when everything is complicated, you're still okay.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day and Sarcasm - It's The Same Thing in my Family

I called my dad today to wish him a happy father's day.

He replied "You're Welcome."

Sure, he's 72 and by all accounts, that could be a statement to make children of elderly parents be wary (God help me if my mother ever finds out I referred to her and my daddy as 'elderly').
But with my dad - I knew he was just trying to be funny.

His words are typically slurred, whether from the stroke he had a few years ago or the beers he undoubtedly had been drinking all day, it doesn't matter. Whatever he is saying, it's in jest and if you don't know him, you might very well think he was a crabbit old man or a marble or two short of a set.

Dad Burch - he's a hoot and a half and he taught me to be the same. I never knew there was any other way to deal with any given situation than with sarcasm. I doubt I was much of a conversationalist when I was a toddler, but my mother tells me stories all the time of my dad having heated conversations with me in my high chair. I was babbling, he was telling jokes. If I didn't laugh, he would make fun of me drooling or not being able to walk.

The thing is, when you grow up with the kind of sarcastic and acerbic wit that I was raised with, you have an incredible mechanism for coping with stress of many calibers. You also have a tendency to get into trouble; yes, even as an adult I find it hard to not use my sense of humor in any given situation.

My dad and his buddies, right out of high school, started their own fraternity. None of them were in college at the time, but it seemed like the thing to do. They called themselves "Signa Fi Nothin" and probably threw more parties than the Greek clubs combined.

Then my dad joined the air force and became an airplane mechanic and used his humor and wit to entertain other servicemen during the Vietnam war. My dad was never deployed; but he worked on numerous aircraft that were damaged from the war and it was enough for him to know that the airmen getting shipped overseas on his planes would be in need of a laugh or two before they boarded the plane for take-off. So he entertained the masses. Many of those blessed servicemen never came back, may God rest their souls. Surely dad was no Bob Hope, but he still made people laugh.

I owe you for my sense of humor dad. Now, if I can just get me a pick-up truck so that I can have a mobile garden, I'll be set!


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Writing


I attempted to think of a catchier title for this particular blog post, but as I am sitting here listening to 80's music on Spotify, I fear I'm losing all sensibility and creativity to Air Supply, Journey and Flock of Seagulls. 

What is this madness, and is it only temporary?

The internet is a hindrance to the subsets of my mind because every time I try to look something up or research a topic, Google makes me 'run a rabbit' with my thoughts and I somehow, ALWAYS end up just Googling images or articles about Scott Caan.



For an under-tall actor, the man has a body that won’t quit, a face that melts my soul and the best part about him; he’s a writer! A damn good one at that!

[His latest play, No Way Around But Through, is currently running at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank, CA http://www.falcontheatre.com/ through July 8; and no – I’m not getting paid to print this]

Enough about Mr. Caan, because this post was not originally intended to be about him – that’s just the way he pops in and out of my head most days.

I just worry sometimes that my brain doesn’t have the ability to run through the colorful plethora of thoughts and emotions that pop up when I’m writing (and oh Lord, Beastie Boys just came on my play list; I’ll never get through this Blog post…)

What I mean by that (the statement not pertaining to the Boys) is that I don’t always type as fast as the thoughts swirl around in my brain and by the time I finish one thought, another has started and before I can even rationalize that thought, three more are bull dozing it out of the way, flailing about and screaming “PICK ME! PICK ME!”

Is it like this for every writer? Do I have to find a way to separate these thoughts, divide them into subcategories and file them away for later use? Or should I just keep doing what I usually do and muddle through?

Corey Hart? Really? I had this cassette my junior year of high school…’You can never SURRENDERRR’

Okay, perhaps I should write without the music turned up…in case you haven’t guessed it by now, this is called muddling through.  Not just my thoughts but the visual and audio stimulants that surround me on a daily basis that my brain is not able to tune out, yet no doctor seems to think I have attention deficit disorder.

SQUIRREL!

But I digress, because that’s a good segue to my final thought which is this: my ability to deviate from a topic but jump right back to it after I express a more current thought is decidedly tainted.

I really was just going to blog about Scott Caan.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Some of My Best Friends, I've Never Met

With technology dramatically changing the interface and interactions of friendship, the internet has become a realm of possibilities. I'm not writing here about the perverts, possible kidnappers, or other facets of the DARK side of the Internet. I'm talking about REAL friends. Real people, that while you may never have met them in person, still have made such an impact on your life that you consider them a friend.


I first met many of of my "Internet Friends" on a discussion group for Days of Our Lives (yes, the Soap Opera). We started out talking about the soap, but we quickly progressed to learning more about each other, so much so that the creator of the discussion group created a "Personal Topics" (http://mediadomain.com/cgi-bin/netforum/dool_fan/a.cgi/1)  page so that the people who were really getting miffed at things other than soap talk would stop having nuclear melt downs on the site.  As such, the DOOLies were born.


So, about 1/3 of the original DOOLies remain at Media Domain (I find that I don't even visit that much anymore), while many of us have progressed to the age of Facebook and have become online friends in this capacity.


What always struck me as odd was how easily we transferred online acquaintances into actual 3-D friendships. Many of us have met each other in person, share commonalities such as same aged kids, divorce, re-marriage, and a lot of the difficulties of every day life.  These we have been able to share, whether pseudo-anonymously or in person. 


My husband still finds it odd that I could be "friends" with somebody I've never met, but with my fellow DOOLies, I don't even give it a second thought.  It's like we always 'were.'


In actuality, I started this particular blog in July of 2010. In that time, we have lost some DOOLies to the Angels, and while that makes me very sad, it's a comfort to know that we have always been there for each other and likely always will be.


I can't discount the number of arguments and board fights we have witnessed and taken part of over the years (I'm thinking it's been since 1996 - but I can't remember exact dates). We were either in the thick of it, or we had our lawn chairs and margarita machines out and we lurked on the sidelines.


Through it all, I think some of these DOOL friends, though I have never met them in person, are some of the best friends I have ever had.


Now, I'm off to lurk over at 'the board.'  Maybe I'll see you there.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Muse Schmuse

The internet is the root of all things evil.  At least to this writer. Yet here I am, drawn to it like a dogs nose to a crotch.  I can't seem to stay away.

Therein lies my problem.  I can't stop reading other blogs, fan fiction, Facebook, Huffington Post and Twitter (just to name a few).  The things I have been able to write seem to be filled with cliches and mundane fuselage from my weary brain.

Then came Shades of Grey, and while I did fall in love with the character's in this story, it really isn't that well written and it's far from my favorite genre to read and not even in the same realm as that in which I write.  Yet I read all three books in the series FIVE times...in only THREE weeks. The author 'was' just someone who liked to read (can't be a good cook if you don't also like to eat) and started the Shades story as Twilight Fan Fiction. I won't even get into how abhorring that is to the writer in me. The movies ruined that series, which is a shame because Stephanie Meyer can write.  Shades of Grey film rights sold for over $5 million. Not sure the exact amount but it had to be over that because that's what Sony offered for the rights but they were unsuccessful.  To put this in perspective - Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code" sold for around $3 million (according to Huffington Post).

Hell, I haven't even bothered to post to this blog since I was "supposed" to be participating in NaNoWriMo in November! I have three stories in my head right now but I can't put them into writing. I will say this though; the scenarios and dialogue that I have drummed up in my brain are absolutely RIVETING! I'm thinking at least a $4 million movie contract.

Now that I've decided to finish my degree in English, I'm sure the muse will hit because, alas, I will not have time to scratch my ass, let alone put words together on paper. Unless it's for a grade, in which case I'm sure I'll be blessed with both Burch Luck and Writer's Block.

In any case, here's to all the bumbling author's out there who ARE getting published. I know a few and I'm happy for them. 

That's all for now. I'm off to catch up on Twitter and the latest on Huffington Post.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

NaNoWriMo Words for day 2

Just going to start posting chapters for the novel I've been working on for sometime. Keep in mind, I write Young Adult and/or children's books, so I try to keep it at that level. I either write too high for that age group or too low - so this is all just practice. So, here is a chapter from "Liberty":

PowerPoint Presentation

James River Tobacco Plantation, 1838

The sharp cry of a newborn followed by hushed whispers and scurrying feet was all that Thomas James could remember of the exact moment that his daughter Sarah was born. He had been holding back tears when Imari placed the tiny infant in his arms, the baby seemed so fragile and so much smaller than any of her brothers. She was merely whimpering now but he focused on looking into her beautiful face, so much like her mothers, that he tuned out the sharp voices coming from just the other side of the bedroom door.

It wasn’t until he felt the slaves hand on his arm, then the look on Imari’s face that he realized that something was terribly wrong. Clara had not yet called for him like she usually did after each baby, both to chastise him for his role in putting her through the childbirth, and to coo over the babies. The slave’s eyes told him everything, her voice barely audible.

“It was complications. She just lost too much blood. We tried Mastuh.” Imari had said. To Thomas, it was the end of life as he knew it. Clara had been his voice of reason, his friend, his beautiful wife and childhood sweetheart. His confidant. He couldn’t imagine life without her. He numbly placed the child into Imari’s arms and left the house to get away from the noise. He calmly began to smoke his pipe and shed the tears that now flowed freely down his face.

He didn’t know how he was going to make it without her; and yet, he had to go on. He had seven children now and a plantation to run and business to see to. His sons needed their education and discipline, as well as training with the horses and livestock, and he would soon have to teach Thomas William, his oldest son and namesake, all the business of running the plantation. Thomas was only twelve, but it was never too early to learn how to run the business.

Luckily, Imari had seen to the needs of the baby without him having to worry, having recently given birth to her own daughter, so he immediately buried himself with these worries and pushed his pain aside.

That was a month ago. The funeral was short; it was so cold and the ground was too hard to even dig the grave. Clara had been placed just off of the wood shed in a coffin of wet pine, covered in the snow until the ground thawed enough for digging a proper burial plot in the spring. It pained Thomas to think about it; so he didn’t. He immersed himself back into the business of running the plantation and seeing to the needs and castigations of his slaves, as well as the upbringing of his sons.

He barely noticed his new daughter at all at first. Until one day, Imari interrupted his daily Bible reading to his sons and placed Sarah in his arms.

“Mastah, I’m sorruh, but your daughter, she be needin her pa right now.” and she had walked away, leaving the bright eyed Sarah to look curiously into her papa’s eyes. That was all it took; the eyes, so much like her mothers, forming the connection he needed to drag him from his stupor. Sarah became his whole world after that moment.

When she wasn’t with Imari and Liberty, she was in a basket at her father’s feet, or playing with bobbles and toys under his desk. She was immediately wrapped around her father’s finger, as well as her brothers, and stationed in their hearts. There was almost nothing she could do that would upset anyone, particularly her father. Almost.

Sarah was only four years old the first time her father had to discipline her. She had been playing with Liberty on the floor of the busy kitchen and the two were playing a game of catch with a ball of rags.

The throws were becoming increasingly sporadic and out of control and the girls giggles, while entertaining, were irritating the kitchen slaves.

Caroline, a big robust slave with no patience for children, was just pulling a hot bread pudding from the oven when a missed toss sent the ball sailing across the kitchen, into the pudding, splattering the big round woman with burning liquid and startling her so that the pudding was then dropped, splashing the poor slave, the walls, the floors and sizzling into the belly of the oven.

When Sarah's father learned of the ruined pudding, his favorite, he had to forbid her from being in the kitchen, as well as discipline her for her defiance. Because he could not bear to spank his own daughter, she had been sent to bed without any supper; a punishment that turned out all the better for her as each of her brothers, feeling sorry for her, had each snuck food into the bedrooms that night. She was full of cold ham, biscuits with honey, a handful of fried potatoes, and molasses cookies by the time her father came to her that evening with a glass of warm milk and a piece of bread. He finished explaining to her the necessities of rules and why she was being punished when he offered her the food as a token of his pleasure at her obedience when she proclaimed

"Oh but papa, I can’t eat that!" He beamed briefly at her presumed adherence to her punishment, but quickly frowned as she went on

"I'm so full already with what Will and Libby and the boys brought me from their suppers. You go 'head an eat that papa; yous be needin sumpin for yoself’."

Though he knew he could not keep her from the clutches of Imari, her only known mother, whom she adored and had taken all of his children under her careful watch and he certainly could not part her from the company of Liberty, with whom she would have shared a bed if he had allowed. No, he couldn’t help their current circumstances, but the law being the law and slaves being slaves, he would have to do something about his daughters unlikely ‘kinship’ with his slaves and the mannerisms that she was picking up on.

His first thought was boarding school, but the thought of sending Sarah away nearly broke his heart and he just couldn’t dream of it. But it was in that moment that Thomas decided what his daughter needed was a proper tutor and "white" teacher and the sooner the better. If he couldn’t send her to boarding school, he would bring one to her. (end chapter)

Okay, so that is the introduction. Hopefully it gives enough background without having to back too far, and just so much that you know the setting and hopefully some of the characters. The rest of the story will be about Sarah adjusting to her 'prim and proper' tutor, her friendship with Libby and some of the trouble that that cause, her relationship with her father. At some point, Sarah will realize what slavery actually means and that she does not adhere to that way of life. Her quest at that point will be to help Libby seek freedom via the underground railroad (after her mother, Imari's untimely and suspicious death) and together the two young girls (probably at around the age 13 mark) run away to go North, to Canada. While traveling the U G railroad with the help of abolitionists and allies I was thinking that it would be neat for them to meet the actual Harriet Tubman and other real people who are often associated with the "Freedom Train." May even change the name of the novel to Freedom Train, though the rough title is Liberty.

You can let me know what you think if you want. Good and bad, all feedback is welcome.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

What's In a Name?

I'm not just made up of the Burch family genes. I have Beattie in me too. I think the luck on that side is not as bad, or maybe just not talked about. Either way, our family has some good memories of Beattie Christmases, family reunions and get togethers.

Nothing, however, is as successful at bringing a family together quite like a funeral. It's sad to think that this is sometimes what it takes, but at the same time, celebrating the life of a loved one with other loved ones is time well spent.

My Uncle Speed would have loved his own funeral. So much laughter, all the cousins together for the first time in thirty + years. Cards were played, stories were told, tears were shed, and hugs were shared all around.

The world lost a great man when Speedy left this earth. He was a great artist, a practical jokester, an architectural engineer, a husband, a father, a grandfather, a brother, an uncle, a friend.

At his funeral, the pastor of the church asked those who wanted to, to come forward and share a story about Speed. A memory or two. I was taken off guard to say the least. First of all, I didn't have anything prepared and as I am NOT a public speaker, this was a detriment to anything I would or could have shared anyway. Secondly, there are so many Speed stories that I can think of, that I froze. I needed to hear what others were sharing, but at the same time, I was picking through my brain for Speed memories I could possibly share with others without breaking up in front of people.

I could have talked about me spending the first few months of my life with Uncle Speed and Aunt Jo because my mom got sick with Hepatitis and couldn't care for me. How Uncle Speed wouldn't let me go to the baby sitter if Jo couldn't watch me, so he would stay home from work to be with me. But I don't really remember that, as I was only a baby.

Maybe the first time I ever caught a fish. It was in his pond, at the foot of the "mountain" that was left over after he dug it. Or, one of the many summers I spent at his farm, getting up with the roosters, gathering eggs because he told me I couldn't eat breakfast or lunch until I did "my chores."

The ole "mongoose" trap he had rigged. Feeding his pet squirrels with a baby bottle. I finally thought of one that would have fit, so I decided I would just blog it instead (what since the funeral is already over and all).

At one time, Uncle Speed raised Lhasa Opsa's. His main breeder pup was named, Angie. I remember the first time I saw her, I fell in love. She was so pretty. White, long hair. We had gone to Oolagah to spend the weekend at Speed's and the minute I walked in the door I was all over that fluffy dog. And then Speed said something like "This is Angie, and since we named her after you, you will have to pick up her dog poop if she poops in the house, so keep an eye on her."

Never have I watched a dog so closely in my life! When she did happen to poo, I must have had my back turned or left the room. Uncle Speed called me into the living room, handed me the tissue and said "Clean it up!"

I had tears in my eyes as I bent down and picked up that darn pooh and so did Speed. His, though, were from holding back his laughter and he kindly opened the lid of the trash can for me to toss Angie's pooh. He didn't make me clean it up again though. I think, in spite of the ornery side in him, he did have enough compassion that he wasn't going to put a 9 yr old through that again. To this day, I still have a problem picking up dog poop during a dogs training stages. I typically would put a napkin over it and wait for Alan to get home.

But - I will never forget my first time picking up the pooh. Thank goodness they didn't name any other dogs after me.

I'll miss you Uncle Speed. And I'll never forget you.