Enlightened and Rambling

Howdy ya’ll, Tina here.

I am now in my 6th week of classes at the University of the People, UoPeople for short. It is a tuition free, online based, accredited university that is open to people around the world. When I say tuition free, I mean, you don’t pay for books, you don’t pay for classes, you only pay for your application and final tests.

“Tina, that’s great and all but I don’t really care…”

Yeah I know and you are so sweet to be so supportive of me in my three sentence intro. I only said something because I am so excited about the application I have already given to some of my current classes.

I am seeking a Business Management degree and in my business class I had to create my own mission, vision, goals, and strategy using the various methods we are being taught. They were to pertain to my own personal life and what I want out of it. Well, see, trouble is, I have never really known what I wanted out of life. I have always held on dearly to the dream of living in Japan, but other than that I never set my mind that I would become something more than just me. Mostly because I don’t tend to think very highly of myself. Now before you get all, “Oh poor Tina” , I have to say that a great deal of who I am today as a person was shaped by my past. Even more of who I am has been shaped over the last few years as I learned to move past that and push on with becoming my own person. So I would say the whole self discovery thing was just, uh, delayed. I talked about my assignments with family members who all without knowing what the others said gave me the same advice.

“Tina, you love Japan and writing. Always have.”

See, writing as a kid was therapeutic for me. It provided a way for me to press my own feelings, goals, hopes, dreams and demons onto someone else. Pretending for a while that it wasn’t me going through it. I wrote everything, love stories, poems, dark and depressing or light and hopeful, I wrote adventure, and I wrote horror. Lots of horror. I don’t really know why writing didn’t pop up to me right away as a possible goal for myself. I guess really because I think of it more of a thing someone does as they work a real job. However, as my mentor and cyborg queen overlord has said over and over again, Writing is hard, and anyone who says differently isn’t a writer. Writing is a real job, with insane hours, a cranky and sometimes rude boss, unrealistic goals and dreams, and a killer time sink if you just quit. So if you dive into it, you gotta be ready to live it. Family and friends don’t support you, or worse do but don’t understand the kind of commitment you need to give to writing and call you selfish, it is gonna happen.

I have been given the most amazing ideas and creativity that can spin up yards of ideas in an instant. My husband is logical, intelligent and always willing to help me out. He is my chosen editor and key reader for my works.

 

So, if you have never done it before, find out what you want from life. It might surprise you and lead you to joy you didn’t know you had access to.

In which Kris reads children’s books

Kris here,

It’s been a while since I talked about something I liked reading instead of rambling on about writing every week. I figured this week I’d talk about The Ranger’s Apprentice. This is actually a pretty recent series as far as stuff I’ve read goes – I read it a few years ago, but it was just published less than 20 years ago! Okay it’s not that new, but a lot of the books I like to revisit frequently were all written in the 70’s, 80’s and..well the 1800’s. I’m into older stories you could say.

The Ranger’s Apprentice I believe has a target demographic of something like 9-14 year olds, so I actually just read the first book to make sure it was alright for my then 6 year old and whether I could keep it around to read Nik at bedtime. Five or six books into the series and I’m thinkin’ “wow this is pretty good” – as evidenced by the fact that it took me about 3 days to read each book. The writing is surprisingly easy to digest for something written for such a young age; to be fair, when I was 10 I read Animorphs, Stephen King, Edgar Allen Poe and Dragonlance. So I guess kids aren’t as bad at reading as all that.

I don’t want to spoil the actual story here, they’re relatively short and easy to pick up, but it’s essentially a coming-of-age tale of a young orphan named Will who got picked up as a …Ranger’s Apprentice. And he’s all like “pfsh no way!” and then later he’s like “This is amazing!” Honestly the main character is relatively likeable, but is by far one of my least favorite characters. I don’t hate the guy, I just like all the others better. Especially Halt, which is the “Ranger” part of the series title. He’s a rough guy who knows how and when to help, and he fills in my need to have a badass dude who can stand up to the evil guys while the smaller good guys are still doing jumping jacks or whatever so they don’t get stomped.

The series romps through a few topics I wasn’t really expecting to see – befriending bullies, beating drug addiction and killing a guy with a longbow arrow through the face, but were written in a way that I’m definitely adding them to the stuff-to-read-Nik list. Check out the first book if you have a few days to read a fun story, I can honestly say my copies are chopped up between physical books and e-books (self-control, what?!) so it’s available in whatever form you need.

Also the wiki says Mr Flanagan originally wrote the story as a way to get his own child into reading – I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but I’m 110% down with that.

(the first book is here)

ruins_of_gorlan
Source: Link

Tina chiming in here,

According to my research, The books have been slated to become a movie and started production in fall of 2016. I have not heard anything new but here is the New York Times article with more information if you want! (Link)

Creatively Speaking

Howdy all, Tina here.

Kris and I have been talking about it and we would like to let you all know that we are planning to start a podcast. We want it to be a more personalized voice to our whatever we end up making our blog post about that week.

Now, so much has happened. We got decent mics so that we would sound less horrible and we both have been doing research into what type of podcasts out there might be similar to ours. We talked about format and how we would upload it. For now we are working on getting an Apple ID, Google Play and others to post the podcast too. For now it might just be via a link in the blog post to our youtube page.

“Tina, what will you guys talk about?”

Psh, what won’t we talk about?!

Politics… I don’t wanna talk politics, because that requires much more research and dedication to time sinking activities that I just frankly don’t want to do.

Other than that, EVERYTHING. Science, parenting, school, writing, crafting, cooking, you freaking name it and we are willing to try it out. I want to do a weekly update about our life then just jump into whatever topic we are doing that week.

“What if I don’t want to listen to your soft, honey smooth voices?”

That’s fine… I guess. We will still be posting a weekly blog, the podcast will just be supplemental to it.

“Will you talk about my (INSERT PRODUCT/PROJECT HERE)?”

Sure, but we are going to be honest. That’s just who we are. I don’t want my name attached to an idea that I don’t support. But you wanna talk about your book. Want us to talk about your podcast? Meh, why not!

Also, for those of you who didn’t know we do have a twitter, @keyboardcouple . Tweet us a tweet. Well, thank you all for listening and I can’t wait for you all to hear from us soon!

In which Kris ends things

Kris here,

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately practicing writing short ideas in a concise format. See, I’ve got about a billion ideas in my head just like everybody else, and I can start them off pretty dang well. We’re talking ideas for days here. But I’ve been tripping up around the 50-60% mark on the whole actually having a plot thing. I’m like oh man this is fantastic my main character is A BOSS! And Tina’s like “but Kris what’s he bossly doing” and I’m like “well look he just set a landslide on fire and threw it at an army” and she’s like “oh yeah. Okay but why did he do that?” So of course because it’s an ARMY hello!? But what’s it doing, why’s my guy caught up in it? PSH! Who cares we need more fire in here! “How does it end?” Uhh well I suppose he just, I don’t know he wins a medal and lives in a castle.

Okay that’s not a real life example but I feel it’s exaggeratory enough to get the point across. I have to combat my lack of forward progress or my actual weak point in writing: Ending. The. Story. These things ramble on forever, like holy cow man put a lid on it already! I get exhausted reading through my own notes a week later. This is a problem of course – if you can’t read your own work, who else is going to put out the effort? So I did what any rational adult in my place would do and I just Googled around for like an hour looking for an easy way out.

Ugh, turns out there’s no easy way out. Well there might be, but the people with those secrets are greedy. All the advice I found regarding “How to end my goddang story” revolved around things like “5 ways to end your story. Number 7 will wig you out!” There’s probably a lot of good info out there, but my attention span is basically a knock knock joke and sometimes it’s easier done than said.

I ended up devising a cool practice to help me out. Yeah you guessed it – I just wrote a bunch of endings. I got a (basically) brand new notebook and a pen, and I wrote a brief concept and wrote a plot and ending immediately. Okay, the first try was ten pages long. That’s why it’s practice! I’ve got another few 8-10 page ideas thrown around in various places – I haven’t actually kept them together, that would be silly. The last few days I’ve actually managed to piece together a few one or two page ideas in an outline-able format. This might seem like a trivial issue to both accomplished- and non-writers, but remember: nobody reads stories for the beginning. I’ve never chatted up a fellow reader like “boy this book sure started out amazing. I’m going to spread the word, but just about the first 50 pages!” No way- they’re doing this for that sweet endorphine rush at the end. You gotta nail that bit.

There are probably quite a few authors and writers hanging out here thinking to themselves “Wow this guy is really dumb. I write 100 pages a day, it’s pretty easy.” I totally agree, kudos to your monstrous efforts on the 100 page thing, that’s really good. Lots of people I talk to personally or threads I read through on writing forums are all about how to move a story forward, or I wrote my character into a corner – how do I get out of this?

Try it out sometime – spitting out 300 pages of book into 5 pages is fast, you can write and re-write 20 times with various changes or whatever you want in any writing style that fits your theme. Mine usually don’t include names – the last one I wrote had a main character named “Kid,” supported by two characters named “bro” and “ninja” and the antagonists were “bastardlord” and “gloriousleader.” Of course they were fleeing from the country of THIS to the country of THAT. The important thing isn’t the details of these (hopefully throwaway) stories, it’s the practice you get in resolving those fine details.

Remember, names aren’t important, backstories giving your protagonist reasons to throw flaming landslides at people are important.

The cost of Education 

As our youngest started on his journey of education it gave way to thoughts about my own education. I got pregnant my senior year of high school and was pressured into going to an alternative school where kids that couldn’t go to school with others for some reason or another were sent to work at their own pace. I took that as a personal challenge to get my full senior year plus some done before Thanksgiving break. I had the whole rest of the year to myself to think about college. 

I did enroll. I attempted to attend a local Christian university that had offered me a scholarship. However I was working two jobs to pay for daycare and had a full course schedule. I overloaded myself and quickly dropped out. I attempted once again to go to a community college with just a few classes. Fearing overload again. However, unresolved medical issues stepped up and forced me away from school again. 

I spent the next few years researching and diving into ideas for different ways to go to school but always failing at going any further due to lack of funds. 

Cue my 30th birthday, I had been feeling like this one simple thing called a degree was missing from my life. All my goals and dreams hindering on a 4 year commitment to working my ass off. So, now I am working on becoming a better me via Threopy and working closely with my doctors to make myself better each day. That has included enrolling in an undergraduate program for business management. I am working hard and facing my personal struggles head on. I know things will get better and that all things change. Our universe is in a constant state of change so your bad luck one day will pass eventually. 
So enjoy the moments in your life that make you smile, chase after the dreams, because you were built for the chase and don’t worry over the mistakes, they fade with time. I love you all!
Tina

In which Kris loves wind

Kris here,

I wanted to follow up on Tina’s post from last week a little bit. She grew up in a state where tornado sirens are tested every week without fail. They’re tested for a dang good reason too. If you go to Oklahoma and you hear a tornado siren anytime aside from a Saturday, there’s a good chance you can see a gaggle of Oklahomans outside looking around for the tornado. That’s a bit silly though isn’t it? Tornado siren – oh there’s a tornado! Zoinks! All the normal people you speak with have reactions like “omg I would lock myself in a basement surrounded by steel and concrete and a 15 day ration of food tornadoes can go straight to hell.”

I grew up in Washington in the Pacific Northwest – it’s an amazing place and I love it, but I was always so sad we never had bigger storms. Don’t get me wrong, thunderstorms are dangerous and set of fires every year in multiple states, but they’re still awe inspiring. I had no idea my spirit animal was actually Oklahoma state until I moved there, let me tell you. I don’t actually like the college football or some of their weird obsessions. But when the skies darken to twilight at 1PM and the skies dye themselves a dark green or purple, then that siren starts wailing – you can bet your whole bottom I’m standing outside with everybody else just freakin’ stoked like WHERE IS IT!

Storms and earthquakes and acts of nature are amazing, but of course beauty comes at a price. These things can be dangerous – if not to us as immediate observers, then to people trying to fix downed power lines, ambulances rushing through hazards to get people to safety…like this time I was outside looking for a tornado that was relatively not far away from me, it was exciting and downpouring like a crazy monsoon all over my work clothes. I didn’t notice it stop raining because I was a hunter stalking my prey..a uh…a tornado. It made more sense at the time. Anyway, I’m just hanging around and my roommate at the time was like “Kris by the way come inside” and I was like “ha! No way I’m invincible!” Then all of a sudden some hail fell that was almost as big as my palm, too big to hold more than 2 in my hand. This stuff was literally vibrating my feet through my shoes from like 2 feet away:

(not my video, but this is a few blocks from where I lived)

I’ve got a plethora of monitoring apps on my phone and computer at all times just checking out the world around us and I definitely think I’ve infected my son with the sense of curiosity too. I probably should’ve saved Tsunamis and earthquakes maybe until he was a bit older, but it’s too late to turn back now! Since the “please don’t kill me” hail incident I’ve gotten a bit more cautious, but more interested than ever.

I’m definitely watching this hurricane season as it’s punched its way into our lives with all kinds of record breaking numbers. Harvey was a windy, rainy couple days up where we live now, but dumped 15 trillion gallons of water on eastern Texas – as much as 4 feet of water in some places – and Irma is looking to be just as strong coming up at Florida. Stay safe in those storms, and let’s remember to pitch in to the relief efforts wherever you can, just a little can make a big difference!

Texas, you crazy

When moving from Oklahoma to Texas I knew it wouldn’t be much of a change. Or so I thought. 

In Oklahoma I was treated to the majesty and grandeur of wild weather. Tornadoes, snow storms and earthquakes all on the same day! 

Texas was much more than what I was expecting. I instantly fell into a stupor of community involvement and a passion for learning about my new city.  A simple oasis of kindness and free expression. A place to bring out all the things that felt so hidden and hush hush back home. I fell into some hard times but I found an amazing and supportive community to reach out and remind me that I wasn’t alone. 

The weather here can get crazy. This latest on set of storms has brought many people from the gulf out toward my little town and I had the pleasure of sharing some of the kindness I got to them. We talked about the easy access library where their kids can find tons of books and videos to hold them over. The new laundry mat that has huge and cheap machines down the street. Oh, and the new delicious delivery Greek food place that just opened up!

So as I am lucky enough not to be effected by the storm by loss of home or blocked up roadways. I have been lucky enough to be affected with the hospitality and love that my community has shown me and that I can now share with those in need. 

Til next week ya’ll!

Tina out!