Electric Hearing

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Short story: Helen Keller reportedly said, “Blindness separates people from things; deafness separates people from people.” While I can’t speak to the blindness, deafness is an emotional killer when you lose your hearing and you’re in a family of misfits with the patience of day flies. I’m not writing this as a martyr or a victim – I’m long past the days for feeling guilty or sorry for having a physical disability – but if you’re having hearing problems, today is the day to get help.

Long story: To avoid the martyr/victim thing, let’s skip my winding road to deafness other to say it was inevitable. Deafness is a genetic thing in my family, as two of my eight great grandparents wore boomboxes to aid their hearing. Folks in my generation remember the transistor-radio-sized devices folks wore before hearing aids (HA) became small. The one thing common from their days is the persistent perception that hearing-impaired folks are slow and dumb. (I was slow and dumb long before deafness, but I digress.)

I made the decision to get the cochlear implant (CI) when I realized the Bride was almost yelling at me to make herself understood, but I resisted even then. A bad CI operation has life-changing effects, ranging from tinnitus to vertigo, either or both possibly permanent. Even the best situation involves wearing a ~$10,000 external device that makes some people uncomfortable (see above: “slow and dumb”). There’s the possible loss of remaining natural hearing in the implanted ear, too, due to the process on placing the implant on the cochlear. The price tag for the operation and all the fun: $150,000 in this here United States. That’s not a typo.

The examination and interviews for the CI are a long series of “Are you sure you want to do this?”, which makes sense considering the list of potential outcomes. There was yet another hour in the testing booth, a first for The Bride but an old friend to me. Of the three mainstream CI devices, I picked Cochlear over Med-El and Advanced Bionics (AB) because Cochlear is the industry standard. The implant was inserted in my head in May and activated in June. Here’s a non-bloody computer simulation of the implantation if you’re so inclined.

Activation. A big deal. Serious. Watch this video. Joy, happiness, tears.

If you’re considering a CI, here’s advice that’s worth less than a cup of coffee. There is a very active CI group on Facebook where fellow wearers will patiently answer all CI-related questions. Get used to carrying CI gear if you’re away from the house for more than an hour because the device eats electricity. Cochlear (the company) will sell you rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries, which is good since you’ll be swapping out batteries once a day. Finally, take every opportunity to educate family and colleagues on the CI. And the hardest lesson: be patient. Electric hearing is a solution, not a problem, and like all life-changing events, it takes getting used to. Listen to your surgeon and audiologist.

I wish I had a conclusion but there’s none to be had because there’s no happily ever after yet. I will say every patient’s experience is unique, and I was fortunate to miss the negative outcomes. The hearing in my implanted (right) ear is vastly improved, though three months later, people still sound like the kitten at the end of The Emperor’s New Groove. My left ear has a hearing aid, which I forget to turn on some days, so there’s a good sign. All in all, things are working out, knock on wood. Thanks for reading.

 

(if you’re the owner of the above picture, please let me know so I can either credit you or remove it. thanks!)

Status Report

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News you can’t use…

Today begins the professional editing of “A Sheriff in Nevada.” Twitter followers know my stomach has butterflies the size of B-52s because I’m flashing back to high school term papers (“Was I even close to the target???”). The edit will take two weeks.

Around that time, Cassidy Carson and I will be jetting off to faraway lands because we’re both in “use it or lose it” situations. Such is our level of dedication to the fine citizens of the Silver State.

Our return home will herald the shaking of bones and such over the keyboard to position ASIN for publication. I hope creating a Kindle copy is easier than it used to be back in the day. (“Tell us another story, Grampa.”)

This all takes us into November and Nanowrimo with this year’s subject being the first of two sequels to ASIN. No, it will not be another Emma Parks book (Hi, Lisa!), but I will do one as soon as I get something that’s worth 70K+ words.

Last word: this Monday’s blog post will be on cochlear implants.

Okay, that’s all for now. Return to your lives, citizens.

John McCain

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If you’re looking for a Victor Hugo script in the 21st Century, the current Washington DC administration has plenty of fodder for your keyboard. Anger, controversy, foreign intrigue, indictments, convictions: this White House has it all and more. Good people everywhere are pushing back in their own ways to make their points. There doesn’t seem to be middle ground, as you’re either with the President or resisting. Along those lines, the Resistance has its martyr now, and it’s the same man who helped make his party into what it is today.

Unless you buried your head in the sand, you know John McCain was honored September 1st at the grandest meeting of the Resistance since 45 was inaugurated, as noted in the New Yorker. Former Presidents, the Senator’s daughter, and other speakers made pointed personal remarks about the character and behavior to the current White House occupant. Senator McCain found the President’s behavior repugnant to the point that Mr. Trump was not invited to the Washington National Cathedral, three and half miles from the Oval Office (Mr. Trump was at his Virginia golf club, anyway).

Also uninvited was Mr. McCain’s running mate from his 2008 presidential campaign, former Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin. Her rise to a national stage was one of the key factors in the rise of the Tea Party Republicans, though not certainly the first, last, or most important factor. Her nomination as her party’s standard bearer helped validate and empower thousands of Palins across the country. While some of their extremism is out of fashion, the impact of these vocal ultra-conservatives continues to resonate through the halls of Congress. From the cheap seats where I sit, the momentum created in 2008 played a key factor in Donald Trump’s election in 2016. This version of the Trump-oriented Grand Ol’ Party may not be of Mr. McCain’s choosing, but he certainly had a hand in its creation.

Whatever your opinion of Senator McCain, and it seems very few people sit in the center between the extremes between love and hate, his carefully orchestrated memorial service paid appropriate homage to a complex man who loved his country and helped make his party into the what it is today. Whether or not that’s a good thing is up to you.

Not Gonna Dance

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Hi, it’s me. How y’all doing? Been a while, huh?

I’m resurfacing because I’m about to publish a book, probably in October.

Before you roll your eyes at yet another lame sales pitch, hold your horses. I am not going to do the “indie author sales dance,” period.

I danced hard for my last two books, one published under this name and a risque trash novel under another name. I won’t list the dance steps as y’all have done them yourselves many times (here’s the list). I exhausted myself bopping and popping with the whole social media outreach thing, and with spending more than a few hours trying to engage hundreds of dance partners. I wore out my dance shoes because I believed in my books. I believed in them hard. After all, they’re my e-children. Can you relate?

All that energy and emotion amounted to nothing. No sales, no nothing. No second dances.

I can write 70,000 words, but after that…who knows? Along the way, some kind of night magic is lost. Maybe I’m doing a masculine tango while I should be doing a sensual waltz. The Hustle instead of the Sprinkler. The Watusi instead of the Twist.

So here’s my only two-step: this new book is my best book, but I’m not objective. I believe in my children, flesh and electronic, so sue me.

I will hire a professional orchestra to edit the book and to design the book cover, then I’ll stick the thing out on Amazon. There may be a couple of blog posts and a little Twitter, plus I may make my other books free as a preview.

But the dance card will otherwise be blank. There will be no indie author sales dancing for me, and I’m okay with that.

Y’all take care of yourselves, okay?

[Edit: if you are the owner of this and/or other images on this blog, let me know and I will remove. Thank you!]

Bird Thoughts

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[Hi, everyone. Back from break after touring the best part of the Silver State via Highway 50 and back round Interstate 80. Fun times for this Nevada nerd. Now, time for the writing exercise. If you’re late to the game, I bought a book of writing prompts to kick start my butt back into the game. If you’re interested, these exercises all have the same hashtag (link). As always, my comments at the end are at the end in italics and brackets.]

Bird Thoughts

Think of a specific type of bird, such as a wandering albatross, and write a detailed description of it, including its appearance and its movements, and perhaps even its thoughts.

Argus of the Icari nest watched the human below climb the near-perpendicular shale cliff without rope or support. Even in the near darkness of the dawn, he could see the human was laboring, yet not being as careful as the others before today. He found himself counting the seconds for the man (perhaps women) to put a hand on a loose offshoot of rock. The cliff face was too dangerous to fly by, much less ascent, and he was sure the rock crumble under the weight of the climber. The fall would be sudden, too quick to save itself from the fall to the valley floor below.

Argus hoped for the fall, because if it made the ascent to his station, he would have to kill the human to save his nest’s secrets. Despite his training, he had no taste for murder.

His left wing quivered and he folded the tip to his face, plucking the small ant trying to nest between the feathers. Like those his age, Argus was a speedbird, the youngest of the warrior caste. Their youth and physical fitness made them the swiftest of the nest, able to fly incredible speeds during the hunt. Their wings were developed to the point where they could withstand sharp turns as high speeds, including the turn upwards from the ground after falling a far distance. Continue reading

Jesus Wept

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[Writing exercise time. My comments are italicized and in brackets, as usual.]

“Jesus wept” is the shortest sentence in the Bible, made up of only a noun and a verb. List random nouns and verbs below and see if any fit well together to create a short, impactful, and perfectly crafted sentence.

Armadillos strutted.
Bagpipe blown.
Bidet exploded.
Capon caught.
Chastity given.
Cleaner applied.
Click paused.
Consent given.
Cover blown.
Creditor fumed.
Dagger pierced.
Learning stopped.
Lily opened.
Log fell.
Netbook read.
Premeditation warranted.
Protocol followed.
Respite given.
Road traveled.
Rubbish tossed.
Slippers lost.
Software downloaded.
Sweat beaded.
Wonder felt.

[Okay, I admit I wimped out on this exercise and fell back to cliches. In my defense, I drove 300+ miles today over the most interesting landscape in the world: rural Nevada. Highway 50 is like butter to Nevada nerds. If you want to give me points, the nouns are random (link).]

Historical Juxaposition

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[Today’s writing exercise with three stories. Forgive the typos, as this is off the cuff with little to no editing. My comments are in italics and brackets.]

In the space below each of these three historical events, describe a seemingly mundane, everyday event that might have occurred on the same day, which serves to juxtapose the famous events:

  1. William Shakespeare dies, April 23, 1626.

Riku stirred the warm water over the fire in his family’s small kitchen, waiting for his father to return from the docks and his mother from visiting his aunt in the foothill. Though only ten, he understood the immense responsibility of tending the fire, not overstocking the flame or letting the sparks leave the same stone circle. His father’s father, his soku, still bore the scars on his arm from the Last Great Edo Fire, and his grandfather rarely let a month go by without telling how his mother was consumed.

But Riku was ten years old, and his mind wandered as a child’s mind does, even during important tasks. His eyes saw his hand stirring the water, preparing to add the chai, but his mind was far away. It was not on his small family, his parents or his poor maimed little sister whom he loved more that the moon, nor was it on the upcoming Kanda Matsuri festival, in which his father promised Riku could attend from dawn to dusk. His imaginations passed over even his favorite dream: success in school. It was not unknown for the best students to find a new life above their caste, far from this small Yokosuka apartment.

Had Riku thought of his favorite dream, he would have repeated his silent prayer thanking the gods his family was not burakumin, social outcasts. No matter their efforts, there was no light in the dark days of those untouchables. Continue reading

Unpublished

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I unpublished a book today. I ain’t happy.

Literary history is rift with authors who burned their own works: Whitman, Kafka, Stevenson, Bacon, and so on. The angel who blessed these and others with literary artistry became the devil with a lit match and a fireplace. The reasons are varied: mental health issues, crippling self doubt, the desire to die in anonymity, and so on. I do not include myself with them, other than to say I understand how it feels when the magic disappears, and when a sense of reality finds a home in your gut.

The book in question was my second book, and in my lofty dreams, I wanted to accomplish so much: testify to the strength of love; hold the Church accountable for its sins; solve an ancient mystery; create a sort of James Bond with a collar. The outcome was a gobbled mess of editing errors, underdeveloped characters, and plot holes the size of an Edsel. Amateur Hour in 60,000 words.

Unlamented by most, the book is gone, or it will be once Amazon removes the link from my author page. If I’m going to be a professional writer, then I must have the strength to know when I’ve done wrong and fix my mistakes. Book Number Two was the biggest mistake of my nascent writing career. Through it, I learned a ton of lessons. The good outweighs the bad.

I still ain’t happy.

Turmeric-Yellow Taxis

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Bought a book of writing prompts and exercises  to help kick-start the dormant writing career. Let’s see how long I stick with the words.

#1. Write down the colors of various herbs and spices and then use these spice/color couplets to describe the color of something else, suck as turmeric-yellow New York taxis.

Personal challenge: I’m not a cook and know nothing about spices and herbs, outside of salt and pepper. Spent more time doing the research than the writing.

“The streetlight through the motel curtains turn the walls into a shade close to curry yellow, reminding him he hadn’t eaten Indian food since they last loved each other in a humid Kansas night …”

“As I ran towards her supine body, her blonde hair masking her face, I was struck by the elderberry-purple shade of blood gushing from the arterial cut…”

“He was stung by her accusation, his face turning chili-pepper red, though she was unsure if it was from her tone or that she’d finally learned the truth…”

“He passed his hand over the coriander-yellow scarf, smoothing it flat across the casket, remembering better days that would be remembered by him alone from this day forward…”

“She resisted ruffling his cinnamon-brown hair, capturing in memory the image of snowflakes mixed with his thick curls atop a face framed with blue eyes and a strong chin…”

“The mud on the SUV nearly hid the nutmeg-brown chassis’ distinct features, not the least being the indented fender that clearly ended her client’s life…