Category Archives: Love

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!)

Who Are My People?

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It’s said we cannot know where we are going unless we know where we’re coming from, yet I hesitated participating in a genetic study to learn more about my ancestors. Echoes of “Big Brother” holding my most intimate of data – my chromosomes – and I was worried they’d re-engineer them to create a conquering army (it’s been done, you know, a long time ago). The request came from our daughter, and our family’s most successful author (brag), as she is doing her own research on her/our backgrounds.  I spit in the tube and dropped it in the mail after remembering the amount of my blood that’s flowed in hospitals and donation sites.

Before the results, this is what I knew about the family tree: diddly squat. The Bride is our in-house ancestry researcher, and she found my family’s strong European roots, including a direct line to the American Revolution (hey, DAR, how you doin’?) and a Civil War doctor (Union, natch). Frankly, I’ve never been interested either way. Her work was interesting, but nothing changed the fact that I’m a tight-ass white guy.

Then the results rolled in. And they were a tad unexpected.

Here’s Generations One and Two from the 1900s. Nothing weird. Yet.

Generations Three, Four, and Five from the 1800s. Did not see that coming.

Recapping: when my ancestors weren’t trying to kill each other, they were having sex. There’s a thin line between love and hate, you know.

Then my ancestry went north, south, east, and west.

Jaw Dropper.

As you see below, the genetic percentages for some of these folks is fairly small, but, hey, let’s hear it for my randy great-grandparents.

The reality check here is not where my ancestors may have called home, but where they conceived and raised their descendants. It’s possible my ancestral lands are in Africa, Scandinavia, and Italy, but I think it’s more likely my ancestors were ashore in Europe and the Americas, and in tragic conditions (slavery and/or as indentured servants).

It’s likely they looked to the sky and prayed for a better life for their children and grandchildren, one of freedom and choice, and with less pain in their children’s lives than their own. If true, Grandmothers and Grandfathers, those of us in the 21st Century thank you for your strength, perseverance, and sacrifice. We thrive because of you, and now that I know you, you will never be forgotten. God bless.

Home Means Nevada

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Here in the Worldwide Headquarters, my thirty-five-year partner Cassidy Carson and I often joke about how hard we work on our “hobby,” that writing thing. I wager she works equally hard at her day job, and I know I certainly do. We’re always banging the keyboards, easily spending ten to fourteen hours a day working in one way or the other. This is by choice, as we are volunteers in our chosen professions and can quit at any time, though not without consequence.

Bellyaching is our birthright, and you can ignore our noise about writing. I find the act of literary creation to be a lot of fun, even though I get a tad grumpy around editing time. In the current WIP, I’m doubling the fun by dropping dozens of fun facts about my adopted state, Nevada. Though I was not born here (my parents had sex in Texas), I am a product of the Washoe County, Clark County, and Carson City School Districts, and received three of five degrees from the Nevada System of Higher Education. My favorite middle school class was Nevada History, with the textbook written by my grandfather’s colleague while they taught at the University of Nevada.

Plugging Nevada into my WIP is an opportunity to brag about the Silver State because we tend to hear about the dysfunction more often. Nevada receives a fair share of negative publicity as the Sin Center of the United States, deservedly so with the legal gambling and prostitution. The local economy is built around one industry vulnerable to recession and depression (gaming), while its most lucrative industry operates nearly in the dark and nearly tax-free (mining).

Having said that, I love Nevada. From the vast mountain ranges to Lake Tahoe, from the cantankerous veterans to the laughing kids, from the political games to the fact that hard work is always rewarded, there’s no place like the Battle Born State. The chance to express my feeling about this wonderful screwed-up state adds an extra layer of fun to the WIP, not to mention doing a Nevada-centric novel is a tribute to my teachers, in a way. They’ll probably be surprised someone was listening in class.

Blogging is a kind of procrastination for me, so back to work on the book. Let me know you’re contemplating a trip to the northern part of Nevada, or if you need some trivia or background information about Nevada gaming or something. Glad to help!

Chapter 17

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It’s Oh-Dark-Thirty here in Cartoon City, as they used to say when I wore an Air Force uniform, so this is as good as time as any to post the last chapter of Saturday’s Child. A fun book to write, SC was a Christmas present for my partner in crime and co-author Cassidy Carson. It was yet another NaNoWriMo project, but Nano served as a guide more than a project. That’s a convoluted way of saying the book wrote itself.

Next up: the cover reveal next week, followed by the actual publication to Kindle during the week of January 30. Tell your friends and lovers to read this free book now, because the chapters will disappear once SC goes live on Amazon.

For now: Emma finds some closure as she gets ready to start a new adventure, a major one. Maybe. You’ll have to read this last chapter to learn more. Head over to my web site and thanks for reading.

Chapter 16

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Saturday’s Child is winding down, and this particular chapter is poignant to me as it deals with the complex relationships between parents and children. If you sense any emotion within the words, it’s because they came from the heart. And we should always write what we know, right? In any case, I’ve been mulling a blog post on the gossamer strings that bind families. Maybe Monday.

On the writing front, I was fortunate enough to join my first Twitter-based authors chat tonight, and it was a positive experience. Writing can be a lonesome vocation, almost like a Texas lawman on a lone prairie. The days are long, the human interaction is minimal, and sometimes you wonder if anyone even notices what you’re doing out there. A little person-to-person interaction goes a long way. My gratitude to Tui Snider for the invitation.

I’ve blabbered on long enough. Head on over to my site and read the next one. Thanks!

Chapter 12

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quasi

If you were ever unfortunate to meet me in a cold, dark moment like the one covering our house tonight, many words would come to mind. “Hulk,” “bulk,” “goliath,” and so on, as I am not a small person. My face and body have not borne well those scars and savages of life. ‘Tis the injustice of art that someone with the soul of a romantic has the chassis of an erect Quasimodo.

I am a romantic. I truly believe there is someone for everyone. There are days when I sit at the bench of the local Wal-Mart, and revel in the hopes and dreams shared between couples of all makes and models, bonded by something powerful. When the news is filled with hopeless perils and predictions, these couples and families help me believe in tomorrow.

Writing about love is almost as much fun, as you’ll find in this latest chapter. In a heartbeat, over a trash bag of full of dirty clothes, an adamantium bond can formed for an eternity. All you have to do is believe, for one second, that love is possible for everyone. Once you do, tomorrow is not such a bad thing.

Edit: Might help if you had a link to my web site, huh?