BART : Oh Fair New Mexico

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by Karen Fayeth

Monday, redux

Blame it on Facebook and its algorithms that like to remind me of things from the past. For the better and for the worse.

I re-read this one over the weekend and thought “yeah, that one needs a re-post.”

So here we are, when Monday, January 30, 2017 feels a lot like Monday, January 28, 2013



A Treatise On Monday
Originally published January 28, 2013


Written this morning at something like 5:45am


And so we find ourselves back at Monday. Ah Monday, both the beginning and the end.

I have sad, tired, squinting, groundhog eyes as the alarm goes off. I’m begging the world not to pull me from my burrow. Please don’t shine that bright light in my face.

But I’m pulled from my burrow anyway and instead of a prediction, the world anticipates my arrival at the train station and my seat on the next ride into the city.

The bright light turns out to be a beautiful ray of light, glimmering off the slowly rising sun.

All possibility is in Monday. Will this be a good week? Will this be a bad week? Will it rain?

Monday is everything and nothing. A blank canvas ready to take the paint.

What will I make of my Monday? What will I achieve? How will I stumble and will I recover gracefully?

It all exists here in these quiet pre-dawn hours. The sun hasn’t even said hello yet and here I am, writing. Scribbling the words that want to exit my head.

There is already acrylic paint on my hands from a project that is due Thursday morning. I had to get some early painting done so I can hit that deadline.

In this Monday, all things are possible including finishing a painting that is due in just three days.

Oh my.

I feel strangely happy today. What the hell is this? How unusual for a Monday morning.

The weekend was weird. I was cranky and then he was cranky and then it was Sunday night and another two days of not working were jettisoned to the ether. Monday turned the corner and sat down for a visit.

So here I am again loading a backpack for work, stumbling around to find my badge and my phone and my sense of self-worth.

I look again at my canvas and already I fear I have screwed it up. Don’t they say in art there are no mistakes? Just roll with it and incorporate the error. OCD and art are not friends. This major but fixable error must wait until later tonight to find its cloak.

There is a train to catch and a Monday to face. I’d rather stay home in my studio and put gorgeous turquoise paint on a willing canvas. Can I do that for a living?

You know, a girl can dream, and so I will dream as BART gently sways. When I disembark dreams stop so reality can start.

But no matter, I can dream again, later. Dreams don’t die easy.

And dreams don’t wait for the weekend.









Image from The Miracle Journal.




Tints My World View

Lately I am all about my Kindle. I had an actual Kindle eReader for a while and then I migrated to using the Kindle app on my iPad and iPhone.

Love, love, love it.

As a writer, I am interested in the people who manage to self-publish and get a little traction on Kindle. As in, who are these people who are making it into the Kindle 100?

As a commuter, I like quick, lightweight and fun reading to pass the time on long BART treks.

With all of this in mind, I went and scoured the Kindle 100 list for downloadable fun. On the top seller list, I found mostly genre books, and most of the genre stuff falls squarely under romance.

Hey, look, cheap romance novels and I go way back. I was reading Harlequin paperbacks when I was in mid-school. My Grandma loved those inexpensive books so much. She’d read one and then my mom, sister and I would pass it around when she was done.

Not much has changed in the romantic genre since moving to Kindle. I looked at all the cheap and tarty romance eBooks and paid anywhere from $1.99 to $7.99 for three different titles.

I have made my way through two of them and am working on the third. I find that immersing myself into this world of genre fiction has sort of tinged my world view. The real world and actual human romantic relationships look a little weird after living in genre world.

In no particular order, what I’ve learned from $13 worth of literary cotton candy:


Everything old is new again.


The basic formula for a good Harlequin romance goes something like this:

There is a dark and brooding man. There is a troubled and innocent woman. Their worlds collide in some fashion. Usually the man is some brash worldly guy like a sea captain or an army general (most Harlequin’s are set in a historical era).

She hates him or he hates her or they hate each other and they fight. He curses the headstrong woman, she alternately loves and hates how manly and forceful he is.

One or both of these characters has a secret. This secret means they can never truly love. That said, a little roll in the hay and it turns out that the love of a good person can cure all their problems.

Cue riding off into the sunset.

Yeah. Not much has changed. Instead of sea captain insert Chief Operating Officer of a big marketing firm, CEO of his family’s insurance company, and famous rock star.

I’m not making any of these up.

Apparently the new brash sea captain wears a tie and worries about his stock portfolio.

Also, apparently male victims of sexual abuse seem to be the new theme. In one it was his step mom, in another it was his foster mom, in the third there was physical but not sexual abuse because his mom was a junkie who died thus preventing him from ever truly loving a woman…blah blah blah.

*sigh*


One really cringe worthy success spawns many, many more. Like evil bunnies.


I am learning about this phenomenon called Fan Fiction, which has been around for ages, dating back to early Sci Fi books, and perhaps older than that, even.

In a nutshell, people love a book and then take the same characters or the same setting or both and write a new work. Rarely is the fanfic sanctioned by the original author. It’s written largely for other fans of the original work.

Just so you know, the author of the weirdly successful “Fifty Shades of Gray” series admits that she took her inspiration and characters from Twilight.

Hackdom begats hackdom begats hackdom.

I realized post-purchase that the authors of one of my three eBooks also took their inspiration from Twilight. Edward is now named Jake and wears a suit and is a surly corporate executive. Bella is now named Chloe and is an MBA intern.

Yeah. I might note here that I got through one and a half of the Twilight books and hated them immensely. So fanfic based on a series I can’t stand isn’t really working for me, but oh damn is it working for a whole lot of other people.


Careless disregard for the English language, grammar, readability, and formatting does not prevent the sale of books or degrade the author’s credibility.


So that book I just referenced, the Jake and Chloe one? Reached number nine on the New York Times bestseller list for fiction (and higher than that on the ebook list).

This, despite the fact that it was riddled with formatting issues, typos and grammar errors.

Just cuz ya popular don’t mean yer quality.

Whooo doggies. The language abuses I’ve seen.


Character development? Pfft! Who needs it?


Apparently writing about lots and lots of sex, in rather graphic detail, trumps the need to actually develop the characters.

Usually when reading a book I can “see” the characters. They take on fully formed beings in my head and in a book I like, they become like friends I get to visit with for a while.

Not from this book. I know very little about the characters other than he is tall and has tousled hair. She is short and skinny with dark hair. And has big boobs.

There you go. Characters for the ages.


Euphemisms! I got your euphemisms right here!


This is the most awkward part about reading these books. Look, even Harlequin used euphemisms for body parts and particular actions. You’d think some thirty to forty years later we’d be better at providing color commentary.

Nope. We’ve graduated past “towering manhood” and “her most delicate flower” but not by much. Now the in-favor euphemisms seem to be “his sex” and “her opening”.

I cringe just typing those words. Ew.

Can we just agree that “thingy” and “hoo-ha” are the generally accepted nomenclature and be done with it?


Everything ends up “happily every after” unless, of course, the author is working on grinding out a series of books.


And then it makes sense to leave your character lying in a pile of leaves in the woods, distraught over a break up (ahem, *coff*Twilight*coff*) and the fans begging for the next book.

Nice work if you can get it.

I had a rather in depth conversation with The Good Man last night over whether I have it in me to crank out some of this genre stuff. I *can* do it, meaning I have the skills and capability, but somehow it feels, to me anyway, a little soul deadening.

So this was a good sashay into the current state of publishing. Not sure what it means for my writing. Though my commutes have never been hotter, all that thingy on hoo-ha action!

Or, you know, not.

I guess at this point in my life, you gotta make it GOOD to get this old girl rolling. And by rolling, I mean something other than my eyes.





“Coffee Flavored Kisses” — java, my true romance!




Image Copyright 2013, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license in the right column of this page. Taken with an iPhone 5 and the Camera+ app, and sweetened by a little iPhoto touchup and an Instagram filter.




It Works Great. Until It Doesn’t.

Over the past months I have been regaling you, my loyal reader, with tales from the rails as I find myself commuting several days a week on the Bay Area Rapid Transit, colloquially known as BART.

I study timetables like a monk, leap tall staircases like a superhero and have learned which seats face forward for the ride (good) instead of backward (nausea).

I got this. I so got this. I am a commuter! And I have to say that for all the complaints and issues and bad press BART takes, they really do run a pretty efficient system.

Well. Most of the time.

Today was one of those outlier days.

Seems the San Francisco Police Department was alerted to a suspicious package at the Powell street station and thus all BART trains were brought to a rapid halt.

Not so much rapid transit as rapid sit there and wait.

I was further down the peninsula when this closure came down, so we sat at one station for about ten minutes. Then we advanced to the next station and waited about fifteen minutes. Then we moved on to the next.

I thought “ok, they are just slowing traffic. No problem.”

Nope. At the 24th street station they announced “This train is now out of service, all passengers must exit the train.” No warning. No lead up to the bad news. Just “get off!”

What? I say again….WHAT?!?!

So there I was about halfway through my ride standing on the platform in a so-so neighborhood of San Francisco wondering what in the sam hell I was going to do.

I considered taking a cab to a farther station along the line, but since no trains were being allowed through the onel station, there was really no advantage to this.

So I waited.

And waited.

Finally they said that trains were being allowed through the station but not stopping.

Fine.

A train came along directly that was already full of people trying to make the morning commute (they weren’t thrown off of their train!).

All of us orphaned commuters tried to shove onto that train but it just wasn’t working. Curse words were shouted. Bodies were smashed up against each other. I briefly thought that we needed Japanese-style commuter train pushers.

Me? I balked. I stood back from the fray.

Then I got smart. I turned away from the crowd and walked all the way to the end of the platform. When the next train arrived, there was hardly anyone waiting to get onto the first car and I slipped onboard.

All in, I was only about half hour later to work than I’d intended, so I can’t really complain.

But I’m gonna anyway. Ok, maybe not too much. In hindsight, throwing us all off the train seems like a bad idea. I think they took the train out of service in order to try to make up schedule time.

And the yo-yo who left the shoebox with blinking lights and wires isn’t BART’s fault.

But. Just. GRRRRR!






Image from SFGate.com.




Functional. Alien. Beautiful.

My new commute is bringing me lots of new things to look at and new sights I’ve either not seen before or haven’t seen in a real long time.

I’m starting to figure out which side of the train to sit on to take in some of the coolest views on the journey.

One of my favorite parts of the ride is emerging from the tunnel on the Oakland side. Now, Oakland gets such a bad rap, but I find much of Oakland quite beautiful. (No city is 100% beautiful)

In fact, going home each night, I love to sit on the left side of BART so I can take in some gorgeous sunsets over the Port of Oakland.

Here is a photo I snapped with my iPhone from a moving train:




Image Copyright 2013, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license in the right column of this page.



I love this photo. What you are seeing here are the shipping container cranes at the Oakland docks. Often compared to At-Ats, I think these are some of the most fascinating machinery I’ve ever seen.

I recall when the first of these cranes were purchased several years ago. They came in on a ship from Asia and were so huge, there was much worry about bringing them in under the both the Golden Gate Bridge and Bay Bridge. One big wave swell would have spelled millions in damages. They made it through safely and now many more have come to take their place, revolutionizing how Oakland moves cargo.

This is how you get your stuff, man! Pretty cool.

These cranes make fast work of unloading big metal boxes of goods from the incoming freighter ships. Every morning through the BART windows I see eighteen wheelers lined up ready to get their payload so they can haul it off to the four corners of the state and country.

The Port of Oakland is the fourth busiest container port in the U.S. Their efficiency is amazing.

And those big beautiful industrial pieces of equipment are fascinating. When silhouetted against the setting sun they are so alien and yes, so incredibly gorgeous.

They are modern and very functional art.




Such A Lot Of Fuss For A Little Orange Sticker

Sheesh. Grownups sometimes. They get so worked up about stuff. Little stuff. I mean, gawd.

: rolleyes :

So whatever, last week I got this piece of paper left on my windshield. It seems that this one guy with a uniform thinks he’s all important and stuff and he says that my car didn’t have enough adornment. He said I needed to have this orange thing on my car instead of the pretty blue one that was already there.

And I have to give him some money, too.

My car was just sitting at the Bart station minding its own business! Ffft! What a bunch of baloney.

And because this is all a big game of hide and go seek, they don’t make it easy for me to get the orange sticker since I wasn’t in line the first time they were giving them out.

It’s like everyone gets a giggle by how frustrated I get running around asking everyone for a stupid orange sticker. I don’t even want the thing! I like the blue one better!

But fine. I played their game and I ran around until I got dizzy and my head hurt and it wasn’t funny anymore.

Then I had to write out a piece of paper that means money in their game and sign it and give it to them.

For that big amount of money I wrote down on the thing called a check, they gave me a little orange sticker so I can be one of the cool kids, too.

It’s not even that nice a sticker. Plain really. Just has 2013 printed on it and some other numbers. Big whoop. No rhinestones or glitter or gold leaf or anything.

But I guess you are supposed to stand in line when they tell you to so you can pay the money and get one of the stickers. When you move and don’t get the message that you are supposed to stand in line and pay your money, then you whiff it by three months everyone gets really mean about it.

Buncha bullies.

Anyhow, here, see for yourself. It’s not that nice. The blue one was prettier.

Whatever.

Well played, DMV, well played. Maybe that almost $200 I just gave you can go toward some sensitivity training for your employees. Just sayin’.





Ok, so I blurred the serial number because this is the internet and who knows where this stuff ends up.



——————


Photo by Karen Fayeth, Copyright 2013, and subject to the Creative Commons license in the right column of this page. Taken with an iPhone5 and the Camera+ app.




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