I Hate Valentine’s Day

The-best-top-desktop-roses-wallpapers-hd-rose-wallpaper-10-close-up-red-roseI know it may come as a shocker that a SciFi geek, such as myself, might have an issue with a holiday about love (oh, I’ll get to that).  But I absolutely loathe Valentine’s Day.  I am not so sure when it started, but I think it came about after college.  Perhaps I can blame my ex for that (I kid, so relax people).  Every February comes around and I have deal with this crap again.  Normally I would just rant to my wife about it, she’d say, “Yes, hon” and then I’d go buy her something anyway.  But I have a blog now, so that means I can rant to you this year.

First of all, I do have fond memories of Valentine’s day as a child.  So I don’t ruin it for my kids.  After all, there was parties at school.  A bag full of Valentine’s Cards.  I remember going through every Valentine in the box to find the right one, that said all the right things, to the cutest girl of the class.  Of course she didn’t notice, the cute girls rarely notice us SciFi guys.  But it was fun.  Plus, I have an addiction to those candy hearts with the little sayings on them.  I don’t know why, because they really are the candy corn of Valentine’s Day.  But I do love them.

As I got a bit older, and realized that I was alone for Valentine’s day, I began to fester a bit of deep hatred for it.  You see, in junior high and my first two years of high school, I was fairly certain I would be alone for the rest of my life.  You know, in that typical preteen drama fashion.  Then I met a great woman that I dated for three years.  So, of course, for those three years I thought Valentine’s Day was great.  Then she broke my heart (she is still a great person), and I got all “I’ll never love again” on myself.

When I met my wife and started dating her, I realized pretty quick that there was something important about a lasting relationship.  You have to show that person you care all the time.  Randomly, I try to do something nice for my wife.  I’ll buy her something special for dinner.  I’ll pick her up a candy bar.  I’ll get her a little trinket.  I do these all year round to show my wife I care.  I don’t need one day a year to do it.  And I think that was when the true commercialism (and my cynicism) of the holiday kicked in.

Screw this damned holiday.  That is what I have to say.  I like to think that one of the reasons my little candy bar on a random Tuesday means so much to my wife, is because it was unexpected.  There was no societal obligation to buy her something to profess my love to her.  I just did it.  I don’t need a heart shaped box of chocolates to show my wife I care, a Snickers bar does the trick.  My wife doesn’t need flowers, she just wants a Coke.

I can hear some of you getting ready to argue with me here.  I hear you saying, “But just because you participate in Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean you have to stop the little things.”  Well, hold on.  There is more to this hatred that just the commercialism.

The logic of it is flawed too.  What is so special about February 14th anyway?  To borrow from Lewis Black’s bit, it is the height of flu season.  And why do we need to worry about love now.  I am fairly certain that spring, or summer, would be a nicer time to celebrate my love.

Not let me dig a little bit deeper on this.  Get a little personal.  I am not a handsome man, and now I am a fat man on top of it.  Nothing reminds me more, about how few people have ever found me attractive, as this holiday does.  Even now, approaching ten years married, this holiday reminds me of a deep scar to my self esteem that will likely never go away.  I’ve had two women ever find me attractive, and I sometimes wonder if they really do.  And of course now that I am married, no woman will ever tell me I am good looking.  They just won’t, because I am not.

Anyway, self loathing aside, this holiday is a reminder for guys like me (single or taken) that we are not what society has deemed an attractive person.  And it isn’t just men.  Women too, if not more so, are put to this gauntlet of self image issues.  And Valentine’s Day plays right into that.  It is complete bull shit.  And then there are all these self doubts that pop up from this holiday.  For what?  So they can sell a few greeting cards?

You know why Valentine’s Day is a success?  Dirt bags.  These dirt bags that treat their significant other like shit all year round.  But once a year they take them out to a nice place, get them gifts, and treat them like they should have been treated all year.  That’s why all these roadside stands pop up.  They aren’t for the people like me.  They are for the douche bag who is coming home from work and goes, “Oh fuck its Valentine’s Day.” And buys the biggest stuffed bear, a huge box of chocolates, and a bunch of balloons and shows up to the house with a last minute reservation at Applebees.

So I say we go back to having a big party with your friends.  You give them all valentines.  And the hell with this damn holiday.

Disclaimer: I did send my wife I nice card, some chocolate, and a stuffed dog. I may hate the holiday, but I’m not stupid.

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Missing in March

I need to start with an apology to my subscribers and regular blog readers.  You may have noticed I have broken my own rule on successful blogging.  Blog on regular schedule.  While I am sure none of you have been waiting to make life altering choices because of my lack of posts, I feel as though I have some how neglected my responsibilities here.  It’s not just here, I have not been very active on Twitter or Facebook either.

Frankly I hate this month.  I have seen a lot of commercials for Buffalo Wild Wings about “What month would you give up for more March?”  It makes me cringe just thinking about have to do March twice a year.  It seams I have terrible luck in this month.  Last year, I lost my job in March.  Years before that have been even worse.  Well, this year my own personal March madness continued (see even my puns are bad in March).

It started off well enough.  As some of you know from my previous posts, I started a new job.  It doesn’t make much but it gets me off unemployment.  Of course I started this job in February along with a move back to my hometown in Vacaville.  All great ways to end February and start off March.  Of course, they all led to me neglecting my blog.

In the middle of March, my wife’s employer decided to make a sudden drastic schedule change.  This caused me to have to beg and plead with my boss for a schedule change.  My employer was very understanding, unlike my wife’s, and they made the change.  Only three hours later, my wife tells me they changed the schedule again.  My wife asked to remain at the same schedule, but she’s the forth most senior dispatcher there and they wanted a senior person on each shift (four shifts).  Never mind the fact that the person she was switched with, didn’t want to switch (and is more senior than my wife).  Well we got through that.  My employer was understanding and made some more changes.

Things got better, because immediately following that I got to attend the wedding of a friend of mine.  They will be a great couple and the wedding was outstanding.  It was a lot of fun and I was very happy to share this event in their lives.  I extend my congratulations to Logan and Tessa Bryce.  I hope you enjoy life together.  There is no greater journey in life then marriage.

Right after that I attended my first San Jose Sharks regular season game.  I am a huge hockey fan, and an even bigger SanJose Sharks fan.  After so many years of wishing I could go, it was great to finally be able to go.  The arena is great and while we had great seats, there probably are not many bad seats at HP Pavilion.  I got to meet Randy Hahn and Brodie Brazil from Comcast Sportsnet.  I have been listening to Randy Hahn call Sharks games for as long as I can remember and to meet him was great.  Brodie Brazil is new to the CSN team, but he provides great rink side commentary and he is very interactive on Twitter.  So meeting them both was a great start to the game.  Everything about attending the game was great, accept the final score.

Left to Right: Brodie Brazil, Me, My wife, Randy Hahn

Two days later my wife started her new schedule after her days off.  The unnamed local ambulance company she works for did not schedule enough ambulances to adequately cover the area.  As a result an ambulance was late to a call.  And my wife was fired the next day.  She has not had an issue there for over nine months, but they were quick to terminate.  I can’t believe a company that puts “Family Values” on their letter head, would fire the main provider of a family of five on an issue that is ultimately their own fault.  This company has little regard for their employees and has created a hostile environment, in which most all mistakes result in suspension and/or termination.

In any case, her income was three quarters of our family income.  I don’t even make enough to pay the rent.  Fortunately quick thinking will likely help me keep a roof over our heads for the next few months.  But, we pray that either her union comes through for her (though that is not likely) or that unemployment kicks in quickly.  God willing, she will find work before this really matters.

As a result I have been trying to pick up extra hours at work.  I’ve also been burying myself in my office so that I can try to get this novel out for all of you.  And, hopefully if you folks like it, I can sell a few copies.  I also had a great idea for another story, with potential for novel length.  So with any luck you may see a few novels from me this year.  Of course, I prefer quality over quantity so we will see what other tricks life has in store for my timelines.

So, March is my least favorite month.  And despite my wife and my Irish heritage, we can can’t see to find the luck of the Irish.  They say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.  But I am so sick of drinking lemonade (This cliche brought to you by Country Time Lemonade, which I am drinking as I write this).

But, while March is typically a rough month.  I have many blessings in my life.  I have a lovely wife, who loves me for richer or poorer.  I have three great boys, who could care less about bills and just want to play with their Daddy.  I have great family and friends who have put my family in their thoughts and prayers.  I have a job, the start up of a successful writing career, and I volunteer free time to my community.  So while March has got me down, I have 11 other great months to enjoy.

So, you can take my face off the milk cartons of the blogging world.  Though I was missing in March, April is just around the corner.

Weddings (and my thoughts on romance in writing)

What is it about weddings that gets everyone so worked up?  Is it the romance in the the air?  Is it the idea of a new couple starting a life adventure together?  Is it witnessing young love?  Or is it the free food?  I don’t know.  I am hardly an expert on romantic endeavors, which is why I write Speculative Fiction.

That was was thinking yesterday, as I attended my Aunt and Uncle’s wedding vows renewal.  I didn’t know wedding vows had an expiration date.  I will be checking the back of my marriage license later to make sure.  Anyway, it was good fun with a small ceremony, toasts, lunch, desert, music and dancing.  And while typically I don’t enjoy wedding ceremonies, this one was just how I like them – short.

The celebration of love and a new life together is exactly what weddings are all about.  Whether it is a small wedding in the gardens followed by a backyard reception (like mine was), or a full blown out spectacle, it should be about love.  Try not to get wrapped up in costs and one-uping other weddings.  Weddings should be about the couple and not about money.

Now to tie this into writing…

There is a great running gag that we fans of Speculative Fiction know little about romance, I even made such a joke in my opening paragraph.  It seems to be thought that we are all inept in matters of love and women.  But, I think its just another stereotype that has been circulated out there so much it is accepted as fact.

Some of the most romantic scenes I have read come from Science Fiction and Fantasy novels.  Scenes which truly create the feeling of love between the two characters.  Realistic scenes that evoke emotions I have actually felt.  Perhaps it ties into good character development.  I care about these characters so when I see them in love, I feel it too.  Or perhaps we Sci Fi writers are more refined in the art of love then we are given credit for.  I think it is a little bit of both.

Creating a believable romance scene takes time.  Many confuse romance with sex, and this has to do with the least romantic of all the genres…  Romance.  I recognize that as my opinion, but I don’t find romance novels the least bit romantic.  They are hardly real, believable, and the characterization if often very shallow.  They run from one sex scene to another. They feature bare chested men with unrealistic muscles sweeping young scantly clad women off their feet.  Often rescuing the woman from an evil man who some how hurts her with words or violence.  I don’t find the situations they present realistic and I could care less about their characters.  I realize this is my opinion, but this is also my blog.

So, what makes a believable romance scene?  It is not the scenery, its the characters.  Why do strong characters have better romance scenes?  Because it mimics real life.  I watched a guy on TV propose to his girlfriend during a kitchen renovation.  I can guarantee that was the most romantic experience for that woman, not because of  scene (it was a demolished kitchen) but because it was thought of by him and meant something to her.

Think about all the romance you have experience in your life…. was it ever really the scene?  Even if it was a moonlit beach on white stallions, was it really the scene?  Likely not.  It was romantic to you because it was shared with your romantic partner.

The same is true of books.  Strong characterization will lead to the feeling of romance between your characters simply because I (the reader) know your characters so well.  The romance will come to me because I am sharing this experience with your characters and I care about them.  The scene, the circumstance, and the rest will fall in place.

So you have strong characters, what’s next?  That is really up to the characters, isn’t it?

So as I enjoyed the romantic event of my Aunt and Uncle renewing their vows after 25 years of marriage, I thought of all this.  After all the event was romantic because I knew the characters and I love them.