Take One Author Lecture And Call Me In The Morning

I’m back to work already.  My convalescence was short-lived, but it felt so good to sleep and read and cross stitch to my heart’s content for the week– even if it did fly by.

Before I returned to the land of the working stiffs, I got the chance to hear historical fiction writer Jeff Shaara speak at the local museum.  The Civil War is a huge deal in the South on a regular day, but since this summer is the 150 year anniversary of the start of the war, it’s like someone found the fountain of youth and it was filled with donut holes.  Jeff Shaara’s lecture was the kick off event for the summer’s programs, and I couldn’t pass up hearing such an established writer speak.  If you didn’t already know, Jeff Shaara is a best-selling author of historical war fiction, and his book Gods and Generals was made into a movie a few years ago.

I usually stay away from super popular historical fiction, especially Civil War and World War II fiction, which Shaara specializes in.  It’s nothing against the authors themselves.  I know most of them are very talented, but unfortunately it drifts into pulp fiction and away from the history sometimes.  And it’s done to death!  There are way too many armchair generals out there who want to relive that one important charge up the last hill and win against all odds, and there are an abundance of authors willing to give them a fix.

Shaara doesn’t seem like the type, but during his lecture he did point out several times (but it was apparent regardless) that historians don’t like “people like him” meaning historical fiction writers.  Oh yeah.  More than once during the hour something he said poked the wrong bone in my historian’s body.  It’s not that historical fiction writers don’t try to get their facts correct.  Shaara seems like he pays extra careful attention in his research to get the smallest detail perfect, but they’re in it for the story and not the facts.  Shaara shared a small anecdote he found about a Civil War soldier musing over tree blossoms falling around him from enemy fire.  Although it was a beautifully sad image, it was this kind of “poetic” story that Shaara searched for and wanted to tell.  A historian wouldn’t care about falling flowers except to maybe determine which position a brigade took during a battle.  A writer would.  Shaara also stressed how he had to get into his “characters'” heads.  These people aren’t characters.  They were real people, and their actions in history are finite.  Fiction writers have to put words in their mouths, and no matter how much research is done, most of it remains an invention of the author.  A historian wouldn’t dream of assuming such a thing.

The general public loses sight of that, and it showed during the lecture.  Most of the questions were centered around Shaara’s opinion on the outcome of battles or generals’ strategies.  He has no formal history training, nor did he intend to be a writer with his life.  Shaara’s father, Michael Shaara, is most famous posthumously for his book Killer Angles, which was made into the TNT movie Gettysburg during the early 1990s.  Jeff Shaara was approached about writing the sequel and prequel to the movie, which got him into the writing business.  He’s since written a dozen or so books of historical war fiction and is highly regarded in the English and history fields.

All that complaining aside, it was great to hear Shaara speak.  I was a bit disappointed because he focused so much on his father’s achievements, and he can more than stand on his own in the historical fiction community at this point.  I wished he’d spoken more about the challenges/pleasures/process of writing historical war fiction.  Or even the significance of Civil War literature.  It just seemed a bit unfocused, but Shaara seems like great, genuinely nice guy.  DH drove me out there since I was still hobbling around, and we both enjoyed the event.

I jumped in line after the lecture and got a book signed.  I don’t quite know yet if I’m a Jeff Shaara fan, but I couldn’t pass up the attempt to remember the lecture with a signed paperback.  I chose his one novel about the Mexican-American War, Gone For Soldiers just to try something different from his mainstream Civil War and WWII stuff.  I don’t know if I ever described my Master’s thesis here, but it touches on the war a bit, so I feel drawn to this book even more.  I’m excited to get into it and see what Shaara is all about!

He has two more books about the Civil War coming out over the next couple anniversary years, one about the battle of Vicksburg and another about the battle of Shiloh, so look out for those if you’re so inclined.  His final novel about the Second World War comes out in May, so I’m sure you’ll be seeing his name around.

Talk About A Case Of The Mondays…

I’m one gall bladder lighter today.  So far so good.  The pain is tolerable off pain medication, so I’m trying it all natural at this point.  I’m looking forward to a week on the couch watching movies, reading, cross stitching, and maybe even some time for blogging.  Thank you wireless internet.

I’m glad I got my garden and yard work done this past weekend because heavy lifting is definitely going to be off my schedule for awhile.  Keep your fingers crossed that living GB-free ends up being more of a solution than a problem.

Green-ish Thumb

I got out in my garden this weekend and put in my vegetables for the season.  I have tomato plants and pepper plants like last year although I’m trying a different set up.  The tomato plants got a bed to themselves this year.

Hopefully it gives them more room to grow.

The pepper plants did well last year, and since they don’t get very big I put them into individual flower pots.

My beans are shooting up.  Ha!  Evidence that I can in fact make something grow!  Speaking of which, the mum I planted last fall is coming back from the winter cold.  The jury is still out on it’s success though.

I am trying herbs this year for the first time too.  I debated on whether or not to plant them inside, and I had planned on buying established seedlings instead of seeds.  …But I went to Target and they had pots on sale for a dollar and to get to those pots I had to pass the seed packet display.  I can’t pass a seed packet display without getting something.  It’s a curse.  So I got some basil, cilantro or coriander (depending on which side of the Mexican-American border your taste buds are from), and chives.  I’m excited for these guys to get big enough to use in my cooking!  If my tomatoes do well, maybe I can get some salsa out of the deal.

I also took a big risk and got some watermelon seeds because they were there and looked so enticing!  I am ridiculously excited!!  I grew some when I was a kid, and I can’t remember how they turned out, but I’m hoping for the best.  Something has to do well in this Southern weather.  I have two small beds on either side of my back porch stairs, so the watermelon is going in the one not occupied by the tomato plants.

I found some small to medium pots last summer in a second-hand store, so I planted a few snapdragons to decorate the front stoop.  It seems to be the only place not inundated with squirrel activity.  Last year entire pots turned up empty overnight around the tree by the kitchen door.  I will not be fighting that battle again.  I cannot win.

Now that I got the camera back from the pit of despair that was DH’s deployment baggage, I can post visual evidence of my future edible bounty.  Cross your fingers…


Goodnight, Milo.  I can’t tell you how much I’m going to miss throwing you a ball.  It doesn’t seem fair, but I doubt it ever would no matter how long we waited.  Oh, you Sweet Old Man…I love you so much.

Ready To Move Up

I’ve been struggling lately with where I’m at with my job.  I like the theoretical job.  I love the order of it.  I tell DH I can get all my crazy out at work and can come home and actually enjoy my time in a dirty house.  I love the patrons.  I love knowing their preferences and being able to recommend titles to them.  I am thrilled to be able to see all the latest books that come out and have the first crack at them.

It’s the actual job that I’m having problems with.  My co-workers are insane.  It’s like a war zone there, and everyone has to take sides.  People refuse to work, and the library suffers.  Library policies aren’t very important to most, and I’m frustrated with being one of only a few employees that want to do a good job and care.  I’m tired of the hours.  I want to be home to enjoy my husband when he’s actually around and working evenings and weekends aren’t making that possible.

Mostly, I’m tired of the unchallenging level of the job.  In a public library there isn’t a huge demand for academic research.  I help a few patrons find sources for a project, but the vast majority of my time is spent explaining how to operate the printer, unjamming the copier, and picking up spit cups that get left on the table.  I’ve always wanted to work in a library, and I’m so glad I can cross it off my bucket list, but I’m a little disappointed.  I know a lot of that is the particular library I’m at, but some of it is just the nature of the job.

I don’t want to focus on the low pay, because oh, is it low!  I don’t want to focus on the insane amount of education I have to be working in such a dead-end job.  There is no way for me to get promoted or take on more responsibility.  I could work for the rest of my life here and only look forward to a coupon for a free day off every year and a polo shirt—no joke!  I don’t want to…but it’s hard not to.

I’ve been looking for a new job lately.  It’s tough because of the economy and because there is a ready pool of possible employees waiting for the good jobs to open up on post.  Most jobs are only advertised for a week if you’re lucky, and several hundred people will apply.  I’ve been working on my resume to hopefully jump start some new job leads before there’s no point because it’ll be time to move again.

I was struggling with the federal format for resumes, and as I was finishing up I realized that I’d crossed over.  My resume was at a whole new level.  There was that transition from high school/early college resume to adult resume where extra curricular activities dropped off the paper and a high school GPA didn’t matter anymore.  I suddenly had enough work experience to fill out a good resume.  I didn’t know there was another step after adult, but there is, and I got there this week.  I’m all ultra big girl panties kind of grown up now.  Hopefully there’s a job market for that.

A Weekend Thwarted

I was so excited to get in the yard and get gardening this weekend, but the weather turned cold and rainy.  Poo.  I got green beans in over a week ago.  Hopefully I get a longer season in than last year.  I didn’t account for the shift in growing seasons when you move farther south and a lot of my veggies fried in the sun by late July.  I’m going to get a few herbs going inside I think.  I want to try tomatoes again this year.  They never really produced for me last year, but my green peppers did really well albeit a little late.  I joked that I was going to do a couple rows of corn just to send DH over the edge.  He thinks I’m a natural plant killer.  I’ll show him.

I redirected my efforts to an amazing banana bread.  Tucker posted the recipe a few days ago and it got my taste buds working.  I love that it’s made without butter.  I need to find the charger for the camera so I can post pictures.

My lazy weekend is over too soon.  It’s back to work tomorrow.  I’ve been struggling a lot with work lately.  It deserves it’s own post, and I need some time to figure out what I want to say exactly.  I’ve been getting more and more frustrated with where I’m at, but it’s not the job in theory.  I say that, but last Friday I had to sit through someone clipping their toenails on the couch in the magazine area.  Party foul, People!  Anyway, on paper I love this job.  I love my regular patrons.  I love knowing what they like to read, having it ready for them, and our quick conversations once a week.  Sounds great…but so does communism on paper.  Ugh.

You know, what I really need is to win the millions.