The ramblings and musings of author and musician Geoffrey Young Haney.
Much more coherent and loveable fare from his wife, Michelle.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Valentine's Day, The Joys of Gift Registry, and Back to Work

Valentine's Day. I love it and I hate it all at the same time. Holiday's that seem to be invented by Hallmark such as this, along with Sweetest Day just don't seem to be all that genuine. Shouldn't everyday be "like" Valentine's Day? Anyway ... moving on.

Geoff and I had an extremely random Valentine's Day. We started the day very early because he was scheduled to play in the band that morning at church, and I decided to tag along. Being up at 6 a.m. on a Sunday, not fun ... but wasn't as bad as I thought it would be either. I spent my time reading and socializing with fellow members before church. It made me remember why I love Engedi so much. The service was amazing and really hit home for both Geoff and I. Our Pastor, Brian was talking about guidance and boy, do we need some of that. Doesn't everyone? It was awesome.

After church we were going to head to Target to begin our gift registry, but decided that we were WAY too tired for that. We ended up going home for a little while, but convinced ourselves that we needed to get the registry done! We ventured out to run a few errands, starting with Best Buy where Geoff used his gift card. Then it was Target. We were extremely disappointed with the Target in Jenison. They seriously had nothing for babies there, it was just a bad idea. However, the good thing was that it REALLY opened our eyes to the fact that we have NO IDEA WHAT WE'RE DOING! lol. Becoming a parent already has had its hardships, but man o man, are we in for a treat. :D So, today we'll be heading to a different Target that will hopefully have a better selection of what we need.

After registering at Target, we headed over to Meijer to return pop bottles. Oh yeah, we're cool like that. The plan was to go home and have a Harry Potter Movie Marathon ... however, neither of us felt like doing that. Especially me, who's been cooped up in the apartment for 2 weeks. We went over to the mall, and let me tell you ... it was CRAZY. I kept thinking to myself, "who goes to the mall on Valentine's Day?! ... oh yeah, we're here too. Dang it!" It was actually kind of pleasant to window shop. We spent the majority of our time in Barnes and Noble (we both are obsessed with books and that store especially). We checked out a few other stores along with Helzberg to drop off Geoff's wedding band. It really needed to be replated, and it takes two weeks. Geoff was so sad to see it go, he's so sweet. I think the best part of our mall trip was sharing a blizzard from Dairy Queen. A pregnant women's DREAM! :D Oh, we also got Snackers from Olga's. If you haven't had Snackers, you haven't lived and shame on you! They're amazing! Finally, we settled in at home for a very relaxing night, and we still ended up watching the first Harry Potter. We're such nerds.

I suppose the moral of the story with our randomness is that just becuase it was Valentine's Day, and you're supposed to spend lots of money on your love, get flowers, cards, chocolates etc. clearly doesn't mean we had to in order to have a good time. Everyday truly is like Valentine's Day with Geoff. He treats me like a Queen, most if not all days.

Alright, enough mushy stuff. Work.

I've been on workers comp for two weeks now, and today was my first day back. No lie, it feels good. I never thought I'd say that, but I truly missed the "busyness." The drama I could do without, but it's almost like a family when you work at a school. You can't have the good without the bad. :D However, on the not so positive side, workers comp has had it's ups and downs as well. They payed for a massage for me last week, and I found out that they'd pay for more, so that's awesome! However, we found out how much we'll be getting monetary wise ... and it's not even close to what I make in two weeks. Therefore, I have no idea what we're going to do. Once again, another test for us to put our full faith in God and rely on Him for guidance. Whew.

Once again, a big shout out to those of you who have been so supportive with love and prayers. This journey called life, it's not easy, but you all make it better and more enjoyable. Love you all!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

FYI

So I used to have a blog that I did strictly about The Sons of The Moon. I won't be adding to it ever again now that I have this one, but I will update the links section in it to include excerpts I post from the novel on this blog. There are some older excerpts already linked that you won't find in Creating Life. It's a pretty cool little blog and dates back almost to the very start of this journey, so if you're interested in how The Sons of The Moon came to be and how the journey so far has looked, feel free to check it out!

See that little Sons of The Moon logo over on the left side of your screen (in THE PROJECTS menu)? Just click on that bad boy and you can go peruse the blog at your leisure.

Thanks!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Money in The Landscape of Big Dreams

If you're a frequent reader of this blog, you know that Michelle and I are in no shortage of financial woes. We talk about them on here with you not to complain or to dwell on the negative, but more so to share, so that if you are in the same sorts of situations, you can take solace in the fact that you're not alone. If it doesn't always come across that way, know that our hearts, if not always our words, are in the right place.

That being said, agent extraordinaire Rachelle Gardner posted a blog today (Keep Money in its Place) that really hit home for me, and probably for many others (writers or otherwise) as times (especially in MI) get tougher and tougher. It really spoke about having financial patience and a plan to solve your problems, one that doesn't involve words like, "Get a contract for this book so we can get out of this financial jam we're in." Dang have I uttered those words so, so, so, so, so many times! And I never really thought about how they could affect the spirit of my writing and the joy I take in it.

Rachelle goes on to say...

Don't get me wrong, it's perfectly legitimate to have long-term goals that include making some percentage of your income from writing books. ... I've found that when the writing is all mixed up in your mind with a financial need, especially a need that's fraught with anxiety, the writing suffers. Not only that, but the joy is diminished, because the goal has changed (maybe without your even knowing it) from "write a great book" to "pay off my MasterCard." And when that fantastic day comes and you finally get your first book contract, instead of being able to experience the joy of attaining a long-held goal, you'll be asking yourself if the advance is enough to pay off the MasterCard. A goal is a good thing. Desperation... not so good.


Wow, what a wake-up call. I know many of us out there are struggling to make our dreams a reality. Just today I was talking with my sister about her desire to go back to school and study sports business and management. She hopes to someday have a career in the behind-the-scenes of high school, college, or professional football, maybe even as a COACH! Do you have any idea how hard of a dream that is to accomplish? I do. I want to be a full-time, professional writer of fiction. My other good buddy Shaun (Remember Everything) is working diligently on an album of his music. It is an intensely honest and personal record, and he's really putting his whole heart into it. This is his dream, his goal, and it is also one not easily attained. Compound that with the fact that he - like so many others - has been unemployed for a while, and the stress to "pay the bills" and "play the music" can too often go hand in hand. I know he feels the pressure of this, and yet so far, his drive has only created the BEST art I've heard him create over the last 6 years of our friendship and mutual musical endeavors.

It IS easy to get caught up in the finances of reaching our goals. So let's remember the words of Rachelle today: "The quickest way to lose the joy is to expect that your first book contract is going to solve some kind of financial problem in your life." Now get out there and make some dreams come true, forgetting whether or not you'll ever yield a cent from your hard work. The creation is true gold, so treasure it.


We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;—
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

The Ode by Arthur William Edgar O'Shaughnessy

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Moving: The Story of Our Lives...

Since Geoff and I have been together, we've seen our fair share of "homes." When we first got together we lived in an apartment with two other room mates, then I lived in a separate place for a while. Then we got an apartment together about 3 blocks away from our previous apartment. We were there for just over a year, but realized we missed home. Therefore, we headed back to our hometown, Zeeland. We only stayed there for about 6 months because we realized how much money we were spending on gas with our commutes for our jobs, and it was ridiculous. We currently reside in Grandville, the perfect in between town! We're close to home, we're close to work. Well, we'll only be close to one of those for a short period of time ... that's where our latest news comes in.

Last week Thursday, Geoff was at work when he was called into a meeting in which he was told that the company will be relocating in June/July of 2010... February of 2011 at the absolute latest. The company is currently in Grand Rapids, and they're relocating to the south side of Holland. Wow. Thanks a lot, we just moved to Grandville less than 5 months ago.

In reality, this is actually a great thing, but the timing couldn't be worse. Our lease isn't up until October which means we'll need to break the lease. Not only do I not feel good about doing that to a company that's been great to us, but it's going to cost some major monies do to it. And there's a good chance we'll be needing to get out of the lease before October comes. It's just really stressful because with Carter on the way, I don't want to move after he's born. Life is going to be complicated enough with a newborn. We don't need to throw a move in there too. Also, I don't want to have a nursery all set up and settled just to take it down. (That's just the mom in me though, I suppose.) The good news is that it just so happens that our old landlords from Zeeland would be happy to have us back, which is just a blessing! We can afford the apartment and it has decent sized bedrooms (2), great landlords, and is less than 3 minutes from Geoff's parents house, and about 10 minutes from my rents place. This way we'll have sitters that are close by, Geoff will be near work, and I'll be the only one who has a commute. I can handle that, I like to drive.

Once again, it's just a situation that is completely "out of our control." That seems to be happening to us a lot lately. We're also in need of a car fixin. We're awaiting my last W2 to come so we can file our taxes, so we CAN pay for the car fixin. Oy. I hate when your world starts to revolve around money. That's the last thing I want it to revolve around. Such is life I suppose.

Anyway, thanks to everyone for your continuous support, love and prayers!

Inspiration From The Works of Others

I'm reading two books these days. That's a lot for me, considering I rarely read one. Yes, I'm one of those guys - a writer who has a hard time diving into books. When I decided a couple of years ago to take my writing seriously, I knew I would have start reading again, just as when I was in a band and I consumed every ounce of new music in my respective genres to see what the competition was like. But I am cursed with being a very slow reader. So I began downloading audio books and I love it! Listening to a book for about 6 hours at work is a great way to enjoy a book in a matter of a couple of days - reading it from the pages would generally take me a matter of a couple of months! So I am listening to a book right now at work. But I'm also reading one at home before bed.

Go figure that the book I'm reading is one I actually already LISTENED to a while back, Neil Gaiman's American Gods. If my life goes anywhere near the way I want it to and I have the power to call some shots in my career, I am going to meet this man and personally beg him to let me write the script for a film adaptation of this story. Maybe even convince him to let me direct it? Convince him to call me his personal protege? Convince him to be as obsessed with my stories as I am with his???

But I digress.

I love American Gods (hence I'm reading it a second time...) and it would make a great film. And why should I not be the one to make that happen!? Hey, a guy can dream, right?

The book I'm listening to, however, is what sparked this entry. It's a story called THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA* by Scott Lynch. It is the engrossing tale of the titular orphan boy who grows up under the guidance of a master thief known as Chains, a blind priest of the Nameless Thirteenth god. He goes on to form a skilled thievery group named the Gentleman Bastards.

What strikes me so much in this story so far (I'm only into about chapter 2) is that it is so insanely visual. Lynch is a master of language and takes great care in describing his characters and settings, as well as customs and language differences of the varying "counties" where his story takes place. I find myself blown away by his voice. It is akin to The Name of The Wind (which I also love) by Patrick Rothfuss in it's in style (loose fantasy told around a central character in a back-and-forth, from childhood-to-present-day type of non-sequential narrative) but I don't think I've enjoyed the language used in a tale this much since I first read Poe or The Portrait of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. It's just gorgeous.

So the reason why I am only 2 chapters into a book that I find this engaging is? Because its so well written that it's challenging me to write MY stories better. Every 10 minutes or so I find myself stopping my iPod so I can make notes about The Sons of The Moon! Its really great when you find that inspiration from the works of other people. An aspiring writer such as myself could view this sort of tutelage as something to fear, that this story or that story is too good to match. It could bring us down, make us doubt ourselves. But that's only if we let it. Great art of any kind should be an empowerment to create our own art, as skillfully and successfully as we can. At least, that's how I've always tried to look at it. It may be my downfall someday, this confidence, ("The Mona Lisa? I could do that... gimme a year...") but it's the only way that I know how to be.

I have things I want to say with my words - tales that mean something to me and reflect certain ways in which I see the world. But these words I craft are not really mine. My talents have been giving to me for a reason. Now whether that reason is to be as well-known as J.K. Rowling or to simply have a cool fantasy story sitting on a shelf that I can break out every now and again and read to my kids, that has yet to be seen, for God's will on the outcome of all this is still a bit hazy to me. All I can do in my heart is trust in that I've followed Him down the right path and take a few pointers from those who have come before me...

Some people seem to think that I began by asking myself how I could say something about Christianity to children; then fixed on the fairy tale as an instrument, then collected information about child psychology and decided what age group I'd write for; then drew up a list of basic Christian truths and hammered out 'allegories' to embody them. This is all pure moonshine. I couldn't write in that way. It all began with images; a faun carrying an umbrella, a queen on a sledge, a magnificent lion. At first there wasn't anything Christian about them; that element pushed itself in of its own accord.
C.S. Lewis
*Be warned if you plan on reading this book. It's not for everyone. Though set in a sort of Renaissance, Oliver-Twistian society, the characters use a lot of modern cursing and a wry British wit that contains many dark humor overtones. Not everyone will be into this styling I'm sure. Basically... it's not your traditional picaresque fantasy novel... this is more like Monty Python had Quentin Tarantino directed it. At least, that's what I've gathered so far. My opinion of the work could change when I finish it, since I haven't even bitten into the meat of a conflict or really seen the arc of where the plot is taking me.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Bachelor's Night

The winds of change blow consistently across my seas; each unpredictable wave threatens to maroon me on some forgotten island shore. But then, of course, I would at least be on solid ground. Stability - security - these are but ghosts shimmering in the memory of days gone by; simple dreams that fade in the waking moments, disappearing into the blood orange sunrise of a new and unfathomable day. Every great tale has its plot twists, and my many arc and turn like a winding road through a thick old forest. What lies around the next bend? I cannot say. And there in lies the danger. And the fun.

Tonight was my friend Ben's bachelor party, a milestone in a young man's life. Having been to my own as well as a few others, I can honestly say that - as much as society would love to pigeonhole all bachelor parties into ravenous and sexed-up romps through barrooms and strip clubs - each one has been different. Mine was the closest thing to what one may consider your standard bachelor party. There was a keg, and a barbecue, and lots and lots of friends, and lots and lots of alcohol consumed. (But no strippers, not my style AT ALL.) It was, to say the least, my last big blow-out. I was passed out by 8:30pm. My friends did what we did always did - drank, ate, and talked about anything and everything under the sun. It was festive in an almost medieval sense - loud men coming together to escape the workaday world. Eat drink be merry, that sort of thing.

I rarely see those friends anymore. My life shifted from that sort of "party" scene only a week after that last bash, when I made the best choice of my life and said "I do" to the most wonderful person I have ever met. Have a tossed back some booze since then? Of course. But it's never been as much fun as it was that night. In fact, it's starting to get less and less fun each time. If that's growing up, count me in. I can deal with one less vice. I've been slowly ticking them away for last two years. Now if I could only kick caffeine...

My buddy, Matteo, had his bachelor party just a couple of weeks ago. He had been at mine, and pretty much it was the same crowd populating his. And, as I stated, I hadn't seen a lot of them in a while. We threw down and had a good time, but there was a difference in the air. A few of that old crew had gone off and gotten married themselves. Most of us were living different places, different cities than we had back when most of our days were spent together. Everyone was growing up, you could see it on our faces and hear it in our conversions. Maturing life, with its different aspirations and responsibilities, was beginning to take hold. And I, for one, found that comforting. After all, who wants to stay the same all their lives. And it felt good not to be the only one changing hats, changing roles in the theater of life.

Tonight's party Ben was in a completely different vein. Six TVs set up in our friend Rick's basement, each plugged into some video game system (the majority being Xbox 360 armed with copies of Halo 3). There was beer, pizza, munchies, your typical bachelor party staples. I think we all put on about 70 pounds! But there was also something refreshing in this air, something I'm less familiar with than even growing older. Familiarity. In this room were a bunch of dudes who had known each other a great long time - most from high school, if not the very early years of college. Their relationships formed differently than those of my old peers had - in hallways and late-night parties at their parents' homes where they had still lived, rather than in the liquor-soaked houses and rock venues mine had. Most of my high school relationships have gone the way of the dodo.

I'm not saying one is better than the other. Every experience is worth the taking and can sow seeds in us that shape the very fiber of our character. Each life is our own to live. My party looked and felt like a party the way I had known it, Matteo's had his personality in it, Ben's his. In their own separate ways, our friends did what they were supposed to - made the night ours to remember. And I guess that's what it boils down to. We can spend time debating on which is the proper way to celebrate a bachelor's leap into wedlock. We can fret about who will make it and who will not, who needs inviting or who gets left out. We can say mine was "pure debauchery" and Ben's "too tame". But if our friends are their - no matter how the friendships grew or how lasting they may inevitably be - than the celebration is perfect just the way it is.

Congrats Ben. Tonight was a great and fitting way to raise a glass to you.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Query Contest

Kathleen Ortiz, Associate Agent and Foreign Rights Manager at Lowenstein Associates, is holding a contest over on her new blog where the winner gets a full-on, "red pen" query critique. It's a thinly veiled way for her to get new readers (the points system involves doing a lot of tweeting and blogging and such about her new blog (hence this blog :D)), but, heck, I'll play along! Always one to unwaveringly promote myself, I find it a virtue in others, especially when done creatively!
So check out her new blog, Neverending Page Turner (anything that starts with "Neverending" is all right in my book!) and if you're a writer with a query, follow the rules and join in!

Off to band practice. Catch you kids later.

The Fall and Workers Comp.

Tuesday, January 26th I was asked to go outside for recess duty for a co-worker who was out sick. No big deal, I've done it hundreds of times. I'm outside helping a kiddo zip up his coat, I walk away, next thing I know I'm on my stomach on the ground. Yep, I biffed it on the ice and my stomach took the brunt of the fall. I got up, and instantly start crying because I was really scared. If I would've fallen without being pregnant, no big thing. Yeah, it hurt regardless, but it made me super nervous. I went inside, spoke with a few co-workers, phoned my doctor and Geoff and I were on our way to the OB's to hear fetal heart tones and ensure that everything was okay.

I wasn't very pleased with the treatment I received from my doctors office. First, they failed to mention to me that my OB wasn't there that day, so I only saw one of the nurses. We heard the fetal heart tones, and she said over and over again that everything was fine. However, when we left I did not feel at ease. Next day rolls around and I didn't go into work. I was up until 2 a.m. that night worrying because I had barely felt Carter move since the fall. I called the doc, and once again Geoff and I headed to the OB's office. We hear the fetal heart tones once more, see a new nurse, and once again, not only is my OB not in the office, but all of the OB's were out of the office (in surgery supposedly). I'm beyond livid at this point. Not once have I been checked out by an OB, and Carter's movement on a scale from 1-10 is normally at an 8 and it was now at a 2. Finally I demanded an ultrasound. The nurse tried to tell me that generally insurance only covers one ultrasound and I told her that I'm covered per my HR rep at work. Not only that, but I got medicaid for that very reason (the just in case). She says that she'll contact my OB and get back to me the next day about setting up that ultrasound. Yet again, another day of waiting and not really knowing if Carter is okay.

Thursday, I go into work ... mainly to get my mind off of everything. I receive a call, and I have an ultrasound scheduled at Holland Hospital that afternoon. My Mom was kind enough to go with me, Geoff had already missed so much work on my account. As I'm getting the ultrasound, I was asking the Tech. questions and of course she couldn't answer any of them. She was like a robot only saying, "your doctor will go over the results with you." Grrr ... so I leave, and have yet another night of restless sleep. Carter still hasn't moved much at this point.

Friday I went into work again, only for a few hours because I finally received a call from MY OB. She apologized profusely because apparently I was supposed to find out the results of my ultrasound at the hospital the same day, and the Tech. accidentally sent me away. Then she ensures me that the ultrasound looked good overall, but mentioned something about fluid in the bladder area (on the baby). She wanted me to rest over the weekend and call her on Monday to tell her how I was doing. However, Friday had another surprise waiting for me. I received a call from my insurance company from workers comp. and this woman spoke with me for over 30 minutes about every detail of my fall, where, when, how?, the doctors visits and everything in between. She INSISTED that I take workers comp. because she's not comfortable with the treatment I was receiving either. HOWEVER, the weekend really did help. Geoff and I completely took it easy, relaxed and even watched the entire Lord of the Rings extended edition trilogy. It was awesome. :D

Monday (yesterday) rolls around and I'm feeling a lot better. My bruises on my legs are starting to fade, my upper body is no longer sore, my stomach wasn't as tight as before and Carter starting moving around a lot more. I had some cramping in my stomach on and off throughout the entire week/weekend, but overall I was feeling a lot better. I called my OB to explain all of this to her, but also to explain that my work/insurance wants me to have two weeks of disability to rest. My OB kind of blew me off, and said she needed to speak with the billing department in regards to this situation. The woman from workers comp. called me again saying that I'm on workers comp. whether my doctor puts me on it or not. Now, I have mixed feelings about this situation. First of all, I'm really doing a lot better. Second of all, I feel that I'm screwing people over at my work and for me not to be there for 2 weeks is just not okay. Also, I don't get compensated at 100%, only 80% of my normal wages. However, the one benefit is that I missed three days of work that my job was not going to reimburse me for and this way, I at least will get most of the money I would normally earn.

Ugh, it's such an ugly mess. I feel like all of this could've been avoided and the workers comp. situation is almost stressing me out more than the fall itself. However, I'm really upset once again with my doctors office. I feel that they should've done EVERYTHING in their power to check me over full out the first time I went in there, instead of making me come back to Holland for three days in a row. That's their job! Making sure I was unstressed, at ease and fully satisfied with my treatment. I feel like I was treated like a number. They might see women fall all the time, they might see broken legs and etc, etc. all the time, BUT this is my first pregnancy, and this WAS the first time I fell. They should've been more sensitive to that and done everything to ensure I was alright, all around.

They failed.

Therefore, today, I go in yet again. Full evaluation and they are going to hear it from me. I may need to find a new OB depending on how today goes.

Thanks to everyone for all of the support, prayers and love while we've been going through this whole ordeal. It means so much to Geoff and I both.