Monthly Archives: September 2009

Ant Protocols

You would never know this to look at me, or to look at my home and my workspace, not to mention my filthy, filthy, car, but I am a closet neat freak.

It has been beat out of me by years of child-rearing, teaching, and my own disorganization, but I really, really like things clean and am greatly affected by places that are not clean. Like, everywhere I go these days.

It’s my basic problem: I desperately need things around me tidy and organized for my own mental health, but am unable to create or maintain this for myself. I really, really need a filthy assistant or 12 (read transmetropolitan if you don’t get that ref) but, of course, the writing isn’t even paying for itself at this point let alone allowing me to hire a staff.

and no, efforts to train my children have been spectacularly non-effective. And don’t even get me started on the cats.

I did not realize that I “came by it honest,” as we say in the midwest, until my last visit to visit my grandparents in Florida. Apparently, there’s a Naked Jungle sized ant problem down there and my grandmother is a little paranoid about it. She has always kept a spotless house, but as I was helping her clean up from dinner one evening, I realized that she was doing something weird. She was taking the trash — milk carton, juice container, chicken wrapping– and rinsing it off in the sink with scalding hot water.

My wife and my parents were like, “woow … that’s … hard core. and weird.”

I thought it was the coolest thing ever. And it should be noted, she has NO ants in her house.

I’ve thought about that a lot, especially as we’ve also had ant problems, mostly because my children think the proper disposal method for a half-eaten cookie is to grind it into the carpet until the crumbs have gone through the carpet and into the pad so Dad won’t see it right away. And I think about my grandma washing her trash and I want to go wash my own trash.

The ants are back. I hate the ants. Obsessively washing dishes and picking up the trash isn’t helping. I believe it is time to institute the ant protocols.

I’m wondering if I can just use Dawn or if I need to go full-out and use something with bleach?

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Posted by on September 24, 2009 in life


Just in case you were wondering …

ok, so yesterday’s post was a little strident, but I’m still glad I wrote and posted it. And it wasn’t really aimed at anyone, but I don’t really apologize for anything I said. I needed to say it. And if I used a firehouse instead of a squirtgun, well, that’s baseball.

That said, it’s kind of the end of a process of, as I said, staking out some territory for myself in the world and in my own head, and feeling like I’ve earned the right to call the universe on its bullshit.

And to call myself on my own bullshit, which, yeah, there’s a lot of.

But … done now. Will not comment further, will not engage in debate, will just let it stand as it is and get on with the business of living my own damn life and letting everyone else get on with theirs. The rest of this will probably get worked out in fiction, as all things do, for me, really.

But it’s also made me want to do something I felt weird about before, and that’s to can the intitials and start writing things under my own name.

So, no more pen name (since it was my own initials, it wasn’t exactly a pseudonym anyway). From now on, I publish as Chad Grayson.

Hey, I’m a certified crazy. I’m allowed.


Posted by on September 21, 2009 in life, writing



What It’s About

It’s about the 7th grade quest program, standing in front of the sheet getting my picture taken in a full classroom, answering that question they wanted you to answer, with “I want to be a writer,” and hearing about a dozen assholes start laughing and saying “what, you want to write stuff down like, a, b, c and stuff?” and me not even being able to understand how they could not know what a writer was.

It’s about the fact that they didn’t feel stupid about this, but that I did.

It’s about the history teacher/football coach who made no correction and just laughed.

It’s about being told that there weren’t any answers to my questions, that I just needed to have faith and trust God when the things I was told were true made no intellectual sense to me.

It’s about being told that I just needed to pray and I would feel better about myself. And maybe I needed to read the bible instead of all those stupid alien books I carried around with me.

It’s about me not saying “but I’ve read the bible five times. The whole thing. Have you?”

It’s about watching my daughter curled up in fetal position on the kitchen floor, crying and whispering “I hate the way I am.”

It’s about me remembering doing that myself in my room.

It’s about realizing that it was my anger and criticism that made her collapse that way.

It’s about me being told I felt like this because I wasn’t right with God, and that I needed to pray and confess and he would heal me.

It’s about, even after all these years, me still believing that might be true.

It’s about thinking it made sense when people would say “Well, of course my child is afraid of black people. Every time you see a crime report on the news, it’s a black person who did it.”

It’s about thinking it was funny when one of my uncles, when asked to do something, responded with “I ain’t your nigger, woman!”

It’s about wanting to throw up when I think about that now.

It’s about me saying to my best friend “I think prejudice is wrong, but if there’s one that’s ok, it’s the one against gay people because that’s just gross and that’s what the bible says, anyway.”

It’s about a secret that best friend knew he could never tell me.

It’s about looking at my wife when I come out of the fog, and realizing that I’ve put her through it again, and I don’t know how to heal any of it.

It’s about realizing exactly how my son learned it was ok to throw things at people and curse when he’s mad.

It’s about always knowing what I wanted, but never thinking I could be good enough, so deciding to live the back-up plan and pretending it’s the real one.

It’s about doing that until I couldn’t anymore, and then life imploding.

It’s about looking in the mirror and knowing, on some level, how it’s all going to end.

It’s about coming up for air and realizing the world is still here, and some of it even still wants me in it.

It’s about taking the meds just so I can feel normal and behave.

It’s about wanting to go off the meds because I find out I hate being normal and behaving.

It’s about sticking with it because it’s for me, for me to accomplish what I want to accomplish, not to make other people feel comfortable.

It’s about getting frustrated with people you love because they don’t see what you see, and continue dividing people between the damned and the blessed, and use politics to deny rights to the people they feel uncomfortable accepting.

It’s about realizing if you want people to meet you where you are, you have to do the same thing. Even if you feel like a lot of the people in your past didn’t give you the same courtesy.

It’s about knowing you’re building walls and feeling sad about that, but needing to build them anyway.

It’s about realizing some fights are just not worth it.

It’s about realizing some fights are.

It’s about realizing I’m the one who gets to make that decision.

It’s about being sick of statements that begin with “Can’t you just …”, “I don’t know why you have to…”, and “Is that really necessary?”

It’s about thinking it’s funny that some who read this will just roll their eyes. Because yes, there I DO go again.

It’s about me staking out territory for me and people like me.

It’s about taking a big sigh of relief and wondering if, now that it’s out, if I’ll be brave enough to post it. Or If I won’t because I know people won’t understand, and will start ending my wife emails asking if I am ok. (answer: yes. If you can read this, I am very much ok).

So, if you can read this, you know what I decided.


Posted by on September 21, 2009 in life


Destination: Future cover

Destination Future cover, art by Ed Norden

Destination Future cover, art by Ed Norden

Eric Reynolds, publisher of Hadley-Rille books recently posted the preliminary cover to the anthology Destination: Future, which will contain my short story, “Jadeflower.”

Cover features art by Ed Norden. Ed’s art has, I think, a groovy, retro sci-fi folk art vibe, if such a thing exists, AND IT SHOULD.

Look for Destination: Future out in early 2010, edited by Eric T. Reynolds and Z.S. Adani. Lots of cool people in this one, as you can see from the cover (Resnick, and Wentworth and Bear, oh my!. no, I am not proud of this joke), and I realy am considering changing my pen name to And More. Thoughts?

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Posted by on September 17, 2009 in writing


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Home School Chronicles: Down and Out in the Outer Solar System

After years of swearing I would never do such a thing for a variety of reasons, we decided that it would be best for my fifth grade daughter to be homeschooled this year. This has nothing to do with her school, which we love, or her teachers, who we also love, but because of various neurological issues she’s experiencing that make it difficult for her to cope with the pace of fifth grade at the middle school. We’re giving her a year for her brain to catch up with her physical age, basically, and then trying it again next year.

And since I am home, and have a teaching credential, I’m the teacher. I think we’re all feeling a bit trepidacious about this, since she and I have a lot of similar issues, and sometimes, well … we’d all like this to avoid being the Chad and Sarah Grayson Memorial Home School Center. Day one … not bad.

Learned right off the bat that I’d have to teach in 5 minute nuggets, and then she does best with smaller bursts of guided practice. But she cooperates with me, and really still likes the actual content of the work. We may have done this just in time.

Since we’re doing this through her school’s home school program, we’re keeping along with the classroom curriculum, which is all about the solar system right now, specifically, the outer solar system, which means Pluto and that whole controversy, because that’s actually in the textbooks now.

pluto-planetSarah is not happy about the new status of Pluto. It took a minute to convince her that nothing had actually happened to Pluto, that it had not been, Alderaan-like, blasted by the Imperial Death star into more chaff to join the kuyper belt. And we talked about how planets are classified and who gets to make the decision, and why … and we talked abourt Ceres and Eris, and Charon, and decided that, hey, let’s just let them all in. I can undestand how my scientists friends might be freaking out about that, especially in the case of Charon, but hey … can’t we all just get along?

I don’t know if we’ll be attending any “Save the dwarf planets!” ralleys, but we’ll have to see. Found that Youtube and other sites have great resources for supplemental videos. Watched “The Universe: The Outer PLanets” I think it was legal since it was marked as an official play list and listed “for educational purposes only.”

It just figures that this would be where we’d start, doesn’t it?

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Posted by on September 17, 2009 in life


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The comfort of small things

Well, work on the book has slowed to a crawl the past two weeks because of various school and life-related crises. We also had a death in the family, one that we were prepared for, but one that also socked me in the gut in ways I did not expect. Getting back on schedule and back on track has been a challenge, and one I have not been dealing with very well in a variety of ways. And we’re also trying to deal with a major decision that must be made soon, and throw in some financial stress for the win!

So yeah. The world is tumbling now, it seems. It will, hopefully, find it’s balance soon. Or I will, at least.

Somewhere in all of this, I got the craving to read my old favorite book (series actually), and pulled it out of its box in the garage. It’s my copy of Tad William’s The Dragonbone Chair, and it has been a struggle to read.

Not a struggle to read the content. I am reminded of why I fell in love with Tad Williams, and the world of Osten Ard and the character of Simon Mooncalf/Pilgrim/Snowlock/that would be telling. The language, the descriptions, the warm embrace of his sentences and his lyricism, it’s been a real comfort in a difficult time.

But It’s been difficult to read because it is my original copy. I owe my ADHD/lack of details affliction for my introduction to this book. Back in the day, I was a member of the Science Fiction Book Club, and that was in the time when you had to send back those postcards or they would send you the book selection of the month, along with the bill (it may still be that way, I dunno, and I was 15 and a flake. I was going to send it back, but accidentally opened it up and read the first page, and this sentence grabbed me:

“It might have been the first day of Spring, , to judge from the air of breathless anticipation, but the calendar in Doctor Morgenes’ cluttered chamber showed differently: The Month was only Novander. Autumn was holding the door; winter was trudging in.”

That was it. And this was the book that rekindled my own desire to write. I wanted to create powerful moments for readers, like Williams did for me, and it was from that moment on, inspired to go into my room and start writing my bizarre little stories, that I really thought of myself as a writer.

This book, over 20 years old now, was a book club “hardcover.” Not meant to last the ages, and it has been much-reread and loaned out. Pages are falling out, its binding has collapsed and its faux-cardboard cover is useful merely as a folder in which to hold to collection of leaves. It goes without saying that the dustjacket has long since vanished into the ether. But i find that though I could go down to Barnes and Noble and pick up a new paperback, I want to read this one. It connects me to that part of me that is still important, and which I forget exists sometimes. I like holding the same thing that fifteen-year-old did, the one I have spent so many years despising, mocking, but for whom I have recently started to develop a tiny bit of affection. We are communicating with each other again through this physical object.

But maybe I’ll get a new copy if I decide to keep loaning this book out …. it’s already responsible for the existence of about a dozen Tad Williams’ fans, and it deserves its rest.


Posted by on September 4, 2009 in life, writing


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