Returning to the iPhone, after a frustrating stint with an android phone

Returning to the iPhone, after a frustrating stint with an android phone

I wanted to love the Samsung Galaxy S4. I did love its big, luscious screen. I enjoyed its camera. The hardware of that phone is lovely. I liked the customizability of ringtones, as I screen calls via ringtone.

But android software is dreadful. Dreadful, awful. Bad. Don’t buy an android phone.

First, the Galaxy ships with several gigs of utterly useless space- and processor-swallowing software. This software is mind-numbingly stupid. There are several scornful nicknames that convey the derision in which it’s held: “bloatware” and “crapware” among them.

You have to do this tech-intensive thing called “rooting the phone” to really exterminate that pestiferous bloatware.

Second, the settings are badly disorganized. It’s hard to find what you’re looking for. Someone who has no executive skills capacity whatsoever designed the Galaxy settings.

Third, the software doesn’t always work. For example, mailing pictures from the camera album. Sometimes they would send, sometimes they wouldn’t. Very frustrating.

Fourth, the email app is god-awful user unfriendly. Impossible. Doesn’t sync often enough, only likes gmail. And everything, including your password, is stored on the cloud, which means Big Brother NSA can pluck your password out of the cloud and ruffle through your emails at will. (Imagine a big hairy oaf rummaging through your underwear drawer….)

Fifth, you have to press extra buttons to make a phone call or get a message.

I personally found that android software required a lot of fussing with. It’s not well organized and intuitive, as apple iOs software is.

My Galaxy screen had an issue in the fall and I swapped the sim card out into my old iPhone, and I sent the Galaxy to Samsung for repair. While using a slow old iPhone 3, I fell back in love with the iPhone. There’s NO stupid crapware to root out. Everything just works. I don’t have to fuss with it.

The Galaxy came back from Samsung. It looked beautiful and worked–well, it worked as well as an android phone does work, which is to say, encumbered with stupid bloatware and sporadically. I delayed putting the sim card back in because I just couldn’t bear to leave the pleasant efficiency of the iOs environment. Finally I girded my loins and dutifully returned to the Galaxy.

Two weeks later, and some website or email created an annoying alert on the phone that it had a virus and I needed to download antivirus software. There was a specific website it wanted me to go to. I was pretty sure that was a scam. But it finished off my tolerance of all things android.

I took myself to ATT. I did what it took to get the iPhone 5S.

Awesome phone. A pleasure to use. And my relief is delicious.


Imperfect love, and impermanence

The other morning, a friend and neighbor died. Barbara was a lovely human being, a much-depended-upon wife, mother, sister, and friend. She was tall and statuesque, dignified and gracious and intelligent, kind and thoughtful, resourceful, usually contained.

When she first got sick, I was terribly upset. I commented to a mutual acquaintance that people saw her strength but not her vulnerability. He thought I was perceiving myself. Perhaps, but it still applies to Barbara. There was something about her that seemed formidable, sometimes even daunting.

However, over almost twenty years, she revealed many softer facets of a warm and tender character. My little blonde daughter used to have tea parties with her. It was a thrilling treat for my little one, to get to go downstairs to have tea with Barbara! Barbara would put out a special china tea set and sugar cookies, and the two would sit and converse quite seriously over the goodies.

After a half hour, I would go down to retrieve my rascally Munchkin. In other circumstances, she is often a handful. With Barbara, she behaved herself, acting older than her years, and she enjoyed herself doing it. I was always amazed to see how Barbara effortlessly brought out such excellent behavior.

Once downstairs, I often sat for ten or twenty minutes with Barbara, sharing war stories about raising children. We had both been through brutal bouts with our respective kids; we each saw the good in the other’s horrendous teen-agers and difficult young adult children. We understood each other’s frustration, how hard it is to be a mother, when sometimes even your best is a miserable failure, how even the best mother in the world can’t save a child from him or her self.

Despite all the sappy, self-indulgent cliches that pass for enlightened child-rearing, love is not always enough. Bad behavior–spoiled, destructive, entitled behavior–has an impact on a mother’s heart. Mothers are people, too, with needs and feelings and authentic human responses, something many children do not want to face. Other mothers, experienced ones, get it. They get it how unreasonably we continue to love our kids, no matter what, all the way to the bittersweet end. I received a lot of guidance and support in those times with Barbara, at the tail end of picking up my Munchkin from a tea party. I was grateful for it. I was grateful for Barbara’s wisdom.

By happenstance I was in the lobby when the mortuary people came for her, and that’s how I learned of her passing. I waited for them to bring her down so I could say a prayer over her body. I had the sense of her spirit lingering nearby, at peace, but still close to the body. During the day, I repeated my prayer, praising All-that-is for letting me know this wise and lovely lady for a few decades. I asked for blessings for her soul as it ascends. I am very grateful for the times I shared with Barbara. I am sorry she is gone. May her family be comforted to know how much she loved them.

Channeling Miss Phryne Fisher

Channeling Miss Phryne Fisher

I find myself hopelessly enamored of a certain saucy Aussie investigator. Her effervescence and inquisitive nature completely slay me.

The name of my girl crush is Miss Phryne Fisher, of Murder Mystery Fame.

Is it that she drinks too much, dances with too much abandon, and beds too many hot men? Is it her wardrobe of stylish art deco garments? Or is it simply that she owns herself with delightful and delicious aplomb?

I am utterly ravished by her lightness-of-being.

No question, when I grow up, I want to be Miss Fisher. Until then, I shall have to settle for emulation.

Phryne Fisher


Clothes-hangers and the Other

Clothes-hangers and the Other

Today I went to services at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. I needed to have a heart-to-heart with God, and even though I’m not Christian, I love that Cathedral. It teems with wondrous, heart-full energy. It’s full of the loving intelligence of God, and of the sacred intention of a positive community. It’s easy for me to feel close to the Divine there.

I sat and prayed. I had a lot of people to pray for, not least of whom was myself. This was a lengthy and earnest prayer. I paused only to take in the sermon. It turned out to be a rather excellent lecture on Not Losing Heart–which I really needed to hear. Perhaps the Creator, King of the Universe, meant for me to attend today? I sat up straighter and turned my head to the left to look at the Very Reverend Kowalski as he spoke.

Out of the periphery of my eye, I caught sight of the older lady diagonally behind me staring at me. She was also scribbling furiously on her leaflet. Naturally, my curiosity was aroused. I managed to cast my eyes down unobtrusively to see what she was up to. She was sketching, actually. Sketching me.

I couldn’t help but smile, and then hope my smile didn’t throw off her efforts. Because while she was sketching me in the morning at church, my husband is sculpting me at home, in the evenings.

Sabin isn’t the first artist I ever posed for. I spent a few weeks in Paris in June, and part of the reason for going to Paris was to look for some photographs taken of me when I was young. I heard they ended up in a gallery there. For a long time I was terrified that those photos would turn up and shame me publicly. Now I’m 50 and I don’t embarrass as easily. I would be pleased to see what I looked like all those decades ago, before three children. I’d be proud to think I was once so gracefully shaped.

I haven’t just been sketched, sculpted, painted, and photographed. A musician once claimed I was the inspiration for a sweet pop song. A poet claimed some of his poems were about me. A novelist told me that a character in his novel was based on me.

This is not because I’m special, because I’m not. It’s because I hang out with fellow artists, and we influence each other. It’s context.

With this experience as a muse, I’ve come to understand that it’s never me who is being sketched, sculpted, photographed, written or sung about. It’s the artist’s own projections onto me that are the Subject. I’m just a convenient clothes-hanger on which the artist is hanging his own creativity.

Life mirrors art, when it comes to projections, which can be gluey and trap us like insects in a web, if we aren’t conscious enough to glide free. I think of my former husband and his family, who never once perceived me in the twenty years we were together. It wasn’t until I was free of him, and them, that I had a chance to discover just how much I’d let their projections define and confine me.

For example, my ex-husband was fond of telling me that I had no friends. It was a snarky refrain of his, and of his family’s. Once my former mother-in-law even said to me, “I know you don’t like people….” At the time I stared at her in total astonishment that she had gotten me so wrong. And that she was so willing to put me down that way. But that kind of contempt for me was constant, and built into their family culture.

I stayed as long as I did in the face of their contempt, so that’s on me.

When I finally got away from those people, it took a few years, and then I suddenly realized that I had a lot of friends. I was praying for them today, which is why it was such a lengthy prayer session.

I have recent friends who are sweet and fun (Lori, are you reading?). I have friends of a few years to a decade, some of whom are very precious to me. (Yes, Michelle, you are one of those!) And I have long-time friends of a few decades. I got to see Gerda at the beginning of the month, Geoffrey two weeks ago, and Paul is passing through NYC and staying overnight at my apartment this week. He owes me dinner because I helped him build his website. I’m really looking forward to that, and I’m ordering dessert.

I am so lucky. I love many people.

But I had to break free of the constraints of other people’s projections. When I did that, finally and after much anguish, I could stand on the outside and watch their mental process. It’s like looking through the glass porthole in a laundromat washer, watching the towels spin furiously. That’s liberation.

Not that I’m an enlightened person. I just get hard-earned moments of liberation, now and then. Totally worth living for, they are!

But the moral of this story about clothes-hangers and artists is: Standing for other people’s projections isn’t always as benign as wearing purple ribbons in your hair and being photographed nude. You have to discern. You have to chose carefully what you’re going to allow to be hung on you, to the extent that you can.

Eleanor Roosevelt said something about how no one can put you down without your consent, but that’s simple-minded and reductive. Her words are actually a blame-the-victim defense against feeling the authentic human vulnerability and suffering of another human being. She said that, as people do when they quote her, so as not to be bothered by someone else’s pain. To dismiss someone who has already been harmed.

The truth is that we are all porous to each other, even the people who don’t seem to be. We all influence each other profoundly, in ways both obvious and invisible. Tacitly and out loud. We make an impact on each other all the time. We’re all hanging garments on each other all the time, and some of those garments are like a great black dress, flattering and uplifting. Some of them are constricting and can literally make us ill.

So we learn to choose wisely, and to detach ourselves from the clothes-hanger other people use for their own purposes. Maybe that’s how we keep our heart whole.


Why I write

Why I write

Ultimately, the reason I write is, Because I have to. Because I can not imagine my life without my writing, and I have a world-class imagination. Because as soon as I experience something, anything, everything, I think, “How can I use this in a novel?”

In even the worst moments, the most painful and horrifying times, a part of my brain is recording the experience for future use in a novel. But I also mine the best moments. My husband the artist, who is on to me, has figured out that that is why a certain look parses my face after he’s done exploring my crevices with his magical hands, and we’re lying all sweaty and entwined. How do I describe bliss in words? A juicy and intriguing task.

Writing stories is my soul essence. That and Star Trek.

So endless lonely hours at my desk, toiling away like an invisible slave, in an ugly business. Sometimes I wonder, Does it matter? Who cares, except me?

Then I get an email from a reader. One came in the other night from a reader of my first novel IMMORTAL. “Beauty in writing” was the subject line.

“I have just finished reading your book Immortal not 5 minutes ago. I can’t explain to you in words how powerful and beautiful it all was. This is a masterpiece, I related to this book on so many levels, the way Luca asked and tried to answer philosophical questions relating to himself and God, it made me do the same.” 

Reading this note makes it all worthwhile.

I am so grateful when a reader takes a few moments out of their busy life to reach out this way.

And some good reviews of FAR SHORE have been coming in.

Psibabe, aka Ashley Perkins, of Game Vortex blog wrote,

“Far Shore is the third book in author Traci. L. Slatton’s After series and just like the previous two books, it’s a non-stop roller coaster ride of action, betrayal, lust, violence, horror and redemption…

Far Shore is, just like its predecessors in the After series, a great read. As I approached the end of the book, I found myself a little panicky at the thought of the end of the series. For whatever reason, I was thinking After was a trilogy and was quite relieved to see Far Shore was set up for another book. I love the characters and the post-apocalyptic universe that Traci Slatton has created in the After series and I enjoy seeing where their lives go in this strange and dangerous new world. Keep ’em coming Traci!”        

Here’s the link.

Lunar Haven Reviews gave FAR SHORE 5 crescents, and said

“Far Shore was my most anticipated book release of the year and may I say that it was well worth the wait! I absolutely love this book (and the After series in general)….I really love how Traci writes her characters. They are just so well developed and her writing impeccable. Arthur and Emma have come so far together and I can’t wait to see what happens and how they will save the world. “

The Paranormal Romance Guild gave it 5 stars and called it “a very engrossing tale.”

The ineluctable Tome Tender gave the book 5 stars and wrote a thoughtful review, saying,

“Do NOT expect to be comfortable with all of the decisions made or the actions taken, this world is still bleak, filled with deceit and treachery, but there is still hope, there is still love. In the end, it may have been one uncomfortable decision that ultimately may save the world and someone had to be strong enough to make it.”

And remember that FAR SHORE made it to the USA Today list of HEA Paranormals

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Pulling Teeth

Pulling Teeth

Pulling Teeth.

I was a Navy brat who moved from base to base, as military kids do. Medical and dental care was often spotty. My medical records were often lost when we were transferred, so no physical history followed me around the country. This, in fact, led to a scarlet fever rash being misdiagnosed as measles by a Navy doc who could only condescend to my 23 year old mother when I was 6.

My mom kept saying, “No, she’s had measles,” but that doctor was too special to listen to a high school drop-out and her ragamuffin kid.

Fortunately a civilian ear-nose-throat doctor spotted the mistake, a few months later, when the pain of scarlet fever had shut me away so deep inside myself that my mother feared I was going deaf, and she overrode my dad’s objections and took me off base for a less arrogant exam.

The civilian doctor was good-looking and focused on me in a way that I wasn’t used to but mightily appreciated. I responded to one of his quiet, kind questions with a gesture of my palms toward him. That doctor just about leapt out of his shoes. He grabbed me by the wrists and ran me into the waiting room, hollering, “Has this child had a rash?”

My hands were peeling in great sheaths of skin, which is a sign of scarlet fever. My mom had been right all along.

And so I ended up with an intensive series of antibiotic injections, which probably saved me from rheumatic fever and heart problems and a whole raft of nasty eventualities, perhaps even death.

Dental care was equally spotty. Sometimes it was good. Sometimes not so much. Sometimes it was irregular fun.

When I was about 10, some molars started growing in the back of my mouth, and my teeth started jamming up together. My dad, the cheapest sociopath who ever lived, grew nervous that he might have to pay for braces. I was duly taken to a dentist, who took a good look in my mouth.

“She’s got a small mouth, but I think if I pull a molar on each side, the teeth won’t crowd each other. She can avoid braces.”

My mother repeated that to my father that night.

My dad smiled. We all knew that he was now going to be funny, and we braced ourselves. He didn’t actually have a sense of humor unless he was drunk, and then that particular brand of mirth could best be described, charitably, as ‘mean.’ Which kind of downplays how awful it was, by several orders of magnitude.

But now he was smiling, so we got scared. “If the dentist pulls her teeth, the tooth fairy doesn’t come,” he pronounced.

So there we had it. He wasn’t going to be funny; he was happy that he was going to save himself $2.00. Not only would he be spared the expense of orthodontia, but he was also going to save $2.

I knew there was no such thing as a tooth fairy. I wasn’t stupid. But, you know, at that time, paperback books cost $1.25, and $2.00 meant one whole book plus change toward the next one. So I wasn’t going to give up on the tooth fairy so easily. I lived for books.

We returned to the dentist and he took me back to the exam room. “Okay,” he said, “I’m pulling some teeth.”

“Oh no,” I said. “I’m pulling the teeth.”

He looked at me.

“You can place the instrument, but I’m pulling the teeth,” I said. I looked him dead in the eye like I meant business. Because I did.

He burst into guffaws and staggered back to the waiting room to speak with my mother. He came back shaking his head. “Okay, you’re pulling the teeth.”

He placed the instruments and I pulled the teeth.

My mother reported to that bastard my father that the dentist had NOT pulled my teeth. I had. The rule of the tooth fairy still applied.

I think my mom may have, for once, strenuously put her foot down with my dad. For sure, he didn’t want to part with $2.00. But that night $2.00 appeared under my pillow.

I think of this incident sometimes. Usually when I have to deal with something awful. Something I don’t want to do, something dreadful. Those events turn up regularly, because that’s life, isn’t it? Bittersweet, and brimming over with both sorrow and joy.

So when I’ve got to suck it up and deal, I remember that I was a little kid who made it through a tough childhood. I was a little kid who sat in a dentist’s chair and yanked her own teeth out so she could buy books, which she loved. And still does.

Traci L. Slatton