Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Civility, editing,and where does time go?

Former Ambassador to Sweden and longtime Waco state representive Lyndon Olson spoke to a high-power audience of politicians recently, according to Texas columnist Dave McNeely, and to my mind the most telling thing he said was, "We live life in an era of rudeness." Olson recalled kindergarten report cards where you were graded on comportment as well as math and science and reading. There were places to check for "shows kindness toward others, respects rights of other, shows self-control" and, the most important of all, "Play well with others." We have today, according to Olson, forgotten those lessons. We live in an era that rewards incivility, crudeness and cynicism, and we have lost civil non-hostile discourse. I wish I could have a word-for-word transcript of the speech, for it really hits home. And it's a bipartisan problem, with both sides being guilty, though (okay I'm a confessed liberal) I think when Rush Limbaugh says he judges America's success by Obama's failure, he carries it to extreme. I enjoy rational, calm political discussion with those who disagree with me--but it doesn't happen very often. Sometimes the vehement disagrements are good-natured, but sometimes they're really hostile. And when I read in the media about accusations exchanged at the highest level of our government, I am appalled. I agree with Ambassador Olson: what happened to civility? To me, it suggests more anger in this country than is comfortable--but anger at what? Nobody seems to know; people are just angry. Olson blames the media, but I'm not sure that's the whole answer. Often when I read about today's politics I think of my father--a dedicated liberal but a man of fine British manners--who would be appalled at politics today. I'm glad he can't see it.
I've been re-reading my mystery,Skeleton in a Dead Space, which was rejected but for which I got a helpful critique. To me, the manuscript holds up well, and I found a few typos, a few minor places to change some things, and one major place to change a character's motivation. Tonight I made all those changes, and I'm ready to start querying again. But I'm also ready to update my web page, which hasn't been done in ages.
I wonder where time goes when you're retired. I ran into my former boss today at lunch, and he agreed that he had so much to do every day he didn't know where to begin. Jordan suggested last night, more in terms of budget than time, that I look at all my lunches and dinners out with friends, but isn't that what retirement is about? I do have a lot to do every day, and on a free day, what I call a floating day, when I don't have to hurry to be someplace in the morning, it's ten o'clock before I even think about washing my hair putting on make-up and getting dressed. Tomorrow I am going to the TCU retirees luncheon with Jean, so I'll have to move sharp to get my free writing and yoga done, plus read the paper, shower and get ready for the day. Retirement sure is tough.

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