Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The "Bad Guys"

This has been a crazy couple weeks.

I work as a felony prosecutor in Texas.

So, I see a lot of "Bad Guys," as my kids call them.
With most defendants, I can look past the stuff they've done and see the person behind. I often still send the person behind to the pen, but even so, usually I can see the person behind, and sometimes I feel sorry for them.

But every once in a while you come across someone who has done something so terrible, so evil, it eclipses the person behind the act. They lose all status as a person who made a bad choice. They become, in the minds of anyone who knows what they've done, evil. Maybe it's a defense mechanisim we use to distance ourselves from someone who has done unspeakable things. Or who knows, maybe that act really does make a person so evil that there is nothing defining left about that person except the evil they chose.

This past week, I saw evil. I will not burden anyone else with details of that evil, even second hand. But, it wasn't bad choices, or acts of frustration, or lack of choice or insanity. It was pure, chosen, deliberate, uncomprehendable evil. And like evil does, it tortured and destroyed the helpless, the innocent.

Dealing with evil makes me exhausted, and somewhat hopeless. Every time I think surely there could not possibly be another living person as depraved. Then, I get proof that there is.

It makes me angry, and it makes me afraid for the children I have brought into this world, who are helpless and innocent right now. I desperately want to shield them from ever having to face evil. Always, even when they're grown, and no longer helpless or innocent.

So, to avoid dwelling on gruesome details, on the flashes of horror that play in my head after a brush with evil, I try to intellectualize it. Make it acedemic.

Which means I now have a debate going with myself. Which is more effective as an antagonist in fiction? The person who makes bad choices, who you can understand even when you disapprove of their acts? Or the person who has chosen to do such evil things that they are what they do--simply, incomprehendably, evil. The reader cannot identify with them as anything but the big bad.

And finally, is evil contagious? Does it spread? It doesn't usually in fiction. But in life? I'm not so sure.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Great YA

Friday evening, after running a Grand Jury all day, I got home. My phone had died at some point during the day, and I was running late.

DH, who HATES it when I'm late and he cant reach me (mostly because he's decided about five minutes after i'm officially late that I have been run over, stabbed, shot, pepper sprayed and/or beaten by one of the defendants I sent to prison) was cranky when I got home.

I'll spare you the converation, but the upshot was: Please remember to plug in your phone dammit, and by the way, we are going to Houston.

I was at this point in my evening, collapsed on the bed, shoes and all, trying to decide if I had energy enough to drag myself to the shower. Houston, if you are wondering, is a good seven hour drive from the bed upon which I was collapsed.

I groaned. I summoned enough energy to snag the pillow beside me and put it on my head, the better with which to block out the insane travel plans DH was expounding on.

Then he pulled out the "well, you'd have known about this is you plugged in your phone once in a while."

Followed up with "And I booked a hotel in San Antonio on the riverwalk, so lets go. We can eat out and have some drinks and the kids are at my mom's so lets not waste a perfectly kid free evening."

Well folks, we don't live near family, so we don't often have babysitters. So I drug myself to a sitting position and mumbled feebly about packing. I was informed that he had already packed a bag for me (EEK!!) and all I needed to do was get back in the car.

A cup of coffee,  and an hour later I was pulled together enough to yet again form a coherent sentence, and by the time we got to San Antonio, I was ready to have some fun.

We did (60oz margarita anyone?) and when we reached Houston the next day we did some work. Then we went to Barnes and Noble, where I finally picked up the Maze Runner. I'd heard about it and opened it to look at and never stopped reading. I had to have it. So I bought it. And read it through. Twice.

Which made me want to blog about dystopian-ish YA.  I am a re-reader. I recently re-read the fabulous Harry Potter series for the 6th or 7th time. I've read the Hunger Games trilogy at least four times through. I recently read new author Elana Johnson's Possession, and have just devoured James Dasher's Maze Runner.

Each was a wonderful example of great writing, engaging storylines and characters to care about. I know I'll be re-reading these books for years to come. Finding some more wonderful YA to add to my re-reading roster always makes me feel like I've accomplished something great. Just not as great at the wonderful authors who wrote the books.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


So my youngest kiddo is three. And being three, he says a lot of things I think are funny, athough he often misses the joke.

For instance--he is very into super heroes right now. Super man, batman, spider man; these are Gods to my child. He worships them, along with the Super Why cast, and my husband (who he has also decided is a super hero because he fights bad guys and puts them in grown up time out--aka jail.)

I, of course, do the exact same thing as hubby, but am not classified in the super hero category, for reasons I haven't yet figured out.

Perhaps mommys are separate and apart from the rules that otherwise govern the classisfication of superheros. Or it could be that he's penalizing me for snorting with laughter every time he brings up his favorite subject--super heros.

I'd be sadder about this, except for one small factor.

The kid cannot say super.

So...Spiderman, Batman and hubby are all--wait for it--stupor heros.


Not in my household. Thats right--we have Stupor man.
This probably shouldn't bring me joy. But it's just so funny. Every time I hear him say Stupor man, this is what I see:

Stupor man...missing criminal acts everywhere.


He'd rescue folks--if he weren't in such a stupor.

Okay, I know I'm juvenile. But it cracks me up!

I think I'm good with not being a stupor hero. I'm addicted to caffine already. Who knows what I'd need to get me going if I was classified as stupor woman....

Friday, July 1, 2011

Mourning my Kindle--Again

So, DH got me a shiny new Kindle some months ago.

So, so pretty.
And I loved it. I adored it. I wanted to pet it and call it George.

Did I mention how pretty it was?
And light?
That it fit in my purse?
And that I could get brand new books without getting out of my pajamas?

I could read it in court, while waiting for jury roll call, and in the hallway while waiting on grand jury deliberations, and in the car on my way to our outer counties (when I wasn't driving of course).

I could read it at lunch (Doritos from the vending machine) when we didn't have enough time between hearings to actually LEAVE the court house.

I could read it in bed, and (carefully) in the bathtub. I could hold a kid in my lap and peer round his/her head to read and change pages with my thumb.

I loved my Kindle.

Then I dropped it.
The screen broke.

I mourned.

Oh, how I mourned.

Then I went onto the facebook kindle page and posted a question on where to get a broken screen fixed. After sufferring through lots of catcalls and fun making--apparently a mourning kindle breaker is impossible to resist making fun of, a kind soul advised me to call Kindle and they'd take care of me.

So I did.

And you know what? They did.

They said dropping your Kindle was covered by the warranty. Yeah--I kid you not.

Amazon sent me a beautiful new Kindle, gratis.

I promptly named it Merissa's second Kindle, and transferred all my books, all the while feeling great love for Amazon and the new free replacement Kindle and praising both to anyone who would listen.

Kindle #2 and I got along very well. It was just as wonderful as Kindle #1, but with the added advantage of an unbroken screen.

But last week, while trying to get somewhere (home) I set my purse on top of my hood, and proceeded to get all three of my (under five) rugrats in their carseats as usual. I snapped them in, defended myself from accusations of making the five point harness too tight, handed them the appropriate toys and water bottles, hopped in my car and put it in drive.

The purse (with gasp--Kindle inside) came off the hood of the car and hit the street.

And I'm pretty sure that I ran over it, because my poor, poor kindle is broken again.

I'm not just talking a broken screen. Its bent, like a giant with its attendant giant behind sat on it. And yes--the screen doesn't work any more either.

I'm pretty sure the Kindle warranty doesn't cover what I've done to the poor thing.

So now I have to decide.

I've broken two kindles in 6 months.

Can I afford another?

At least when I drop a paper book into the bathtub (yes--that has happened more times than I care to count, but dang it--the best reading time I've ever had was in a bathtub) it's a five or six dollar hit. I drop the kindle (or run it over) and its a $190 hit.

So far I haven't replaced it. But I really want to.