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Archive for October, 2008|Monthly archive page

Cleaning Out Room 113

In Eclipse on October 30, 2008 at 7:18 pm

When I first started working in health care over three years ago, I met my team of five and we had lunch with the Vice President.  We sat at a long table in a conference room in our Cypress building.  The vice president, Mike, was very articulate and confident in describing the company’s future.  His phrases and lines were well-rehearsed and I enjoyed his enthusiasm.  However, I did not feel very connected to him.  Before I knew it, we had finished our lunch and our VP was scurrying to another meeting.  My team remained in the conference room.

Three years later, I stood in that same conference room…at least what was left of it.  The long table had been removed.  One door had been sealed by drywall.  From the one remaining entrance, I surveyed the fourteen computers that now inhabited the space.  The credenza, which had displayed our lunch, had been removed to fill the room to capacity with computers.  It was an empty training room now.  A place poised for connection had been converted to stations.  The stations would harness new employees to process prescriptions. Read the rest of this entry »

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Romancing the Story

In Speaking into the Silence on October 26, 2008 at 9:45 pm

What is it about romance that is critical to our story?  In jest, we often refer to certain movies as distinctly chick flicks.  These are the romantic, dramatic and mushy movies.  They often lack elements of adventure and daring; instead, focusing more on interpersonal dynamics and relationships.  I have been playing over these ideas in the context of my fictional story (untitled as of yet).  Given that I am telling a ‘coming-of-age’ story for a young man, I cannot get the notion of romance out of the picture.  Is it necessary that a man is fully formed before romance becomes a part of the story?

I do not think that is necessary.  Elements of romance whether between a couple or between God and His beloved must be part of this story.  So far, I have the picture of a young man in his early twenties.  His parents have been mysteriously separated.  I think that this might develop into a sub-plot, which is a love story.  For the young man, he will not be aware of the inner workings of this romance.  However, I will fit in a character that interrupts his ‘guy-adventure’.

On the subject of romance, Lindsay and I returned from a wedding this afternoon.  It was held in the far reaches of the ‘909’ even though I do not know that the couple had any personal tie.  Lytle Creek was a beautiful setting for the wedding and worth the seventy-mile drive.  The couple pulled off the ceremony and the reception with fall colors on a western-feeling ‘ranch’.  I am happy for them.  The groom was the one that introduced me to my wife about three years ago.  He reminds me off a golden retriever – loyal friend, willing to have fun and get dirty, and also a very hard worker.  I admire the strong friendships he has built over the years with several guys.  Read the rest of this entry »

Chili, Cornbread, and Coworkers

In Speaking into the Silence on October 25, 2008 at 10:54 pm

This last Friday, we held a Chili Cook-Off at work.  It was incredible hearing each judge’s different take on what chili must be and must not be.  For instance, one culinary expert on our judging panel did not want any overpowering flavors in her chili.  For her, the chili must have a variety of flavors, no one overpowering another.  This meant that the chili’s that included corn or olives would not constitute chili; because, these tastes overpowered more subtle flavors (e.g. cumin, chili powder).

I was reading an article in the OC Register about Cornbread.  Depending on your geographic location, people may have very different ideas about cornbread.  Some say it must have sugar.  Others say there must be no sugar.  Some say fried.  Others say baked.  The landscape for cornbread concoction is so diverse that people have written books (i.e. the Cornbread gospel) about the variety of existing cornbreads.

For my part, I enjoyed the diverse perspectives that each judge brought to the panel.  There is a beauty in diversity.  I was challenged to invite others into helping with the project.  A good friend caught my attention during the whole chili cook-off and suggested that I might be taking on too much.  Namely, I was not asking for help with different tasks.  As I paused in the midst of the rush, I realized that I was seeking credit for accomplishing my goal.  Rather than giving others the opportunity to support in the vision, I was constricting the event to my own capacity – which, in fact, can be quite limited when working alone.  So, her feedback provided a shift on-the-fly.  I was able to rally together some coworkers to help with teardown and cleanup.  Everyone was willing to help.  I was not met with any resistance for support, other than my own resistance to asking for help.

The Plot Thickens

In Faintly Fiction on October 21, 2008 at 8:48 pm

I was having a conversation today with a friend about writing.  He asked some questions of a story I am writing: What is the tagline (PR blurb)?  What experience/emotion do you want to leave your audience with?  What do you want to say in your last paragraph?  Who are the main characters?  Will there be romance?  What are the subplots? Et Cetera.

Given, he did not ask all these questions at once or even in the same way.  However, I did leave the conversation with all of these thoughts in my head.  These were clarifying questions.  They would provide him with more clarity.  But, I am also finding that the questions he asked will permit me more clarity.  That is, if I choose to wrestle with these questions I will have more clarity.  Seems like a counterintuitive way of loving.  On the one hand, I was squirming under the weight of his questions.  On the other hand, I am set free to find answers for these questions.

So, now I am ‘free’ to get clear on my plot, my characters, and my desired impact on my audience.  I get the sense that the conversation gave me a glimpse at some structure to consider as I move forward with the book.  Next steps, I would like to get more clear on my structure.  So, I am committed to writing a last paragraph of my book by Sunday night.  In addition, I will outline the book’s progression (chapters) by Sunday.  Over and out!

Sugar Comma

In Uncategorized on October 19, 2008 at 8:08 pm

I went to a Young Couples Coffee Shop last night.  It was my (our) first one, so I did not know what to expect.  It was a new attempt at our church to connect young couples.  There were two Starbucks baristas (thanks Keeli and Deborah!), serving lattes, chai teas, soymilk grande-frappa-half calves…ok focus.  There were 2-3 bands that took to the stand in the back yard, including an acoustical performance by Brian Deshaun (phenomenal).  The band stand was alongside a blue-lit pool surrounded by lawn/deck chairs.  There was a dining table covered with chocolate-covered strawberries, rice crispy treats, chocolate-dipped macaroons, brownies and sugared chocolate chip cookies!  Basically, a spread of chocolatey goodness.

I sat for about three minutes on the patio with the amplified music before I told my wife I was going inside.  I wanted to meet new couples.  Sitting in the loud music was not creating the opportunity for conversations, so I went inside.  I connected with the first person in the doorway, whom I will call Sheri, was an artist and MFA student in Orange County.  Our conversation led into my writing, which brought her husband, that I will call John, into the conversation.  As a high school English teacher and Cal English grad, John was keenly interested in writing.  However, he had some obstacles to writing in the way he wanted.

As my conversation with John grew, I noticed that he was drawing towards me as if in a real inquiry.  His questions considered times that he had written.  He noted that he had been absorbed in writing that provided a level of structure.  However, he did not know how to start with a blank slate.

Eventually, other people started to enter into the conversation.  Another friend stuck up a conversation about my writing and said he would be glad to proofread for me.  “I’m good with commas,” he told me with a grin.  I told him that would be a great tagline and suggested that he mispell comma as coma.  Then, I mentioned to John that we could call an online writing forum the Sugar Comma, but strike through one of the m’s so that it looked like Coma.  Then, it could pull in the whole coffee/sugar venue with the writing.  So, seeing others draw near me in my vision of writing was fun.  Plus, Sugar Comma represents a new possibility for collaboration.  I recognize my need to interact with other writers, in order to strengthen my writing (and hone my craft).  Even though the name is a work in progress, the idea for a writing forum has registered.