Winter X Games

It’s Winter X Games time again!! I love the X Games. This year has a bit of a different feel to it since the Olympics start in two weeks, but it’s sort of like a preview to portions of the Olympics since all the members of the snowboard and skiing teams are competing this weekend in Aspen. Of course there are also painful elements of the proximity to the Olympics in that the possibility of injury has vastly huger consequences and the injuries that do happen could be catastrophic for the various national teams in Vancouver.

Like Torah Bright having to withdraw because of a concussion during a practice run, or the spill that Shawn White took where he hit the lip of the half pipe so hard with this chin that it popped his helmet off. Or the Austrian team member who wiped out during the men’s snowboard cross and ended up with a concussion, broken ribs and a chest contusion. It was brutal.

But even with the wipeouts it is just so much fun to watch all of these athletes go balls to the wall and see what they can do.

Except for one thing. I do not for the life of me understand why the expectations are so much lower for the women in almost every single sport. I mean is it because women are typically smaller and so don’t get as much momentum and thus as much speed? Or is it that they aren’t as strong? Or is it just that the women haven’t pushed themselves to attempt the level of tricks the men are doing? If it’s one of the first two, fine, I don’t much like it, but there’s not much to do about it really. If it’s the last one however, that is just silly. I mean seriously? I think it’s probably the most apparent in the snowboard half pipe than just about anything else. Shawn White was getting up to 22 feet above the walls, while Kelly Clark was only getting up to about 14 feet. And there was only one woman attempting to do more than just a 900 for tricks. What is up with that?

1/30/10 - Reading About Dragons

After I made my way through The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings the first time, my mom handed me the first book in the Dragonriders of Pern series. I read the first chapter and never picked it up again. I think maybe it was a cross between being burned out on having to work so hard on what I was reading and the fact that Anne McCaffrey wrote the first book in 1968 and so the language was quite a bit more complicated than what I was used to. Either way, I was totally lost and didn’t really give them much thought after that.

But with my writing project on 52 in 52, I am finding that I’m drawn to writing stories that are pretty much outside the typical genre that I choose to read. So, I’m making an effort to start reading in the sci-fi/fantasy and mystery/suspense realms so I can hopefully get a bit more familiar with story flow and language.

So I picked up Dragonflight a couple of days ago to give it another run. I had to struggle a bit through the first chapter as she just jumps right into the story without giving much explanation so I had this overarching feeling of just being utterly lost, but I kept going and finished the book today. And I loved it. I mean, the names she chose for her characters are great fodder for making fun (F’lar, S’lel, mnemnenth – I mean, seriously?) but despite the goofy names, I totally got sucked in. And what I think I loved the most about it was the language that gave me such trouble the first time I picked it up. The flow of her writing is just so gorgeous. She obviously relishes in the words she chooses to tell her story (which is probably a good thing since it balances out the fact that the story itself is riddled with dragon sized holes).

I’m enamored enough with the characters to pick up the next book and then I’ll pick up Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine and a few of Neil Gaiman’s. I’m looking forward to it.

But I really need good mystery/suspense recommendations…hint, hint…



The Girl is channeling Homer Simpson. Seriously. She’ll do anything, climb anything, say anything to get donuts. We don’t have them around very often, but when they’re on sale I’ll splurge sometimes and get a box. And The Girl has climbed the shelves in our large closet pantry. She has pulled a chair over to the fridge and climbed the shelves to get them from on top of the fridge. She has climbed on top of the counter and climbed the shelves in our glasses cupboard to get them. It’s an insane obsession. And totally Homer Simpson. Donuts are the only thing she does this for. She will sit and eat them until she’s sick. And then when she can’t eat anymore, she takes the remnants of whatever may be left and hides them in various little cubby holes she has around the house.

Probably the funniest thing about it is that she’s so innocent about the whole thing. I mean I have these images of her in my head of sitting on the counter in our kitchen furiously shoveling donuts into her little mouth as fast as she can, eyes darting towards the door preparing to be caught. But in reality, she comes out of the kitchen, dabbing at the corner of her mouth with her sleeves, smiling sweetly, smacking her lips in the most ladylike way as if she just had a light snack of cucumber sandwiches. But when I go to count how many donuts she just managed to inhale, the number is usually somewhere between 2 and 4. She doesn’t even eat pizza with that much gusto. Even The Boy thinks she’s crazy for her donut obsession.

I guess I should be glad that our favorite kind of donuts don’t go on sale very often otherwise my husband and I would have to put them under lock and key. Oh wait, we already have. Our oven door locks (as a childproofing feature) and as she was stymied by this fact this morning, she got revenge by emptying out my jar of kosher salt I use when I cook, all over the dog beds. You just don’t screw with a girl’s donuts.


Science Fair, Baby!

The Boy won first place for his age group in his school’s science fair today! I’m so proud of him I can hardly stand it! He and his class partner chose to study water, space and sound. They came up with an experiment where they studied the effect that different levels of water have on the space they are in. So they filled different receptacles with water in different levels and then blew the same speed of air across the top of the receptacles and recorded the difference in sound. Basically they took the old game of blowing across the top of a bottle and making it whistle and turned it into a science experiment. But if you break it down like that and build in the fact that they had to do the scientific method throughout their experiment, it’s fairly sophisticated for a first grader in my opinion.

I mean we weren’t even doing science fairs when I was in first grade. We didn’t start school science fairs until I was in 5th grade and my experiment was seeing if I could train a goldfish to come to the side of the bowl by tapping on the outside of the bowl and then rewarding the fish with food. All I ended up proving is that if you tap on the side of a fish bowl enough times, the goldfish gives up and dies. Ahem.

I’m a proud mama today. My Boy just astounds me. I mean he can pull this sort of thing off on the same day his teacher sends home a note saying that he has spent the last three days being in trouble for talking and/or not being able to sit still during class. He’s like this whirling dervish of brilliance. He spins and spins and spins but when he does sit still he pulls off these amazing things.

I wonder if he’ll ever learn (or want to learn) how to temper that kinetic energy that pulses through him every minute of every day. Or if he will learn how to make it his ally and fuel all of these moments of brilliance. I don’t know, but I’m a proud mama.



I wrestled with this week’s story all day long. I am not even kidding. I started completely over three times. I’ve just got this idea, from another dream I had, that I can see and feel so clearly and I cannot figure out how to translate it into the story that it already is. I feel like I am trying to compose in a different language or something, that’s the kind of disconnect I’ve got going on. I am fairly sure that I’m totally over thinking the whole thing and thus making it much more complicated than it actually needs to be. And I think I’ve got myself in some kind of self sabotage brain loop to boot, i.e. the genre that this particular story falls in is way out of my typical comfort zone, so because I don’t know this genre very well it makes sense that I can’t find my voice within it. And while I think there is probably something to that theory, I also think it is a big mind fuck to explain my inability to write the way I want to. Either way, it’s infuriating. The good news is that I finally finished a draft that I didn’t want to immediately erase. The bad news is that there is a very good chance that I will wake up tomorrow, re-read it and immediately want to erase all of it. Which means I would be starting all over again on the day of my deadline. It’s all quite maddening really.

But I am going to try to put my mind down and walk away before I re-read it tomorrow and hopefully I’ll be able to lend an objective eye to the piece and either know there are big problems with it, fix what I can and publish it anyway or just give up and publish it anyway. Either way, I will be publishing something tomorrow. I just hope I don’t cringe when I do it.

There are 48 more stories to tell this year, I’m sure this will not be the last time I get stuck, I just hope I figure out how to deal with it better the next time.



Ok, so apparently I’ve lost my mind. Or hit a wall. Or something. Because it appears that my current options are either crying mess or harpy. Lovely. Exactly how I wanted to kick off my week! I just cannot seem to pull it together. I’m trying to just be, as uncomfortable as it may be, in the hopes that all of this will just work itself out and I can go back to my own version of functionality. Because bursting into tears every time someone asks how I am is just not acceptable. And neither is screaming at my children just because they happen to be breathing in my general vicinity. I’m being ridiculous.

People keep telling me that I need to refuel myself so that I can keep being strong. And while there is definitely part of me that would like to take that advice and would definitely like to go back to being strong, the me that is right now just laughs and throws dirty looks when I hear that advice. Because right now it feels like it would take years to refuel. That laying on a beach with no responsibilities, no expectations, no nothing for several months straight would do nothing but scratch the surface. And there is no part of me that feels strong right now. I feel like I could very well disintegrate on the spot. Like a stiff wind could just blow the pieces of me away like brittle leaves.

And I wish I could say that I was being dramatic. But that’s how I feel right now, brittle and hollow. And that just really sucks. Mostly because it came out of nowhere. I was doing so well! I mean, yes, I’ve had a couple of crabby days and a bunch of rollercoaster riding, but I never expected anything like this. To just be laid flat with grief and stress before my dad actually died. I don’t know what to do with this. But I’d like for it go away now. I’ll click my heels, wrinkle my nose, apparate, Calgon take me away, whatever it takes I’m more than willing to try. Just no more crying or yelling please.


On the Edge of Panic

We’re home again. And I am really, really crabby for some reason this evening. The drive was fine. The roads were, by and large, fine. I got to listen to a good portion of the awesome CD’s that D made for me. But I got home and The Boy was just bouncing off the walls hyper and full of attitude. And my husband told me about he had to call his parents and ask for money because we couldn’t make our car payment this month. And even though they, of course, graciously offered to help us out, I was mortified that he had to call and ask (their generosity has known no bounds the last few months but it’s one thing to have them send us money because they want to and an entirely other thing to ask for it outright). And I know the reason we can’t make our car payment this month is because of things like me driving back and forth between my parents’ house and home, having a powerful need to eat (can you name the movie?) and unfortunately needing things like shampoo all at once. It’s ridiculous that things like gas and groceries can screw up our entire budget. This whole awful bankruptcy process was supposed to make this better and instead we are still in dire straits. And I feel like I’m inches away from just succumbing to this state of panic and coming apart at the seams. Panic about my dad, panic about our finances, panic about what my mom will do after my dad goes…

And I have this idea for this week’s 52 story but I can’t quite get a handle on it enough to actually write it out. It centers on a woman who gets caught in this sort of dream loop/jump, popping from one dream to another without any control, rhyme or reason. I won’t spoil the end for you, but if I can get it all to work out on paper it could be pretty cool. If not then I don’t know what I’ll do this week, but hopefully I’ll come up with something.

Hopefully some quiet time tomorrow will lend some focus.

1/24/10 - Awe and Shock

Oh Peyton Manning, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

My Colts are in the Superbowl!!! And they are playing the Saints, so it should be an awesome game. It thrills me to no end to have the two top ranked teams in the NFL actually playing in the Superbowl instead of one really awesome team and one team that finally remembered how to play football just in time for the playoffs. I am really sad for Brett Favre though. I really would have loved to see the Vikings make it to the Superbowl and it would have been equally fun to watch Brett and Peyton go toe to toe. But alas and alack Brett got hurt and was unable to hold the team together long enough to pull out the game. They were both still good games and it made for a nice day of watching football with my dad.

And that is pretty much all I did today. Watch football. Well, and I pulled together dinner from a bunch of leftovers for us all, but that’s about it. Which was actually a really nice change of pace, to just do nothing that is.

The Girl and I are heading home tomorrow. I’m looking forward to being in my own bed again, having more than two pairs of pants from which to choose and having some alone time while The Girl is in school this week (I have yet to start on my story for 52 this week, eek!). But I am also nervous, again, about leaving my dad. Seeing him after being gone for two weeks was a bit of a shock. He’s losing weight, and not just water weight, he’s starting to look frail. He’s moving incredibly slowly and I can tell that he is now in pain, regardless of how much he tries to brush it off or make light of it. And so now I am nervous to leave. Because I don’t know what I’ll see the next time I see him. It’s amazing to me how this whole process can just keep getting harder. How the little things can still knock the wind out of me.


Food and Writing

Ah, civilization, how I have missed thee! Ok, that’s being dramatic. We’ve only been snowed in for a couple of days, but I’ve been completely computer and phone free during those days which almost NEVER happens, so it feels like longer. I half expected to get on the computer today to discover The Boy had started college and all of my friends were moving to Florida to retire. Instead it’s only been a couple of days and life has just kept on keeping on while I’ve been away.

My mom took The Girl and me out to lunch today at a new Greek restaurant in Farmington. And it’s the funniest thing to see how people react in this town not only to a new restaurant, but more so to a new “ethnic” restaurant. The place was packed with people oohing and ahhing over the food and the décor and, and, and! It just cracks me up. But it was yummy, and a lovely change of pace from the typical restaurant fare in town. The service was good, although I really wish cute boy servers would pay attention to the fact that all of their cutesy little one liners that they use on most patrons really only work if the customers next to your other table don’t hear you use them on someone else first. Again, it just cracks me up.

And today is my parent’s 39th wedding anniversary. Although since they’ve been together for 41 years and this will be their last anniversary together, they’re splitting the difference and just calling it their 40th anniversary. Seems fair to me. So I’m making them the dinner of their choice (linguine with clam sauce and Caesar salad) and another friend of theirs made them a cherry pie for dessert. So once again, we’ll at least have good food and good company if nothing else.

I’m fretting a wee bit about my story for this week. Last week’s story came so easily and has so much potential, but this week, I’m waiting for inspiration to hit. Hopefully it hits sometime soon. This challenge is proving to be a lot of fun, when I don’t have to force it.

1-22-10 - Snowed In

Here’s what I woke up to this morning: The Girl happy, healthy and apparently completely back to normal – YEA!! My dad with bright, well rested eyes despite the road rash – YEA!! More bloody snow – BOO!!

Jiminy Christmas, I had no idea this much snow was in the wings for this trip. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have come if I had known. And at this point, it’s not even really the amount of snow so much as it is the fact that it’s the wettest, heaviest snow I think I may have ever seen. If the temperatures drop, it’s going to become one big skating rink in the Four Corners area. It’s ridiculous.

But if we have to be snowed in, at least we’re snowed in with good food, lots of booze and awesome friends. Even if we don’t have internet, getting the cars out to go anywhere is a chore and a half and the phone lines are only sort of working. Being snowed in, in the middle of nowhere New Mexico is not nearly as much fun as being snowed in at home. But I’ll take it.

The Girl has everyone securely wrapped around her little finger it seems, and they’re almost completely willing to remain there. It’s pretty cute actually. And they all taught me how to play Canasta tonight. There’s a game I never thought I’d learn until I was on a diet of Jell-O and tapioca pudding. But it’s actually really fun. Especially when your partner is a university professor who takes it upon himself to provide you with a detailed rundown of just about every single strategy you could possibly think of, as well as all the rules. Mom and I played two handed after everyone else went to bed for a bit, but it just wasn’t the same. Maybe it was the quiet house, but I think we probably just don’t know all the rules for this particular configuration.

Everyone but me and The Girl go home tomorrow. And I’m going to be really sad to see them leave. These people are as much family to me as my mom and dad are. Maybe it will keep snowing…

1/21/10 - Blizzard

Holy shit ton of snow Batman!! I just spent the last 8.5 hours driving down to my parents’ house. The drive usually takes me just over 5 hours. But just shy of about halfway there I ran into a gigantic freaking blizzard and I never really came out of it. Over a couple of the passes I was putting down fresh tire marks in the undisturbed snow. I was struggling to just figure out how to stay on the road because the landscape was just one huge, consistent swath of white in front of me with no demarcation of where the road ended and the plunging drop to my death began. It was fun.

But we arrived, finally, safe and sound at my parents’ house to everyone worrying and waiting for our arrival. The Girl and I got out of the car, unloaded our stuff and started to get settled in when she abruptly went all whiny and fussy. She spiked a fever out of nowhere and was suddenly just not at all feeling good. I was pretty sure another febrile seizure was on the way with how she was acting, but I managed to get some Motrin down her throat and then she just feel asleep. So I am hoping it was just some weird little bug she picked up somewhere that is gone by morning. I really don’t want to deal with a super sick kiddo when we’re snowed in and I definitely don’t want a super sick kiddo around my dad.

Oh, and my dad. My dad fell on his face right before I arrived trying to carry in a bag of pellets by himself. I could just kick him. With all of these people around and he ends up slipping on the snow and going down. Now he looks like he has road rash across the top half of his face. But what can you do, right?

So I am now going to attempt to settle in with a glass of wine and enjoy the lovely company of our oldest and most loved family friends. I’m so glad they’re here. And I’m so glad to finally be out of the car!


Preparing to Travel Again

The Girl and I are headed back to my parents’ house tomorrow. The mountains pretty much all the way through are expecting a large snow storm tonight and tomorrow, which has me a wee bit worried. As well as the fact that the past couple of days every time I mention heading back to Nana and Papa’s, The Girl starts crying. That’s no good. I know it doesn’t really have anything to do with Nana and Papa. It has to do with her missing more school, missing her brother and dad and being away from her own space and stuff. I get it. We’re both starting to feel a little bit like refugees at this point I think. But this weekend is my parents’ wedding anniversary and I promised that we would help them celebrate since it will be their last. And several of our oldest family friends arrived to their house today as well. These are people that I grew up with, absolutely adore and am really looking forward to seeing. But I’m in no way shape or form ready to battle icy and snow packed roads.

So I’ll have to check the weather again in the morning to see what I’m up against. Right now all it says is “ice.” But overnight might change that for the better. And I think that as long as my dad is still doing ok when I get there I think The Girl and I will head home again early next week. I’m grateful for the chance we’ve had to spend so much time with my parents, but at the same time, I’ve got to work towards striking a better balance between them and my home. I don’t want anyone to feel neglected, and I’ve got a responsibility all the way around to be present and take care of the people I love.

Ever the search for balance. It follows me everywhere it seems. Always work ahead of me. Rightfully I suppose. And there is a part of me that is deeply grateful for the continued opportunity to keep learning. But mostly, right now, I’d rather have a cabana boy delivering me umbrella drinks on the beach.


My Blue-Eyed Boy

My husband told me a story about a 2nd grade girl tackling my son so that she could kiss him goodbye as he was leaving school for the day. And I just about came unglued. I am SO not ready for those kinds of stories.

I always thought I’d be the super cool mom. The one everyone loves. The one that my kids’ friends will come to when their own uncool parents do something, well, uncool. The one who is easy to talk to, totally laid back and fun. Yeah, my hopes for being that mom are fading quickly. Because the idea of any girl (especially an older one!) kissing MY boy seriously makes me feel unstable.

Maybe because he is my first born, or maybe because I’m the mom and he’s my son. I don’t where this sudden rush of over-protective behavior is coming from, but it’s strong. Like mama bear strong. I’m sure that this same feeling will kick in eventually with The Girl, but she’s still so young that it’s not even on my radar yet. And to be honest, it wasn’t on my radar with The Boy either until my husband shared this story with me.

I mean I always knew he’d be popular with the girls eventually. He has gorgeous blue eyes, he’s outgoing, smart, creative, funny and naturally athletic. All of those elements put together make for one very popular boy receiving many “Do you like me? Check Yes, No or Maybe” notes in class. I saw it coming a long time ago. But I didn’t think I’d actually have to see or hear any of it in reality until he was at least in early middle school. I guess that was a large piece of naïveté on my part. I guess I forgot about the times when I was a second grader pegging the cute boys in class with snowballs and then running away giggling. I guess I forgot how many of those notes I wrote myself to the blue-eyed boys in my own class.

I’d like to freeze time. To put this off a bit longer. Or at least be allowed to lock him in the attic.


Shower Time

In my early months as a new mother, at the top of my list of concerns was how to get a shower every day. The Boy wouldn’t really let me put him down much and he hated the swing. So I spent good portions of my day finagling time and space to take a shower as it was the one thing I was utterly unwilling to give up. Having a clean house? Meh. Getting errands done? Who cares really. Staying caught up on laundry? I can wear jeans more than twice. But even if I was in dirty clothes and never got to do my hair or get on deodorant, I was hell bent on taking a shower every single day.

I kept the same priorities when The Girl came along. Although she was much more agreeable and loved the swing. She was generally pretty easy going and willing to just go with the flow. So taking a shower wasn’t ever really all that hard.

Until now. Now she insists on taking a shower with me. Every. Single. Day. Which isn’t really a huge deal except for the fact that she plays directly underneath my feet. And I just know that one of these days I’m going to accidentally step on her, over correct and end up falling in the shower and breaking a hip. It’s completely infuriating. And it also means that I don’t even get those 10 minutes without her in my shadow. But really? The problem is me falling and breaking a hip.

The Girl would stay in the shower all day long if I’d let her. As long as the water stayed warm, I’m fairly sure she would play happily under the water until I forced her out from underneath the waterfall. She babbles on to herself as I’m brushing my teeth, doing my hair, and finally getting on my deodorant. She concocts elaborate scenarios that often require singing.

And I still have to occupy The Boy so I can take a shower. Keep him busy and distracted, not to mention threatening him with everything I can think of to prevent him from flushing the toilet while I’m in the shower.


Glitz and Glamour Overshadowed

Let the awards season begin! I love awards season. This time last year I wrote about how much I love to be a peeping tom on the glitz and glamour of the whole thing. About how much I loved the fancy dresses and the women dripping in diamonds. And that still holds true.

Except for two things. The first is that there just doesn’t seem to be very many “serious” movies this year. There is The Hurt Locker and Precious which both look amazing, but other than that, there’s Avatar, Nine, 500 Days of Summer and Invictus pretty much. Of those, Precious and The Hurt Locker are what I would consider “typical” Oscar nominated films. The others are comparably fluffy. I just think it’s interesting. It just wasn’t really a year for heavy movies. And if the Golden Globes were any preview (which they often are) Avatar is going to make a clean sweep.

The second is that the whole thing, all of the excess and typical joy and over the top-ness of the award season is currently being vastly overshadowed by the earthquake in Haiti. I haven’t written much about the earthquake because, really, what is there to say? It’s a horrific situation for this country that simply cannot catch a break. It’s heartbreaking and just to think about it makes me want to cry. And there’s not a damn thing I can do about any of it because we can’t even afford to buy carrots right now, let alone make a donation to the Red Cross. So all I can do is try to keep all of those people, all of those children, in my heart and thoughts and fervently wish that someone steps in to take care of these people whose entire lives are beset with tragedy.

Mo’nique was so sweet and honest when she won for her role in Precious, Sandra Bullock looked gorgeous, Kate Winslet looked simply overjoyed to no longer be in the spotlight, Jason Reitman has got to be one of the nicest (and most talented) people in the business right now and George Clooney should be kicked in the shins for hiding his face with that beard.


Return of a Good Day

I woke up this morning from a very strange dream. My first thought was just a simple “huh, that was weird.” And then I started thinking about it more and as I looked further into the dream I thought, “Huh, that would make a pretty cool story.” Still having some of the remnants of my crisis of writing confidence left over from yesterday’s day from hell, I continued to just lay there and almost fell back asleep. But finally the images in my head were so vivid that I got out of bed, got a cup of coffee and turned on my computer. I wrote a 5 page short story quicker than I ever would have thought possible.

I know I said I was going to focus on flash fiction and minute fiction, but this just came. And it was situation oriented; the characters didn’t solidify until I was halfway through the story. I still don’t know if they make sense, I wrote until I was done and then closed the document and I won’t open it back up to read over until at least Monday.

So, all in all, that was a wonderful way to start my day today. And overall, I’m in a vastly better space than I was yesterday. The peace has returned and I had a lovely day hanging out talking music this morning with my husband and then watching football this afternoon and listening to The Girl play with one of her neighborhood friends while The Boy was across the street having some non-little-sister interrupted time with his own friends.

It was a good day, and utterly refreshing to get out of my head and out of the swamp. It started with a story full of energy and is ending with my Colts winning their first playoff game, where they not only won but completely dominated the Ravens. It was gorgeous. I just really love to watch Peyton Manning play football.

Tomorrow I get to have lunch with dearest J and sweetest D. D and I are planning a music swap which I’m much looking forward to and it will be a lovely note on which to start the week.


Bad Day

I’m having a bad day. And here’s the mind fuck that has been chasing its tail through my bad day pity party: I should be above bad days. Or, more to the point, I should be able to rise above bad days. I should be able to just allow them to move past me without buying into their bullshit. I should just make my mind some soothing tea and let it rant and rave without actually giving it any unwarranted attention. I should be able to slough off bad days without a care. But apparently I can’t.

Because I’m crabby and I want to cry. My husband has half the day off and instead of enjoying the family time, I was actually resentful that he was home. My mom called to tell me she was in a car accident and my first thought was “what do you want me to do about it?” What the fuck is wrong with me?!

Here is what’s wrong with me today: my dad has started going downhill again and I’m not there to help or see any of it for myself. My cell phone is dead as dead gets and we have zero funds to get a new one. My car needs about $1,000 worth of work. My husband’s car needs about $1,000 worth of work. I desperately need a haircut. I have zero confidence in my ability to write anything more than simple journal entries and am considering aborting my 52 project. And we have zero wiggle room in our budget and none coming in the foreseeable future and that just flat makes me angry. And we’re out of brownies.

That’s about it. That’s what’s wrong with me. So pretty much nothing has changed. My dad is dying. We have no money. I’m struggling with how to actually be a writer. What the hell else is new? And yet today is a bad day. Because today I’m mired down in the muck of circumstance. Because for some reason, today, I let myself sink down into the swamp water of my mind.

And now I’m all slimy. So I guess I’ll go take a shower and just keep breathing.


Writing Muscle Memory

I’m almost done with the Stephen King On Writing book and I’m not even remotely ready for it to be done yet. It’s not very often that I’m sorry I read so fast. Even books that I adore, it’s ok that they end so quickly because I know I can always re-read them again whenever I want. But for some reason I’m just not ready for this one to be over yet. So I’m only reading before I go to bed at night. And only one chapter.

I think the best way I can describe this book is exhilarating. I just find it absolutely exhilarating for some reason. As if through some sort of paper based osmosis he’s imbued this book with his talent and enthusiasm and simply by reading it, I then get that energy level transferred to me. I’m never ready to sleep after reading my rationed chapter. I’m ready to write. Which is a pretty cool feeling – well not the not sleeping part, I’m so tired lately that my right eye has started twitching uncontrollably, it’s rather annoying.

I guess mostly his writing makes me feel like I can write. And that in and of itself is just a really freeing feeling. It just brings fully into focus the fact that I am the only one holding me back. Do I have a lot to learn about the craft? Absolutely. Do I desperately need a ton of practice? Without a doubt. But, and I know I’ve said this before but I think saying over and over is something akin to muscle memory at this point, it’s only my fear that’s held me back. Because the resources are out there, I just have to be willing and able to track them down. And then I need to just start writing. Playing with words, format, tone and tenor. I have to be willing and able to just write, without paying attention to rhyme and reason. Just character or mood or situation. Just because it’s there to be written.

So that’s my goal for this 3rd upcoming week of writing on 52 –playing with the words that are already there. Unearthing the characters lurking below.


Baby on the Brain

Babies, babies everywhere!! It’s one of those things where I don’t know if I am just paying more attention because I’ve got babies on the brain or if they really are just everywhere right now. But I just had two friends have babies, another is due any day and three more are just out of their first trimesters. And dearest C and her husband are in the waiting process of adopting a baby. They are everywhere I tell you, everywhere!

And it is making me crazy. And even making me start to second guess myself a bit. I’m sure that the second guessing is coming primarily as a matter of self preservation. Because I’m thinking, well maybe we don’t really need to have another baby. We went out to dinner (a huge splurge) with some friends the other night after our court date and as I was sitting there, I realized that my children are big enough to go out to eat with friends and I no longer have to hover above them ready to avert any impending disaster. They could sit at one end of the table with their friends and eat dinner just as we were eating dinner with our friends at the other end of the table. The Boy astounds me daily with how big he is. The Girl is getting more and more self-sufficient every day. If we have another baby that will mean starting all over. In another year and a half The Girl will be in kindergarten and I will have my days back. Back to do with what I want. Whether that be diving head first into grad school, writing a novel or going to see a movie or watching bad day time TV. Another baby means that in a year and half I would have an infant and spend all of that free time sitting on the couch nursing. Or trying to write with a sleeping baby strapped to my chest or my back.

All of these reasons to be grateful that I’m not pregnant. And yet, at their core they are little more than a way to put off the crushing disappointment for one more month.


Writing Road Blocks

So apparently my problem is not that I don’t know how to write fiction. The problem is actually that I don’t know how to write short stories. I’ve been focusing so completely on finding inspiring characters and then letting those characters tell their own stories that I end up opening these gigantic cans of worms, or in dearest S’s words “Why do you keep starting novels?!?” Yeah. Point taken. And that is indeed my problem right now.

Since I’ve spent the last year keeping what writing I was doing to a mere 365 words per day, I was worried that I’d have a hard time coming up with enough to say. And that’s not been a problem either. Once I get going, the story just unfolds and unfolds. Until I sit back and think, hmmmm, I’m going to have to step in here and either figure out how to just end it or else I’m going to have to just go ahead and write a novel and post it in chapters. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, but I’d really like to get more comfortable with the whole process before I commit to such a thing.

S recommended that I Google “minute fiction” and/or “flash fiction.” The former are entire fiction stories in 300-500 words, the latter are fiction stories in 1000 words or less. I’m totally comfortable writing within word restraint, obviously, but I’m not entirely comfortable writing fiction within a word constraint, if that makes any sense. I’m struggling with cutting off a character’s voice before they’ve had their right say.

Maybe I could go ahead and write them out and then pick the most interesting piece of their story to polish and post?

I know I’m over thinking this. It’s doubt in my ability. Even though S tells me I’m doing good and should keep going (and if anyone was going to tell me to pack it in, it would be him, in the most caring way possible of course), I’m second-guessing myself to the point of writing paralysis.

I need to put my brain down and walk away. Just focus on the writing and the deadline. Which is fast approaching.


Court Date

So we went to court today. Except it was more like a meeting that just happened to take place in a court room. And with a large audience. And a lawyer. But other than that, it was just like a meeting. I am not entirely sure what I was expecting, but definitely something with a good deal more formality than what we got.

What we got was a guy probably about our age sitting in front of a laptop, vaguely bored, but good natured, asking us the same questions he had asked all the people in front of us. As well as asking interesting questions about what we both do for a living. He was understanding as well as extremely efficient. And I found myself utterly grateful for his humanity. Because I was terrified that we would get grilled about our spending habits and lectured about financial choices we had or had not made. I was sure I would start crying in the middle of the hearing and I was so worried about who we were going to have to come face to face with. Turns out, it was just this guy (and his assistant who was actually the cold one), doing his job, working his way through the massive roles of others in our same position for one reason or another.

I walked away from the whole thing with an overall feeling of relief. Except for the fact that they want to see our 2009 tax returns in case our tax refund can make a “considerable contribution” to offset our debt. What that means is that if they take our tax refund then our ability to shore back up our savings account will take a gigantic hit below the belt. So I will have to work to keep that worry from itching the back of my mind for the next several months and just take it all as it comes.

But mostly there is relief. Relief that we’ve done our court face time and are one step closer to having all of this behind us, so we can continue to focus on where we want to be, and more importantly, where we already are.



Tonight was the return of one of my most favorite TV shows – Chuck. I absolutely adore this show. It is just about everything I love all wrapped up into one. In fact I can’t think of anything it’s not.

It’s got the good old fashioned romance. You know, the kind you have to really work for. That gets so close to working out that I get all bouncy and then something always happens to keep the characters away from the ultimate payoff.

There are kick ass action scenes with a woman who is seriously a billy bad ass. There is Adam Baldwin being the super cool jack of all trades bad ass that he so patently polished in his role on Firefly. And this season, it appears even the title character is getting in on the ass kicking goods.

And then there is the writing. The writing is witty, funny, smart and so perfectly on key it just brings you into this Burbank, CA world. This world populated by a guy who got kicked out of Stanford and thanks to the guy who stole his college girlfriend, found himself sucked into a world of spies and intrigue the likes of which he had only seen on TV. This guy who falls in love with his handler and discovers that his father is the ninja master of all spy technology. Whose father concocts this thing that turns his son into a spy extraordinaire.

Chuck is just an amalgamation of everything that is good about TV. It’s pure entertainment without actually detracting from your IQ. It’s engaging while still making you smile as you get totally emotionally invested in these characters that you wish lived next door (I want to go drinking with Morgan, Chuck and Casey so badly I’ve actually had daydreams about it).

It just rocks and I love it. And I am so glad it’s finally back and also happy to know that it’s got an extended season which makes up for its late return this season. Although the Olympics is going to put a cramp in getting my Chuck fix, but that will just make it all the sweeter when it returns. Again.


Gin and Friends

Yesterday, there was gin. Lots and lots of gin. And laughing and venting and listening and talking and just about every other verbal utterance you can imagine. There was hugging and me close to tears a couple of times because I was just so happy to be with such dear friends. It was hands-down one of the loveliest days I’ve had in a very long time.

C and I started drinking gin at about 11am and then journeyed to Pete’s Kitchen (my all-time-most-favorite diner in Denver which has the best Greek omelet ever) for lunch after exhausting all of the snack food in her dad’s refrigerator. Going to Pete’s used to be a requirement for me upon my arrival in Denver, but it’s a tradition that’s fallen by the wayside the last several years. So it was good to go back, although the poor cooks have a new tool with which to cut the gyro meat off the spit that causes a really unfortunate case of blow back face. Even with that, it was a tasty meal.

Then we were off to pick up S and rescue him from “The Frozen Pipes Incident” and headed straight for the bar. I haven’t seen S for almost as long as it’s been since I’ve seen C, so for me at least, it was a reunion of sorts and a wonderful one at that.

We met C’s dad at a killer restaurant downtown for dinner, where he graciously treated us to a super yummy seafood dinner (crab cake, Caesar salad, scallops and chocolate mousse oh my!). From there C and I made the executive decision to kidnap S and headed back to the house. Where we stayed up until 2:30am. We adjourned to head to bed then, where I promptly tossed and turned for the next 5 hours or so, then got up, kissed and hugged everyone goodbye and headed home where I kissed and hugged everyone hello and made a beeline for bed. And my toothbrush.

It was a perfect day with amazing people. But damn, I am getting old. I just can’t drink gin all day any more. But it was so very, very worth it.

1/8/10 - Bedtalk

I really love my bed. It’s the best bed I’ve ever slept in. Except for maybe the gigantic king sized bed that my husband and I slept in at The Trump Towers when we spent the night there in Atlantic City. That was also a pretty amazing bed. I remember lying in the middle of it and not being able to reach the sides of the bed with my arms completely outstretched. And there were about a hundred pillows. Our bed is not that big and we don’t have that many pillows, but it’s just so very, very comfy. It’s the kind of bed that you can burrow down into and it just makes you want to go to sleep.

And I am so happy to be back in my bed. And in my own house. With all of our assorted creature comforts.

Although I had to leave our bed too early this morning because I’m heading to Denver to spend the day with C, my college roommate, catching up, drinking gin and just enjoying each other’s company for the first time in years. We’ll probably meet up with S as well for drinks, which I am also really looking forward to. I haven’t seen him in way too long considering that we only live about an hour away from each other. And he’s been such an awesome support for my starting the new fiction writing blog.

I do feel guilty leaving my husband and children for the entire day not even 12 hours after coming home. But my husband assures me it’s fine, he has all sorts of plans for the children to put them to work. He’s shooing me out the door because he knows I need some time with friends. Some time to just totally decompress and not have to worry about taking care of anyone. So even though that doesn’t completely assuage the guilt, I’m going anyway and I’m going to have a fabulous time with dear friends whom I adore.

Although I’ll probably end up staying in Denver for the night and that means yet another night away from my bed. But it is definitely a small price to pay.


Sucktastic Day

I know I’ve been doing a lot of very boring “recounting my days” posts lately. And I’m sure that’s because I’ve been so preoccupied with my first story for the new blog (www.write 52in52.blogspot.com just in case you forgot). But I got that sucker finished last night and went ahead and posted it a day early. It’s loose and a bit sloppy in places. It wanders a bit and isn’t entirely focused where I wanted. But there might be some good stuff in there. Maybe some good jumping off points, some nice use of language and perhaps an intriguing character or two. I don’t know, what do you think? (Hint, hint, hint.)

And that’s about the only positive thing I have to say about today.

Packing was more like moving this morning. My children were firmly entrenched into their nana and papa’s house in pretty much every possible way. So I had to scour the entire house to find all their crap so that The Girl didn’t throw a fit at bedtime tonight because we happened to have left her “most favorite” baby behind.

As I was getting dressed this morning, The Boy came in and before I got my bra on, he looked at me and said “Ew mom, what are those things hanging down?!?” I almost cried right there and then.

I haven’t really made this public knowledge as of yet, because well, our current life circumstances would probably make you all look at me (and my husband if you know him) like we’ve completely lost our minds, but we’ve been trying for baby #3 since July and I am, once again, not pregnant this month. We’ve never really had to try all that hard to get pregnant and, well, let’s just say that I’m starting to get frustrated.

We have bare cupboards and the teensiest of money with which to fill them. The children are whirligig spaz cases that are making me crazy and have been the opposite of helpful for the past two days.

And to top it all off? I’ve got another fucking headache.

Tomorrow will be better. There will be gin. And a day with my college roommate.


Home Prep

We’re going home tomorrow. It’s just time. My dad has had three back-to-back fantastic days, I miss my husband, my children need to go back to school, I miss my friends and at this point, in the din of my screaming back, I miss my own bed! The Boy goes back to school on Monday anyway and I’m fairly sure if The Girl doesn’t get back into school, or at least regular playdates with her friends, soon, she’s going to drive us both completely batty. I realized today, as I was looking at the calendar, that The Girl and I have been here for more than 6 out of the last 8 weeks. That’s a long time to be away from home.

So I spent today going around my parents’ house gathering up all of my children’s toys, books and various asunder other items they’ve collected and/or brought with them. You’d think the house was actually my children’s little playhouse. That they deigned to allow us all to live here to with them as long as we didn’t muck about with their things too much. Seriously, they have totally taken over the entire property. Whether it’s the myriad of sticks The Boy has strewn around the deck and yard, the constantly fluctuating Star Wars battalion or the collection of books, DVD’s and Leapster cartridges tucked in and around every nook and cranny in my line of sight.

It is going to take a magic trick to cram all of this into my car tomorrow to trek it all home. Although if it doesn’t all fit, that’s fine too, The Girl and I will be back in a couple of weeks. So we can take another load back then I suppose. Although there’s a part of me that fundamentally objects to having to make two (three if you count the car full my husband took home with him on Sunday) trips to take all of my children’s toys home. I mean, that’s just obscene. But they had a year from hell too, so it’s ok for them to get spoiled rotten after that. I just kinda want to know when it’s my turn. Is that wrong?


The Other Side of Stephen King

My mom has been touting her love of Stephen King for years in my general direction. She’s tried everything under the sun to reel me in – he’s a fantastic writer, not EVERYTHING he writes is horror, he has a wonderful sense of humor, he cusses with abandon! And I’ve read one or two of his books. Mostly the ones that were absolutely not even in the same city as horror and they were great. But I don’t do horror. Ever.

But then yesterday my mom pushed a little book he wrote about 10 years ago in front of me. It’s a book he wrote on writing. I picked it up today as I was waiting for the lunch hour to arrive and I have to admit I’m completely sucked in. He is a fantastic writer. This is not horror, not even really how he wrote horror. He is very funny. And he does, indeed, cuss with abandon. His writing actually reminds me a bit of my own writing thought process when I am at my best.

Interestingly enough, the biggest theme thus far is to write without fear. Which I find a bit ironic considering that is the sole cause for me not writing more often and sooner. Fear of not being good enough, of not having anything worthwhile to say, fear of being rejected, fear of not being able to adequately translate what is in my head into words on paper. You name it and I was pretty much afraid of it. Those fears have served as all the necessary reasoning I could have ever asked for to not write. And they’ve worked well. Until now.

See, now? After this last year? I don’t give a damn whether I’m any good or whether anyone reads it. I just know that I must write. It is no longer a choice. For so long my only tangible motivation to write was for recognition in some way and since my fear shortchanged that motivation, the only option left was simply not to write.

Well, that’s bullshit. So hopefully the book will have some other helpful tidbits to offer and if nothing else, it really is very funny.


A Day in the Life

Headache. Oh. No, wait. That’s a migraine. Perfect.

I woke up with what I thought was just a headache from not sleeping worth a damn last night that then blossomed into a fully fledged migraine. I tried it head it off, but it was pretty determined. So I went back to bed on an off for most of the day.

The suckage of this fact was compounded by my dad waking up feeling the exact opposite of how he felt yesterday. He felt great today. In fact I’ve not seen him with this much energy in days. He had really good color in his face, he was chatty and really wanted to spend time with Aunt T and the kids. And I missed it because I was half blind with pain and just wanted to cry.

Dad took The Boy out to his shop today to tie another fly with him, which just made The Boy beam. You should’ve seen his face. Aunt T took some lovely pictures of the three of them out in dad’s shop soaking up their Papa’s teachings. I must find someone to continue to teach The Boy the art of fly fishing and everything that goes with it after my dad goes. He loves it and practically begged my dad to take him fishing tomorrow with his new fly (in 20 degree weather that’s a no-go unfortunately). So dad is keeping his fingers crossed that either spring will come early or his cancer will allow him to take The Boy out on the river this spring.

They all did homework together too. The Boy and dad working on a number matrix while Aunt T and The Girl worked on the alphabet.

It was a good day and I missed it and that sucks. And now Aunt T has to go home tomorrow, which makes me sad. I adore her and I just don’t get to see her nearly enough. So I’m feeling a bit whiny tonight. I’m tired and my head hurts and I think the time for the kids and I to go home is approaching quickly. The kids could use some routine and friends, and so could I.


Day in Summary

On one hand it was a lovely day catching up with my Aunt T and just hanging out. On the other hand, my dad had a horrible day. He felt like crap all day and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him look so frail. And then there is this story that I am supposed to be writing for the new blog that I cannot seem to start.

I get to talk about things with my Aunt T that I don’t really talk about with anyone else or at least not much. Educational theory and trends, our family culture and history and pop culture. So it is refreshing to change up the topics of conversation around here as well as talking about things about which I am passionate. Plus it’s just really nice to get caught up on what everyone is doing in the family since I’m not in regular contact with them.

I know that my dad is dying. I know that bad days are part of the deal. But it never fails to set me on edge, make me worry and just generally stress me out to see him like that. And it makes me sad. Because no matter how “prepared” I think I am to say goodbye to my dad, I’m not. It’s really that simple. As present and aware as I am, I will never be ready or even remotely prepared to say goodbye to my father. Until I have to. Then I know I will figure my way through it all with peace and acceptance, but until then? I’m not ready.

And I’ve been turning this story idea over and over in my head for the past two weeks. Preparing to write my first “real” fiction story. But I cannot, for the life of me, figure out from what angle I want to approach the actual character. Everything I’ve been coming up with just sounds trite. And I know I’m probably over thinking it because I’m nervous and scared and worried that I’ll suck at this after having committed to doing it for an entire year.

I suppose I should just jump in with both feet. On all accounts.

1/2/10 - Aunt T

Aunt T is in the house ya’ll!

My dad has five sisters and one brother. The middle sister is my Aunt T and is, without doubt or contest, my favorite aunt. There’s just something about she and I that just clicks. Even when I was an angst filled, out of hand, balls to the wall teenager and my dad had all but written me off as a lost cause, my Aunt T was still there. When I went to college in Nebraska about 45 minutes away from my dad’s hometown, my Aunt T was there to greet me with open arms. When I spent my first Thanksgiving away from home and my grandmother invited me to the family celebration and everyone else there was either mean or flat out ignored me, it was Aunt T who stepped in to do her best to make me feel welcome (my grandmother later laid the smack down and the family was nice to me ever after).

She is a brilliant, funny, aware woman who loves to be challenged and think outside the box. She’s currently working on her dissertation to get a Doctorate in Education and she’s the superintendent for a consolidated school district in Nebraska. She spent years teaching on a reservation in northern Nebraska and she saves all year long so that she can spend all summer traveling.

She and I used to meet for breakfast on a fairly regular basis in my college town to catch up and trade familial gossip. I loved those breakfasts. Even though they were in a motel restaurant that only used Velveeta in their omelets, they were wonderful opportunities to have some family connection when I was 500 miles from home.

I’ve always looked up to my Aunt T because she has always unabashedly lived her life on her own terms. Regardless of whether it was conventional or not, she always chose to live in such a way that was not only an absolute celebration of her core values, but also cutting her own path to happiness.

And now, she’s here to spend some time with her big brother before he moves out of this world and into the next.


Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

My husband and I spent all day today in the car. The roads were crap yesterday, so we decided to wait to leave until this morning, hoping the sun would have time to work on the ice. And other than the fact that my car is in need of an entirely new instrument panel so I had zero idea of how fast I was going, it was a good drive.

We walked through the door and got mobbed by the children, although the first thing out of The Girl’s mouth was “When can we go home?” She’s been here now for more than a month, so I can understand her desire to sleep in her own bed and get reacquainted with her toys and other sundry beloved things that got left behind. I can understand her wanting to go back to school and see her friends. I can understand how the fun vacation at Nana and Papa’s has turned into everyday life, but without all her stuff, away from her friends and living out of a suitcase.

So I think that we’ll stay through this week and then head home for a bit to let both kids get back into school and let my husband and I get this bankruptcy thing moved along (by the way, I’d like to take Bank of America out back and flat out kick their asses).

I am feeling cautiously optimistic about 2010. I started 2009 with loud and triumphant declarations that this was going to be MY year. And it was, just not in any way I ever could have imagined. It was my year to grow and learn, cry and throw temper tantrums, learn some more, grow some more and generally get my life turned upside down.

This year I am demanding 2010 be full of adventure and blessings, preferably in the most calm and boring way possible. I want to continue to love completely, challenge myself thoroughly and dream hugely, just without all the trauma and drama please. I’ll continue to work hard, just stop putting the people I love in danger. I don’t think that’s all that much to ask for, do you?