“I don’t want to scare you, but…”

That was how my mom started our conversation when she called last night at 9:30pm to tell me Dad had just had an hour long spell of not being able to breathe. At one point she thought she had lost him. My immediate thought was that I should grab the children, pour their sleeping bodies into the car and drive like a bat out of hell to NM post haste. It didn’t scare me necessarily, but it did put me into ready to rock and roll mode. I slept with the phone by our bed last night (if you could call it sleeping) and got up early hoping my mom would call early to give me an update. Which she did. Dad slept fairly well once he got settled in last night.

My Aunt T flew in this morning and Dad was still sleeping when my mom left for the airport. He slept until nearly 10am and then took a 3 ½ hour nap at about noon. So he's been asleep for most of the day. Both times I talked to him he sounded awful. Like gasping for breath awful. And again, it made me want to just jump in the car with nothing but my tooth brush and children and get there as fast as I could.

But he’s had really bad days before and then rallied. So I’m trying to stay out of panic mode while simultaneously making plans for how to get out of here as quickly as possible if need be. The last time I called the hospice nurse had just arrived, so I gave Dad instructions for someone to call me when she leaves with a full report.

Once we decided that we probably would not be leaving today, I took The Girl out for a day of fun. We met some friends for lunch and played then went and got ice cream just the two of us (sshh, don’t tell her brother). Came home and sat out in the sun (sun!) and talked with some neighbor friends. It was good day, even if part of me is still on pins and needles.


Chief Blahety of Blahsville

I’ve had a really lovely day. Starting off with coffee with sweet E and her even sweeter new baby L. We don’t get to see each other nearly enough for my tastes, so it’s always a treat to be able to get together. She had to leave before me to pick up her kiddos from school, so I just stayed at the coffee house and read. By myself. Without anyone interrupting me every other sentence to get them water or listen to this song or, or, or…it was glorious to just sit on a comfy couch with an almond latte and get into Neil Gaiman.

The Girl and I had a nice lunch at home that merged into a nice afternoon.

The only downside to today? I’ve had exactly no (read zip, zilch, zero) motivation to finish my story for the week. Like I sit and stare at the page with the little cursor eye blinking at me expectantly and it’s not that I’m blocked or frustrated or stuck. I’ve just so many other places to go in my head right now than to finish telling this story today. It pretty much boils down to, I don’t wanna. I just don’t want to write today. This post is going to be chief blahety of blahsville as well. Sorry about that. But I’m just sort of content today. The anger hasn’t really made a comeback. I’m not screaming or sobbing. I’m not all tweaked out over my story this week. I just sort of am. Content. Makes it hard to weave drama and interest into much of anything when you’re totally content to just sit and stare into space.

So I’m afraid that my story will be late this week. Because I’d rather it just be late than be crap because I forced it, and ultimately didn’t give a damn about it. So for any of you cross readers, sorry about that. I’m going to try my hardest to make the wait worthwhile.

And I’ve just about got our taxes done for the year, so we’ll soon know what we get to keep and what we don’t. Hhhmmm…maybe I do have some angst broiling after all…


It's a Blech Kind of Day

Do you ever have one of those days where you look at everything you’ve done and everything you’re doing now and just think, huh, wow, I’m just not all that good at much of anything. Yeah. I am having one of those days. It’s an utterly silly day to have, I know that. Rationally. With the rational part of my mind, I know that these sorts of thoughts are silly and useless and do nothing but cosign my own bullshit. But nevertheless, here I am, having one of those days.

As I was driving home from taking The Girl to school I was thinking about all the work I’ve done in fundraising over the last 10 years. And for some reason I could not think of one absolute success through my entire career. There was always something there to taint every single thing that I did right. And the fact that, of my own choosing, I haven’t worked in more than a year and even though this time last year was sending out resumes every single day and never got past a first interview with anyone just seemed to put the last nail in the coffin of my career.

And I’ve committed to writing. Because I have to. It has always been my heart of heart’s passion and it’s time that I stopped talking myself out of it and just did it. But my weekly story deadline is tomorrow and I can easily think of a hundred other things I’d like to do rather than finish this week’s story. Of course, then the little self doubt voice chimes in with “Well, it’s not like you’ve got a huge readership anyway so they probably won’t even notice if you skip a week.” Yeah, not so much with the helpful.

On top of it all, with the severe cold and tons of snow, I have been using TV entirely too much lately. The Girl is bored out of her skull and I’ve got a serious case of “I’m a bad mom” going on.

I know it’s mostly just cabin fever, stress and haywire emotions. And that ultimately, tomorrow will be different. It’s just one of those days.


All you Need is Love

I got to spend some time with my dearest L this morning. The Girl and her youngest go to the same preschool so we occasionally are able to use our morning free time to just hang out and chat over a cup of coffee. With my self-isolation and unpleasant to be around anger as of late, it’s been a while since we’ve been able to hang out. It was much needed and really lovely.

L is an international adoption social worker and if there was ever a person better suited to her work, I don’t know who they are. She is a deeply intuitive person who is easy to trust, easy to talk to and truly enjoys her work. I just adore her and she is an incredibly important part of my life.

And she’s having a hard time right now. One of her families had a complete meltdown and after bringing home this gorgeous girl from Korea decided that they could not be her forever family after all. So L and her husband agreed to provide temporary foster care for this sweet baby girl until the adoption agency could meet with other families who are waiting for children to which to give homes. I got to meet this baby girl this morning and I loved her immediately. And so does L. It is such a tremendously hard thing to bring a baby into your home who needs nothing but love from you and not fall in love with her.

The situation all around is just so heartbreaking. The family who were originally going to adopt her are heartbroken that they’ve failed this sweet girl. L is heartbroken for not seeing the lack of commitment in this family sooner in the process. And this sweet girl’s heart is broken for not having a forever family yet. It is just a truly agonizing situation for everyone involved. But of course, L, being the amazing woman that she is, is just completely focused on showering this baby with the love that she needs.

It was such a lovely morning to sit with a gorgeous friend and just love her and this baby girl with everything I have.


In Defense of Nest

My college roommate picked a fight with a bunch of moms on Facebook today. Which actually turned out to be a jumping off point for she and I to spend an embarrassing large chunk of time first IM’ing and then talking on the phone about the whole thing. It’s a really huge parenting can of worms. Or at least it’s been turned into a huge can of worms for modern day parents. I don’t remember it being all that big of a deal for my parents when I was a kid.

It’s the question of how old your children should be before you allow them to have a sleepover at someone else’s house. I remember the biggest issue being whether or not I was ready to be away from home all night or not. I remember having to call my parents at about midnight my first sleepover because I just couldn’t handle it. It turns out now the biggest concern is one of trust. Trusting the parents and children at whose house your child will be sleeping. Mostly in terms of safety. Whether or not the parents can be trusted to provide adequate levels of supervision. Whether or not older siblings will introduce your child to inappropriate things. Whether or not your child will be put in a position to be hurt in this surrounding. And to be entirely honest, the whole thing baffles me.

See, these other mothers immediately jumped to sexual abuse and molestation as an imminent and real threat. And my mouth just dropped at this. I think it’s the imminence these mothers see that shocks me the most. They essentially feel like they won’t allow sleepovers at all until they feel their children are old enough to be their own advocates. Which essentially means their first night away from home will happen when they leave for college. I don’t mean to be flip, but seriously. Can anyone truthfully say they were completely equipped to be their own advocates, not to be influenced by questions of social or emotional pressures, much before they left the nest? Or more to the point, until they had to create (and perhaps defend) their own nest?

2/21/10 - Digestion

Migraine. Migraine. Migraine. I’ve had a migraine since Thursday. I’ve spent all day today on the couch, moaning occasionally, watching movies. I can’t look at my computer, so I’m typing this out as quickly as possible just to get my daily writing out of the way. I know it’s a stress/not drinking enough water/not getting enough sleep thing. But seriously. I’m way over it now.

But having the time to just lie on the couch has also given me some time to think and digest. I spent most of this past week trying to re-reach out to some friends. Because I am tired of being angry. And I’m tired of feeling like I’m never going to be anything but angry. So I reached out to a friend I’ve known since the beginning of high school who is now a UCC minister to get some perspective. And I reached out to my oldest friend who lost her mother in college and her father not to long after The Boy was born. They both wrote me words that took quite a bit of digesting – in the best possible way. Words that I needed to hear but couldn’t come up with on my own. Words that provided the perspective that I needed but couldn’t get to because I was so cemented into my current angry point of view. Words that reminded me that it’s ok for this to be hard, that it’s ok for me to be angry, that it’s ok for me to not understand. But it’s my banging my head against the wall of that lack of understanding that’s creating such anger and strife for me right now. They were words I needed to hear and needed to digest and I’m so grateful for them and the friends who wrote them.

Ultimately I’m pissed off that my dad is dying. And that’s just compounded by the fact that I can’t for the life of me control or make any sense out of any aspect of that. Yeah. That just plain sucks.

So in some respects I suppose I’m glad for the space and time to reflect, even if it was accompanied by pain and strobe lights.


Literal Kinship

I am not a self help book person. At. All. They make me pretty crazy actually. But I’ve had several friends either recommend or outright give me several books on death and grieving since my dad’s diagnosis. And they’ve all ended up on my bedside table with me having little to no intention to actually read them. But one of them was written by a friend of mine who lost her mother to cancer several years ago. The book she wrote is more about her journey through the process than a guide on how to do the process, so because I know and adore this woman, I picked it up the other night. I also picked it up because I was at my wit’s end and entirely willing to get my hands on some answers in whatever way I could find them.

Her journey has been so completely different than mine that I lost hope quickly that I’d find anything to relate to. She’s a gorgeous writer and she tells a good story, so I decided to finish it for those reasons alone. But as I got more into the meat of her journey I started to recognize huge chunks. I started to recognize the emotions that go with watching a parent get diagnosed with a terminal illness and then having to watch that illness suck their bodies dry of everything that made them strong. I started to recognize her dedication to being the caretaker above her own wants and needs. I started to recognize her coming to grips with the fact that her parent was going to die and that would have ripple effects for the rest of her life. I found myself crying while reading pieces of her story. I found myself nodding and laughing at other parts. Those pieces held a kinship for me that I’ve yet to find anywhere else since this whole journey began. And that in and of itself was such a tremendous relief that I wanted to write her immediately to say thank you.

I have no idea what I’m doing on this journey. But at least I know now that I am not alone and not crazy.


Smooshed Car

Here’s a little karmic riddle for you. If we take the responsible path, use a good portion of my husband’s annual bonus to pay off his car once and for all, saving us that monthly car payment to put back into our budget which will help tremendously, one would think the universe would reward us by smiling down on us in some way right? Yeah, apparently, not so much. Because instead of being bathed in the light that comes from making the right financial choices, my husband instead got into a car accident this morning on his way to take The Boy to school (he and the kids are both fine, thank goodness). So now, we have to use a good chunk of what was going to be socked away into savings to meet our deductible to get his car fixed. I’m sighing hugely right now. But everyone is safe, so I’m trying to focus on being grateful for that.

And we got our pantry almost completely restocked today as well, so that’s a good thing. My husband tried valiantly to talk me into getting a PS3 or XBOX 360 but I reminded him that it was choices such as those that got us into trouble to begin with. He laughed and agreed with me, but there was still a glint in his eye that told me all I had to do was say “Yes, my darling husband, you work your ass off so if you want to take some of your bonus that you worked your ass off for to get a new toy, by all means, have at it!” Perhaps if he hadn’t smooshed the front end of his automobile this morning I would have relented, because he does work his ass off and he totally deserves a new toy. Alas and alack however, his car is smooshed and in need of repair. Plus I think we’d both rather use any extra money we have to put into a travel fund to go see his parents or take a family vacation. Maybe I’ll just save my pennies and get it for him as a huge present. Christmas is only 10 months away right?

2/18/10 - Strobe Light Writing

So I am sitting here alternately working on my story for the week and chatting with a friend and suddenly what was just a totally clear laptop screen is a strobe light. I’m looking through a strobe light. Am, in fact, looking through a strobe light right now. So I’ll apologize ahead of time for any spelling or grammatical mistakes because I can’t really, you know, see what I’m typing. I’m going to try to get this typed as quickly as possible so that I get my writing in for the day, although I’m not at all sure I’ll be able to post it today with the whole I can’t really see thing going on.

My husband got his annual bonus today and I’m super excited. Although I can feel old habits tossing their grizzled heads in the background. Suddenly having money again makes me want to go out to dinner! Go see a movie! Go out with girlfriends! Go out on a date with my husband! Book a flight to just about anywhere! But it’s those kind of old habits, spend it if you’ve got it, that got us into this whole financial mess to begin with. So instead, we’re paying off my husband’s car. Thoroughly re-stocking our pantry. Maybe taking the family out to dinner to the kids’ favorite place – Red Robin. And socking the rest away into savings so that we aren’t caught another month having to choose between our bills and groceries. It’s the responsible thing to do. Boring as hell, but responsible. We’re hoping that if we get to keep some of our tax refund that we’ll be able to get out to Georgia to see my husband’s parents this spring or early summer (I will not be caught dead in Georgia in full summer ever again). And I thought I might try to eek out another girl’s weekend on the cheap this year as I could really, really use some good, dedicated girlfriend time. But I do have to admit that it feels pretty good to pay my husband’s car off. So maybe this whole responsibility thing isn’t all boring.

And now, I’m going to bed. See you tomorrow.


The Mess That I Am

So I have this anger. This anger that I keep expecting to start dissipating as the time goes by. This anger that I’ve been diligently trying to just let be in the hopes that it would burn itself out. Here’s the problem though, it turns out when you “diligently” try to do something, you’re not actually just letting it be, are you?

So, here’s the truth. I am angry. I’m so angry I can hardly see straight. I’m angry that my father is dying. I’m angry that my father will not let me in during this time of grief and ending. I’m angry that he won’t let me help him find the answers he’s craving so that he can have some peace in whatever time he has left. When this diagnosis first happened, it brought my dad back to me. He was present and honest and actively choosing to bring me into his process. Now he’s gone back to sitting still again, in the worst possible way. There’s no peace or growth in this sitting still. Or at least there doesn’t appear to be any, but I wouldn’t really know for sure because he won’t, you know, let me in.

And I’m angry because everyone just expects me to understand. My dad expects me to take care of my family and that’s it. My mom expects me to just let them both do whatever they want exclusive of my place in this family. Our oldest family friends expect me to sit back and just understand. I do not understand. I do not understand how it’s ok to shove your only daughter away from you when you’re dying under the guise of wanting me to take care of my “own family.” What the hell is that?!? My parents aren’t my family?

To be honest I’m tired of understanding. I’m tired of walking on eggshells. I’m tired of pretending like everything is ok. I’m tired of acting as if my feelings about my father dying don’t actually matter.

I want permission to be angry. I want permission to fall apart. I want permission to be the mess that I am.

The angry, tired mess that I am.


Field Trip

The Girl had a field trip with her preschool to the main firehouse downtown this morning. And aside from the part where I totally spaced it and was late, it was great. Except for the one other little point of me being crabby when my morning got totally screwed because my preschooler went on a field trip that I had to drive her to, supervise while there and then drive her to school. So, you know, I was essentially paying her preschool so that I could take her on a field trip with her friends. Cool. Only not. I know it’s not a big deal. But these couple of mornings a week that I get to myself to write and read and do all the things I don’t get to do when she’s around are precious to me. Utterly precious. And disruption of them thoroughly rouses my inner crank.

The firefighters got all dressed up in their firefighting garb which of course, scared the bejeezus out of The Girl. But she eventually got brave enough that she wanted to try on the gigantic boots. The firemen were all extraordinarily nice. They just adore it when kids come to take tours. It always surprises me how much they love the kids. The Girl was most interested in all the gear and the kitchen. She didn’t much care about the pole or the big truck. But she wanted to know what every single thing on the uniform and firefighting gear was for. And she seriously could not wait to see their kitchen; she desperately wanted to see where they made all of their food. And as we were walking out one of the firemen asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up and she responded with “A princess!” He was very sweet with her and chatted a bit about what princesses do and how he thought she would make a glorious princess. It was pretty cool.

Then as we were walking out and she was proudly sticking her fire chief badge sticker on her shirt she said to me, “Actually mama, my think my want to be a firefighter.” Rock on girlfriend, rock on.


Books and Writing

Alright, I finally finished the James Patterson book I was reading a couple of days ago and it wasn’t a moment too soon. My dad (who is a big mystery/thriller reader) and several friends have promised me that he has some really good books, but this obviously was not one of them. It was called Hide and Seek and the premise sounded interesting except he forgot to have any of the characters, you know, do much of anything. The whole book was build up to a big fat nothing. You knew what happened before it happened. Or if you didn’t then you weren’t actually paying attention. I thought the whole purpose of this genre was surprise and thrill. Yeah, this one missed the mark completely. I’ll give him another try with some that my dad is hand picking from his personal library, but that’s it. One more chance James Patterson!

The good news is that now I’m free to pick up Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine, which I did last night. And it’s lovely. I mean I feel like I’m reading a fairy tale it’s so lovely. It’s definitely not a brain candy book, but the language he uses is just so gorgeous. And one of my favorite things about his writing so far is that he just doesn’t care if the metaphor he’s using actually makes sense. What he cares about is if the words match the feeling and how they feel in your brain as you roll over them and incorporate them into your own experience. It’s amazing. And not in the least bit nonsensical as it might become when you care more about emotion than the actual words you choose. It’s just an unabashed romp through childhood through an adult’s eyes. As if you were to go back through the wonders of your childhood with your grown up vocabulary and ability to put your actual motivation into words.

His writing has already drawn me a bit out of the suspenseful and into the summers I spent in Nebraska. So it will be interesting to see what kinds of stories I write while this panorama of nostalgia is imminent in my mind and memory.


Happy Valentine's Day

I find Valentine’s Day to be utterly loathsome. But I think I regaled you enough with my abhorrence of this day last year. And I’m actually in a good mood today. So if you are looking for my more snarky side, please, feel free to look up last year’s post.

For everyone else, let’s talk movies! I took The Boy to see Percy Jackson and The Lightening Thief today. We got him the books by Rick Riordan for Christmas this year in an attempt to get him really interested in stories instead of him always thinking that reading is only a chore to be done in school. So we’ve been reading them before bed every night. Not only are the books really good, but it also gives The Boy and I a chance to connect every day which is lovely. But we’re both totally sucked into the books and we are just starting the third one. So when we saw that they had made a movie of the first book, we were both totally stoked and I thought it would be a really fun thing for just him and me to do. So we met some good friends at the (sold out) movie theater today and strapped in for some super fun frolicking through Greek mythology. Instead it was like they took all the characters’ names and then decided to tell a totally different story. I think maybe they sat down with the author and said, “OK, we really like your story Mr. Riordan, and we’ll use it for inspiration, but we have other ideas. You’re ok with that right?” I mean, yes it was a good movie. It just had very little to do with the book on which it was supposedly based.

My husband and I have a long standing love affair with zombies. So how better to spend Valentine’s Day than to watch Zombieland? We have both wanted to see it for forever and it was well worth the wait. We both loved it.

Movies, a big fat box of chocolates, time with my Boy, a super sweet card from my hubby. This may very well be the best Valentine’s Day ever.


New Books

The Girl and I went to the library on Friday as I was fast approaching the end of the last in the Dragons of Pern books that I had on-hand. I knew it would be closed on Monday and I wanted to make sure I had books through the weekend since it’s really the only time other than bedtime that I’m guaranteed to have any time to read. We even went to the big library downtown. Our library is much newer, but also much smaller. And I must say that I was a wee bit disappointed. I made a very specific list of books that I was looking for. Granted, several of those books are older, but I also know they were extremely popular so I didn’t think I’d have any trouble finding what I was looking for. Turns out I was pretty wrong.

The list I made had a pretty nice mix of sci-fi/fantasy and mystery/suspense; my thought being that I just swap back and forth as I made my way through to determine which authors I really liked and then I’d go back and get more of those authors. Except that I couldn’t the most of James Patterson’s Alex Cross series, pretty much only the newer ones. I couldn’t find any of Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch series; I couldn’t find any of Catherine Coulter’s FBI series. They only had two Ray Bradbury on the shelves. They only had a handful of Neil Gaiman. I was not happy. I was able to find Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe, thank goodness. But I was still seriously disappointed by the lack of depth in these overwhelming popular and prolific authors.

Thankfully, my dad is a total mystery/suspense junky. So he said he’d go through his bookshelves and pull his favorites for me to get while the kids and I are there for their ridiculously long Spring Break. So I’ll have that to look forward to at least. Because I did find one James Patterson book that sounded fairly interesting. And I’m here to tell you that if the rest of his writing is this bad, I don’t want much to do with him.

2/12/10 - Winter Olympics

The Winter Olympics start tonight! I love the Olympics. Although I do remember thinking for a long time that I liked the Winter Olympics more than the Summer Olympics only to have that soundly disproven two years ago when I got so into the Summer Olympics that I was nearly insufferable. I don’t think I’ll get that way again this time for a couple of reasons. First because the X Games were just two weeks ago and I got thoroughly saturated with Winter sports, especially the ones I really like. Although the X Games have yet to include figure skating. Or ice dancing. And I don’t see those being added anytime soon.

I was glad to see that Shawn White’s chin is almost completely healed. Lindsey Vonn is healing and getting some help from the weather by getting her events postponed. And the American athletes look to be pretty good shape.

Except for one. The young man from the Georgian Olympic team who died today during one of his practice runs. And of course the news showed the accident. Although I do have to give it to them that they only showed it once and then pulled it in respect for the family. Thank goodness. Because it was truly brutal. I cannot imagine flying through the air at 90 miles an hour, having your body whipped out of any control by heinous g-forces only to have all of that savage movement stopped abruptly by a steel beam. The only hope I have for this young man is that he was killed instantly and felt no pain. The safety teams have been deconstructing the accident to determine how they can ensure it never happens again. I hope they succeed.

So it’s with bittersweet enthusiasm that we’ll watch the opening ceremonies. Everyone’s been wondering whether Vancouver would be able to outdo the opening ceremonies from China, knowing full well that they couldn’t. And in a breath of fresh air, the producer/designer for the ceremony said he had no intention to even try. His sole purpose was to showcase the wonders of Canada and make every single viewer want to visit. Sounds like a good idea to me!


Story Day!

It’s story day again! Yippee! No, seriously. This week wasn’t so bad. I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted to do and then, crazy as it sounds, I actually did it. I decided to play with the microfiction format this week (stories with a word count of 300-500 words). I spent a good portion of the week thinking about story ideas, trying to figure out how to squeeze any of the ideas that bubbled to the top into that kind of word count. I mean, I am pretty good at writing down my thoughts in a concise manner, but I have no idea how to put a leash on a character. So, again, I focused on a very specific situation and decided to focus that down ever farther by really concentrating on trying to get the reader to feel something very specific. So the whole point of the story was more to make the reader feel with the character than to define the character or even really tell a story.

I know, I know. But the project is all about writing stories you say. And I agree with you. But I am discovering there are a lot of components to story writing. I have been trying to figure out how to work on all of those elements so that I can get stronger. The thought being that if I can strengthen my abilities with the separate elements, then my story as a whole will also get stronger and my abilities as a writer will continue to grow. At least that is the theory. But you’ll have to read this week’s story and tell me if you think I’ve succeeded (hint! hint!). Of course you could also read it and it could only serve to cement your thought that I’ve no business writing and should go back to my day job.

Yeah. Well, the jury is still out. So I’ll just keep plugging along, trying to push my own boundaries.

And I’m almost ready to move on to reading James Patterson or Tom Clancy although I’ll be sad to leave Pern, but I’m excited to see where my imagination takes me from here.


One of those Days

I wanted to do nothing but lie on the couch, read and eat cookies today. Alas and alack, that’s just not allowed when you have a 3 ½ year old dictator nipping at your heels constantly for food, drink and entertainment. I mean seriously, when is this pup ready to get her own damn juice?! There are just days that are harder than others to remain civil when The Girl asks for the umpteenth time for a snack or a different show or exclaims in her best Scarlett O’Hara impersonation that she is bored. Today was one of those days.

Today was one of those days that when The Boy’s school called mid-afternoon to tell me he had a fever and would I please come pick up my germ infested child and The Girl was dawdling in getting dressed that I found myself screaming at her to please just put on some pants already. How hard is it to just put on pants?! Because she had switched out her pretty princess nightgown for the infinitely more weather appropriate shorts and a t-shirt. In February. When the high the last week hasn’t been above 30 effing degrees. Today was one of those days when little things like that simply drive me over the edge.

Today was one of those days when I was resentful to have a sick kid. A day when I found myself fervently praying that his fever breaks tonight because if I have to keep him home tomorrow then I don’t get my alone time while The Girl is in school. And my sanity is demanding alone time. Plus I haven’t even really started this week’s story for 52 in 52. I have the general premise in my head, but no clue as to how I’m actually going to write the sucker.

Today is one of those days when I am crabby and find myself teary while reading a story to The Boy before bed. One of those days when I would have been happy to not have to talk or listen to anyone. One of those days when my best bet would’ve been to lie on the couch, read and eat cookies.


Strolling Along

Is there such a thing as writer’s fatigue? I’m not at all sure I knew what I was getting myself into when I started this project. I was pretty sure that writing short stories wouldn’t take much more effort than my daily 365 writing (and I’ve gotten exceedingly good at that). I just sort of figured that once I got a couple of stories written and built my self confidence that it would start to come pretty easily and whittling out the time to write these stories would just work itself out.

Yeah. I am pretty sure I was wrong. Because every week it’s a struggle. It’s primarily a struggle to simply find the time to sit down, focus and write the story that is unfolding in my head. But it is also a struggle to focus that story. I’m still having a bit of trouble with the whole “starting a novel” thing which causes me to second guess myself. And I’m still not brimming with the confidence I had hoped I might at least have an inkling of at this point in the project. I’m sure the three friends that I keep turning to for help when I get stuck dread seeing the green dot beside my name denoting my presence on line these days; finding themselves fervently hoping that I’d just figure it all out already.

The odd thing is that even though I wrestle with this every week, it’s a wrestling match that I actually enjoy. I love engaging my brain in a new way to see the world in a different way. Working to draw stories out of people that exist only in my dreams or imagination doing everyday things that suddenly seem interesting because of the people doing them. It’s fun and it’s sort of like taking my brain out for a walk in one of those new neighborhoods full of cookie cutter houses and winding roads that all lead back to each other. It’s pretty but I have no idea how the hell to find my way home.

So, I’m going to enjoy the scenery, leave a trail of breadcrumbs, learn some new wrestling moves and just keep writing.

2/8/10 - Tearful Reading

I discovered a few new websites today that had me in a variety of tears as I waded through their archives; everything from tears of recognition and sisterhood to raucous laughter and hell yeahs.

The first website is www.theshapeofamother.com and its entire existence is dedicated to providing a space for women to tell their bodies’ stories as they grow, birth, feed and continue to take care of the children we carry for the rest of our lives. It’s an extraordinarily beautiful site full of heartfelt stories from women coming to grips with and developing immense gratitude for their bodies as they change along the process it takes to become a mother. They celebrate stretch marks as mementos of our bodies’ ability to conform to the needs of the babies we have had in our bellies. They laugh good naturedly about the march of gravity across our boobs, bellies and asses. They jump for joy when weight goals are met and are at the ready with encouragement when they’re not. And they do it all with pictures. Unabashedly displaying all of these things that we hide from even our husbands and definitely from ourselves because of the sheer pride of being able to participate in this group of women exclaiming at the top of their lungs what miracles their bodies are capable of. It’s lovely.

The second is Shapely Prose (www.kateharding.net) and she is awesome. She’s hilarious, witty, amazingly honest and I adore her writing for all of these things and the fact that she just doesn’t take herself very seriously which I have a deep appreciation for as that’s a personality trait I’m trying hard to adopt as of late.

The last is www.mamamia.com.au and apparently she’s a pretty well known author and commentator but I’ve never heard of her. I found her through The Shape of a Mother’s Facebook page and while her site has a more journalistic feel to it, she’s still lovely, funny and honest. She write scathingly about the media’s obsession with body image in a way that makes me want to jump up and down and yell hallelujah!

It was a good day immersing myself in new to me writing.


2/7/10 - Happy Superbowl Sunday!

Superbowl Sunday baby!!! For my own personal football fandom, it’s the apex of football. Well at least this year it is. Which is a little disorienting after so many years of not only not caring much about the teams, but also having the game be such a boring blow out that I paid more attention to the French onion dip than the TV. But it’s been a Manning triple play the last few years (with some Big Ben thrown in for good measure), which I am super stoked about.

The Indianapolis Colts are my team. I love them. And have for several years now. I adore Peyton Manning and definitely think he is the best quarterback in the league right now. And the Colts are in the Superbowl for the second time in three years this year (and his little brother Eli stuck it to the Patriots a couple of years ago in a game that seriously made my day – put that in your pipe and smoke it stupid Brady!).

Several weeks ago I said, “Wouldn’t it be a great game if the Superbowl was the Colts and the Saints?” Well I got my wish. And my nightmare. Because honestly, I think the Saints are just about the only team that could beat the Colts (when they are playing as well as they have been). They are consistent (mostly) and they have passion in spades for their team and their city. They play football not only because they love it and make lots and lots of money, but because they feel like they owe it to the city of New Orleans to play as well as they absolutely can. And that’s pretty cool.

Unless of course they are facing MY team that has maddeningly decided to play conservatively (yes, I’m talking to you Coach Caldwell!!), make really poor decisions in play calling and clock management and give the whole effing game away when it was just within their reach (can you hear me screaming?).

I’m thrilled that the Saints finally won a Superbowl, they played their asses off this year and they deserve it. I just wish it wasn’t at the expense of my Colts.

2/6/10 - Lazy Saturday

It has been snowing all day. Seriously. All. Day. We got the house picked up and cleaned (well the most important parts anyway) this morning, I put a big pot of chili on the stove and we played the Wii and ate Frito pie the rest of the day. Productive and healthy? Not so much. Lovely way to spend my Saturday with my family? Yep.

Frito pie has always something that held little interest for me. Mostly I think because traditional Frito pies involve a lot of onions and I don’t do onions. At. All. So I just kind of wrote them off. But what’s not to like about a layer of Fritos covered with homemade chili, cheese, sour cream and avocado? Seriously yummy. And with a good deal of comfort as well.

I also finished the second book in Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series. It’s also very good. Although she drops a bombshell at the end and almost kills one of my favorite characters out of nowhere about 10 pages from the end of the book. Seriously. That is just not nice. And because I was all amped up after reading the second book, I had to pick up the third immediately. I was going to put off the third one for a while to pick up some Ray Bradbury and possibly some James Patterson and/or Tom Clancy, but I just couldn’t help it. So our trip to the library to stock up on books I’ve never read is going to have to wait a bit longer until I finish this book.

One of the interesting things I’m finding is that she doesn’t really feel the need to explain what things are. They just are. And that is one of the things that has always seriously daunted me about writing sci-fi stories - how the hell do you explain everything to everyone? Yeah. She doesn’t. It’s actually sort of a relief as a reader too, because I don’t really want to read explanations about stuff, I want the story. Much like I don’t have to describe what a door is, she sees no reason why she should explain what a wherrie is. Cool.


Writing Crazy

Ok, so I figured out why I’m having a hard time rectifying these crazy stories I keep writing with who I am. Get a cup of coffee because this is going to be a little on the personal side.

I’ve spent most of my life having to convince myself and everyone around me that I am, in fact, NOT crazy. I had an exceedingly hard time growing up and racked up a pile of therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists. All of which threw diagnoses at me like clinical depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder and oppositional defiant disorder. Those are some pretty hefty diagnoses to be throwing at a teenager already carrying around the baggage life has thrust upon her back. I tried medication after medication and talk therapy after talk therapy session. Until at the end, I just decided to go to college and figure it out on my own. And it’s taken me until today to get to where I am now (funny how that works isn’t it?) and I know I will struggle with this whole “I just don’t exactly fit” thing for probably the rest of my life. But after 33 years, I’m ok with that. Truly. I’ve made peace with my own odd-duckness and I even have days when I embrace it with gratitude.

And then I try this experiment with writing fiction and a whole bunch of crazy comes streaming out of my head. Crazy characters, crazy stories, crazy self-doubt. A whole bunch of crazy that I had no idea was there. And it freaked me out a bit. To the point where I’ve been holding back in the stories, second guessing myself and my readers. Which is not really the point of this writing project is it? The point is to push my own boundaries, to make myself grow as a writer in ways that I simply can’t do other than by doing what I’m afraid of. It’s gotten to the point where I can more easily talk about my mental health history than to let a femme fatale serial killer have free reign in a story, how silly is that?

Well. Not anymore. The filter is coming off.


Whack Job Status

Well, I spent all day working on this week’s story for 52 in 52 and I’m fairly sure that this will seal the deal with my readers thinking I’m a complete whack job. Believe me when I say that I truly had no idea I was going to be drawn to writing these kinds of stories. I really thought I’d be writing these in-depth stories about the human condition, hell, I wouldn’t have been surprised if I started writing sappy love stories and romances. Those would make more sense than the crazy thrillers I’ve been writing the past several weeks.

Instead I’m writing about a bank robber who can eat the money he steals only to have it cut out of him later, and a nightmare coma experience and now a black widow serial killer. Where is this stuff coming from?!? As I’ve stated over and over again, I do not read these kinds of stories. I’ve never read these kinds of stories. I can’t even watch these kinds of movies most of the time. I’ve never been able to. While my mom relishes in Stephen King books and all of my friends adore horror movies, I’ve always shied away from them and loudly cursed when my favorite actors take roles in movies that I know I won’t be able to watch.

My imagination has always been worse than what I could read or watch you see. Gremlins gave me nightmares for months. The People under the Stairs had me so jittery I honestly thought there might be something wrong with me. And my dreams took the fairly benign story of Hearts in Atlantis to a place Mr. King never imagined. See I don’t really need the help coming up with big, bad nasties to populate my dreams. I do just fine on my own without any inspiration.

So it’s amazing to me that I can write these stories. Spend all week planning them out; thinking through the intricacies of character and story. Because I’ve not had a nightmare yet. My dreams have become more vivid to be sure, but I’m sleeping just fine for the most part.

What a crazy creative journey I’ve begun.

2/3/10 - This Parenting Thing Keeps Getting More Complicated

So, in the last week and a half, The Boy has taken first prize in his science fair, gotten 35 out of 50 words right in his class spelling bee and had four notes about his behavior sent home. I’m totally the proud mama on the first two and completely bewildered by the last one. He’s never been a behavior problem in any of his classes since he was two years old and bit one of his preschool classmates so hard he drew blood. Ever since then, he’s pretty much been an easy going kid. Even if he occasionally does have trouble staying in his seat or not chattering in between lessons. But that’s totally age appropriate, expected stuff and it’s never been a problem.

Now all of a sudden, it’s a problem. So I sat down with him tonight to talk it out. Determined to get to the bottom of whatever was going on. Because, maddeningly, the only thing the teacher actually said was “He is having trouble making good choices in PE and my classroom.” Which doesn’t tell me a whole hell of a lot. And actually served to piss me off more than anything. But The Boy and I sat down anyway. It turns out that he’s having trouble with a boy in his class constantly pushing and hitting him and then telling the teachers that he started it. Hence The Boy getting into trouble with the “making bad choices.”

I had several emotions immediately rise to the surface upon hearing this news. The first of which was rage. Rage at this boy for bullying my son and rage at this school for allowing it to happen right under their noses. Also rage at the teachers for taking one kid’s word over another without doing any further investigation. And absolute sadness that my sweet, super sensitive boy was having to endure this at such a young age. As The Boy crumbled into tears in my arms after finally getting this out, I was overcome with wanting to protect him from every cruelty in the world.

Which I can’t do obviously. But I sure as hell will write his teacher a stern email.


2/2/10 - Time Flies...

Oh, hello! It’s February! Wait, what?!? How can it possibly be February already?!? That means Valentine’s Day is only two weeks away. That means that March is really just right around the corner since February feels like such a short month. That means it is time to start researching summer activities for the kiddos. That means it is time to register them for spring sports.

I just can’t figure out how it is already February. I feel like it was just Christmas. And since it is February, that means it’s been 3 months since my dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. He’s still with us, although his pain seems to be increasing on an almost daily basis. And we are all still dealing with the depth (and ramifications) of our own personal levels of denial and anger. And I’ve decided to stop fighting being such a mess and just be a mess. I have a right to be a mess! My dad is dying and my family’s financial health is utterly fucked up! It’s ok to be a mess right now. I can stop apologizing for it, I can stop denying it, I can stop pretending. It’s ok, it is, and it’s not my job to judge its relevance or convenience. It’s my job to just be with it and see what’s there. Right? Maybe I should write that on a post-it and put it on my bathroom mirror. Or, on the box of Swiss Rolls I’m currently BFF’s with.

On a lighter note, February brings with it LOST! The season premier of LOST is on tonight and I’m going to a friend’s house to watch it. This friend also happens to be the person who cuts my hair, so I’m sort of hoping (although not even remotely expecting) her to take pity on me and cut my hair while I’m there. But mostly it will be good to see a friend, have yummy dinner (I am making my famous curry pasta salad), a few cocktails and yell at the TV screen together. Anything else is just bonus.

I get a night off from cooking and my day job, that’s enough for today.

2/1/10 - Project Time!

So. My head is a mess. What am I doing about it? Diving head first into a project of course! I’ve decided that one of my biggest problems with writing lately is that I’m finding myself drawn to writing stories I don’t typically read, so I don’t really know how it’s done, so to speak. So I’m probing all of my friends for their best recommendations in the mystery/thriller/suspense and sci-fi/fantasy genres. And it turns out that I’m not nearly as well read as I once thought I was, which has put a decent sized dent in my ego, I’ll tell you what. I mean I knew I had pretty huge holes in the classics, but other than that I was really pretty sure that I was relatively well read. Yeah. Not so much. There are two entire genres that I’ve pretty much missed out on altogether.

Well, problem recognized and now on its way to be fully rectified. I have a new reading list easily 3 dozen books deep and I would love to just take a couple of weeks and do nothing but read. I’d love to just relish in the feeling that reading something new and wonderful gives and then have the time and mental space to do nothing but fully engage in the host of ideas these newly discovered stories bring with them. Unfortunately, I can’t quit my day job for two weeks of nothing but reading and writing. I think they call that child neglect. Ahem.

So I will just continue on with my research and read whenever I can, in amidst all of the other day to day stuff on my to do list, like making sure to feed my family occasionally. And not completely ignoring The Girl in her pleas to play and you know, make eye contact.

I’m really excited to delve into this new world. Although it will require me getting reacquainted with a little thing called the library, which I know the kids will love. I’m embarrassed to say it has been a while since I’ve actually used our local library.

So it’s newness all around, what better refuge from the mess in my head?