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School’s Out Forever

6 Sep

I did it. I finished. I have a Master’s degree. Actually, I finished a little while ago but indulged in some “west and wewaxation at wast.” This consisted of sharing a large townhouse in Galena, Illinois for a long weekend. Bliss.

I promised never to apologize for not blogging, so no apologies. Just promise to get back to writing.

I seem to have missed the Mrs. Hall boat and that really pisses me off; I SOOOOOOO want to tell her that if her boys can’t respect a girl in a towel, then they can stay the hell away from my daughter. Oh, and Mrs. Hall, pretty sure my son can look at a completely naked woman and still respect her. That was sort of the point behind our teaching him that he really shouldn’t be with naked people unless he respected them and that he should respect the people who get naked with him. But, we aren’t afraid of naked people in our house. Moths and spiders? Hell, yes. Naked people? Not so much.

Please enjoy the video below of Randy Newman’s “Beware of the Naked Man.”

School’s NOT out for summer

24 Jun

At least, not for me. Today is the first day of the last class required to complete my Master of Arts in Teaching. It’s an 11-week course smushed into six weeks. I don’t think I’m going to have bunches of time to post, but I’ll try.

Wish me luck and I’ll see you on the flip side.

 

6000 words

6 May

I’ve been writing from a very dark place for the past three or four weeks. Today, I finished one of the pieces and needed to mark its completion. Sitting in the sun, playing fetch with my dog, I decided that there were tiny details in my garden that make it possible for me to overlook the lived-in, played-in overall mess that is our backyard. Here are some of them.

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There are 500!

21 Mar
Photo: Real Simple

Photo: Real Simple

Just before I published the following post, I checked the stats on my site. There are 500 of you! Five hundred followers! Five hundred people who want to read my irregularly published ramblings. I am gob smacked. Thank you for your kind support and for giving me the opportunity to use “gob smacked.”

This post is dedicated to you, my faithful followers.

Bless Me Followers for I Have Sinned

Being a blogger seems to me to be kind of like being a Catholic. When a Catholic sins, she goes to confession, recites her sins, does her penance and rides her bike home feeling all shiny and new.

I did confession like a good little Catholic girl for quite a while. Every Saturday, I’d go to church, tell the priest the horrible things I’d done and go home feeling shiny and new. One Saturday, though, I didn’t really feel like I’d done anything really wrong. Hadn’t fought with my brother. Wasn’t snotty with my mom. Didn’t swear, talk back to my dad or even stick my tongue out at my sister.

“I have nothing to confess,” I told my mom.

“You have to have something to confess,” she replied.

“No, Mom. I don’t.”

She said something about no one being perfect and there must be something I’d done that I wasn’t proud of and I was going to confession whether I had a sin to confess or not. So, I went to confession. And I made something up. I made it believable, like I was jealous of my brother or I coveted by sister’s Barbie, though I really liked my Barbie best. The priest did his four-thousand-words-a-minute blather, gave me a couple of Hail Marys and told me to go forth and sin no more.

That was when I had my first ethical dilemma with the Catholic Church. How, I reasoned, could I sin no more when I had to make up sins to confess every Saturday? Wasn’t confessing my sins making me into more of a sinner than I would have been had I not been forced to confess sins? A year later, I learned that no matter how much I wanted it, I couldn’t become a priest. That was when it was all over between me and the Church.

But recently, I have become a sinner. I have sinned against my followers and, to make my soul whole again, I confess the following.

I have not responded to you.

The Blogma states that new followers should be acknowledged and thanked. Following being Freshly Pressed recently, I strove to respond to every new follower with heart-felt thanks. I was rapidly overwhelmed. (I just scourged myself for bragging about being Freshly Pressed.) So, I created a folder for Follow follow-up. I haven’t followed up.

I have deleted you.

As a recovering Catholic, I admit to mountains of guilt over this. There were just so many posts and comments—hundreds every day—and so little time coupled with so little energy. (I’m fasting right now for mentioning the Freshly Pressed thing again.) The first time I deleted, I started with a comment and I closed my eyes before hitting the button. Soon, though, it became easier. Then, it became cathartic; I deleted not just comments, but entire posts. Eventually, there was no more backlog and I heaved a guilt-ridden sigh of relief. Please note: I never deleted all of any one blogger’s posts. I have some sense of decency.

I have failed to pass on blogging awards.

I’m honored when a reader passes on The Versatile Blogger award, or the Inspiring Blogger award. I’d even be honored to receive the Makes Too Many Self-aggrandizing References Award. (Forgive me, more bragging. Just put on a hair shirt.) I haven’t passed them on; I’ve wallowed in my “I’m too busy”-ness.

I haven’t published regularly.

Oh, I’ve posted a new “my kids are funnier than your kids” story every Tuesday, but other than that? I’ve been kicking back, taking it easy, neglecting my bloggly duties.

It’s been more than forty years since my last confession. Regardless, the feeling following is the same. I’m all shiny and new, ready to get back on my blogging bike and ride.

 

 

Just another (not) Manic Monday

28 Jan

Baby-Horse-Running-Wallpaper-240x180I want my mania back.

Now, if you’re normal, you probably can’t understand why someone with Bipolar Disorder would even contemplate wanting a ride to the top of the roller coaster, particularly when what’s waiting on the other side of the climb is a drop into depression.

Even if you’re Bipolar, you might not understand remembering mania wistfully. Getting deeply in debt, driving drunk or high, having sex with strangers…why would anyone want to live that way? Certainly, I’m in no hurry to return to my wicked, pre-medicated ways, but the life of lethargy I’ve been living lately has seriously outworn its welcome.

A little mania and my house wouldn’t look like, well, like someone was too depressed to straighten. The cleaning ladies are scheduled to come tomorrow, but even that isn’t uplifting. Without straightening, it won’t even look like they came except for the telltale trails of a vacuum cleaner. Add in the fact that we can’t afford the mostly ineffectual crew but don’t have the heart to fire the now 70-year old woman who has been cleaning our home since my son was two and who just lost her retirement savings in a series of ill-advised real estate transactions, and my morose mood is more understandable.

A little mania and I wouldn’t be feeling like a parental failure because my son—who carries my genetic code—barely scraped together the four Cs and an A on his recent report card while my daughter—adopted from China—came home with all As . . .ok, one B+. Sure, my son also had an A in PE, but PE doesn’t count. I know, I know . . .a class focused on activity suits his ADHD brain, PE is an important class in a society full of couch potatoes , an A is an A. Yada, yada, yada. And I know that lots of kids get Cs, even lots of kids we know and lots of kids we know who got into colleges they wanted to go to. Cs aren’t Fs, but that’s the problem. To me, Cs are just Fs with a silent F. Unkind and unfair, I know, and further evidence that I richly deserve the depression I’m in.

A little mania and my creative well wouldn’t have run dry. I’d have posted witty commentary on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, how I came to love the running skirt, watching my husband writhe in pain. Well, maybe that last one wouldn’t have been witty. I might even have finally figured out how to get my son’s obscene sense of humor featured in a blog with a PG13 rating.

Just a little mania, that’s all I’m looking for here. Of course, there’s no such thing as a little mania. Oh, at first I think there could be, that I can keep the momentum from building out of control. But it always escalates so that what started as a trot through the park turns into a wild gallop and a crashing fall.

So, I took my meds. I let the house be cluttered beyond recognition. I sat my ass down at the computer and I wrote, even though writing was the last thing I thought I could do, and pulled these 600 plus words out of some secret place even I didn’t know existed. Pretty soon, I’ll put on my running gear—it might even be warm enough for a skirt today—then get my ass off the chair and onto the trail. I’ll ignore that the unseasonably warm weather is most likely caused by global climate change which will lead to the early demise of our planet. At least, I’ll try.

I’m sure all of that will help. But I’ll still miss my mania.

Writer’s Block

16 Nov

Write a sentence.

Let the dog out.

Pour a cup of tea.

Let the dog in.

 

Delete a sentence

Read email.

Check Facebook.

 

Write a sentence.

Scrub the floor.

Wash my face.

Pour a cup of tea.

 

Write a paragraph.

Do backbends seated in my swivel chair.

Pull my hair by the roots.

Delete a sentence

 

Let the dog out.

Write a sentence.

Brush my teeth.

Write a sentence

Let the dog in.

 

Write a sentence

I had hoped for something longer today. This will have to do.

 

Solitude, Invading Molecules, and The Scarlet Pimpernel

9 Nov

There is someone in the house. I don’t have to see or hear them. I know by the way my skin prickles and my brain reels. There is someone in the house besides me. I feel his molecules, because I know it’s a man, invading my space making it impossible for me to work. I feel seen, observed. I feel this way every time my husband takes vacation days.

The problem isn’t that he’s in my hair, though it feels like he’s in my hair. The problem is that he’s here at all. He’s actually leaving me alone. Most of the time you wouldn’t even know he’s here. Except that he’s here. When I leave my office to warm my tea or let the dog out or have a snack, there he is. And he’s doing nothing while I’m trying to do something. I go to my office and he doesn’t follow me but I still can’t work. It’s like the molecules he breathes seek me out and watch my every move.

You’d think that feeling observed like this would make me more productive, but it doesn’t. My husband likes my writing, he supports my writing, but I can’t do it in front of him or his molecules. So I check Facebook, then email, then read other bloggers’ posts. I comment and check Facebook again. I go back to email to see if the blogger has responded to my witty comment and the cycle begins again.

This morning, while I was cleaning the kitchen, he woke and came downstairs. I had spent the morning listening to my daughter wail about how she’d ruined her model of the atomic structure of the iron atom. She wailed about it for fifteen minutes then mysteriously stopped wailing. “I didn’t ruin it after all,” she said gaily. I sighed. She went to school.

I had about a half hour in silence. I like silence. Even the dog knows I like silence and only barks when absolutely necessary. Normally, I have hours and hours of silence. But not this week.

I’ve been tolerant of having another human in my silent house. And, really, my husband has been considerate, only engaging me when I’m within a ten-foot radius. He even listens to his music with noise-canceling headphones.

This morning, though, he interrupted my kitchen cleaning ritual with dialogue from 1934’s The Scarlet Pimpernel.

I like the movie; we like the movie. We quote the dialogue to each other, particularly the idiotic poem Leslie Howard pens as the foppish Sir Percy Blakeney, who is actually the infamous Pimpernel, fearless rescuer of French nobility following the Revolution. The poem begins like this:

They seek him here,

They seek him there.

Those Frenchies seek him everywhere.

It goes on, ending with “That damned elusive Pimpernel.”

Today, I rose at 7 a. m. with The Empress of the Fine Chinese Whine. My vacationing husband rose at 10 a.m. and came down for his morning coffee. He was cheerful. He was quoting the Scarlet Pimpernel poem, he thought.

“They seek him high,” he said. “They seek him low. Those Frenchies know not. . .”

“Stop yourself!” I said. “You’re doing it wrong! I think I’ve been pretty good about you being here all week, putting up with your molecules all up in my face, but you have no idea how the poem goes!”

To his credit, he stopped. To my credit, I poured a cup of tea, went to my office, closed the door, and wrote about how my husband’s molecules, supportive and understanding as they are, drive me crazy when they aren’t supposed to be here in my solitude.

Next week, he’ll be back at work and so will I. Alone. In silence. Now, though, my teacup is empty and I’m hoping the Scarlet Pimpernel isn’t waiting for me in the kitchen.

Room with a view

19 Oct

Sometimes, words fail. Sometimes, it feels like everything fails. And then, sometimes, it takes so little to start to turn it around.

My office window is behind me as I write, so I keep the blinds drawn to cut the glare. This morning it’s gray and drizzly. I cursed the darkness, thinking, I need to get more light in here, and imagining a trip to Ikea. Then I remembered the blinds; they are closed so often I don’t even think of them. I opened the blinds to a scene from the garden I’ve neglected for months.

Office Cleaning Update

5 Oct

Desk before decluttering

Just a few minutes every day this week and the desktop is pretty clean! Found bills that needed to be paid, put away a few things, recycled a few, and started going through the files on the right hand side. What do you think? Interested to know, too, how you file your used notebooks? Mine are full of ideas, but I can’t remember what’s in which. If you’re a writer, how to you handle your filled-up notebooks, idea files, etc.? And, check out the post on writers’ notebooks on A Clown on Fire.

Desk after decluttering

 

FYI: I’m only two followers away from 300, which I consider to be a nice, round and lucky number. Just click the “follow” button on the right.

Running, Writing and the 20-point Shot

1 Oct

Waiting to start

“Give me your hands,” she said, holding her own out, palms up.

Confused, I took them nonetheless. Was this some kind of congratulatory high-five? I wondered. No, this felt comforting, her warm hands making me realize how cold my own were.

Another woman grabbed at my waist, slowing me when all I wanted was to keep moving. “I know it’s hard,” she said, “but we need the bottom part.” Then, she ripped off the bottom of my racing bib and with that, they released me to walk off the momentum and adrenaline of finishing my first race.

I started running a little more than two years ago. I’ve logged probably 2000 miles since then. My first runs consisted of sixty seconds of shuffling like an eighty-year old woman interspersed with ninety-minute segments of walking. I recall the first sixty-second shuffle vividly. Ok, time to run, I thought, as the voice from my C25K app directed. I can do this. I look ridiculous. I hate running. “Walk,” the app directed after what seemed an eternity. I walked, then shuffled, then walked again for twenty minutes.

Yesterday, I ran for thirty minutes and 6/100ths of a second without stopping, except to slow down twice for a cup of water from a Cub Scout by the side of the road. I finished second in my age group.

I started blogging at about the same time I started running. Both were things I did because I thought I ought. Running would get me the bone-strengthening impact I’d been missing swimming laps. Blogging would give me a way of exercising my mind while kicking the cobwebs out of my tech savvy. And, both filled the massive amount of time I had on my hands while looking for a teaching job in a crashed economy.

Running and writing have become integral parts of my life, but for some reason, I’m able to be more disciplined in my running. I find it far easier to get my butt—and legs, of course—out the door three times a week than I do to park my butt—and my typing fingers, of course—in front of my computer everyday. OK, that’s not completely true. It’s very easy to park in front of the computer, what’s not so easy is doing it to write.

I’ve read many stories of successful people translating skills learned from one discipline to another, where they also inevitably become successful. I believe it’s possible for me; I believe my running regularity and success should make it easier to develop discipline, and achieve success, in a writing career. But so far, I haven’t done it.

The stakes are much higher for my writing. No one pays me to run and no one is depending on me to be paid when I run. People are depending on me being able to make money writing. My husband wants to retire, my kids will go to college. We need, desperately need, to be out of debt.

And yet, I hesitate.  The thought of cold calling prospects leaves me breathless with anxiety. Writing letters of introduction takes hours of torment and deliberation over every word. Networking events? Weeks of self-pep-talking to get me there.

I know the answer is going to be something like a C25K program for writers. I could even say I’ve stalled because I’m not good at inching toward a goal; this weekend proved that isn’t true.

When I watch basketball and my favorite team is behind by 20 points, I wish for the 20-point shot. But, there is no 20-point shot, not in basketball, running or writing. I’m going to have to start writing professionally the way I did running,  sixty seconds of shuffling at a time.

 

Yesterday was the second anniversary of starting my blog. I’ve gone from approximately 45 readers to nearly 300 since then and I thank you all for your loyal support.

 

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