Friday, December 24, 2010

Finally


I can share my good news now that it's official.

My sister and her husband adopted a 3 week old baby boy yesterday. This is a story that is nearly 9 years in the making.

It's like there was this puzzle piece, and you've been looking and looking, and it wasn't under the couch or near the sink, and then one day, out of the clear blue, there it is. And it's the perfect fit and it finishes the scene, and you just feel this overwhelming relief. You kind of want to cry out, but it's more like sighing, but not in the discouraging way-- in the things-are-the-way-they-should-be-now way.

O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in HIM.



And, completely unrelated, as my present to you, THIS:




MERRY CHRISTMAS!




Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Shout it from the Rooftops

This is the first time in a while I have wanted to write. It's shameful. I am shamed. I am a writer, or so I told someone at the mall the other day. I do not define myself by the hobby I enjoy; I do not define myself by the work I wish I were doing. So why, when the question came, "What do you do?" was my answer, with no hesitation or forethought, "I'm a writer." Honestly, I totally blurted it out before I had time to think-- she asked me so fast, and I didn't expect that question. Or that answer. It turned my face hot and my eyes downward.

What, in the world, did my subconscious mean by that Freudian slip?

The world is changing, dramatically. There is good news, such good news my heart nearly bursts at the thought of it. Like for real-- those aren't just words-- when I think about it, my heart gets bigger, then bigger-- each beat pumping it larger and larger, and I fear it (I) cannot take it much longer. Lord, please let what should pass, pass.

At any rate. I want to tell the world about you. The world has a right to know.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

**

I need comfort. Tell me a story. Tell me you didn't have a best friend until you were an adult, and you turned out okay. And it wasn't that bad...

It's so hard. I know it's my fault. My sons have been to four different schools, so it's not shocking they're struggling making friends.

It just hurts. I'm tired of seeing them hurt, and I'm tired of watching them try to be brave.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Dreams

I love dreams. Having them, writing them into my pieces, reading about them, seeing them in movies, etc. Love a good dream sequence. And I've had a few odd ones recently.

Last night, I was standing in an old two story house ankle deep in water. Except it would sway, so that the water would fill one side of the house, then sway back and fill the other. It would only go up to the knee when it was at its fullest, and it wasn't on water, just full of water, so who knows why it would randomly tilt like the deck of a ship?

But the point wasn't the water, it was the fish. They were everywhere, and each time the house would sway, there was a loud flapping sound of all of the fish that hadn't been swept up in the water, beating the floor and taking in air. And I would race and try to save the bigger ones, the prettier ones, scooping them up and putting them in the water filled side until the next time the house moved.

Go for it, Freud.

Two days ago, I dreamed that I was surrounded by baby carriages and cradles, full of babies making noises, and I was holding one in each arm in blankets, only they were NOT babies, and I knew this-- they were words. Various lengths and types, but all words. And it was like I had this overhead shot all of a sudden that pulled back like in a movie, and I could see that I was surrounded by these words, my "babies," for miles. And it was this warm, safe feeling.

I always have the best, most vivid dreams after I put the boys on the school bus and go back to bed. I don't do that every day, just when I've been up after 1 (they have to get up by 5:40 and be on the bus by 6:50), but I must say, those dreams are the most interesting. I know people will say it's because I dreamed in the morning, and I just remember them better than the ones at night, but I've woken up from dreams in the night with full memory, and while I've had some good ones, they're never as cool as those back-to-bed-morning dreams.

Remember any good ones? I love to hear people's dreams. Not really as in "hopes and," though those can be nice too, but the ones you have when your brain is on auto pilot, and your subconscious is running the show.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Birthday Blues

Another birthday came and went. Fairly uneventful with the exception of my parents coming in for a quick visit. They weren't technically here for my b-day (it was Granparents Day at my sons' school), but it coincided nicely. :)

I sometimes wonder if folks would be as good at remembering birthdays without Facebook. I can remember my few friends who aren't on facebook usually, but old pals from high school? Hardly.

Anyway. I had a nice shopping spree-- some cute tops, shoes, and a sweater, as well as a nice brunch out yesterday. Now back to real life and grading. But Thanksgiving isn't far behind!

I sometimes find that when I'm given what is almost a blank check, I panic and have no idea what I want. Not always-- sometimes there's a new book out I want-- but I never spend my actual money as well as my imaginary. I'm always thinking, "If I could afford, I'd get fill-in-the-blank." Then when the money is there, it's a game of second guessing. Not that I'm complaining. I still prefer actually having the money to spend versus dreaming about it. I wonder if others feel this way...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

#1, baby

A friend of mine with a radio show (which you can check out here) posted this article. Ask me if I'm surprised that #4 is teaching and #1 is being a working parent. Nope. This particular week, I believe that very easily, considering I've spent an hour in the hospital waiting for my youngest to have a CAT scan, which caused me to miss getting my grades finished and to call off classes for tomorrow.

He's fine, by the way. Well, he's in pain, but it should be fixable. But stressful? My life? Please. Lately, it's my bread and butter. I will never get my grading caught up... if I could just get full time somewhere so I can cut back on the amount I work. (no you didn't read that incorrectly)

And anyone reading this already knows me, so I guess I'm just ranting because tonight it feels good.

In closing, I will say this: At least with both teaching and being a mom, the rewards outweigh the stress.


Friday, October 8, 2010

On Wings and Things

Why do we all talk about having wings? The broken wing has been so used, it's a ridiculous cliche. Bound to earth is what we are. But lately, I feel so much nearer the ground, heavier my footsteps, solid and plodding. If I had wings, I wouldn't consider them broken; they'd be wet, porous and soaked clean through, heavy and weighing on my shoulder blades and neck, pressing me to the cement and the blacktop I walk on to class each day.

I am nearer the earth on days like this. And it's not sad, it's just an awareness of the force of my steps and their effect on the earth. My clarity clears and clouds with the sky.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Getting in Gear

Fall will officially arrive today. However, the temperatures are not cooperating! High 80s, close to 90s for the week, until Saturday when things cool down. Thank goodness for air conditioning.

With Fall comes one of my favorite things-- something I think about pretty much all year from time to time: Nanowrimo! I even kept their link in my main toolbar, staring at me just under the igoogle banner. I plan to partake, busy or not. Last year, I was able to pound out five chapters or some 20,000 words. Not the 50 grand they aim for, but I was writing, so good. Of course, I had to toss those chapters once I talked with my writing group and realized my protagonist just isn't the 14-year-old I was hoping she'd be. She's 19, darn her, and this changes everything. I fought it a bit until I realized they were, as usual, right. (darn them) So, I've sketched out some scenes, started replanning. The setting is the same, the main characters are the same (one's just older) the supporting cast will change a bit too now. Can't have her falling for a 14-year-old boy, now can we? Can we...? No, we can't. haha.

Here's to caffeine and rewrites. If you're doing Nanowrimo, look me up and add-- motherofboys247. I'll see you there in November!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Childhood Sleep

The night has turned from deep navy to black. There's a kind of pattern to the crickets outside my window, but there is no break in their sound-- they don't pause for air. They tirelessly bring childhood sleep in the white country house with the wrap around porch and creaking floor boards that was my home until I turned 17.

I miss that feeling of isolation, knowing our house was removed from other houses, tucked away and safe, corn stalks standing sentinel on either side for miles.

Tonight the sound of cars underlies the crickets, reminding me I am not in my childhood home, though I may still enjoy that crickety childhood sleep.

'Night.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

TV?

Can TV improve your writing?

Absolutely, if it's The West Wing, Gilmore Girls, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or (apparently) Breaking Bad and The Wire. I haven't watched the last two, but I understand from some of my writer friends that the writing in them is amazing.

TV-- especially, oddly, the music over action scenes-- inspires me. I've been watching The West Wing, and I couldn't get enough of it seasons 1-5; however, six kind of lost me. Took me almost the same amount of time to watch that one season as it did to watch the first five. And I'm seriously considering quitting with season seven. I still HIGHLY recommend those first five seasons, and I even feel they wrap up pretty neatly, so that six and seven aren't really necessary to your enjoyment of the show-- I mean, it won't leave you hanging.

Just to clarify, I'm a social conservative and an economic libertarian, so pretty much diametrically opposed to the stance of The West Wing writers, BUT. It's easy to get past that and just enjoy the cadence and chemistry of the show. Those first five seasons are pitch perfect.

So it's winding down, and I'm probably moving on to Breaking Bad next, but I'm always up for shows recommended by writers. They tend to be the best ones.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

You're My Default

And I find it a little sad, a little disappointing that after all of the years and the thousands of people I've met, I still dream about you.

We are young again, you are back and begging, and even behind my closed, dreaming eyes, I think, "Where did you come from?" And I find that dream projection of myself wondering if I can trust you this time. Telling, that even in a world I've created through quiet night hours and subconscious thoughts of my own, I can't trust you. And more telling still is the fact that I so desperately want to.

Twenty years can pass, and in those dreams it is a matter of days. And I'm trying to hide from you, from that conversation, from those memories, even as you pursue me with pictures drawn and letters written, cards created, a schoolboy once more-- I try to reconcile that with who I am now.

And I always awake confused. Because in waking life, I am happy. I am content with my world, the people that surround me, and so it surprises me to wake with a feeling of loss, my chest aching just as though I'd been crying in my sleep.

Monday, July 26, 2010

I wanted to write about the way death comes even on sun dappled days, birds singing, light breezes blowing. More sudden, more painful juxtaposed against a summer blue sky.

I am sitting in the open office at the college at which I work. I was planning my lesson plans, feeling quite smug that I was ahead and would have time to get caught up with other things this afternoon. The day is gorgeous. My view is a lined by blinds view of a sunny, breezy, happy day. And as I looked at students moving back and forth across the street, the phone rang. Immediately the feeling in the office rose with the pitch in her voice. She sobbed. "He's dead?" she cried, just one wall separating us. A bird chirped, hopping on the sidewalk in my view. She began to really cry. "I'm coming. Did you call 911?"

And I can't imagine how someone can fade away when the greens and blues are so vivid outside my window. That you can be doing something as mundane as secretary work and lose someone you love.

I empath. I want to cry with her, for her, this girl I don't know of trembling voice on the other side. I will have to force my smiles this afternoon.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Too Late to Apologize: A Declaration

In the words of one of my friends: "Preach it, T.J."

Monday, June 28, 2010

good news and bad news

One of my friends got a request for a partial AND with someone at Curtis Brown no less! I am so pumped for her right now. Smiling since I read it.

In other news, I am SO SICK OF TEACHING. Teaching in the summer = money good; summer not so good... I hate feeling like there's somewhere I have to be every day. Wow, do I sound spoiled or what? I know most of the world works year round, but the grading. Good gravy, the grading! And the questions and the confusion and it's the same thing every time and... I love teaching, but it makes sense we get the summer off. It's for sanity's sake.

You know it's bad when you're thinking, "what if I got hurt... not horrible bad, but a couple of nights in the hospital bad... just for the break. Food on trays... quiet but for the beeping... everyone telling you you need to sleep..." Yeah. Not good. I just need to buck up and stay on top of things so I don't get depressed and overwhelmed.

Which means going to bed at a decent hour, like now. So tired. I don't know why I fight sleep.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

good fences

If good fences make good neighbors, knowing when to take down that fence makes a better one, I think.

My neighbor across the street is an elderly woman recovering from cancer and battling MS. She moves very slowly and meticulously through her yard, planting her flowers, sitting on her porch. We wave across the street and have had a few longer conversations. She's watched our boys when they were younger, and my husband mows her yard.

Today, she took a very long time to make it to the door, and she was shaking. Each step was carefully placed and held before she took the next. She is very sick, and she's not sure what it is. I sat with her, brought her some of her things, cut up an apple for her and fed and let her dog out.

She and I are not especially close, but I find myself looking across the street to her quiet, blue house tonight. I have her key and will be checking on her in the morning and again after my class tomorrow afternoon. The truth is, I think she will rally from this, but I worry that if she gets too low, her children will try to put her in a home. You might say that's the best thing... but for whom? She likes puttering in her garden, she likes living on her own-- she once told me she never gets lonely, she enjoys solitude.

And I think I worry because I see myself in 40 years, wishing to be self reliant, longing to hold onto myself and my property, hoping to die as I lived.

If you think of it, pray for my friend Nancy.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Because it's easier

There is a defeatist part of me that wants to just give up on the full time work search. Not that I will. And it's not like I'm all "MUST HAVE CAREER IN ORDER TO BE COMPLETE," I just need the money to help support my family.

Anyway. I have this weird feeling of being physically tied to earth. Like a bird that remembers flying really well; there's this clear picture in my head of what it is like, but whenever I flap my wings and send out those resumes, I remain hopelessly grounded. And I wonder how much ego is too much or not enough? Do I cut bait and remain an adjunct forever or spend the money and precious time I have left with my children pursuing a PhD so I can land full time work? Because the jobs that used to hire you with a master's are getting PhDs applying because this job market sucks that badly. Education may be doing okay, but higher education is taking a hit. Not sure what I need to do; I've got experience in the field and the classroom, a master's GPA of 3.9, excellent (see above the department's average) student evaluation rating, and I can't get an interview? Yeah, maybe I should just accept adjunct status. Forever.

And I'm not actually down. I'm just trying to decide where to draw the line-- egotism, realism, hopefulness, naivete, and having zero faith in myself. Because I promise you, I vacillate between them all day long on this job thing.

And it would be easier to just... quit flapping my wings, accept that I'm a chicken not an eagle, and peck contentedly at the ground. I mean, at least I have work; I know there are plenty who have none.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Just an update

So we got season passes to Kings Island (an amusement park) this year. We've already gone twice and are going tomorrow, at which point, the passes just paid for themselves. I love roller coasters and water rides and all of the above, but I'm a little worried the boys (or I?) will get sick of it. Mike is too hard to read. He keeps saying it's great exercise-- which is true. You walk for like 7 hours and don't even notice it until you're walking to the car and your entire body is one big ache.

And we might hit the water park side tomorrow too, get some sun and swimming in, since the boys leave for a weeklong "Grandma and Grandpa Camp" with my parents on Thursday. There are 8 grandkids going in total ranging in age from 13 to 7, I think. It was tougher when they were younger, I'm sure, but it's still not cake walk. They're a little crazy... in a good way.

Which means Mike and I will be alone for a week. We've already decided to travel to my in-laws' cabin for a few days to chill and enjoy the mountain air, and I'm sure we'll just hang out at home-- though can I say that by day 3 I'm just missing my kids? I can't help it. What will I do when they leave for college?

I can't think about it now. Now I've got to consider the 35 papers left to grade before Friday; the clothes that need to be washed, folded, and packed before Wednesday; the house that needs to be especially clean for my book club girls by Sunday... *overwhelmed* If I weren't so tired, I'd get on it now, 11 p.m. or not. As it is, sleep is the only option. After all, we've a full day of Kings Island in a matter of hours.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Bipolar or just in need of work?

I hear lawnmowers in stereo, the result of my two boys mowing the front and back lawn simultaneously, made possible by the two mowers we have since my husband mows older women's lawns in the summer.

Mike is down at his dad's mowing and weeding and mulching, oh my! And I sit. Here. Needing to grade and just not feeling it. Of course that's not really a condition of whether we do what needs doing, right? Hard work is "hard" for a reason. But there are times I'm actually in the zone, and the grading comes quicker and easier. Right now it's taking forever to get through a paper; I'm really forcing it.

So a break to blog about the break... downright transcendental.

I wonder what really affects moods. I mean, aside from the obvious: weather, relationships, difficulties in life-- what makes me wake up in a certain mood one day and another the very next? It all seems so arbitrary that I should feel hopeful one day and abysmal the next, when nothing in my life has changed significantly.

I don't know. But I do know this: I am not cut out to be unemployed (not that I am right now; I'll be teaching all summer, but I do have a week off before the next quarter starts). As much as I like the "idea" of being rich and not needing to work, the truth is that without something at least one or two days a week to get dressed for, something where people are counting on me and I'm getting paid to do it, I fall into a bit of a wandering depression. Not that there aren't amazing days that I'm thankful to be off-- to read or sleep or fold laundry and watch movies, but I find that it's tough to consistently have nowhere that I "have" to be.

Now, I'll never love full time work (though I'd give anything for a full time job right now), but I need to work part time, to get out and share knowledge, listen, and be listened to. Maybe if I were rich, I'd just join a lot of clubs-- book clubs, writing clubs, cooking classes... stuff like that. Still, there's something to be said for needing a paycheck and working hard to get it.

It's cleansing.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Logistics of Being Forgotten

My son went through some heavy bullying his sixth grade year (basically, he was hit every day and no one seemed to be able to stop it), so we transferred him to a Christian school. One that shares our beliefs and is the reason I piece together work at three different colleges as an adjunct trying to make ends meet. (Read: IT'S EXPENSIVE, YO).

But he's been fitting in there, making friends, adjusting. His grades are good, and the girls seem to like him too. (Heh, those girls. That's another post.) So he's looking forward to his yearbook, maybe for the very first time, and when it came yesterday, and the kids are excitedly turning to their class page, pointing fingers under gap-toothed smiles and bad hair days frozen forever, my son can't find his picture. Or his name. In fact, except for a random, tiny candid a page back (no name in sight) it's as if he never attended.

It made me angry. How difficult is it to double check a roster? How hard is it to notice you're missing an entire person?

But Jay is quiet, kind, and smart. He sighed and smiled, as if this was inevitable, expected. And that just made it worse, somehow. No one should expect to be forgotten. I guess I can take some comfort in the fact that his yearbook has no more room for signatures-- both inside covers are full. His new friends will not forget him, pic or no.

And I want to bring this full circle, share something I've learned... apply it all to the bigger picture, but being forgotten, or worse yet, having your child forgotten, just makes you annoyed.

So I guess I'll focus on the fact that he's here, with many years ahead of him (and I'll be on the yearbook staff next year-- no seriously), a healthy, happy kid, ours for five more years.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Dixie Cup Mentality

I am going to clean out my fridge today. Pull out every last disgusting bit, spray the whole thing down, and start over-- putting back what's still good. I don't anticipate there being a lot of things to toss, as I do this once a month, but there will be a few. And every time I throw away food that was once perfectly good and has gone to waste, it's never without a tinge of good old fashioned 1920s guilt.

See, my mom's parents divorced when she was 8, leaving her to be raised primarily by her Grandma and Grandpa. Her mom was there, but in less of a traditional mom capacity; her heart and mind were broken, and she spent the rest of her life trying (never fully succeeding?) to repair the damage to both.

But anyway, her grandma. My great grandma. Now she lived to 95 (still living at home, mind you, mind sharp as a tack), so I knew her well too. She met my son, her great great grandson, and I treasure the picture of her holding him and laughing. But anyway, she was old. She lived during the Great Depression, so she knows a thing or two about poverty and making use of everything you have, and she passed this mentality on to my mother. My mom always found a way to make use of everything. It seemed to pain her to have to toss anything past its prime, and needless to say, my father (of a similar mindset) made sure we cleaned our plates.

So, it's guilt that has me reconsidering this "Dixie Cup" mentality, as my mom puts it. Use and toss... And they say we're in a depression nearing that great one-- so why aren't there bread lines and more homeless? Shoes made out of cardboard and rubber bands? I think it's either that we're not actually as bad off as all that or technology that's kept us from getting to that point. We are too distracted to really take in how awful things have gotten-- the internet, TV, movies, cell phones-- (and if we can afford these luxuries, again, we're not to the same point or we'd be in cardboard shoes talking into tin cans-- just sayin').

Either way, I plan to revel in the guilt, to purchase more frugally, to continue cooking like I have been-- eating out much less than we have before. And yes, applying for more full time work.

Have you noticed a difference in your area? Do you tend to throw a lot out?

Nonconfrontations

I am non-confrontational by nature. And apparently, God wants me to grow because lately I've been given several situations in which my only choices are to sit idly by while something bad happens or step in and confront someone.

This quarter has been unique, to say the least. A fight broke out in my classroom, and I teach college, not high school. And this other student-- in the same class-- challenged my authority at every turn, calling me "Sweet Pea" for Pete's sake. And my response is to want to hide my head in the sand and ignore it; wait for this quarter to end, so I can start over with new students and pretend it never happened.

Except that feels horrible. When someone does something that you feel is wrong, something that offends you and you say nothing... it feels like a lie. Like if you keep on saying nothing, they will assume you don't care, and the truth is you do.

Well, I'll tell you the truth. There's no happy ending to this one. I emailed the students involved (coward that I am) and am happily awaiting the LAST class of the quarter tomorrow. I will literally dance my way off campus at last bell. BUT. It will be short lived. Because as my mom put it, it's a violation -- a verbal one, true, but a violation nonetheless, and what did I do? The very least I possibly could. The kids learned nothing about respecting the position of authority-- about boundaries, about common freaking decency.

So I failed. Except, I'm writing this out, I'm analyzing my actions, I'm learning from this sick feeling in my gut.

And I won't fail (in this) again.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

updating blahs

I just don't have a lot to say lately. Or rather, there is a lot going on, but it's the sort of thing I probably shouldn't blog about. I'm learning boundaries, hurrah!

It is 48 degrees, and I've got coffee brewing. I need to grade around 55 papers this weekend because I enjoyed my mother's visit entirely too much. It's not going to be easy because I have zero motivation to grade, which means it's twice as hard somehow.

But I'll do it. I always do. Eventually.

So, I've got shingles. You know that thing that old people get? Yeah. Fun, fun times. So far, it only itches.... I await the pain period. Apparently, it's one of those "lie dormant in your system and attack when your immune system is down and your stress is up" kind of things. Life is not fun lately, I have to admit. But I let stupid things really get to me and worry me-- where is the good in that?

Today I will grade at least 20 papers. I will finish one class and begin on another. I will scratch and itch and call my name George. And maybe, just maybe, if I'm good and get a lot done early, I'll take my 13-year-old to see Iron Man 2.

Anyone have any happy plans for the weekend?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Do you believe in magic?

I miss inspiration. Most nights when I was teaching I would watch a show, hear a song, and a scene would present itself, all fleshed out and ready for me to write. Now, the scenes need to be guided, molded to the expectations of my novel and it's killing my inspiration. KILLING. I feel more like I'm forcing the writing to fit into the scenes I need. They just don't feel magic like they used to.

And dang it all, when will someone write something as good as Buffy. Seriously, nothing, nothing comes close. Nothing is as witty, funny, scary, goofy, serious, sad, sentimental, spooky, dialoguelicious as Buffy. NOTHING. Joss, go back to your roots and make some more magic, darn it.

So. Tonight, I play the season 4 finale like a broken record and wait for the magic.

What inspires you? Are there "go-to" songs/artists or TV shows that set you to typing?

(I should add that there are certain songs that make me want to write and there's always Stephen King. A little King and I begin to sketch out the scenes in my mind, itching for pen and paper.)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The character's the thing

I watched the pilot for Miami Medical last night. It was a mess. Lots of new characters tossed in, tons of medical emergencies, one right after the other, the people intertwined, and good gravy the sentimentalism. I confess I teared up once or twice, but never for the "regulars," only for the "will only appear in this episode" characters that were dying, then magically not dying. A good show might have two of those moments; a good medical show should probably have at least one per episode, but this mess had literally 6 different "Oh no, the world is ending, oh wait that kitten just smiled and the sadness and joy of it all" moments.

And I thought, why don't I want to watch this again? Grey's Anatomy has lots of flaws, but I think I know why it's so successful. It's all about the characters. The medical stuff is secondary to their development: the situations showcase the characters as they change, grow, have setbacks. The medical cases are a backdrop, not the show. This is why Three Rivers was canceled and Miami Medical will soon.

The best plot in the world falls flat if we don't care about the characters moving through it. Thoughts?

Lists and drafty days

Spring makes me restless.

When you're a teacher, your years start in August and wrap up in May. It's the end of my year, and I longs for lists. I am a lister, a listmaker, but not a list checker. I don't get that rush from marking things off; my high comes from writing them down, planning things out, considering the possibility of this day, this year, this shopping list.

In other news, the wind is so strong here that with the windows up, my bedroom door keeps opening (crreeeaaak) and slamming closed.

I'm in Ohio and cannot believe I'm typing this, but dang it, I don't want to skip spring and go straight to summer-- we don't have central air, and I need a couple of months when I'm not sweating off my foundation before I've even finished applying it! And hairdryers? Fuggedaboudit.

Today is a good start, all windy and breezy and barely in the 70s. And is that a rain cloud? Oh, we're cookin' now.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Seacrest, anyone? And currently reading...

I have to get this out of the way-- I find Ryan Seacrest very attractive. There, I said it. I always have. I find it interesting that other people don't; is it the height? The cocky attitude? Or is he just not universally cute?

Okay, now that I've got that out of the way...

I'm reading two books right now. Everything is Illuminated for my book club and Dead Connection for fun.

Everything is Illuminated is breathtaking in spots. Bits of prose and ideas that make me read them again before I can turn the page; at other times, it's funny. Good stuff, glad I had to read it for book club because I'm not sure I would have otherwise... wait, I'm sure I wouldn't have because I actually picked it up after reading several reviews, then put it down because it requires a little discipline to get past the accent of the first chapter. It goes back and forth between this heavily accented bit and the beautiful (normal?) prose. Two narrators. I don't know, it just works. I'll write more when I actually finish it.

Dead Connection is one of those books with a great premise that just doesn't deliver. It's not terrible by any means, but it's like it got lazy. It didn't finish in the same way it started. But eh. It's YA, not mainstream literary.

I'm a reading girl these days. Sleeping in, watching TV, grading papers, reading. This week has been such a welcome respite from the previous weeks.

Motivation for much beyond this eludes me. For now. I'm sure I'll soon be ready to take the world by storm. Or quiet, steady rain.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Location, location, location

I woke up to snow on Friday. I had to chip the ice off the windshield and give the frozen door an extra yank to get it open. In two days the predicted high is 75 degrees.

And you know what? I love Ohio. I want to find a way to incorporate Ohio into my novel, without it feeling forced. One thing I've learned is that using landmarks in your writing can be touchy; it can come off as cheesy or sentimental.

Any of you tried being specific with setting? Keeping a story in a certain location?

And... if I decide to set my novel in Paris can I write off the trip?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Change Will Do You Good

What if small changes really do yield big results? I watched Ruby tonight, and she realized that she was going to have to change some things in her life in order to attain her goals.

Why do we expect different results when doing the same thing? Changing our routine or atmosphere in little ways may be enough to rejuvenate our writing, gain a new perspective, or reach a goal.

I've decided that after this current batch is gone, I'm going to try to give up diet pop. It might kill me. No, seriously, haha, I love my pop, but this study has me thinking I love it too much.

I also think I need to change my schedule, get up earlier, go to bed earlier. I'll start with these two and see where it goes. Bedtime of 11:30 p.m., which is early for me. Wake up by 9 a.m. (this means, putting the kids on the bus and only going back to bed for an hour, not two or three like I have been).

And we'll see.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Craig Russell

My youth pastor, age 48, passed away in his sleep last night. The truth is I haven't seen Pastor Craig in a good 15-20 years, but we'd recently reconnected through Facebook. His updates were always so uplifting. He was a humble man who cracked goofy jokes and was kindness personified.

When I heard... I felt such sorrow. I believe I will see him again, we all will, but I couldn't stop seeing his wife's face. She was very quiet, gracious, always laughing-- that's how I remember her. He had children, all younger than I; I began to cry and even in the privacy of my own home, I felt bad for crying. Who I was to cry, not of the family, not a close friend by any means...

There are lots of good men in the world; there are godly men too; but Pastor Craig had this humility about him, this sweet vulnerability. And I saw Christ in him.

1 Corinthians 15:54-56

54-So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

55-O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

Thank you for your service, Craig. Rest in the Lord tonight.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Hope springs sporadically

Hope is surprising.

I make up my mind to let things go, even let people go, and I start to feel proud, satisfied, and content; then BAM! Hope appears just over my shoulder, lurking.

A friend of mine and I are going to turn May into our own personal Nanowrimo, try to pound out some more of this novel. And I'm thinking about applying to an MFA program.

Stupid hope.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Half sick of shadows

The days are growing longer right along with our shadows.

I have so many papers to grade and zero motivation. I'm going to try some little mini games/goals to keep myself going, and I'm open to the idea of an all-nighter. I just want to be done by Sunday.

The fact that I never really left education is responsible for the antsy feeling I get every spring. I begin to count the days to summer right along with the kids. Only this year, I have to work the summer to make enough for the boys' schooling next year. Or to help, anyway.

I wish I had something witty to say or something interesting to add, but mostly I'm feeling nervous and a little down. Sometimes it seems I'll never get that break I need to get into full time work. Every spring, they hire, and I try, but. Well, it just doesn't seem to be in God's plan for me.

Maybe this year?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Are you the next Stephenie Meyer?

You know what? It's not a dark Friday. It's a clear and friendly day. I'm going to exercise and eat a salad, clean the bathroom and grade five papers.

If you want some good bloggin' check out Megan Rebekah's thoughts on "The Next Big Thing."

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Promises carry more weight when it rains

I promised my boys I would make them a big breakfast before school tomorrow-- eggs, pancakes, the works. Which means, I've got to go to sleep soon, as my oldest gets up at 6 for a 6:50 a.m. bus.

It rained today, was warmer, but somehow with the rain, there was a chill to the edge making me sip my coffee slower, take a hotter bath, wish I had a better book to curl up with.

I started Alli last week. It's really clarified my eating issues; mostly, that I snack at night whether I'm hungry or not, and it's not just a boredom thing, it's a compulsion. I feel "off," even a bit panicky without something to munch on during American Idol and Project Runway. Don't bother leaving tips, I've heard them all before. Fact is, I've got to make the decision not to eat after a certain time and stick to it. Plain ol' self discipline. I realize that I don't have a lot of that because, quite frankly, as an adult, I don't have to many times. My self discipline muscle is weak and out of shape.

Tomorrow is a day of possibility with some cleaning, some grading, and those oh-so-early breakfast promises.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Depth is in the eye of the beholder

"We're all a little shallow," he said.

"I suppose," she answered. What she didn't add but thought was that everyone was also pretty dang deep. She had learned that all groups fancied themselves smarter, elite in some way, and everyone, every single person alive, believed themselves to be deep. Because in the dark of night, even cheerleaders pondered the universe, death, and what it meant to be honestly and truly alone.

Maybe cheerleaders more than most.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Gullible or kind?

Tonight I let a student off the hook. She came to me, quiet, waiting to speak. She pressed her hand to her lips to stay the trembling, and when she opened her mouth her tears fell in line with her words. "Please," she said. "I'm overwhelmed."

She had extenuating circumstances, a sick relative, but more than that she had an honesty about her. Could she be taking me for a ride? Always a possibility. But I don't think so. And if she is, the worst she can say is that I was too kind, gave her a chance, believed her lie.

But she didn't cry like a liar.

Mostly it was her words--"I'm so tired. I'm overwhelmed" that got her the extension because in those sentences she crystallized my current feelings.

And I touched her hand (because I want someone to touch my hand) and I said, "We can work this out."

And if I ever grow to be so cynical that I stop believing in their tears, I hope I just retire.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The truth is always clearest at night

The truth is, I'm too busy. I like being busy, but this is getting a little out of control. My papers aren't getting graded, my house is messy, and my obligations to friends are just... not happening. But I'm being a good mom, and for some reason, that's been a full time job lately.

And it's actually not in spite of but more because of this fact that I scheduled a haircut for myself on Thursday. Do I have time for this? Not really. I would say that my weekend might be nice, since I have to have the grading done by then, but I have a conference for school on Saturday, church on Sunday, and back to the same old, same old on Monday. I'm a rubber band pulled to the breaking point, hopefully popping back into my circular shape soon. (And it's circular, folks.)

Tonight, I feel sleep pulling me, a gentle tug of the shoulder and the eyelids, and I can't wait to give in, roll over, and let myself go.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A lost cause

Ever feel like a lost cause? Like the sort of thing people can get behind, but the food they're sending for the kids in Africa is rotting on the beaches? Sometimes I forget that it's okay to put one foot in front of the other, to chip away at life for a while. Not everyday is Broadway lights and singing in the rain.

But I'd like a lot more of them to be. Which means I have to take control of my life, quit plodding and start dancing, choose my steps and my words more carefully.

I have this friend, and she knows what her dreams are, and I really kind of pity her. Because truth be told, I want to finish this novel, I want to teach, but even now at age 37, my dreams are as unarticulated as my words. And that's okay-- because there is nothing more powerful in this world, nothing as hope inducing as possibility.

I choose to live in possibility, shielding my eyes against your brightness, happy in the shadow for now.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Denial Blankets All

If wanting to spend just one day under the covers doing absolutely nothing is wrong, I don't wanna be right.

But seriously, it's always February. This is the month that, as much I love the snow, the lack of sunshine and the hectic schedule make me want to hop a plane to somewhere tropic... or just stay in bed for a day, forgetting all obligations. Which I can't. I have 29 papers to grade before Monday evening, which is actually doable, I think. Of course I collect 25 more papers on Monday and another 12 papers on Wednesday this week. And I'm pretty sure both online courses have papers due this week too... Ugh. Bed, covers, and blankety layers of denial, please.

The thing is, I'm not sad... but I would like to sleep and eat junk food and sort of ignore the world a bit. Is this depression or just the winter blues or something even more benign like wanting a day of pure rest? Is that really so wrong?

How do you cope with the winter blues?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Confession is good for the nerdy soul

You leave for a bit and people join up! I should vacate more often. ;) Haha, welcome to those of you just joining us. This blog is a mish-mash of various what-nots and flibberty-bits. They are the creation of someone with a limited attention span who runs after the shineys.

So. The thing is, I'm a nerd. We writers, well, most of us are nerds. We like sci-fi, enjoy books over movies, and often spend our time with ink spattered on our hands. But I'm a special kind of nerd... this past weekend, I went to Ohayocon, a convention for those (obsessed with) interested in manga and anime, which is Japanese comic books and cartoons.

Yes, I know. *runs after readers* But it's not that bad! I didn't dress up... like these folks:


The Mad Hatter. My friend said his costume is patterened after the new hatter for the movie set to come out with Johnny Depp as the hatter. I loved the comittment of carrying the teacup and saucer around with him all day.

Power Rangers! These guys were a trip and a half. I was taking their pic as they came down the escalator you see behind them, and when they spotted me with the camera, they came running straight at me, one by one, sliding into the position you see here. It was amazing.


These are characters from a video game that I love-- the one in green is my good friend, the one I spent the weekend with. We spent about 3 hours getting her hair dyed the appropriate green and pinning her into her costume. Commitment, folks.

And this is my favorite of the weekend-- he was in character every time we ran into him, smacking his lips and talking in a perfect joker voice. We were in the elevator with him and some other folks at one point, and one of the guys pointed to his friend and said, "He wants to know how you got those scars..." hahaha, wonderful.


The thing about Ohaycon-- this unique shared interest turns 10,000 strangers into hugging (glomping-- anime word for big ol' surprise hug) comrades. There is a level of acceptance here for folks that many most likely don't feel in real life. It's a trip.

Next year? Next year... I might actually join them in dressing up and playing a part for the day. I'm considering this costume because she's a mother of two boys (as am I) and it seems like it'd be fairly easy to make:


And finally, no anime con post is complete without the obligatory peace sign and kitty ears:
Oh hush, you know you wish you were this (crazy) uninhibited.

Monday, January 25, 2010

She dreams in color, she dreams in red

My muse is in full swing tonight. I'm full of ideas for writing, creating, doing. I've decided to take a cooking class this spring and maybe a Japanese class or two this summer. I will bake a chocolate souffle and Coq Au Vin before 2010 ends. And I will write at least 4,000 words every week.

And I'm going to start keeping a video diary. Something to record my world in real time. I had a good idea for a random bit of writing, nothing for a story really, just a random passing thought of prettiness, but the idea of sitting down and pounding it out and making it work when it would only ever be that paragraph, was just too much. Part of it is that I'm tired-- I've been getting 4-6 hours a night compared to my preferred 8-10, and while my mind is bursting with ideas, ideas are easy; writing is work. Rewarding work, good-for-something work, but tonight, my lazy thoughts would rather drift to the page in demonstrative sentences.

I'm all out of poetry, folks. For the moment anyway.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A disorganized mind makes for a disorganized life

I'm falling behind on everything- friends, obligations, work, writing. It's all beginning to unravel. Still, I have this ridiculous optimism that if I just buckle down and work hard enough, keep a list and check things off, I'll be fine soon enough.

Beginning with grading. I've spent the last two days cleaning and shopping and preparing for a couple of upcoming visits, beginning with my friend this coming weekend and culminating in my sisters and mom coming to spend the night and see Wicked in February.

But right now, the grading is behind. I really need to finish this stuff by Wednesday... NEED to.

I wish I could do work but on my own time table... then again, look how that's worked out for me on the book. Maybe instead everything of any importance should have someone keeping up with me, checking in on me, telling me that I won't get paid if I don't finish this chapter or that scene. Not a secretary, because I'd just be having her move all of my appointments, haha -- but a real life novel writing boss, who believes in me and keeps me motivated.

But that's not the way this works.

I have decided one thing today: Get a planner and USE IT.

I'm with CoCo


Watched Conan O'Brien's last show. Still watching actually, as Will Ferrell sings him out.

I am so impressed with the candor, honesty, but above all, integrity O'Brien went out with. I'll be looking for his speech online and posting it once I find it. Classy.

He was always my very favorite talk-show host of the late night or any other variety, could make me laugh until I cry sometimes; I'm just a sucker for that off-the-cuff quirky humor. And if I'm completely honest, I had quite the crush on him. A good sense of humor is sexy. ;)

We'll miss you, Mr. O'Brien. Here's hoping we won't have to for long and you ink that rumored deal with FOX.

Monday, January 18, 2010

I Look for Ghosts

Note: I looked for more information on the history of this poem, titled, Margaret's Affliction" and upon its writing, his sister was alive. It was written for a woman searching for her son. Hence the anger, desperation that bleeds through the courtly lines. Still. Imagine revisiting these words after the death of his beloved sister... that frustration would be more personal.

I think Wordsworth was probably thinking of his sister when he wrote

I look for ghosts; but none will force
Their way to me; 'tis falsely said
That ever there was intercourse
Between the living and the dead.


And I think he was angry. I think he felt lied to; maybe he'd heard others say they'd seen the ghost of a loved one. Maybe he'd read of hauntings or sightings, the kind of thing that serves to titillate or inspire fear until you lose someone. He had crossed a line, and it changed everything.

Sometimes, I look for ghosts. I don't actually expect to see any, but there has been a moment or two that I've looked for my Grandpa Beasley, a mechanic with the soul of a writer. Or the boy who was hit by a car when I was 6 -- I still wonder about him. I am a Christian and I believe our souls go somewhere when we die, so that's another reason I don't think I'll ever see these ghosts: my grandfather's hands, laid large on the table to reiterate a point or a boy on a bicycle, transparent and eternally six.

But still. Sometimes. Late at night or very early in the gray morning, I look for ghosts.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Of pity parties, being honest, and neurotic thoughts

First, here's the state of me today: I've been watching movies all day and feeling sorry for myself. What I really want is some good chocolate. And honestly, I'm so sore from starting this new workout that I literally can't raise my hands higher than my head.

Also. You know how they say that anyone that begins with "Honestly" or "To be completely honest" is most likely about to lie to you? Well. I say that and I'm not lying. I use it for emphasis, when I'm worried someone won't understand how important what I'm saying is.

Watching Adaptation, and his neurotic thoughts are so... familiar? Haha. Writers are freaks. But it's all good.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

I'm missing the montage

You know those moments in the movie when the heroine has this huge epiphany that something has to change or happen, so she's exercising, writing, reading, cleaning, or just overall bettering herself? It's always set to something fast and happy, an "I can do this" feeling to the beat. And the months of hard work, sweat, and toil are combined into about 2 minutes worth of smiles, back thumps, and skippy music.

It's montage time, and I can't hear the music anymore. I want a two-minute speed up where I lose the weight, write the novel and completely organize and clean my house in a matter of 2-3 minutes all to... how about "Jump" by Madonna? That's about a fresh start...

The truth is, there are no montages in real life. It's every day boredom and pushing yourself when the last thing you want to do is pick up a barbell or sit down to a white computer screen. Why do I dread the writing? By my own admission, I love to write, but writing a novel, taking on a project, that requires discipline. I can't just get a random weird idea and run with it for a paragraph or two, then post it on my xanga and sit back and relax; these characters need to grow and change, the pace has to be tight, the dialogue realistic. And, oh, yeah, I should vaguely know where they're going.

Discipline. It's the key to any success, small or big. And it's more than hard work, it's an attitude of commitment; a choice to do what needs to be done, even when it doesn't feel that great.

So. That's my New Year's res. To jump in and become a part of the montage. To be disciplined and stick with the 4-6 month plan and build these dreams, block by block, into reality.

Did you make any?