Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bang Bang


I got bangs! Lovely, sideswept bangs. Yay!


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

It's human to feel alone.

My son is tormented tonight. He says he feels alone and is scared. I don't even know how to begin to approach this, even though I know why it's happening. Last night, he was watching recordings of his favorite game on youtube, watching what other kids have recorded themselves doing on the game. Youtube will often suggest videos to watch over to the side. He clicked on one called "recording."

It ended up being a filmed suicide. He was very disturbed by it, obviously. He told me about it, and I sat down, ready to disprove the video and show him it was fake, only to do a little research and learn that it was very real.

So tonight, he says it's not the video. He says he's just scared and alone and he doesn't know why. But, c'mon, too much of a coincidence, don't you think? I read him one of my favorite, most comforting verses: Psalm 55:22 and then prayed with him, reminding him that God is always with us and that he is surrounded by the love of his family and his God.

I'm just worried about him. Sitting in the living room typing this instead of up in my bedroom, so he can hear me typing until he falls to sleep.

Sometimes, I hate the internet.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Starting Over... Again

So I started back on my weight loss goals today. Made healthy food and have gotten the Wii Fit out again for weighing and playing. The good news is, though it seems impossible to me, I've kept off the 10 lbs I lost!

I think I am starting my new job this week. One school, tutoring, proctoring tests, teaching online. It's great money and low stress. This can only help in my diet, as I definitely eat worse the more stressed I am.

I have until May to meet my goal weight. Nothing really magical happening then, I just think it's a realistic goal. It would be nice to enjoy the summer all skinny!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Looking for a Good Story

I always thought of myself as the type of reader that would read just about anything. However, a recent post to my facebook asking for reading recommendations had me realizing that I am actually quite a picky reader. I don't like Christian fiction or self help; I don't like non-fiction as a general rule, though there are rare, occasional exceptions to this rule; I don't like historical fiction, and I loathe straight up romance.

I think my main favorites are well written mainstream literary fiction, like Pulitzer Prize winners; horror, though I can't seem to find any I like other than Stephen King; I like young adult, supernatural and mainstream; some chick lit; ghost stories, which I think of as their own category, separate from supernatural and horror; and a few thriller/mystery types. I don't usually like high fantasy or books in which a child dies or is lost.

The thing about this-- there are exceptions to all of these. I like C. S. Lewis, a Christian writer. I like Jane Austen-- romance if there ever were romance.

Anyway, I finished the latest Stephen King book, and I'm scouring listmania tonight on Amazon. It's weird to feel like I've read everything in my favorite genres, when I KNOW that's not even close to kinda sorta possible.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

"There was a time some time ago when every sunrise..."

Music has a particular magic. If books allow escape, music enhances the current (or remembered) experience. If you're sad and you listen to sad songs, the feeling may be magnified somewhat, but ultimately, you feel empathy. Someone else has been this sad over this thing before, and look, they put their sorrow to music. Or if you're sad and you listen to upbeat, happy songs they can sometimes completely alter your mood.

I went on a musical scavenger hunt tonight. My childhood was serenaded by the music of the time: the 80s. From the hair bands (how I loved Poison!) to the soft and mellow love songs of Chicago and Phil Collins. When I listen to these artists now, I cannot help but BE that lost girl in high school. I remember the time, the sounds of people's voices, the places, the smells, and the feelings-- good grief, the feelings! The distance between the events that caused such feelings and the present allows a sort of delicious wallowing, to feel the hurt, but at arm's length with the knowledge that things did, after all, get better. Like, better than I could have planned for myself at the time better.

Nostalgia is definitely musical.



Thursday, December 1, 2011

Letting Go

I can't relax. Mostly, it's this unfinished feeling I have. There are so many things up in the air right now, unresolved bits, and I just want them to get resolved, fall back into place, be finished already. It's awful.

The other part of it is that I'm a stupid people pleaser. I hate that about myself. Or maybe it's just that I can't stand for people to dislike me, which feels like another side of the same coin. Either way, it's hard to just chill and wait. Oh, how I hate the waiting game.

So, if recognizing the problem is half the battle, why don't I feel better? And how do you just "get over it" if that's the way you've been living for... well, forever? I don't really know. But tonight, I'm going to try just letting it all go since I have no control over it all anyway.

If you must be completely ignorant and hateful, please, please, for the sake of Baptists everywhere, TAKE BAPTIST OUT OF YOUR NAME. This makes me physically ill.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Motivation

Because I want to create something that will change your mind. Something that will arrest you, the sort of thing that will force a pause into any conversation. I await the look of awe on your face right before you mumble, “You really did it.”

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sleeping Games

Sleep doesn't like me anymore. Well, unless I take drugs, then it likes me fine. But, ugh. Last night I finally fell asleep around 1 a.m., only to wake up again at 2:30, 4:30, 5:52 and 6:02 (had a whole dream during that last 10 minutes). I miss being able to sleep anytime, anywhere. Is this part of getting older or an indication that my stress level is just a little higher this year?

I'm way ahead on my grading, which is very exciting and completely unlike me. Now, I need to clean my house and cook a meal or two, maybe do some laundry. The husband has cooked dinner every time, and he folded clothes last night. He's going for husband of the year, that one.

I have the Wii in my room now and a bluray/DVD player (got it for NOTHING. Like it was 40.00 after a coupon and a sale, regularly 160! It has all the bells and whistles, even wi-fi!) Had a gift card for Amazon left over from my birthday, and I got: Murumasa for the Wii and Star Ocean: Last Hope International for the PS3. The first one is hand drawn Japanese art while the second one is the more traditional anime look. I'm excited to try both. Next week, I'm done with classes until January 9, so I should be able to get some playing time in in between the baking, cleaning, and general time with my three boys. And reading. And yes, writing. Got a couple short stories cooking now, alongside the longer work. Or maybe they're part of the longer work... time will tell.

Thanksgiving was wonderful. Talked my sister and her husband into learning Settlers of Catan and got quite a few games in. LOVE that game.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

All of my goodies have arrived. Now I'm wishing they hadn't. It's SO much harder to grade when 900 pages of Stephen King goodness is just sitting there, begging to be read. I read 224 pages the first day it came. I've been pretty good today, grading papers and speaking to my family, haha. But as soon as final grades are in, oh, honey. The reading and game playing that shall commence.

In other news, I'm not making my weight goals. Bah. Humbug. I will try to do better tomorrow. I hate the yo-yoing I do. It's just dumb of me. DUMB.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Get the government involved, and you may as well sit back and relax.

I took the day off. I feel like crap. May as well rest and take meds and chill a bit. Oh, and grade a few papers along the way.

I ordered the new Stephen King book, 11/22/63, this book, Final Fantasy XIII for the PS3, and the bluray combo pack of the final Harry Potter movie from Amazon. The tracking information says my SK book "arrived" in my city of residence last THURSDAY. I know Friday was a holiday and all, but it's Tuesday and still no book. The other items all "arrived" here yesterday morning at 9 a.m. -- still none of them either. Does this mean they think they delivered them? Or does "arrival" just mean they got to my nearest post office, and now they're taking 2-3 days to walk the less than a mile distance to my door? Because seriously, we live right next to a post office. Gah. Stupid.

And I can't find anywhere online that explains if arrival means the same as delivered. Their codes aren't online. What I can find is a lot of complaining about the so-called tracking USPS provides. Apparently, I shouldn't worry because lots of folks have this issue, but I never have. At least, not with Amazon. I always received things super fast. Bah, humbug. It can't be the Christmas rush already, it just can't.

I want my stuff, darn it!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sick and Getting Behind

And I'm sick. This fall has caught up on me in a weird kind of way. Like, I always say, "Wow, how can it be this late in the year?" But this year, it's more like-- why would it snow? It's too early. And then I literally remember it's November already. So the fact that I'm sick today has me saying wondering if it's because it just seemed too early to get the flu shot. But it wasn't. Ugh. I'm half asleep timewise.

Still, one of the colleges I teach for ends their quarter the week of Thanksgiving. Makes final grading a nightmare, but is so nice to be left with just two classes and the tutoring after that.

December is going to be awesome. I guess if I do have the awful-for real-two week flu, now's the time to get it over with.



Tuesday, November 8, 2011

New Fascinations and Bad Habits

Midnight Me is happy and free and feeling the quiet house. Morning me HATES midnight me. Stupid midnight me, ruining everything.

I haven't been this tired in a long time. I'm always saying I'm tired, and I've learned that like 80% of the time that really means "I'm bored" or "I must beat the air with meaningless words because it's quiet." But today? Today, all I wanted in the world was to lie back down on my comfy, comfy bed and just sleep until it's not morning anymore. Fall-back hour and all.

It's midnight me's fixation with something new that is to blame. Over the weekend I celebrated my birthday. It was awesome. Dinner out, breakfast out, a dozen yellow roses (my favorite), a gorgeous pink and white chocolate cake, money for Amazon, seeing Wicked in Cincinnati, 100 cash, a shopping spree with the husband, AND. AND FINAL FANTASY XII FOR PS2. This game, people, this game. I had no idea the Final Fantasy games were pretty much just like the Tales games-- RPG and story and beautiful graphics. I never should have started, folks, because now it's all that I want to do.

There aren't a lot of kids to tutor today, so I may actually get some grading done after all.

You know it's bad when you've developed a bit of a crush on a make-believe person in a video game. But there it is.

But seriously. midnight me? If you're listening, just put the controller down and GO TO SLEEP.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

For Your Consideration

This chair.


AND--

I took my classes to the library for orientation this past week, and while I was there I took a look in their stacks and found some books on writing. One I didn't check out was about writing YA fiction and had been published in the 1960s. I flipped through it a bit and was amused to see a chapter on "What Not to Include." It went something like, "Of course you don't want to include any behavior that you don't want your readers to emulate." And I thought about most YA fiction, which even if the MC is squeaky clean, there are usually lots of bad behaviors in other characters. I mean, it's not realistic, is it? I do appreciate if those bad behaviors have consequences, the sort of consequences bad behavior can get you in the real world, but we're just not writing Nancy Drew anymore, are we?

One of the books I did take home-- Thanks, But This Isn't For Us by Jessica Page Morrell, an editor and writer. While some of the things she says aren't exactly revelations, some of them kinda are. The book is laid out so that you have chapters, then you have headings under that. For example, there's a chapter on beginnings. She gives some basic rules, the typical idea of a hook, etc. but then, THEN, she gives a section called "Deal Breakers" which gives the openings that editors and agents pretty much dread across the board. AND, she gives you examples. Then when she gets to the good ways to open a book, she also gives examples. I swear that section was really helpful and inspiring.

Definitely worth the read, even if you're more just skimming your favorite chapters for ideas or help in avoiding writing pitfalls.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

This Week

I'm doing this amazing lesson plan right now, one that arcs the rest of the semester and ties things together and incorporates creative and higher learning skills, and... it feels good, but at the same time I so want to share it with my employers so they know that I'm worth a full time position. There's just no segue for that though. "Hey, department chair, lookit me!"

In other news, I've been grading like a madwoman. Just 14 more of this batch. Of course there are 35 waiting behind them, but I just collected those, so it's all good.

I love this time of year. It's fall. Halloween is just around the corner, and my birthday is in two weeks. Then it's Thanksgiving and Christmas!

I've been cutting back on Ambien. I don't want to become dependent or anything. My doc says that would take a lot longer than a month, but I may as well only use when I absolutely cannot get to sleep.

And I can't stop dreaming about all of the words in the air. Just put them into the right order and -- magic.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Victory!

I have lost 10 lbs as of today. That's on the same scale at the same time of day, so it's for realz yo.

Why is my first impulse to celebrate with something like this:


But I'll be good.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Dying Arts of Planning and Revision

It's raining with a high of maybe 50 degrees here. I don't mind. I was honestly kind of sick of summer, ready for something clear and sharp. But my umbrella broke this morning, half of it was just hanging straight down, making me look like a deranged Mary Poppins. Then when I got inside and tried to close it, it really broke. Into the trash it goes. Hope it's not pouring when I leave here and have to walk to the back of the parking lot to my car...

I've been thinking about writing again. One thing that systematically surprises me each semester (though by now it surely shouldn't) is the fact that many of my students don't do a "first draft." They sit down at the computer, vomit words on the page with no forethought, planning, outlines, or revision-- and turn it in. Of course, I force them to bring a rough draft in to share with peers, but I often wonder how much good that really does. I hear a lot of "That sounded good to me" around my classroom, despite my instruction on how to critique each others' work.

I think it's the computer age. Not saying people didn't do it before-- but when you're sitting down to a typewriter, you write out your paper first. You don't want to worry about mistakes as you go when you're typing on one of those things. But with word processors, we can just toss thoughts up and revise as we go. Sounds good in theory, but works like crap in actual practice.

And for Pete's sake read it, just once. So many of the students I tutor will say "It's probably not very good, I haven't read it yet..." What? I'm not a proofreader or a copy editor-- those people make lots more money than I do. I help with organization, content, thesis statements, etc. They always give me a look like they don't think their paper is in need of that. They're pretty much always wrong.

So, I keep forcing them to do outlines ahead of time and share their rough drafts before turning in a final. And I still cringe when a student says "I don't need an outline. I just write it as I go."

Not in my class, buddy. Not in my class.

(Keep in mind, I'm addressing academic writing. I know in fiction, we don't all use outlines. But there's at least some planning ahead of time, and if you're serious about your work there are always revisions, usually extensive ones)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Customer Service

I like my customer service to be minimal at best. In fact, if I'm in a restaurant, bring my food, be polite, but don't stay at my table telling me stories. And if we're in a dress shop, I'll approach you if I have a question. That's not to say I don't want them to be kind or help me-- just on my terms, you know?

I mean I understand why they do it. I worked in customer service as a teen and college student, and I know that you're supposed to compliment their earrings or hair or sweater, whether you really think it looks good or not. That you always have to say "you want fries with that?" and tell clients how great they look in the store's clothes/jewelry/shoes. In fact, when I worked for Elder-Beerman, we were told that we had to approach a customer that entered our area within 5 seconds. The five second rule.

And it just seems like there are a lot of people out there who are pushy or over-friendly because they think it helps. It doesn't. When the guy at a local Mexican place got too friendly, I stopped going to the place. Which was a shame because I liked it. But even then, I wasn't safe--when my husband would go in without me to get us something to eat, the guy would say "I'm gonna make it real good for your wife" and wink. What? If my husband hadn't assured me that he watched them make it, I'd be worried he did something to my food.

Then there was the time my husband and I ran into him in a grocery store parking lot, and he recognized us. He said, "How'd you like that burrito I made you?" to my husband. No, seriously, that happened.

I know I sound like a horrible person right now. I don't mind smiling, saying thank you, being polite, I try to always be very polite to people I know and don't know. It's just those that overdo it, stay too long, make you feel uncomfortable.

End of the day, pushy doesn't work. At least not for me. And apparently not for most people since we recently found out that he was fired. My guess is one too many customers complained about his freaky-deaky ways.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Is young adult literature worthy of your time?

Absolutely. But you may have to kiss a few frogs to get there. Of course that's true in adult literature too-- there is some serious crap out there in all of the genres.

Since this blog has essentially become a conversation between my friend and me, I'm writing my response to her blog (and our conversations via Skype) here. Not throwing down a gauntlet or arguing-- (maybe a little) but I honestly don't understand where she's coming from. Is it a snobby kind of thing?

But maybe you're just not a fan of the whole genre. I'm not a fan of romance. I admit I would literally die, stop breathing, if my book were somehow labeled as a romance. I don't think it's bad for anyone else, but if you're writing romance, you're probably a fan of the genre. So, it's all good.

My friend and I are at opposite ends of the poles here. I love the YA genre-- I love the readers. Looking at book sales and internet presence, they're more passionate than adult readers as a whole. They're more forgiving readers as a whole. And, while I do think they've given some crap too much of their time, they do give credence to the good stuff too. The cerebral as well as the solely entertaining stuff. If reading is an escape, YA is a wonderful door for that. Too many adult novels are too "real" for me. I want to escape "real," darn it. Occasionally one will be so lovely that it works anyway-- Wally Lamb, Steinbeck (though I only like some of his work), Amy Tan, Stephen King.

Is it because it's a fairly new genre? Used to be you had children's literature (maybe up to grade 8) and adult literature (everything else). I do remember a "teen" genre for a while there. I think they switched to young adult to include the early twenties.

But Tolkien is in the YA section in the bookstores; Lewis is too. Arguably some very tough literature, heavy prose. So... if the prose is high, the world created is complicated-- is it because it's so "pure" that it's in YA? Of course that's crap because there are lots relegated to adult that are devoid of sex or offensive language and tons of YA that are the opposite. Is it the subject matter that places it there? I'm asking because I don't know.

Also, how do you define YA? This is something I don't think has been articulated yet. I'm sure there are those that believe the audience is maybe 12-19. Anything out of the teens isn't the target audience. I've always believed it goes into the twenties. I can't remember where I saw that definition, but I guess it stuck.

And I have no nice, neat conclusion. Because it's a conversation that is ongoing and widespread, and I just don't have a final say.

Except where I myself am concerned-- to which I say I'd be honored to be next to Tolkien.

Monday, October 17, 2011

On editing, revisions, and just vomiting on paper

Because this is the way it is. But that doesn't mean I like it.

I am writing my first draft, and am already having a horrible time ignoring the editor in me. I mean, the editor will definitely come out when the time is right, but the time is all wrong right now. I get something down, and I like it, but my editor in his grizzled old man voice says "It wouldn't happen like that" or "This is a snooze fest." the kinds of things that should happen in rewrites, because writing in a vacuum, just locking yourself in a room with one page of work means it will develop and polish and change, but then that piece of work exists in a vacuum so completely removed from the rest of the work. It just makes more sense to get the whole thing down before I start taking it apart again.

I think this will be very hard for me. In fact, it already is. It's starting.

And I just want to add that I am writing this on total Ambien. Because I took the pill and was going to lie down, but then wanted to write this down. Writing it down may help me avoid that story-killing-edit-as-I-go thing I do.

Next time I'll write about how when I take Ambien, The words and pictures on my computer become 3D. I feel like I'm seeing farther into the screen to where the words started. Each template sort of separates.

I want stars and a reason to look up with you.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Writing an Hour a Day

I wrote my hour today. Here's one little snippet that I liked:

It’s not important where the magic came from; it came from wherever magic does. What is important is that it came. From the far, cold North and the warm, jungle South, bringing secrets from the East’s great wall and the West’s open plains; it swelled from the ocean’s floor, drifted through its waves and washed up on the shore, soaring toward Cherry Street where it met with the other magic and swirled in celebration. It came from all over like so many nail filings to a magnet, and when the wind died down, the magic settled, falling to the ground with the falling leaves. It rested among those leaves joined by a bottle cap, a penny, and the letter. It waited with these objects, part of the collection on the empty lot on Cherry Street in Findlay, Ohio.

Then one day, long after the leaves had come and gone again, and the magic had settled itself into the earth, quiet and waiting, men came with machines and hard hats and shouted commands. They dug up the earth, even as the magic chased itself deeper into her. And after several months had passed, a house stood.

Fun. My friend and I have promised to write one hour a day from now until December 1 with only Thanksgiving and Black Friday off. Here's to new beginnings and what they might bring.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Two days off back to back-- wut? Came down planning to fold clothes this morning, watch Project Runway and wait for the furnace repairman only to find that my husband folded the clothes last night/this morning! Hello!

I don't know if I have any favorites this season-- or I should say I have a couple of favorites. I enjoy the character interaction, but I think it's seeing what these people come up with/accomplish in two days' time that keeps me coming back. I find other people's creativity inspiring.

I have about 20 papers to grade, but I just collected them. So today I will grade all late/old work and get it all caught up. I am going to be smart just this once. Somehow having fewer to grade makes it easier to take in small chunks, which makes no sense but is nonetheless true.

I want to go to a haunted house! Like, soon. We'll see.

I just love the way the leaves fall here. I was walking through the campus last week and a kind of whirlwind came up, swirling falling leaves all around me. There are these total movie moments, and I get to live in them. I just need a soundtrack.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tired. Students who turn in a single paragraph for a three page essay with not one stitch of MLA formatting cannot complain when they fail.

They just... can't. Yet. They do.

Friday, October 7, 2011

One of the good ones

I had entirely too much fun today. Spent the day with my youngest. We walked to an animal shelter that's near our home to see the cats and kittens, ate lunch at Applebees, and headed to a local store to check out the Halloween decorations. Then I spent the evening watching a movie with Mike.

Bought an infinity scarf today-- 9.99 and free shipping! Got it in taupe and this one in blue.

Fantastic day!



Thursday, October 6, 2011

Patterns, Reasoning, and Faith

I went back through my posts, and I found a pattern. It's a pattern of always having too many papers to grade and not being incredibly motivated to grade them. It's a pattern of doing a lot of them at the same time instead of spacing them out.

I don't think this pattern will change anytime soon, it's just one I noticed. Hmmm...

In other news, anytime I start to think God is removed from our daily lives, our little ideas, etc. I read Psalm 139 and return to the conviction that He sees it all, and more than that, He does care. Else David's a liar and not the man after His own heart.

I've decided to reread (or read for the first time? I honestly can't remember if I read it in high school or not) Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. Lewis must have spent the majority of his time thinking on spiritual things and how they work together, how to present them to those who don't believe as well as those who have become complacent about their faith. I've heard it said that he is the thinking man's Christian, to which I say, I hope we all "think." Faith and reason are compatible.

The day is red, gold, and orange. Clear and bright. I love fall in Ohio.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

If I could

It was one of those dreams that I wanted to crawl back into, and it was all about you.

It's not important how the clues came together or what the people said in that fuzzy in between-- what is important is that he wasn't dead. And just as I had had to be the one to tell you he was gone in real life, in this dream, I was reconciled-- I was the one who got to tell you that it had all been a hoax, an elaborate hoax with dream hazy reasons that made sense in that world, and he was not gone at all. He was here, and he wanted to know us as he'd never had the chance to before.

I was crying in the dream. I was telling him, "We just want to know you, Grandpa." And then I was telling you, on a phone with a 1980s curly-Q cord, that he wanted to know us too.

And I would finally discuss Steinbeck with him and tell him he should have been a writer and a painter, along with his weekend auto-mechanic business. I would send my own words to him and hear his pause, see his hands on the table, flat and straight, as he told me what he thought of my sometimes too purple prose.

And you would finally understand where you came from, and why, especially why, you'd had to live without him for so long.

But I woke up. And even as I drifted to the surface, the waking-dream-me thought, "Maybe it's true!" even as I remembered his body in the coffin. Quiet. Cold. Final.

But not final for us. One day I will sit down with my grandfather and we will discuss all of the things I so longed to discuss on earth. I will hear his questions that aren't really questions, and he, he will hear me.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

On teaching

I love how organic teaching can be. You're sort of your own boss-- I mean, it has to work, you have to be educating, but you can decide how to best accomplish that. Today I feel like I came up with a creative, fun new project that will teach analysis and response while tapping into students' creativity. We're building this project together, collaboratively, and I'm excited to see the results.

In other news, I'm staying on my diet and drinking tons of water. I just need to get more sleep at night. I am not using a scale at home-- I'm only using my doctor's scale, which means I won't weigh again until October 21. I can't wait to knock her socks off!

I have wonderful and amazing ideas for blogging while I drive, but today they are just... not coming to me, now that I'm here and in front of the screen. I don't suppose writing while you drive would be a good thing.

P.S. Maybe it's being a mom and a teacher and having to repeat yourself all day long, but I do it. A lot. Notice the sentence above-- together, collaboratively. Feels kind of redundant.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Ambien but Coherent, I think...

I'm sitting here trying to make myself cry, just so I can get whatever is in my eye OUT. It's been there for HOURS now. It's driving me nuts!

Listening to this song helps a little.

Mediating between my sons after taking my Ambien is... not working. They should be in bed. I think they are now.

I finished The Magician King. Enjoyed the "reading" of it, there is no doubt about his ability to spin a tale. Did not care for where the tale went AT. ALL. I've always said you've got to leave your reader with hope, at the very least. You could argue he accomplishes that, but I disagree. He gave us two books to get to know the character of Quentin, and for Quentin, that was pretty much the opposite of a happy ending. And I saw it coming-- in the hillsides of England and Poppy's preachiness-- but it didn't make me feel any less frustrated when the ending came.

I will sleep well tonight. I have cleaning and grading that absolutely MUST get done tomorrow.

I should start praying for my classes. Some of them are dealing with issues most of us might never have to deal with in our lives.

I have symmetrical pimples-- one smack dab in the middle of each cheek. Whenever I get symmetrical zits, I think of Ali, my college roommate and best friend, and how we often discussed the triangulation of our pimple maps-- AND the times we got pimples in the exact same spot, like we'd synced up in zit production and spacing along with menstrual cycles. Sometimes I miss college, though there's little in this paragraph to convince the reader as to why that might be.

Today, I got excited about writing. Then I remembered my family and my jobs... and was less excited. I have been writing. Vignettes, which is fine, since that's how I get back into things. I'm writing and thinking about writing all the time now. And that's a good.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Blahs

I have this theory that the bigger you are, the easier to lose the first weight-- like I think the first 20 lbs will come off fairly easily. It'll be the rest that will be tougher and require me pulling out all of the stops. The first 5 lbs are gone, just by being a little better. I even cheated a tad, but I completely cut out my night time snacks.

I've been sort of listless/bored lately. I don't mean to say that I'm not busy, I am, but it's like I'm not as interested in all that's going on or something. Part of it might be that I have a pretty clean house and am caught up on my grading. Weird, I know, but it's like I need a little chaos/stress in my life to keep it interesting. I'm never happy when everything is done and my room is perfect. 'Course, I'm not happy when I'm super behind and my room is a mess-- I need to shoot for that in between stage, I guess.

It's Friday though. Sleeping in tomorrow, which makes tonight more fun.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Emmys Blurb

Congratulations to Peter Dinklage of Game of Thrones fame! Truly deserved, he is a genius with that character.
“Definitely not me,” he said when asked who he expected to win. “Esteem issues.”

Haha, I love that.

My mom is visiting, which is wonderful. She has a way of making everything wonderful. (That's not sarcastic, haha, it sorta reads that way, but no. We're best friends, so it's always good to see her.)

Almonds, string cheese, and a caffeine free diet coke for a snack. Then some grading and lesson plans, and on to the evening.


Monday, September 12, 2011

A non-post

I didn't do a post on 9-11. Mostly because I've read the other bloggers that did, several other sites, and there's nothing new to say. It was horrible. It was this solid, tangible horror that sat in the pit of my stomach for weeks.

And I think it's a good thing that I didn't have anything to add, which is what I'm going to add. We were one that day and those emotions still have a oneness, a sameness that unites us. I can read my experience, my feelings about that day on the walls of your facebooks and the pages of your blogs.



Just complaining. Feel free to skip it.

Cucumbers and a spinach/tomato/onion salad for lunch. Coffee for breakfast, no time for anything else since I stayed up too late and overslept a bit. I've got ground turkey defrosting for a turkey chili, one of my favorite diet foods because it doesn't taste like a diet food to me.

I've got three hours today to get some lesson plans fleshed out. Need to find a dress for this weekend. I hate dresses now that I'm fat-- pants are so much more flattering.

I can't decide if it's sad, normal, or weird that I'm this excited about the new fall season of TV. Probably a little of all three.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ambien made me do it

So I don't take an Ambien EVERY night, just when I've had too much caffeine, too much stress, or too much worry.

Anyway. I think I'll try to start a little ssegment-- "The Ambien made me do it."

And then I'll try to just blog normally, but it won't be normally because... because it's like I'm under water, like something is pulling me down or weighing me down or something down. and that itchy feeling behind my eyes wants me to pull the curtains on this show and say G'night Gracie.

But I'm a sucker for the in between. I find it interesting that when I take the Ambien and then get up to do something I might have complete conversations and never remember them. I forgot the last blog I wrote in this condition.

So we'll see. Next Ambien post will be about something. This is about nothing. By the way, I repeat myself in real life and in writing because I'm a teacher who basically spends her entire day repeating herself and varying the ways she says the same thing... over and over. It's bound to spill over into my fiction and blogging. Welcome aboard.

Just as a reference to the strength of this drug-- a drug which is clearly never to be abused since it's hopped up enough on its own-- but anyway, the words on my blog are vibrating in a liquidy sort of way. G'night Gracie.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Meh

I want pizza.

I really hate dieting. Like, there's nothing about it I like. You can tell me it's going to make me skinny or healthy or whatever, but the only time I like dieting is when I'm thinking about it, not when I'm doing it. You know? Because it takes like four weeks for me to feel the effects, so it's just gotta be straight, simple willpower.

And I'm not feeling it today. At all.

I want pizza.


Friday, September 9, 2011

I love being the mother of only boys. They confide in me, and we have secret jokes-- my kids are hilarious.

Now if I could just get Jay organized.

Tomorrow the Direct TV guy is upgrading my receiver in the bedroom to an HD DVR receiver FOR FREE. Apparently we were due an upgrade. So happy, just in time for the new season. Looking forward to The Ringer with Sarah Michelle Gellar.

I'm in that dream state that obviously isn't a dream since I'm typing. Hmmm... Is Ambien addictive? I'm going to have to consider that.

p.s. how awesome would it be if I could sleep write (like sleeptalk, sleepwalk) You wake up to a brilliant manuscript... I want.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Just Getting Through It

I'm doing a gratitude journal along with my comp students. And it's good for me.

I need to go grocery shopping-- after class, before piano lessons (for my sons, not for me). I will not be done with this day until 6. I can't wait until Saturday morning. I'm all about the sleeping in that will occur.

Tomorrow I meet with my oldest sons' teachers, a meeting I set up. Three weeks in, and he's missing assignments. I know some would tell me to let my son fail and see the consequences of his actions, but I'm not going to let a 14 year old make stupid decisions that he doesn't realize will impact his future. Yes, we've told him, but do you remember 14? High school is the world, and it's difficult to see past it. I won't give up on him. He'll do all of his own work, but I'll be there making sure he does.

Even if it kills me... bah.

So if I'm handwriting my gratitude journal, I guess this has turned into my complaining journal. I'll work on that.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I bombed on my diet yesterday. Big time. Well, it's subterfuge when my husband buys pizza and cinnamon rolls. But today, I packed a salad and some almonds from home and have drank 24 ounces of water so far, with another 24 sitting in front of me. Today will be better.

It's cold and rainy here today-- actually kind of nice for a change. The hot and humid thing was getting old. I'm sure in a month or two, I'll be back to wishing for the fiery days of summer, but for now, my umbrella and I are quite happy.

I was thinking of working my way through a book on writing while I write, but only as long as I enjoy it. I was reading this book and decided to try one of the exercises, which was to take a movie scene from memory and write it as a scene. It was a disaster. I felt like I was writing fan fiction, and I have to tell you, I know many people really enjoy fan fiction, but I just don't get it. If it's not cannon, I don't really care.

Anyway. Maybe I'll try a new book or just move past this particular exercise and see what else he's got to offer in later pages.



Monday, September 5, 2011

Because I want to

Since I am not guaranteed a position anywhere anytime soon, no matter what I pursue-- what if I threw caution to the wind and did what I want? Pursued writing, which is what I've always dreamed of and just sort of ditched all of the research stuff?

Like, what if?

I wrote a letter tonight. It was a letter to an imaginary board of people, asking them to give me an imaginary chance on an imaginary application to an imaginary program. It felt good. Like Jerry-McGuire-writing-a-manifest good. And then I thought, What if it's not imaginary at all? What's the worst that could happen? I suppose I could get rejected and have to adjunct at three universities to make ends meet -- oh, wait, that's what I'm doing now.

Yeah. There's something sorta sweet being at the bottom, because what the heck, there really is nothing left to lose career-wise. (That should be word, right? Google says no, but careerwise feels like a word, and if it's not, it should be.)

And I feel more like myself tonight than I have in years, which can't be a bad thing.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Opinion Please

I need a vote from my ONE reader--

Talk about diet, books, writing, family, work, all of it here? Or, since my diet journey is going to take a bit of time if I'm realistic, maybe I should put it somewhere else.

Ambien. Since my chester drawer handles look more like smiles than drawer handles, and everything in the room is sort of swelling in and out, like breathing, but it's not scary at all, because I know it's the Ambien and it's me being affected not anything else in the room...

This entry may have gotten away from me... do I dare leave it?


Friday, September 2, 2011

And Again


Desperate for changing
Starving for Truth
I'm closer to where I started
Chasing after You.

Forgetting all I'm lacking
Completely incomplete
I'll take Your invitation
You take all of me.

Nothing quite like coming home. Again.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

She was bags full of candy, diets on some future Monday, and a wit, subtle but sharp. She was long hugs and all softness, the smell of Chanel No. 5.

She was a Christian, a reader, and a lifelong card player.

My grandma went home to be with the Lord this morning at the age of 96. I will miss her.



Saturday, August 13, 2011

My Life Choices Make for Good Internet Fodder





I realize now that PhD or not (I'm going to be applying this fall) I will probably always be an adjunct. If the program pays for my PhD, then I can't see a downside-- be an adjunct with or without a PhD. I actually do enjoy learning and liked getting my masters and writing my thesis for that. Still, it's pretty depressing. I love teaching and wish it could be a full time gig, but until then I will keep doing part time at 3 different colleges, teaching more than a full time professor while still getting paid far less.




Monday, August 8, 2011

Of Plans and Lists


I love having a plan. When I don't, when I'm sort of drifting through life, I get depressed. And I love making plans-- from the minutest of things like "What to Clean Today" to MY FUTURE, written just like that at the top of a paper, all white and ready for my brilliance.

Like now, I just pulled up my calculator on the computer, decided that I should finish grading papers by next Sunday, which gives me 6 days to grade 60 papers. That's ten papers a day, which is completely doable in two 5 paper chunks. Now, I have done this sort of calculation many, many times over the years, and I don't believe I've EVER actually followed through on it. I'll grade a few then end up spending an all nighter making sure they're done before it's too late.

But it sure feels good to have a plan.

My plan for this year? Go to department meetings at the university I'll be adjuncting for, get to know the faculty there; apply for my PhD, preferably at more than one university.

I'm a listmaker who rarely follows her lists, and that's... okay.




Wednesday, May 18, 2011

It's a good thing

It still amazes me how dramatically laughter affects mood. You're sitting there, feeling quiet, grumpy, and sleepy and then someone says something off the wall funny and you're laughing, in that startling, loud, and unexpected way, and you just feel lighter.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!


And a piece of Red Velvet Cheesecake and 12 red tipped yellow roses later, I'm one spoiled mom.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

For the boys and girls in blue

I like the cops. They make me feel safe, and I trust that they signed up for the gig because they want to serve and protect. Yeah, I know, there are corrupt cops, but not as many as you think-- I'm willing to bet most corrupt cops live on TV and in the movies.

Anyway, I called the cops tonight because I was enjoying Doctor Who when I heard what sounded like gunshots.

Now, we have a few partyers in our neighborhood, but they are in the minority and basically, we tolerate their exuberance on holidays, but. Cinco de Mayo hasn't really been one of them, and well, today it's May 6. So, I called the local police, and they said they would do a drive by, no problem, and always call when in doubt. Cool.

I feel pretty strongly about those who spend their lives serving others-- doctors, police, nurses, ER, firemen, the military. They're heroes. And, after I went around the house making sure every window and door was locked-- knowing they were coming around to to do a drive by is enough to let me lay down my anxiety and get a good night's sleep (or as close to it as you can get when you start at 2 a.m.).

Friday, April 29, 2011

In which the thing stolen was ME

Someone applied for a credit card with my name. And they weren't smart enough to put in a different address, so the credit card they applied for came directly to ME. Um yeah. And I called and sure enough, fraudulent account for... food? for something glamorous and extravagant? For some desperately needed thing to survive? Yeah, no. For THE HOME SHOPPING NETWORK. Wut?

Luckily, I was all over this and checked out my credit report and made the appropriate calls. Though now I have a fraud alert on my account, which means if we were to apply for credit, it won't go through until they call me. Which seems like it should maybe be the norm, no? Also, there was a previous address on my account for IOWA. Freaking Iowa! I have nothing against it, but I don't know that I've even BEEN to Iowa, let alone lived there. It's almost like there are these computer bots creating fraudulent information for folks, but they don't end up using them all, since that past address never opened anything in my name. Also, hello, credit agency-- if I lived in Iowa in October of 1999, how is that my current residence has been my current residence since 1997, as reported by YOU? Just sayin'. Maybe you could come up with a program that catches little discrepancies like that?

So. Moral to the story: I would recommend going here and checking things out. It's for real free, not freecreditreport.com free where they make you sign up for some program to see your "free" report. You can access your report for real free from the above site from the three agencies one time each year without cost. (three total, one each agency a year)

Go. DO IT NOW. If nothing else, you'll find some credit accounts you were sure you closed but are still mystically open... I did.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Advice that at best distracts and at worst derails

I love this article over at the YA Guide to Fantasy.

One of my favorite bits of bad avice she mentions is that you must publish short stories before you write a novel. I used to believe this one enough to share it with others. "You've just GOT to have some publications under your belt if you want to get an agent or a publisher..." Yet, what a complete waste of time if you just don't write good short stories. The novel and the short story are two completely different animals, and one is not better than the other. The novel will get more attention, but a truly great short story (while taking less time to write) is, I think, more difficult to write.

And not everyone can write them and get them published. I've had a little success with online publications, but I don't know if my work would ever make it into a so-called literary journal. I'm all about story, and when I try to write all literary and forget about plot, it comes out crap. There are some amazing literary writers out there that do it all, and there are some that I think are horrible (it's all very subjective, I realize this), because they don't SAY anything. But that's another post.

End of the day, some of the points in the article will work for you while some of them might not. I'm not on your timetable with your characters or your style, and you're not on mine or with mine. Quit trying to stuff your shoulders into that expected, square peg. It's not about the money or even the end result-- it's about the process, the words, the story. Let's put away the rulers and try to enjoy the journey as much as the possible success at the end of it.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Dream the Second

I have lots of lucid, bright, very concrete dreams, but last night's was not one of them. It was foggy, and I'm unsure why I was where I was. This cute glasses-wearing guy and I were at a basketball game, then to dinner with a bunch of friends, and then I was in his apartment trying to seduce him.

But not in an R-rated grown up sexual way, more like the comedy movie, goofy, falling over stupid kind of way. And it wasn't working. And I remember thinking in my dream, "What? HE doesn't want ME?"

My dream self was very arrogant last night... not like my real self. I hope.

I woke up just as I was dancing with his hat rack to be cute... yeah. This is why I don't write romantic comedies-- apparently that's my brain's version of one.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Dream the First

I'm starting a dream journal.

Last night it was elephants and Justin Timberlake. I was in a desert, waiting in line for an elephant to carry me and the husband across the desert in front of us. DH had gone to get sandwiches for our long journey from some local stand, so I was holding our place in line. Justin was behind me and he kept hitting on me, basically playing footsie with me. He kept light tapping my shoe with his shoe saying "You've got a little sand here..." and this was just the most charming and hilarious line, since, you know, we were in a desert and all. Then DH showed up with sandwiches and got all tough-guy jealous.

Then my alarm ruined everything. It felt good, this dream-- like I was special and about to go on an adventure, though I remember feeling this nagging worry that something was wrong, and we needed to get home.

POV musings

Seems like there's been a lot of talk about POV lately, though it probably just feels that way to me since I've been worrying over it lately.

There are lots of books I like very much that are in third person-- Harry Potter, anything by Stephen King; but the books that make me feel, that have me saying "You've GOT to read this!" are almost always in first person: Lamb's I Know This Much is True; Stewart's The Myth of You and Me; Foer's Everything is Illuminated; Memoirs of a Geisha; and several young adult books that have sucked me right in. First person is more personal; we're right in their brain, feeling it with them, and, when it's done well, there's an empathy with the protagonist that, for me, is tougher to acquire in third person.

Then there's verb tense, and while that is not the same animal as POV, it directly affects it for sure. I'm not a fan of present tense. It's disconcerting at first, and though I do acclimate as a book goes on (if it's good enough to keep me reading, see Hunger Games), it takes longer. Something about past tense gives an even more intimate look into things, because third or first person, you're seeing what they felt about what happened-- hindsight, baby.

So my ideal book to read is first person, past tense from a writer that knows how to wield a metaphor.

Meanwhile, I'm writing third person past and second guessing myself. First person feels more natural to me, but I didn't think it was the right voice for my WIP... though now I don't know.

Darn you, Doubt.

I guess this is what rewrites are for?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

I should be looking for the six fingered man

I probably should not watch Criminal Minds late at night. I've circled the house, testing doors and locking windows. If it's Mandy Patinkin I crave (and I sincerely love me some Mandy), perhaps I should just find some old eps of Chicago Hope or pop in the Princess Bride.

'Ello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Losing the Rainbow Effect

Like I tell my students on the first day of class when discussing plagiarism: "The kittens and puppies have died. There are no rainbows here, folks." Which is my way of saying that while I love the idea of being able to trust them all to turn in their own work, I've learned to check because people cheat. And they cheat BIG. The first time I taught at this particular college, there were still a few stars in my eyes. That same, short 5 week semester yielded not one, but two students with papers they completely copied off the internet. Heck, one was shameless enough to leave the highlighted blue links in when he printed. Yeah.

When it comes to writing, sometimes I think the kittens and puppies are dead. When I first started writing, it was like dating this new, mysterious, hot guy. Butterflies, excitement, and a seemingly endless supply of inspiration were my constant companions. I was writing poetry, flash fiction, and brilliant blogs (no, really... well maybe not in retrospect), and while I know these are smallish things, I was churning them out literally 2-3 times every single day. No weekends off. And some of that stuff is still my favorite stuff, but it's nothing... tangible, if that makes sense. Nothing I can really hang my hat on and say "I'm a writer."

And then I got a great idea.

I was riding home from work, and back then I had a 40 minute drive, lots of time to think about the next blog or short story idea. And I saw these characters so clearly and what they were doing, well to me, it was revolutionary. I won't say more because in those 30 seconds or so I basically saw the apex of what is now my WIP. And that day, I kind of sort of started writing a novel.

And ever since then, that joy comes in much smaller spurts. There are fewer surprises and the muse is stingy. Of course I'm much busier than I was then-- working more than full time most semesters and never knowing what my schedule will be from one to the next (I work 3 part time gigs usually), but overall, I think it's just harder to be a grown up and stick to one thing. I still want to run after the shinies, but this is not getting my WIP done, is it?

I want it to be fun again. Do you find that working on longer projects takes some of the joy out of it? Being disciplined and on a schedule makes the muse more scarce?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Criticism

How do you handle it? First, there are several different kinds, right? There's criticism that's legitimate and helpful and only feels like rejection (and only at first, usually like an hour later, I'm like "They're right, that's good insight") and then there's the opposite end of the spectrum that's over the top, hateful, and personal: "I hate your book and your mom."

It's bound to happen to extremes for a writer. Have you read some of the reviews on Amazon? I'm telling you, writers had it so good before the technology explosion-- sure, they had to deal with bad reviews in various newspapers, but now? Joe Schmo can write "This book is stupid and your face is stupid." And it's left up, as if it's a credible criticism. His stars (or lack thereof) score against your book.

So here's my secret (or not so secret to my dear friends): I don't handle criticism well. But I want to. And it's not because I think my work is perfect-- it's more the opposite-- I'll take it to heart, believe every word, ESPECIALLY the bad stuff, which just doesn't work when you're a writer.
I think I've got to develop a thicker skin as well as an intuitive filter that can weed out legitimate criticism and focus on the helpful stuff versus the unhelpful.
How do you handle criticism?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Now what?

Completely caught up-- wut, wut?

I should clean, I should write. I should DO something. I think I might try to write a short story this week, something to get out and circulating again. I miss waiting for rejections.

You know how you have, like, zero motivation, but once you begin doing that thing you know you have to do, it feels, well, actually worse for a little while, but once it's done? Feels so good. So, I'm going to organize and clean my room today, yessiree.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Weekend to Work

--Grade at least 10 papers before bed.
--Mop the kitchen floor
--Clean up the cat puke... she is seriously amping up her game. I'm thinking she's dying... or it's spring hairball season.
--Organize my bookcase and vacuum my room
--Clean and mop bathroom

Saw Limitless yesterday. I liked it, except the ending. Like all of a sudden all of the loose ends were tied up. BAM! Finished, over, the winner clearly victorious. Wut?

The other thing I had a hard time getting past was the implausibility of the opening. This guy, who had never written ONE page had a book contract. They didn't allude to his writing for a magazine, a newspaper, nothing before this. So they gave him a book contract, with a New York City publisher based on... a good idea for a work of fiction? Yeah, basically this has never happened in the entire history of the world. For non fiction, maybe.

Other than that, it was pretty good. Some tense moments. One scene where I knew what was going to happen, and I just plain couldn't watch.

Back to work.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spring Cleaning

This time of year there's an innate desire to open windows and vacuum, dust, reorganize... and not just in the house. I begin to prioritize my life, wanting to clean all of that up a little too. Oh, and for some reason, I just want to sleep. So these two desires struggle with each other, and I don't really feel happy when I'm doing either because it means I'm not doing the other thing.

Ya know?


Hmmm...

I do think it helps to do things we don't feel like doing-- things we know are "good" for us like going out with other people, cleaning, exercising, eating better. Seems like all of this could help combat, even though they are pretty much the EXACT OPPOSITE of what you want to do.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Like, a LOT more...

'Member that one time when I had a blog and actually, you know, blogged? Yeah, me neither. My life will be returned to me in two weeks. I loaned it to the Intensive English Program at my college, and they have really taken it over for the last 5 weeks. I'm excited at the prospect of being more up to date on my grading (I detest letting them go longer than 1 1/2 weeks on papers, and it's been 2-3 weeks as of late), seeing my family and remembering their names, AND reading. Writing? Maybe not until June when things REALLY slow down and I'm down to a measly 3 classes.

I'm ready to take my soul back. Not that I didn't like teaching for the IEP, I did; just, it's a LOT more work than teaching composition. A LOT more. It consumed my every last little morsel of free time and then took time that really wasn't free time, moving into family time and grading-other-classes'-papers time. So, I learned a ton, I would totally do it again if asked, but I welcome a bit of a relief in two weeks, moving down to a mere 4 classes with tutoring duties on the side.

Alright spring. Bring it on.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Question

Should adjuncts be required to attend meetings and workshops without pay or notice in their contracts?


Sunday, January 16, 2011

1st draft fun

First draft means writing without censorship or worry about how bad it will be. Lately, I write a lot of exposition and thinking and dreaming and not a whole lot of action. I think this is okay. This is a ROUGH first draft, and I can turn these ideas and thoughts into action in later drafts or just drop them if they're too wordy.

Her father’s death was responsible for her mother’s insanity and her own loss of childhood innocence. When he died, he altered the trajectory of her life, and once she was old enough to blame him, she began to see her father in places she knew he couldn't be. His face would smile out of reflective surfaces: mirrors, the toaster's metallic side, a puddle on the sidewalk, even the store windows she passed on her way to work. He'd become a part of her own reflection, and what concerned her the most was how little the idea of her dead father's face in her cereal spoon bothered her. She accepted his presence the same way another girl might accept a mole on her cheek; he was simply there whenever she looked.

Clearly, whatever it was her mother had, Chance had caught through a sneeze or one of her mother's nightmares— she too was infected with the idea that her dead father could be seen. And it was just a matter of time before she would join Stella in her conversations with the dead man, which is the biggest reason she'd taken a razor to her wrists. She’d long blamed Stella for the many ills in her life, so she might as well add schizophrenia to the list of things she shared with her, right along with the hand-me-down clothes and strange looks in the grocery store.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Writing Prompt #61

Write a brief profile of your parents

Linda, my mom.
Kind. She is one of the strongest women I've ever known. She loves with so much honesty, and everyone loves her. Friends of mine used to say they wished she were their mom, which didn't surprise me. I've always felt so blessed to have her as my mother because she's so much better than I am-- kinder, sweeter, charismatic-- people are drawn to her kind eyes and her willingness to help.

Ron, my dad.
My dad is quiet concern and hard work. When he begins a job, he follows it through, careful to do it right. When he's on the case or when he's driving, I can sleep, I can rest, knowing it will all get done and done well. We'll reach our destination safely, the light will get installed. He's light hearted, young enough to run with the grandkids and keep them giggling. And tender. He's got a steady head in a crisis and a tender heart when you're hurt.

I am so thankful to have two parents who still love each other and pray for me, thinking always of their children and grandchildren before themselves.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Writing Prompt 68

"I thought I saw..."

I thought I saw my grandfather the other day. I was in a grocery store parking lot, and the man's bow-legged gait and faded plaid shirt had me convinced that my grandpa was in town.

I could only see him from behind, and despite the fact that I'd attended his funeral some three years before, I found myself moving from a walk to a slow trot, not wanting him to get into his car until I could see his face. The car was all wrong by the way-- my grandpa drove a blue car, kinda like one of these that he kept in mint condition all by himself. He was a jack of all trades: reader, thinker, mechanic, builder (he built his own house), and furniture maker.

I reached the edge of his parking space. I had to decide if I was going to walk any farther, knowing it would take me from a stranger looking for her own car to possible stalker. I didn't have to make the choice though, because right at that moment, he turned, just slightly to the left, enough for me to see the profile that wasn't Grandpa. His chin was weaker, his nose too large. Someone's grandfather perhaps, but not mine.


Low Carb Lasagna in Pictures


I love cooking lately. Wish I had more time to do it. I do plan to roast tomatoes either tonight or tomorrow, but haven't gotten to it yet. That just sounds so delish.

Sliced my zucchini lengthwise, since the point is for the strips to act as the noodles of this lasagna. If you're wondering why I'd go to all this trouble to get rid of noodles-- it's South Beach and trying to find the least carby recipes possible. I sauteed the zucchini in olive oil with a little reduced fat parmesan to soften them up a bit and add flavor.


For the ricotta part, I used low skim ricotta cheese and added fresh basil and chopped tomatoes

While I was getting all of the other stuff ready, I was browning the ground turkey. I added previously sauteed red and green peppers and red onion to it. Once it was all cooked, I put in about 1/4 a jar of Ragu Alfredo sauce. The alfredo is in place of the traditional red sauce, as again, way fewer carbs this way. But I didn't add a ton since it's such a rich combination with the ricotta.

I used tomatoes in all stages to try to break up the rich cheesy Alfredo thing I had going on. They made a nice garnish on top too. I used two whole Roma tomatoes.

And the finished product, half gone: YUM.


I also put in a layer of fresh basil with the zucchini to help create some firmness. If I made it again, I would either omit the turkey and go full on veggie or use an extra lean hamburger. I don't know the turkey was just a little off in this. And I might take the time to make my own red sauce-- using a South Beach recipe that keeps it from getting too carby. Red sauce is just better in a lasagna.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Writing Prompt #1

I'm not sick, just answering a random writing prompt. ;)

What's the worst part about being sick?

It's definitely not being confined to the couch or having others wait on you hand and foot; it's probably the tossing and turning, not quite sleeping thing I do when I have a fever. And when you're really sick, not "I have a cold" sick, everything is off. You know what I mean? Food tastes differently, your favorite activities just don't feel right, and TV usually sucks. Even if you can watch a good show or read a good book, I find that they still feel "off." Interacting with the people in your family is definitely difficult when you're the one that does homework and dishes and is generally the go-to parent for refereeing.

The best part about being sick is taking a day off with absolutely no guilt. Feeling justified in staying home because I feel awful and can't imagine standing in front of the classroom, trashcan in hand.

If I had to choose the worst sickness, I would definitely pick strep throat and celebrate the fact that as an adult, I so rarely get it anymore. I used to get it at least once a year, sometimes twice. And I got it in a special kind of way-- not only would I have the SEARING throat pain, headache, fever, aching, and chills, but I usually vomited too. Just toss basically all of sicknesses into a bucket and you've got my version of strep throat. The good news? The last time I had it was before my son was born-- 13 years ago. *knocks on wood*


Hope and zucchini lasagna

The morning is always full of inspiration for me-- the kind that makes me want to try new things, believe in the process, trust that it will all work out. I CAN stick with my diet today; I WILL finish my syllabus and teach with enthusiasm today; I WILL write and clean and accomplish all of the things I want to accomplish today.

The feeling doesn't usually hold through the evening, but that's okay-- my mornings rock.

Today, I will make a lasagna with ground turkey and zucchini that is South Beach friendly (meaning I will subsitute Alfredo sauce for tomato sauce and put fresh tomatoes in), and I will roast tomatoes in my oven for a snacks throughout the week (pictures of both to follow), and I will teach class like the rock star I am.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

On music and fabric journals

Listening to old music from just a few years ago, completely random stuff. I used to keep a paper journal, write in it every day-- usually a poem a day or a story fragment or even a to do list. I took that thing everywhere, I mean everywhere-- grocery store, school, bathtub.

I feel like I should try that again. I seem to get on here and think too much. Backspace too easily. Consider, then reconsider, and why?

No drama. In fact, as little as I use this and as few people who stop by, no one will even notice. But I do plan to write in that black and white fabric journal I've had for the past couple of years. Every day. Even if it's just to make a grocery list.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Fresh starts

I love resolutions. Most people I know dislike them and refuse to participate, but since I am a lover of planning and lists, this is a natural for me each year. I actually feel a little giddy as I sit down with pen and paper. Most likely the reason I enjoy resolutions is because I am very quick to forgive myself when goals go unmet.

This year, I want to
-- spend time with my God every day: listening to Him and talking back.
--write 750 words five days a week
--finish a rough draft of my novel
--apply to a PhD and/or MFA program
--submit 3 short stories for publication
--get to my goal weight (I'm getting there)
--tell my kids and my husband I love them every day and show them I mean it through my actions and words.
--read 35 books

Time to get busy.