Sunday, September 30, 2012

writing update

After church today, I watched Doctor Who and took my son to look at Halloween decorations at the store, then I came home and opened my laptop, and I started writing.

I wrote this scene I'd had in my mind for a while now, and I ended up writing 2400 words. Weird.

I like most of it. But hey, I forgave myself and got it all down. I'm sure it'll be reworked till I want to puke someday, but today is not that day. It's down on paper!

On to the work week.

ETA: And then I thought I'd write this other little scene I've been thinking about and suddenly I've written over 5,000 NEW words today. WHAT?

Friday, September 28, 2012

An Open Letter to My Heart

This is for both of you.

It's nothing you haven't seen before, another letter from your mom, another bunch of words telling you that you make up the very best parts of me and that I can't imagine the world before you, that separate life of other things that I thought were important.

And I know that when you see this, you might roll your eyes, smile a bit and say, "What did you do now, Mom?" with a sense of indulgence well beyond your years. Sometimes, when I can't hold back and I try again to write about the way you changed the meaning of love and life for me, our roles reverse, and I'm the child with a picture for the fridge, these words that I pick up again and fail at, again.

Because I can't write all of the things you are. I can't say all of the ways I hope for you or make your eyes  see the girl I was before you, so you understand how much better you've made me, just by existing.

The world is better because you breathe and move in it. And all I want from you, all I've ever wanted is for you to see what I see, to recognize the miracle you are, and to fulfill the promise your existence makes of a better world.

That's all.

In other words, be the you God created you to be, as loudly and as colorfully as you dare, make horrible mistakes and get back up, and know that somewhere, high in the stands, I'm watching, shielding my eyes against your quiet brightness, waiting for you to amaze this world by simply, forcefully being yourselves.

Oh c'mon lurking lurkers... your advice please!

ALSO. Go to this tumblr of amazing things. She pairs lines from books with TV shows of today, and it  works so awesomely well. Very cool.

And it looks like I'll be full time next semester due to a maternity leave (not mine, haha, one I'm covering)  AND I get to teach a young adult literature course! OH YEAH, I SAID IT. And we get to DESIGN IT, YO.  Another teacher and I are going to team teach-- she's going to do children's lit, and I'm going to hit young adult. I'm thinking some John Green, maybe some Hunger Games, and we're going to find out if we can do Harry Potter. Oh, and The Outsiders!

Any suggestions, leave them in the comments. I'm thinking I should look at high school required reading and avoid any YA on those lists, you know like Catcher in the Rye, Lois Lowry, A Wrinkle in Time... they will have read most of that. I am the go to girl for amazing off the grid YA literature.

Separated this out because there are a few other people who happen by on occasion and I'd like to hear their thoughts... if they happen by...

p.s. I was in a meeting with associate professors and the chair of the department when this fell into my lap, and we were discussing whether Harry Potter could be considered, and I said, out loud, filter off, "Wait, this is my job? Like you want to pay me for this?" Thank goodness they just laughed, not knowing I totally meant it and would design and teach this class for FREE.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Good news and spoiler butts. and inevitably, The Fault in Our Stars

Look, I know the guy at work was older and maybe a little out of touch, but I had just loudly announced, "I haven't seen it, so don't spoil it for me!" Regarding a new show that came on this week... he wasn't listening and proceeded to tell the BIGGEST SPOILER OF THE ENTIRE SERIES. And hey, I'm not asking him not to talk about it, but you know, give me a sec to get out of the room. I just really HATE spoilers.

I picked up The Fault in our Stars by John Green after work today, as something to read while Brad had piano lessons. After what I'd read about it, I wasn't too enthused, but I was going to hear him read in October, so I figured I should read the book I planned to ask him to sign. Thought it would take me a while to get through too-- I just don't like sad. And I suspected sad.

BUT. I laughed quite a bit during this book. I felt all the feels. And I finished it five minutes ago. It was a one nighter for me. It's a solid YA book. Touching, sweet, funny, thoughtful, and yes, sad. Especially reading it as the mother of teenage boys.

And I'm not sick anymore! Feel like a person again! No more puking-- huzzah!

[This paragraph makes no sense, unless you read the blog post I wrote after it... which is technically above it right now.] So, you know, dear readers, all 1.5 of you, give me good, solid but not cliched book ideas. I swear if the world were mine and I had two semesters to teach it, I'd toss in Twilight because it would make a bloody fantastic study on overused tropes and cliches, and anti-feminism, and racism, vamps versus werewolves... I mean that could be super deep... oh, wait, never mind any of this last paragraph-- I'm on Ambien. It was the walrus' idea to include Twilight. He's a kindly and fluffy old gramp, but his ideas are terrible and not well thought out.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


I have the stomach flu. Like in the worst way. I woke up at 5:30 with it.

Like holding a trash can and... yeah. I haven't been sick like this in YEARS. Please, please be a 24 hour thing... please.

*big baby*

Aaaand I have a fever. I have to go into work tomorrow, no matter what. Oh, bah.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What Would You Do?

Spent the day collecting "What Would You Do?" videos on youtube (from the show on ABC) for an in-class response activity.

And it inspired me to do something different. The class is a first year composition course at a college, and its focus is social media. They will be doing a final project in groups, and it's going to involve media in some form, and I can't help thinking that it could have a community base or become a service learning project.

And it feels like the "What Would You Do?" videos could connect to this, but I don't know how right now.

Maybe if they found a local or under-appreciated charity and used social media to promote awareness and a call to action? They could write a new slogan, redesign outdated ads, create a Facebook, Twitter, website... of course they'd have to get permission from the charity-- OR they could keep it all private (which means no Twitter or Tumblr...). Or maybe a local person who is trying to raise money for medical bills?

Hmmm... Thoughts?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Standing on the Precipice of Greatness

I often feel I'm on the fringe of something amazing. You know? Like it's just around the corner, and it's waiting for me... but not in a creepy now-I'm-scared-to-turn-the-corner way.

But it's not. Because amazing things do not wait behind bushes and under corner streetlights for us to happen along as we do nothing other than live. I'm not talking about appreciating the everyday amazing things that happen all around us-- that's a different blog post (and anyway, even those everyday amazing things require action in order to recognize and appreciate the commonplace miracles they are). I'm talking about the amazing things we go through, the revelatory moments that change our lives indefinitely. And I know that sometimes those come without a warning, like the birth of a child. Or they come and they're not positive, at least not in the moment, like the death of someone you love.

But for the most part, those moments of greatness are not thrust upon us, but the things we've worked toward, sought after, fought for.

And so that feeling that something amazing is within my reach is both the lie and the truth; it's there, but it won't spring around the corner, it will hide and run and fight me tooth and nail most times. I won't fall into a finished work of fiction if I don't take the time to write; I won't earn a PhD without ever applying to grad school; and I won't live this life to the edges, if I am clearly content dealing in trivialities.

Here's my newest manifesto, the things worth fighting for, the things that require doing the hard thing:

--Raising two responsible, well adjusted Christian members of society who will contribute to their world in a positive, creative way while pointing to Christ with their choices and their words.
--Sustaining a healthy, interactive relationship with my husband by keeping him my best friend and confidant in all things.
--Educating my students for life beyond the walls of Composition by showing them how to put their writing to work for them, promoting their ideas and thinking critically about life's big decisions
--Writing a book I can be proud of, whether it sees the public light of day or not, by forgiving myself enough to get down the first draft I will most likely not be as proud of.
--Learning and applying the ways of the God I profess to know in a real, meaningful, everyday kind of way that reaches other people. Putting my hands where my mouth is, service behind the words.

No more waiting for the amazing, time to go get it.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Accessible or, in a way, even more obscure?

Fourteen papers graded-- I made my goal for the day. Thirty more by Saturday-- totally doable. If I'm disciplined.

In other news, I'm fascinated by the accessibility of famous people to fans via social media. However, I wonder if it's a false sense of accessibility-- like, is it actually the person or their publicist? Or is it false in that, even if it is the person, they're only sharing the person they want you to know and see? And is that any different from what we non-famous folks do with social media?

I don't know. I feel like with some time and effort this could be the topic of a dissertation. I mean, it would have to be narrowed down considerably, but it kinda fascinates me.

Just sayin'.

Stupid puffs of stress and old age and... genetics?

The bags/dark circles under my eyes have always been there. Here I am at 18:

It's kind of hard to see, but my eyes disappear when I smile because the puff under my eyes (check out the puff on the top of my head, but hey it was the 80s get off me) pushes up into my eye area. Bah.

Lately, however, whether due to the trouble I have sleeping, stress, or age (or more probably some combination of those three things), the under-eye issue has gotten worse. So today I put preparation H on the areas... yeah. I've always said I'd never get surgery on my face, but I'm starting to think this is like, changing the way I actually look. Which is not cool when you're inexplicably vain.

Trying not to be. 

In other news, it's Sunday, and we're going to church, but first a check-in-- I did write at least 750 words every other day; in fact, I wrote more than that some days, and I definitely wrote something every single day (except yesterday). So hurrah. BUT. None of it was on my WIP. It was all nonsensical fun type stuff. But it's a good way to start a habit, you know make it fun for the first week. This next week, my goal is to write 750 words every other day ON MY WIP. Report back next Sunday.

As for today, Laura will be grading... I've collected 44 papers, and 14 of them MUST be graded by 8 am tomorrow morning. I've got this whole system set up-- grade 5 papers, give yourself a reward of entertainment-- like viewing one of the few vlogbrothers videos I have yet to see; read 10 pages of the book I'm enjoying right now; or watch one section of a show I've tivo'd up to the commercials. And so on. Maybe I can get 20 done and get a bit ahead for the coming week...

See you on the other side.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Oh, Ambien walrus... is it adventure time already?

All of these are taken from who came up with the brilliance and spot on accuracy of the Ambien Walrus.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Toe pick!

Did I mention I started ice skating lessons with my sons last week? I mean, I'm taking the lessons and so are they. When I was younger, I taught myself to get around the rink without hugging the wall, but I've some bad habits to break.

Last week, I was dripping sweat, like just drenched, which is awesome. I mean, it's not awesome if you care what you look or smell like, but it's awesome if you're learning to skate and burning up a few calories at the same time.

I don't think the instructor will be able to teach me to skate backwards... I just don't see myself ever being able to do that. Mike (who played hockey in high school) tried to teach me when we were first married, and I just couldn't get it, no matter how I tried.

We'll see.

I'm sure I'll be doing stuff like this in no time... minus the puffy-headed guy starting at my chest...

Step back, it might be catching...

Holy crap, it's the Bekah theory!

See, I have this friend Bekah, and she has this theory (confession, amazing self awareness?) that some of us have input/output cycles.

Like I said in my last post, I went through about, well, if I'm honest it started in July, so 6-8 weeks of reading, TV watching, and insightful video viewing on Youtube (input). And now, now all I want to do is vomit words onto the page or work on lesson plans or talk to people about the things I've read and seen (output).

Bekah, it's a thing. And I've got it (like a disease?). Now, if I could just put my output to work on what I felt like instead of letting inspiration hop and skip me on each rock across this stream, I might have something real to show for it when the next input phase hits me.

What do you think? Is this a thing for you too, sometimes?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Facing the Facts

*side note* I have a tumblr. Follow if you want. It'll have some crossposting, but will mostly be some old stuff I found recently and shorter snippets of things I'm thinking or writing.

Stasis. And the changing of the seasons. Turning 40. Writer’s block. Visiting my past through heart rending blog posts.

These things combined to make me depressed over the weekend. Like, to the point of not-wanting-to-get-out-of-bed-or-eat-anything depressed. I was trying to decide if it was any one of these things, but it wasn’t—any one of these things slows me down or makes me a little sad for a while; these things combined knocked me flat on my back with this awful, restless feeling.

Stasis. I haven’t been moving forward in anything. I’m just sort of treading water at work when there are all sorts of exciting things I should be working on, like proposals for a new program, lesson plans for the rest of the semester (actually kind of fun since I get to design it all myself), and the layout of a new course for Academic Support in our new LMS, Canvas. Then there’s my personal life where I’ve been hiding out. The husband and I spent nearly every night together the last two years, and it’s been amazing for our relationship. Add to that all of the great conversations and even the not-so-great conversations I’d been having with my sons about school, friends, bullies, and the meaning of life, and I had connections, people. But the last few weeks, I’ve been burrowing, and I don’t think it’s been healthy. I’ve been going up to my room and watching videos and TV and reading like a fiend. Just boundary-less entertainment and input, and it was amazing at first. But now, I think I’m feeling the disconnect, and it’s tough to get it back. My husband keeps calling me out on it, which is good, but he can’t be expected to try to pull me down the stairs every night. Time for me to reconnect, because hiding upstairs is only making my stasis, my depression, worse.

The changing of the seasons. This always happens to me. Though not usually in fall, I’m usually manic in the fall, and it’s the spring that kills me. I think this one will right itself if some of the other reasons right themselves, because I freaking LOVE fall.

Turning 40. It's not like it sounds. I don’t mind turning 40 or growing older—age really is a number to me. I still love my birthdays, and I don’t feel any older than 16. BUT. I am starting to evaluate what I’ve done so far with my time and what I’d like to do with the time I have left. I articulated this to my husband last night, and without looking up from the sports cards he was sorting, he said, “You’re having a midlife crisis. It’s your turn.” Which I thought was hilarious and incredibly self aware of him because, ladies and gentlemen, he had his own midlife crisis a couple of years ago (around the time he turned 40… coincidence?).

Writer’s block. I’m terrified of looking at my WIP right now. I just can’t face it. I’m going to write it in the wrong direction and then have to start all over again; I’m going to write my characters into some kind of hole or my MC isn’t likeable enough, so I should start over now, or… see? Not so much writer’s block as writer’s scaredy-pants. I just need to open the page and face the blinking cursor. Every day. 750, here we go.

Visiting my past. Oh nostalgia, you suck. You are a motivation sucking machine. A few years ago I went through a weird quasi-depression. Not a real depression, because I was happy for the most part (except when I was feeling sorry for myself, heh), and I was producing work like a madwoman. Too bad most of it was self indulgent crap, though I like some of it. I salvaged a bunch of it and stored it on a tumblr I started over the weekend. If you want to follow, it’s here. Basically, it will be smaller snips of what I do here, with some crossposting, so you might not want to follow. It’s up to you.

Ideas I’ve been having which may or may not just be a distraction from all of the things I should be doing: 1. A video blog to my sons, like letters in video form. It’s been done before, and I’m not trying to break new ground or gain an audience, this would just be for us, for them… someday. 2. Restarting book club. I had a book club with some grad school friends of mine, and it just fizzled and DIED when two of the girls had babies. Like, poof. And I can’t blame them because I and the other girls let it die, like maybe I just didn’t want the obligation anymore, I don’t know, but I kinda want it back now. The discussions were so much fun.

And this was for me. If you read all of this, you deserve a dozen cookies or a shopping spree. You choose and then, you know, go and get it. Because the girl who has lost 18 lbs has no cookies and will not be going on any big shopping sprees until she loses the rest. <3

Monday, September 17, 2012

I hate magicians

I won a ticket for a front row seat to hear John Green read at the Cincinnati Library! I was very excited when I first found out.

But then I really started to picture it, and now I wonder if it's going to be okay. I'm not saying I'm giving up my seat or anything, but... stuff like this is awkward to me. Basically live performances of any kind (except for bands, why are bands okay?) make me nervous, embarrassed, and uncomfortable.

So why does it feel a little like when your mom hires a magician for your party and you're all nervous and sick inside because you're worried he won't be good or your friends won't like him or, worst of all, he'll lock eyes with you just before he pulls the rabbit from the hat?

Am I the only one that is embarrassed and uncomfortable with stuff like that?

I'm a teacher. I can stand in front of 30 some kids and teach and talk and be just fine, but put me in a front row where things are live and there are variables and someone else is up there... performing... and... I'll start getting nauseous and worried the lion tamer's chair will break.

Tumblr with the Bundles...

Obscure Annie reference... anyone? No? Really? Okay.
Here's the thing. I used to write nearly every day, and I recently stumbled across this defunct blog I wrote in years ago. Some days I wrote sheer silliness or lists, but other days-- other days it was poetry and stories, or lovely little pieces of myself and my family, my situation as a teacher, a reader, a writer, and a homemaker. Some of them still stir the emotions I was feeling when I wrote them. Some of them are funny, downright goofy. But they're all honest. And it felt wrong to let them die in what had essentially become a blog graveyard.

So I took that defunct blog, and I salvaged the posts and started a tumblr to post them to, a place that keeps them separate from the blogging I now do here and keeps them organized. Anyone is welcome to follow it. I went through some of the toughest times of my life during those years. And it's some of my favorite work, if not a little too altruistic and downright sappy. There may even be some cliche, haha. But if you want to know what kind of a writer I really was in my early thirties, nearly ten years ago, feel free to check it out.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Motivation, I can haz it?

Lol cat reference! Anyone...? Anyone...? Too old hat? Okay, moving on.

Comforting. I mean, I know some of my friends have taken a while to write their drafts and have had to rewrite their drafts, but it's nice to hear it again and again from published writers whose work I admire. And I think I read somewhere else that he took 4 years to write that same book. I read too many Stephen King interviews, because I kinda worship his writing style and his characterizations, and he writes most of his books in 3-4 months. Now, I'm sure that is just a first draft, and there simply have to be months of revision that follow, but he does seem to (according to his interviews) get most of it right the first time. The jerk. It's an impossible standard for new writers to aspire to. Maybe after we've been writing for 40 years like he has... maybe.

I have to remind myself that: I have 1.5 jobs right now teaching writing to college freshmen (which means GRADING PAPERS-- BOO to the HOO); that my husband gets hurt if I don't spend time with him most evenings (luckily he usually falls asleep around 8 or 9); that my kids enjoy my company (which I should take advantage of because, let's face it, when you have teenagers, that is not always the case); and that I have a house I'm supposed to sorta keep clean... and do laundry in... and yes, watch some fall TV while I fold clothes.

So, it's hard to find time to write, but it's not impossible. Which is why I'm planning on doing my own version of Nanowrimo. The last time I did this, I got 30,000 words out of it. I didn't end up keeping much of it, but it did help me work out a few things on the page and figure out more of my story, and that's a good thing. Nothing good can come of not writing.

So I'm planning on doing 750 words a day in November; that's weekends, holidays, whatever. EVERY DAY. And I'll start doing every other day this week. Baby steps.

Check this site out. I'm going to see if it helps me-- some of my friends have used it to motivate them to write their dissertations or first drafts of pieces for literary journals. (Yech... I'm such a grown up.)

I just want to get the bones down on this story that I've been thinking about and trying to write for 5 years now. Check in next Sunday.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Oh fer tired. We painted my son's room today-- it is now a silvery, grayish green. Very nice and it was very needed.

But I'm tired.

I can't stop thinking about my WIP. It sucks that I just never have time to really work on it. I mean, I do mess around some, and I guess I should just quit... that. I need to make a schedule, yeah, that's it.

And I'm going to sleep before midnight tonight, darn it. As in, right now.

This looks good. Requested at the library.