Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Jam Pack It All In

Wow what a whirlwind of busyness since I last updated everyone! How about a recounting of the adventures shall we?

I had lunch with a friend who informed me she got her Christmas present early from her boyfriend -- two front row tickets to see the NKOTBSB (for those not in the know that’s New Kids on the Block with the Backstreet Boys on one stage at the same time because clearly one boy band is never enough) show at the Garden next June. At this point in my life I’m still a semi fan of NKOTB, not enough to want to spend hours on Ticketmaster to see them live anymore, but I still turn up their oldies when they come over the iPod airwaves its true. But my friends…well as she explained it’s the only time she gets to be fifteen again so she’s ready to go all out. I couldn’t be more excited for them to have this experience of the front row at the scream fest!

Yes this is at my wedding, don't judge me it was a gift (instrument of torture?) from my DJ, my first ever roomie.  The friends who plan to go to the show are to the right of me.

The next day I enjoyed another lunch with my mom but only after we disassembled some super heavy metal shelves on her first floor then reassembled them on her second floor. Much laughter ensued and although we rocked at it -- not a single thing broken and nary a floor scratch -- I don’t think either of us are going to be signing up for a job as a furniture assembler anytime soon. The help with the shelves was my payment for a quickie haircut. As a kid my mom used to cut my hair all the time and I totally trust her to get a nice and even straight line. Not too shabby eh?

I chatted with my Academic Advisor before he took off for vacation, reorganized my sewing stuff so I could actually get into the closet, had a drum lesson, paid my rent and donated to a whole bunch of charities for the bulk of our family for Christmas.

Then we went to my dad’s on Christmas Eve and had a fantastic evening chock full of laughter and conversation! My WSM’s son is here with his new wife and baby and it was fantastic to meet both of them too. My almost step brother is an adopted child and originally from Columbia. A few years ago he decided he wanted to discover the place he originally came from and took a trip down there to explore. Within what seemed like minutes he had met a wonderful girl, fell in love, got married and had a baby. Whirlwind romance! She and the baby (my almost nephew!) are total dolls and it was really cool to see my dad with the adorable toddler no matter how ragged he ran all of us.

The one thing I didn’t do this Christmas was get some of the presents out on time. Matt’s family lives scattered across the country so every single year I say that I’ll get things shipped in time and every single year, though it comes right down to the wire, I tend to live up to my promise. This year though was the perfect storm of overload. One gift was ordered on the 10th with expedited shipping and didn’t arrive here until the 23rd. Another was handmade and after I completed it I searched everywhere (and I freaking mean it!) for a box that would fit it to ship in but no one sells a 23” wide box that’s only 3” high. Even the large size at FedEx is too short. So the Post Office dude told me about the box guy up the street, who makes boxes to fit any package, and Matt and I went on Christmas Eve. The place was closed. Of course it was. So we said screw it, at least we can get the other items out. Late but mailed (including a sale I made on Etsy, thanks Ginger ♥ and a clutch I was shipping out for a fundraiser not to mention an aunt & uncle’s gift). Yeah well the Post Office was closed too because noon was the cut off on Christmas Eve. Then there was Christmas, Sunday and yesterday’s blizzard…but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Christmas Day I managed to just let go of all the stress from the week prior for a couple reasons. First, there was really nothing I could do about making it all okay at that point anyway. Second, wine helped. Wine helped a lot. All joking aside we had a great day at my mom’s (sadly my SIL & family were sick and we had to cancel Christmas morning brunch with them but we’re already rescheduled so barring more sickness or weather we’ll see them in January!). She made all kinds of yummy veggie dishes, had hummus and salsa with chips and then for dessert she made a pumpkin cheesecake and chocolate cake, my aunt & uncle brought an apple pie & carrot cake and I’m pretty sure my brain exploded at that point because I forgot everything else. Lots of laughs and hugs and warm conversation was had and then we came home to gear up for the next day’s journey in the snow.

Oh, the snow…

So the thing about New Englanders is that talk of a couple inches of snow doesn’t exactly scare us. We have the manpower and equipment to handle the stuff and generally the city is opened for business no matter what. So on Christmas night when we heard that the weather dudes in town were predicting upwards of two feet in some areas we knew the 26th was going to be a day of action. Up at 7:30 AM we tossed on some sweats, brushed our teeth and took our coffee on the road.

First order of business was filling the gas tank where I cashed in my winning $3 scratch ticket from Christmas woo hoo. Next we swung by Matt’s office so he could turn on his computer and pick up a bunch of stuff because there was no way he was going to try to go into the office on Monday, working from home was just a safer idea. We headed south to feed a friend’s cat & give him some love. While we were hanging out and playing with this little love whore of an animal, the snow started to really intensify and we decided we better get ahead of the storm so we filled food & water to the brim, gave a little more love, and hit the very slick road (slowly).

Because we were ahead of the storm bands, and also because we had no food in the house, we headed to tax free NH (only about a 30 minute ride from our house, don’t worry!) to do some quick in and out shopping. With plenty of toilet paper and snacks we headed back south, nervous of what the roads might look like. But to our surprise not much had fallen yet. It was only noon. They were predicting over 50mph gusts so we gathered candles and charged up our phones and laptops in case of a power outage.

At about 3:00 the snow started to fall. And at first it was even kinda pretty…

But by the time the storm had dumped its 18” on our front doorstep and rolled on out of town just 24 hours later, it really wasn’t all that pretty anymore. Truly we were just trying to come up with ideas for where to put the stuff! And we made a new best friend when our SUPER KIND neighbor came right down the street with his snow blower at 8:00 in the morning. Holla for the random kindness of others!!! He did four houses worth and even hit our driveway. There is no way to tell him just how grateful we are for such selfless help in such a tough situation. Thanks neighbor!!

Technically speaking we didn’t get a blizzard in Boston. To be classified as such you need: 3+ hours of falling snow, less than a quarter mile visibility and sustained winds at 35mph. We got the first two handled but only managed to hit 33mph on the winds. Sorry, I’m calling this sucker a blizzard anyway.

I have to go out today to finally see the box guy and get all of this stuff in the mail but before I go I think I’ll spend the $65 Gift Certificate to the CSN Stores website that I won over at Karen’s place! YEA thanks Karen, it’s quite awesome to win and have a chance to shop! I’m thinking of looking for stuff like foot warmers, slippers, fleece blankets…

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Class Is In Session

A while back I indicated that one of my goals was to reenroll in school and that I had started doing some research on colleges that offered degree programs in English that I could complete online. There were a handful of schools here in the Boston area I started with but many of them were a split of campus and online classes and that wasn’t going to work for me.

Its not that I’m lazy or don’t want to meet other people. The real reasons I like studying online truly fall into just two categories -- 1. class starts & ends whenever I want it to and 2. I don’t have to drive anywhere in the snow. Yes, I mean that second reason whole heartedly.

I really considered Salem State because they have an excellent English Lit BA with a track for an MA but I knew on snowy days (okay, this is Boston so probably even some not so snowy days) it would take me upwards of an hour each way to get to and from campus. Then add in the hours spent in class. Okay, but that’s just what happens when you go to college right? Wrong.

In the time it would take me to commute to and from, I could have completely finished another class if I was studying at home.

With that in mind I knew online was the way to go. Again. This foray into continuing my education would be the third try. But this time I’m doing what I truthfully should have done at age eighteen; I’m finishing a program that speaks to me and one I am passionate about. Unlike my last college experience.

I had started a program online with The Art Institute a whole bunch of years ago and to be fair the only reason I left the program is that I knew it wasn’t what I really wanted to be doing for a living. Interior Design, I quickly found, was loads more about politics and number than actual design.

Plus the hours I spent on school (up to and sometimes beyond forty a week and that was per class) made me question if that’s the kind of time I would have to spend per client because it wasn’t my first love and I had to really work for it to get it a lot of the time. Two clients a week and I would have been a puddle of goo.

Now I suppose it’s probably fair to point out that I am what most would call an uber overachiever. I have an innate fear of failure which keeps me motivated to forge on and throw myself one hundred and seventy percent into whatever it is I am doing. School was no exception and I was a 4.0 student because of it.

But the other thing about me is I also have instinctual intuition and I know when the exact second hits that I’ve stayed too long at the party. When I stopped caring if I got my work done, started completely fucking off and decided I would rather play and play all day instead of complete my class work, it was that moment to thank the hostess and bow out gracefully.

So I did and ever since I’ve been itching to go back.

In my sophomore year of high school I knew what I wanted to do. I was good at it (like I mentioned in the post about editing my friend’s paper; more on that in a minute) and really loved it but at age fifteen I had little, if any, self direction or discipline and without being the top of the pack or the bottom of the pack in school I kind of just faded into the very gray middle somewhere, unrecognized but also un-guided in my life path.

At some point in my life, and I really truly have no idea when it happened, I did a complete 180 from total slack-ass procrastinator to seriously over the top OCD overachiever perfectionist. So now that’s where I am today -- the land of striving for perfection, happy to be a geek, doing it all at once without the assistance of any good drugs (well, except caffeine in the mornings of course).

I found a school that really resonated with me and started researching them right away. Based in Iowa but offering a BA with a track to the MA online, fully accredited and well received from all I found when I Googled them, Ashford University is my new school.

And I already love them! My Academic Advisor is based out of San Diego and not only is he the most easy going guy, he’s really knowledgeable and helpful and he insists on being in touch a couple times a week during the first couple classes just to make sure I’m getting the hang of it all. The entire Administrative staff has been great so far and the application process as well as all that financial aid mumbo jumbo was super streamlined on their website. Unlike some of the other schools I looked into where the admission process seemed like it would be more difficult to figure out than the classes!

So starting on January 4, 2011 I’ll officially be a Bachelor of Arts, English major! (But we all know I’m going on for the Masters, I mean seriously…)

In the long run the degree will open up so many more worlds of opportunities to career paths I can pursue if I so choose (like teaching at the college level in many places, being an editor, etc) but the most important thing is that I will feel the sense of accomplishment that I’ve been longing for the past twenty five or so years. And it will ultimately help me when writing novels of course so that’s always a super bonus.

Oh yeah, and that paper of my friend’s that I helped her edit? Yeah, she got a 93 out of 100 so I guess I’m choosing my path well since clearly it was something I already excelled at. (High five for my friend getting an A!! Holla!!) The difference now is that I’ll just have a better handle on all those pronouns and will be able to prove it with that little piece of paper that reads ‘Graduated’.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Measuring a Summer’s Day

Tangerine, my favorite Led Zeppelin song of all time, comes to mind at this very moment because it just so happens I’m eating a fruit of the same name. At this time of year they’re everywhere in mesh shaped nylon baggies so no matter what store I find myself in, if I’m perusing the produce department, a bag of these juicy little balls of happiness are definitely coming home with me.

Some folks could probably have named this post Oh My Darlin’ but to me tangerines just make the world a little juicier than a Clementine. Maybe it’s because of Page’s stunningly simple lyrics full of complex visuals (if you know the song this should make perfect sense), or the delivery of those words through Plant’s haunting reflective tone, or maybe its that Jones & Bonham come in at the exact right moment to bring stability to the growing legs of the well timed guitar solo. Maybe the reason I love it is because it isn’t perfect but it’s out there to be loved anyway.

Or maybe I love the song so much because it reminds me of a nostalgic love so strong it could never be forgotten, and the person it holds in the palm of its hand was that very thing to me.

Innocent and stupid and new, ready to grab the world by the scruff of the collar and drag it along behind us as we blazed a trail. But at some point I realized he wasn’t with me anymore so I looked back to try to find him but he had mysteriously disappeared. Then I spent so long watching behind me for where he had gone that I missed the fact that life fell out of my hands and passed me ages ago.

If only things could stay so simple as Bonham’s back beat. But they rarely do, if ever. So at this time of year I find myself reflecting voraciously, as if it was an activity I’d never done before and may never get to do again.

It always starts out with the year that has just flown by in the blink of an eye and all the things I remember about it, and then it spirals into a trip down the cobble stones of memory lane.

Of course this year was struck with tragedies of massive proportions that would be hard to ignore, like earthquakes and oil spills. But it was also filled with amazing things of beauty like a close friend having a healthy baby girl or seeing a double rainbow in upstate New York.

In the past year:
♥ a good friend moved back to the area
♥ I completed the edits on my first novel and started shopping it
♥ continued to play drums every week
♥ went to countless shows (including finally seeing Bushwalla live on his own, Seth Glier, DMB, BNL and Jason [of course])
♥ one of my favorite actors died (Haim)
♥ saw my sister on her coast
♥ spent time with friends and family (on the other coast and mine)
♥ finished helping to clean out my grandparent’s place
♥ watched the final season of a long favorite television show (Lost)
♥ took on a few paint jobs
♥ walked to support Alzheimer's research
♥ spent tons of time laughing & joking with Matt (in the car and at home)
♥ went fishing (and actually caught some!) with old friends
♥ witnessed the kids in my life get even smarter as they became another year older
♥ saw a couple Sox games live at Fenway & a few Bruins games live at the Garden
♥ dealt with a flood in our basement
♥ experienced a summer full of hot sunshine (bliss!)
♥ started an extreme exercise program (P90x - bring it!)
♥ joined a Book Club
♥ signed a lease for a second year in the same place (call Ripley’s!)
♥ drank with the local townies at the Jersey shore
♥ sold a few things at a craft fair
♥ wrote most of my second novel
♥ kicked Matt’s butt repeatedly in Scrabble
♥ and so many other awesome things I couldn’t begin to list more

Well I could but would any of you read a day by day accounting of my lame-ass life? Probably not.

As I spent the last year getting healthy in mind, body and soul it started becoming more clear that my life is longing for another grab it by the balls and have at it adventure. I know there’s still a couple weeks left this year so I don’t completely rule it out for happening in 2010 but it just feels like 2011 is calling to me from the future. That next year is where the great escapade will be found.

Become a published novelist? Celebrate ten years married? Get my body back in shape? Quit smoking? Something else? The world is open, and so am I, to the possibilities that exist. Bring on the adventure 2011, even if that adventure is wrapped in a moving truck traveling 3500 miles across this great country to the Valley of the Sun!

Someday I will no doubt look back on that journey and think about me and Matt taking it together.

“Does [s]he still remember times like these?...And I do.”

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Remembering the Past, Tense

Sometimes I wish I could remember why I remember certain things. A couple days ago my very brilliant, yet grammatically challenged friend, sent me her most recent school paper and asked if I would take a look at, and edit it. I asked, in a manner of speaking, if she was ready for the onslaught to come in asking for this favor and she responded, in a manner of speaking, to bring it on.

So bring it on I did.

Structure of a sentence, grammar, punctuation, it all just flowed out of me in editing her document so effortlessly that I almost gave myself a high five in my own honor when I was done. But I decided to wait and see what her grade was before giving myself too many props, and I just smiled then sent it off with a note apologizing for the hemorrhaging pages she would be opening within.

Later, when I was sitting and reading this month’s Book Club selection I received a text from her: “How do you know when to use these versus this?” Without hesitation I typed away two responses and sent them back -- these is for multiples (these books), this is for singular (this sunset), and, these precedes ‘are’ (these are the best books), this precedes ‘is’ (this is the best sunset).

Ever since I responded to her I’ve been going over and over in my head just what type of word ‘this’ and ‘these’ signify and for the life of me I can not come up with it. For example, I know that glorious is an adjective, cat is a noun, and is a conjunction, but what is ‘these’?

While editing her paper I started to have visions of how I could make money in my sorely lacking spare time by charging students ten bucks a page to edit their papers. I’d be a 100-aire in no time! But as quickly as the thought presented itself it was gone with a puff of what’s ‘this’ smoke.

I was always a good English student in school; I could pluck emotion right off a page of a book and write a review so eloquent my teacher would never be the wiser that I hadn’t really bothered to read the text in question. And I just got it. It came naturally and easily to me. Kind of the way I know all of those teachers who taught me so well would cringe that I just used ‘and’ to start a sentence. But this is my blog and I do what I want. Like start other sentences with the word but. Or end the very next one with the exact same word.

Which is where the problem lies nowadays, as a blogger I have a pretty well defined voice and write it how I feel it. That’s all well and good but then when I go and write something like, say, a novel, other brilliant friends edit it and notate themselves blue in the face saying things to me like ‘don’t end in a preposition’ and I panic then look up what the definition of a preposition even is.

It makes me want to get that college degree that I never did get. It makes me want to go back to school and be the one to write the paper instead of being the one who edits someone else’s like a big fat faker. And not just a faker. An Editor with no idea why I’m even suggesting that she make certain changes, other than I know it’s the way it should read. I know I’m good at it and that’s why she asked if I’d do it but I really don’t know why I’m good at it and that’s more than a little disheartening. Call me crazy but it’s the researcher in me that is dying to uncover just what the deal is with all those dangling participles.

Someone remind me again, what’s a dangling participle?

I of course looked it up to remind myself and here’s what I found:
“The example: Plunging hundreds of feet into the gorge, we saw Yosemite Falls would, by such guidelines, be recast as We saw Yosemite Falls plunging hundreds of feet into the gorge.”

Um, okay that seems easy enough but I sat there staring at what I knew to be bad form (the first Yosemite sentence) for like five minutes and couldn’t figure out how to write anything that resembled it. Maybe I’m not cut out to be a dangler after all? Perhaps I keep my feet and arms inside the carpet as the Genie suggested. If that’s true then I wish I could figure out the reason why the ever present nagging of the two word question ‘but why?’ keeps buzzing in my head.

It might be time to take a few grammar workbooks out of the library and give myself the old refresher course. Maybe then I can finally put to rest the desire to find the reasons behind ‘this’ and ‘these’.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

An Easy Way to Avoid Excessive Amounts of Stuff

I know many of you got this in email this morning so you’ll be seeing it twice (three times if we’re FB friends so yeah, it should sink in lol) but I thought it was worth sharing here too for those less inclined to access those other places or who’s email I don’t have. This is the word for word message I sent out. Please consider this as a festive alternative to buying ‘stuff’ for the people you care about and we’ll all get the chance to help each other. It’s all about pay it forward!

Good morning family and friends!

That time of year again -- the ho, ho, holidays! As we've done most years now Matt and I STRONGLY encourage all of you not to buy us stuff (please!). This year is even more important than ever as we're planning to move all the way across the country next summer, carrying as little as possible. In lieu of gifts please consider making donations!

By the way...I'm not being presumptuous with some of you I promise! I sent this to a lot of you simply because I know we all struggle with what to do for one or two people every year and these are two charities that I really hope you'll consider making a contribution to instead of buying that individual something you're not sure they'll even enjoy :-)

As you all know I've done the National Novel Writers Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge for 2 years now and won both times (hooray!). Those folks run a great program for young writer's to explore and embrace their creativity, and to nurture positivity instead of violence & other bad behaviors, but they only survive through donations. So this year I'd love if everyone could donate to The Office of Letters and Light! To make the donation on my behalf (if you like) my NaNo/ScriptFrenzy username is: jennshon

Matt also has a charity that is very near and dear to him. Last December he started working in downtown Boston and came to befriend a man named Carl. An out of work construction worker, Carl is homeless and lives in the alley right behind Matt's building. The two have built a really special relationship over the course of this year so Matt would like donations made to assist the Pine Street Inn, a homeless shelter right here in Boston that actively provides help to 1200 people just like Carl. 

Thanks so much everyone and I hope you'll consider making donations to these two very deserving charities instead of buying us a traditional gift this year. We would also like to do the same for you so please let us know where we can donate in your name and we'll make this a super great season of paying it forward! Have safe and happy holidays and hopefully we'll all have a chance to spend time together sometime in 2011!

♥ love ♥
Jenn & Matt

P.S. As with every year I gotta give snaps to my mom for kicking off our charitable donation holidays a few years back! Best gift idea ever! Go mum! *snap, snap, snap*

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Truth Be Told, It Is Time to Transition

It is time to stop doing all of the old and tired things I used to do and move my energy into new things so I can create the life I want to lead. This is the thesis statement, the item I need to prove. Most writers take the entire length of the article to do so but I can prove it within the first paragraph. Why do I say this? Because if the old stuff was working toward me living the life I want I’d pretty much have it by now, don’t you think? And I don’t. Guess its time to move on.

(As a side note…Do me & my thesis amuse you? Those of you who don’t understand the reference should go and buy this album right now.)

And now back to my regularly scheduled rambling on…

Three of my friends -- my drum instructor, mom’s best friend and Trayce -- all got in touch with me in various ways over the past week with links to self publishing houses. All different ones, some local, some authors who’ve done it, some who are attached to big name houses. I’m thinking that maybe it’s a sign.

I’ve been asked if I ever considered self publishing before (and the answer is yes) so it’s not like this light bulb over my head where I thought ‘A-ha the golden ticket to Wonkaville!’ or anything like that. The suggestions to try it were just more scattered, not coming at me in one big rush before, so I had pushed it under the rug. But the pile of dirt under there looks like a mountain now so I strongly need to consider giving it weight. Of course other stuff needs to happen before I even consider doing anything with Ripple the Twine.

First, if I start looking into self publishing, every single thing I’ve ever read suggests that writers still get an agent. So I’ll be starting up that process again. Query, query, query until my little bitty fingers become nubs on the keys…and then I can probably still bang out a few more. But that’s in December (better known to us WriMos as NaNoEdMo).

Second, my very good friends Dianna and Ginger recently suggested that perhaps I should be writing short stories for magazines. It’s a great idea and will keep my creative muscles flexing even when I’m not working on something lengthy like a book. I have an account with HUB Pages and it will be a good start to post stuff there until I can acquire a few magazine subscriptions to various publications where my work might fit in.

(“What am I gonna do with 40 subscriptions to Vibe?” -- You know you were thinking it!)

Something that needs to go, sad as it may be, is any and all distractions that keep me from my goal of being a full time writer. Yes, this quite likely includes my company. I won’t close the doors of Chucka Stone Designs decorative paint treatments, I just won’t be out there pimping it. But what will be closing is my Etsy shop.

I plan to hang onto it through the end of the year but it really isn’t benefiting anyone so its just a time suckage that I don’t need anymore. No one shops there and the rent is getting a little high. Of course with the closing of the shop also comes the withdrawal from the team I’m a member of, EcoEtsy. This will be tough because there are so many awesome people in this bunch but I can still keep up with most of them in Greenpreneurs on Facebook so it won’t be a total loss.

That also means I’ll be giving up writing for their blog. And this is the reason I’ll be sticking it out until the end of the year, I’m committed to writing all the Monday News & Views posts for December because my co-editors were kind enough to give me November off for NaNo (♥LOVE♥).

Things that I will still keep up with are this blog of course and Facebook, sometimes twitter although I can’t always access it, and in writing here I will definitely still read all of my favorite bloggers.

But…and this is a big but…other than all of you awesome people that I read all the time (and you know who you are by now I hope) any new blog reading I take on is going to pretty strictly have to do with writing -- getting published, self publishing, published writer’s inner thoughts, etc. I have to start immersing myself into the life and culture or else I will only flail about even more.

And this brings me to my final, and probably the biggest, transition I plan to initiate. Within the next eight months Matt and I are moving to Arizona. His line of work is huge in the Phoenix area, prices for housing are much cheaper, my sister and friend and his dad and step mom are close by plus there’s the weather…oh the weather!

It isn’t even about the temperatures so much as the constant sunshine. Okay, it’s a lot to do with the temperatures too. I’m really just weary of it here. There is nothing for me here other than my family members that I still see and those people are mobile (and so are we) enough that we can go back and forth to spend time together as often as we can. Not to mention by keeping social networking sites I’m instantly connected.

No, its not the same as being in the same room, I get that, but the room we have here hardly fits half of them inside it anyway and its costing us an arm and a leg to pay for (and getting rid of those pesky appendages is about the only way we could fit more people in here).

I’m just seriously coming to the realization that Matt and I do not fit here anymore, in the physical or spiritual sense, we’ve moved into a different phase of life than everyone we know. Truth be told, I really have nothing in common with my friends anymore except a very rich past. Not having kids puts us in a completely different place than most of them but I stand by my choice not to bring more babies into this world. That’s me. But without that to schedule play dates around or whatever its just more and more difficult to see the parents of those wonderful kids because they get involved in the activities their children take on as they get older.

And yea for them, its encouraging to see that some people still take an active role in raising their children, its just that I do not fit into that world. Being an Auntie only takes you so far and then its best to give up being a hanger-on. Ya know?

Anyway, I’m just babbling as usual but suffice to say the next year will be producing a whole lot of interesting changes in my life and I’m fully ready to embrace all of them. I’ll be sure to share the links to my short stories when they’re up over at HUB pages.

Thanks for sticking it out with me, leaving comments and showing your love and support all this time everyone. I hope that I’ve been even half as supportive for all of you!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

You’ve Lost that Reckless Feeling

Last weekend, after the Fall Fair where I successfully sold my wares, my mom and aunt came back over to our place for a late lunch and some conversation. We shared a lot of laughs and a few tears but overall it was really a fantastic day and all of us got a lot of stuff off our chests that had been building up for a long time.

As for me, well, with the current state of affairs my mind pretty much became entwined with not much more than the concept of writing and then I made a statement that even surprised me.

“Some time in my past, and I have no idea when, I feel like my train jumped the track. I have no idea what I was supposed to end up doing but I can’t help but feel it was so much more than this.”

And that one tiny statement of admission to myself and the people around me set me off on a very slippery downward spiral for the rest of the weekend. I started to question everything in my life. From where I live to what I do to who I spend my time with to marrying Matt and you know what? Everything is alright now because sometime late Sunday I had another thought.

“It’s never too late, and I’m never too old, to do something about it.”

Now that’s all well and good but the teeny single spaced lines between ‘I’m supposed to do more than this’ and ‘never too late’ were cavernous last week. And it’s funny to me now but as you read this you’ll probably think how amazing it is that I got from points A to B in just forty eight short hours. But believe me, in my head I’ve been trying to get to B since A skipped the rails.

And I think that was back before I was even a teenager but it doesn’t really matter now, all that matters is making the most with what I’ve got.

Because last week was the second of NaNoWriMo, it was the well known week of let downs -- your characters suck, your writing sucks, you should just give up, etc. -- and this year more so than last year it effected the hell out of me.

Let me back up for a second because it isn’t fair to unleash this entire story without a little understanding of my own back story.

Since we moved back to Massachusetts Matt has been the primary income earner in our household. For the two years before we moved back I had taken myself, as Sex and the City Samantha would put it, ‘off the merry go round’ of corporate America to pursue my job with the ladies of faux out on Long Island. It was a great fit for me creatively speaking and I developed skills that I still utilize to this day. Because I felt so good about the new creative based job I had learned, I started a company doing it as soon as we got here. Most of you know it by now, Chucka Stone Designs.

The faux thing didn’t exactly take off like a rocket, but I had a moderately good year for a first year business. Which was good because Matt took a seventy percent pay cut to come back here and pursue something that was never to pan out. But that is a story for another time. Sometime when I have enough perspective to tell it without anger or sadness. Sometime when I can let it go. Sorry, still not there yet.

So I digress…

I did a whole bunch of jobs doing finishing and straight up painting for a couple years and then last year, around the end of the summer, my mom mentioned NaNoWriMo to me. I’d heard of it before but only on the fringes and I had no idea what it was even all about. After a good bit of research I signed up and set my goals on writing a novel in thirty days.

And you know what? Not a single person in my life said I was crazy (not to my face anyway). No one told me I couldn’t do it. Everyone pretty much universally said that I should have been doing it all along because it’s what I’m really good at. These were not new revelations, I had those thoughts myself since age fourteen, its just that I never gave them any weight because I had never figured out how to pursue it. I had no idea how to just become an Author of fiction novels. So instead I did anything but write.

There must be twenty “books” in my library of journals. At least, there could be more, twenty is just a round number guess. Now, I use quotes around the word ‘books’ because most of them are so violently edited at only halfway through (or less) that they have never become more than bleeding ink collectors.

I never felt like I could be an Author because I’d never finished a book. And to be fair, that’s kind of a necessary first step. So I dove into NaNo last year bound and determined to write something that I actually finished. A manuscript length fiction novel that was to become my first ever book.

And you know what? I did it. With their tools and encouragement along the way, the ability to lurk in forums and garner inspiration, and opening my eyes to another world where everything outside my door was simply inspiration ready for the taking, I wrote and completed a book.

I spent the next handful of months editing that book. Then I spent another scattering of months sending out query letters to Agents that I researched in order to sell that book.

And you know what? No one ever talks about this part. With good reason.

The editing of one’s own book (despite the help from three of my biggest cheerleaders ♥love♥) and the follow up of becoming my own sales and marketing representative is a brutal, vicious siege of…no, not rejection. The trouble with this part is the monotony. The waiting. The letters without a reply, the many (many, many, many) months spent going over and over the same old thing. The time between the first book and the second, for me, was a total buzz kill.

I started questioning what the fuck I was even doing with my life. Here I sit, every day, typing away furiously on these keys to create another world and all I want to do is climb into it and never leave. Reality sucks. The real world where bills are due and one’s husband is the only one contributing toward paying them is just, wrong to me.

So I started freaking out. Yes, I certainly had a ‘what does it all mean, fuck this I’m getting a job, I don’t care what I do as long as it pays a lot of money, my brain is going to explode the next time we’re left with seventy five dollars in our bank account’ kind of moment last weekend immediately following the fair.

Again, I should back up. Many of you know that we also filed bankruptcy last year. A big move that I’m not at all ashamed to say was necessary to move on with our lives. But it was another example of the waiting game.

I don’t mean financially, it wasn’t like we were trying to pay all of that stuff related to the house and just unable to do it so that left us with a windfall after the discharge. Quite the opposite. We were exactly the same, just free of the burdens of what happened after one very shady mortgage company allowed us to screw ourselves over many years ago. But we still made the same money and had the same bills the day after the discharge as the day before it if you catch my drift.

So I had put more stock in the feeling of freedom that I assumed would come with doing it. I put too much weight in waiting. Then I just kept waiting, floating endlessly in the sea of murky waters inside my own brain.

Then last weekend it all just caught up to me. There was no magic button. We aren’t transformed into something awesome just because we’re debt free. And oh yeah, I’m not making one freaking dime for all of this effort I’ve put into what I want to do with my life. No matter how many times Matt tells me to ‘stick it out’, ‘just keep working and it will happen’, ‘put myself out there every day’ (because the money he makes now does pay our bills) it occurred to me that if that happens and it takes me say ten years to get a book published, I will never get out of this transition place in my head.

Suddenly money became incredibly important. I started having a full on manic attack that I wasn’t pulling my weight in our family. I started freaking out that what I’m doing is a total and complete waste of time if we end up living in this apartment with no sunlight and no savings for the next whoever knows how long. That no matter how good my words string together, if I can’t sell it then its all for naught.

And then you know what? Matt said something that hit home so heavy I actually caught my breath in my throat -- ‘if you give up now that makes the last two years of my life bullshit.’ It wasn’t a move to make me feel guilty but it all suddenly hit me that he wants me to succeed. That he wants to see me give it everything I’ve got no matter what the consequence to our current financial situation. He has been the silent backdrop for so long. All this time that I’ve been wrapped up in my own head about feeling like I’m in this dire situation he’s been working his fucking ass off to let me have the chance to make something great happen in my life.

And I was just flailing about, squandering that gift. Like an asshole.

It’s hard to explain but it feels like I’ve been doing this job forever, because in my head I actually have. On the one hand, for the past twenty two years I’ve been this big famous Author, or screen writer, or general story teller and I don’t understand why it’s taking so long to make a living at it. On the other hand I hardly finished my first manuscript five minutes ago so how in the hell can I expect that just because I got to the finish line of the first goal I was going to instantly win the race?

I took all of last weekend off to contemplate, and I allowed myself to completely abandon all of my responsibilities for a day on Sunday when I got hammered in the middle of the afternoon and smoked a bunch of pot and didn’t write a word and didn’t work out and didn’t care about the outcome of the day. I simply embraced it for what it was at the time, like it was my last hurrah, and went with it.

And you know what? I woke up on Monday morning (a little off kilter physically I will admit) with an entirely new outlook on everything. I realized that it really doesn’t matter how long it takes as long as I keep at it. Not because Matt wants me to either. Because I want to and with his full support in doing so.

I still didn’t find the magic button where I press it and it lights up the inside of this box where every single answer to my life is written, but I definitely feel like a switch got flicked.

Its one thing to say out loud ‘I’m an Author’ and mean it but it’s quite another to go out there and live it by throwing myself recklessly into the great big unknown pool of destiny. Starting this past Monday, I feel like I’m living it. Finally.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Spelling it Out on Eleven Eleven

This is not going to be about my book and the hell known as week two but I still want the search engines to find me if its related to writing, so bear with me while I pimp it for a second then read on for something really swell...

NaNoWriMo, NaNoWriMo10, National Novel Writing Month, writing a book in 30 days is a freaking recoculous idea, wtf did I get myself into (again), I hate all my characters, I think I’ll kill off all my characters in a tragic blimp accident, let’s see what’s going on over at Facebook/twitter/blogger/NaNo forums/my eBay watch list/the inside of my refrigerator/the Wiki about common beans, perhaps this writing thing is a load of crap, I suck at typing, word count can kiss my big old ass, dictionary.com is my homepage…

Okay, that’ll do.

Now onto other more enjoyable topics such as the fact that today is my very favorite day! Today is eleven eleven! (Yes, I spell everything out for word count now). It isn’t my favorite day because it’s Veteran’s Day (which would have been sooo fitting to have been yesterday on the anniversary of the Marines inception don’t you think?) but because of the number itself: 11/11. Isn’t it just cool?

Mystical, magical, I don’t know. There has just always been something about the number eleven since I was a kid. A little kid. Recently I was sorting through a whole bunch of crap that I’ve held onto over the years and I found this wonky survey that I made up that only my sister and I took. Of course favorite number was one of the questions; I wrote 11. I don’t think I was much older than that at the time.

Let me back up for a second and explain, for those of you who didn’t spend half of your tween years folding up pieces of notebook paper into clever little fortune telling devices, just what the survey was. Remember that scene in Sixteen Candles where Samantha (Molly Ringwald, before the dance so aptly named for her became a global phenomenon) is answering the ‘have you ever done it’ survey and then she’s supposed to pass it on to a friend? Yeah well it was just like that only for ten year olds so ya know, the sex questions turned into stuff like ‘who’s your favorite movie star’.

Okay in all fairness I know that most ten year olds these days know more about sex than I probably still know, but back then we were all idiots and stupid surveys were our version of the internet.

But, as usual, I digress.

When Drew Bledsoe came to New England as our quarterback pretty much the only reason I liked him at first was that he proudly wore number 11. Of course when he started to kick our sorry ass team back into gear he became that much more awesome but still, the eleven was what really compelled me. I guess you could say it Drew me to him…haha, oh I just kill me.

It is pretty much a daily occurrence that I look at a clock at 11:11. Sometimes in the morning, sometimes at night. Sometimes both. And I always point it out by literally pointing at it and saying ‘oh look, its 11:11, well of course it is.’

Nothing major happened when I was eleven…

Okay wait, that might not be entirely accurate.  That was the year I met my BFF who is still my oldest and closest like-family friend in the world, I finally left the hell known as grammar school (truthfully my least favorite years, I even enjoyed junior high school more) and I also went to Disney World for the first time so I suppose one might argue that I had a pretty significant year that year. 

Significant, at least, to an eleven year old who’s sitting around making up silly surveys that I intended to pass around to my friends but never did.

There are some who say I should make wishes when I see something that reads , that it is fortuitous, coincidence, or really special.  But to me it is simply a time of day, another reason to notice my favorite number.

Then again, maybe eleven is the magic number.  My magic number.  Guess what time I’m going to schedule this to post today?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

If I Were A Plot Point Where Would I Be?

I suppose about a quarter of the way finished that’s where. And that’s good because a quarter of the month is already gone. Just like that…poof! But don’t worry faithful readers who would rather hear about anything other than my word count (9238 currently, I’m just sayin’…) I won’t go on and on about NaNoWriMo today. There are so many other topics to cover! Right?

And suddenly my mind goes silent…birds start chirping, I hear the empty void of a hollow brain, filled only by the sweet sounds of my character’s voices and start to think, what would Donna write in a situation like this?

Donna McCarthy is a 42 year old widow who lives, works and blogs in Boston. She suffered a fairly painful past that included losing a child at age ten to a drowning incident which forced a wedge between herself and her husband where he became verbally abusive and she sat back and took it because she was so lost she felt there was nothing else for her to do. Ten years later she loses her husband suddenly but instead of withering into a puddle of goo she rises to the occasion and slowly begins to claim her life back over the next three years.

On the advice of her boss as well as her best friend, she ventures back into the world of dating. On the advice of her therapist she starts taking numerous random classes to discover just what she really enjoys in life. When Donna starts writing a blog to chronicle her foray back into the world of the living she discovers an entire community of people who share her feelings of loss and life. One man in particular, Jake, seems to be coasting right along her wavelength and she starts to fantasize what life might be like if they were together.

Only problem, he is in Arizona and she is in Boston. So they continue flirting mercilessly online for months and share in each other’s love woes until one day when Donna meets Doug. For the first time in years she feels like maybe there could be a guy out there in the real world. After all her botched attempts at meeting people online and the countless string of bad dates she has been a participant in over the years, Doug seems, dare she say it, normal.

But no matter how much fun they seem to have, Donna is always waiting for the other shoe to drop and she never allows herself to really get close to Doug. So why is Jake acting like a jealous boyfriend in every comment he makes on her blog? And what will Doug do when he discovers she has put their entire dating history and all its steamy details online for the whole world to read? Could Donna be pushing away the one man who really loves her to live in a fantasy that lives 3,000 miles away?

Or something like that.

In fact none of the development above is really set in stone right now except the character names and the potential for a love triangle. I might make Jake a liar and Donna finds out he’s really a 27 year old Accountant living in Vermont (but only after she really figures out that she loves Doug of course). I might make Doug run away when he discovers her blog. I might make Donna fly to Arizona for a week at a spa with her best friend and have Jake blow her off the whole time she’s there so we start to hate Jake (because we’re really going to need to hate him so we get why she’s with Doug). For a while I kicked around making Jake & Doug the same person which means Jake lied about his location and all but the way the characters were unfolding it just didn’t fit. I can’t decide if her mom is evil or not and I can’t decide if she keeps in touch with her former in-laws. Opening up a sister-in-law character could add the conflict this happily ever after story will need.

Because regardless of what happens within the story you and I both know she will live happily ever after. My characters always do because I like sunsets and people riding off into them. I like kisses that fade into the soft glow of a candle’s flame. I like tying things up that used to be a big old mess into a neat and tidy perfectly pressed bow of awesomeness. Call it the romantic in me.

The thing that really surprised me this week is (dare I say it out loud without hundreds of torch carrying NaNoWriMo participants hunting me down?) how easy it was to write. Last year’s was not bad, I hit my word count or above everyday and the characters definitely developed personalities and all that happy crap but this year I feel like they’re just...I don't know, I guess, for lack of a better description, real.

It is so hard to describe but I know the fellow writers around these parts will understand. I’m loving it, truly, because it means my writing is short and sweet bursts of really lengthy stuff that actually flows. It reads well, every character seems to have a very distinct voice and my count just keeps ticking up. I love NaNo10!

Okay that is all, don’t hate me. Please?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Working Title 2010

Wait…Monday is the first of November? Oh surely you must be mistaken, it can’t be the first yet, I don’t even have a complete outline or more than two characters developed. It can’t be time for NaNoWriMo 2010 already silly, I must have at least three or four more months to go.

Don’t I?

No, really, don’t I?

No, I don’t. The stark reality hit this morning that it all starts Monday…holy crap. I just read through the latest newsletter from the Office of Letters and Light and all of a sudden my palms got clammy. Yes for real. Immediately following the drops of beaded sweat on my hands my stomach did something resembling Shaun White ripping a big backside rodeo 540 and I got all nervous like I was about to try pulling one off too.

And no, don’t ask, I don’t really have a clue what a big backside rodeo 540 is, I just know that it very likely involves flipping around in mid air while plummeting downhill at an insanely fast rate of speed.

I’m in alright shape compared to last year when I didn’t have a single name, profession, or any other character point written, other than my female main character’s name and what she did for a living, but somehow by the end of it all I managed to write in the neighborhood of fifty three thousand words. And when it was finished just a couple months ago it registered at something like fifty eight thousand. (I’m also practicing writing out everything now for word count so instead of only one word by typing '53,000' I get three. Clever, eh?)

And 58,000 is not bad.

So why am I freaking out? I know who my main character is and I have a pretty good handle on her back story plus I already know who her best friend is going to be and I got the super duper inspiration not too long ago for exactly how this story is going to unfold. Oh and yesterday I came up with a pretty good title for this thing based on her profession and station in life.

Um, yeah, I’m way further ahead this year than I was last year. So what gives huh? Maybe I’m nervous because I’ve already done it so now the pressure is on to win again. It's one thing to quickly vomit a whole bunch of words onto a page and call it a book, it's quite another to realize this is the career I want and all that puke is going to have to be cleaned up into something respectable afterwards right?

Or maybe I’m just afraid that I won’t hit fifty thousand words and that whole fear of failure thing is taking a foothold.

That’s much more likely the case. And you know something? I am okay with that because if I don’t go and hold myself accountable for the way this thing pans out no one else will. It isn’t as if the people from the Office of Letters and Light are going to send a torch carrying mob to my front door demanding I finish on or before November thirtieth right? Right. And it also isn’t as if I have an Agent (yet) who is holding a big fat advance check in their hands with my name on it that they aren’t allowed to turn over to me until I finish.

I guess I just need to start writing and let the chips (and mugs full of coffee, plans with friends, droplets of water from the non existent showers in my future, rays of sunshine I won't see for a month…) fall where they may.

After all, it is only a book.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Beautiful Transformation in the Neighborhood?

Insert sarcasm here.

Your landscapers showing up at eight o’clock in the morning with their leaf blower right outside my window is super inspiring.

Ugh. Its times like this that I usually turn on music or the television but at eight in the morning I just refuse to interrupt my own desire for silence. The sound outside is making its way into my house and all the way down to my nerves, this is true, but I’m not the one who was in charge of that noise. Eventually I know it will go away and I can go back to my little Zen space where the only noise I hear is me cutting and pinning a bunch of fabric.

Most days I don’t turn on music. I got out of the habit last year when I did NaNoWriMo because when I listened and wrote simultaneously the emotion in each song started coming through in the narrative and dialog and my characters started sounding completely schizo. Obviously not a desirable outcome in a 230 page book, unless one of my characters happened to be a schizophrenic. But they weren’t. So I turned off the iTunes and opted instead for crime dramas (which now I’m so hopelessly addicted to I should be writing mysteries or cop books…but I digress…)

So most days I revel in the silence of the morning, and sometimes part of the afternoon, until I either start stitching on the machine or clicking the keys to write. Either way, I wouldn’t be doing those things right outside my neighbor’s window at eight o’clock in the morning because, hello, not everyone is on the same schedule as me. Is common courtesy of waiting until a decent hour (say, nine or later when people are typically up and at work) asking for too much in the city? Perhaps, I think with a sigh, but that doesn’t mean I have to be one of those people who are blind to everyone else.

After they turned the blower off all I could think about was the whirring sound of the motor and wondered how much gas/electricity it was burning with every spin of the blade. It made me wonder if they give a crap about the planet at all. Maybe they really do but they have to do that kind of work to survive; no matter what they have to do they will go out there and do it in order to feed their family.

Compromised values in the name of food on the table and mortgages paid? The stark reality of today’s society.

But that is just too deep for such an early start to the day…seriously, shake it off! I know life isn’t light and roses and rainbows shooting out one’s ass at all moments but I can’t bring myself down with thoughts so depressing so early or I’ll end up getting nothing done today while I lament the pains of the world.


Let’s talk about the ways I love the planet. I’m using up the last of a whole slew of fabrics to make all kinds of stuff for the craft fair, but you already know that if you’ve spent any time over here in the past couple weeks.

Want to hear something new? Well okay…a few months ago I got turned onto this gal’s blog, New Dress A Day, which is one woman’s journey to spend no more than $1 per day on a dress or similar thrift shop item that she then transforms into something modern and wearable.

Think 2XL muumuu that she ends up wearing with boots and tights out to a bar that night. I know it probably seems impossible but she pulls it off and with only a minimum of instruments -- scissors, seam rippers and a sewing machine. Not to mention her vast imagination to take the ugly and shapeless and turn it into something amazing and one of a kind. Seriously inspiring stuff!

Because I’ve been inspired by her awesomeness I decided to give it a try. Now I didn’t spend any money on the first 2 items I plan to transform, they came from my grandmother’s old stash of stuff but we’ll see what I can do with them.

First is an animal print top in black and white with a thick, black, mock turtleneck collar, long sleeves, shoulder pads and belt loops (but no belt). I might go sleeveless with that one but no matter what, the shoulder pads will be g.o.n.e. by the end of its transformation.

The other is a top and skirt in a taupey tan made out of a T-shirt type knit. The top has a collar and long sleeves (and absolutely no shape at all) and the skirt has an elastic waistband. If worn like a skirt it would fall at just about my mid shin (the worst spot for me because it makes me look even shorter) so I’m planning to add halter straps or something to the neckline to keep it up and then use it as a sleeveless long shirt dress over tights.

That’s the plan right now anyway. But all that will have to wait until craft fair madness is behind me. Just 4 more days and I can stop making these:

And start selling them instead. Hey I’m going to need a bunch of room in the sewing closet for all of those inexpensive thrift shop finds I scour. Maybe extending the lifecycle of some truly awful clothes in my house will make up for the planet stomping that occurs outside of it. One can dare to dream.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

It’s a Family Affair

Every morning I wake up with a different song playing in my head. Sometimes I can explain it, for instance, if I heard the song right before I went to bed the night before, while other times I have no explanation as to how it got there. Today’s is a prime example of the latter. Now I like this song but ask me to sing more than the four words in the title above and you’ll catch me scratching my head.

So you can probably see the dilemma here. The same four words playing on a loop over and over again as I sit awake, alone, until Matt gets up, is moderately maddening. But instead of heading off to the loony bin, I’m going to go with it and use the song title as a writing prompt. Hey, I’m all about turning the negative into a positive like that.

Speaking of prompt…as soon as I decided to write about it, I promptly lost all steam and motivation to do so. This has been a common problem lately. I think there are a few reasons for it.

First off, I don’t want to sit here and ramble on aimlessly about everything I’ve done lately because I won’t even be able to see the bored look in your eye as you drift off and start imagining what you’re having for dinner instead of absorbing the words on the screen. My life lately has been one long thread. Literally. Pretty much all I’ve done lately is sew.

Which brings me to the second reason. Sewing, unless you’re a seamstress, is a pretty boring topic. Wait, that was the same as the first reason right? Yeah, I guess you can probably understand the inclination to keep it to myself.

So (or sew?? Haha! Oh I kill me…) this is why I had all these grand plans to turn this post into some wonderful tale about my past, something awesome and fun from the 70’s and I would have woven it around my family like the song line had been written specifically for us.

For example, I could do a big story about how I was picked on in grammar school for wearing hand me down clothes that came from my much older cousins. Or I could talk about the time when my aunt tried to talk me out of drinking because my whole family was full of alcoholics but, not only was I not entirely surprised by the information, I think I surprised her by sharing that I just wanted to go to the party; I didn’t even have one drink that night. Perhaps a nice long post about the way two people is quite enough to make a family and that I don’t need to have kids to feel like I’ve achieved that feeling.

But every single one of those topics and more would just fall flat right now because that’s how I feel. As flat as the snowman ornaments I stitched up recently. Flat, listless, languid, lifeless, wordless and inspirationless. (Is that even a word? Probably not but it pretty much perfectly describes my overall brainwave right now so I’m keeping it. Suck on that Oxford Dictionary).

I think I know the reason. I’m saving it up in the imaginary bunker in my brain. The bunker is made of four foot thick concrete walls with a solid steel hatch that only I can access because it takes my fingerprint and retina scan to get in. Yeah, the thing is secure. And for good reason. It is storing the makings of my book inside its walls.

Imagination, inspiration and ability to share a fully fluffed up story, full of good old fashioned chewy bits like warm date nut cookies, will just have to wait until November. (Ooh, cookies…)

So what the hell do I do in the meantime? I guess I could regale all of you with tales of my grocery shopping adventures but somehow I think that might have me losing a few readers. Not that I couldn’t make it funny -- hell I kept everyone reading about me having a cold by sprinkling in crap about puffy heart key chains, local New Jersey townies and Pauly Shore movies -- but something tells me it would just be far too shameless, even for me, to try to add humor to a Peapod delivery. I mean, they weren’t even late and actually delivered everything I ordered so how could I ever twist that one ya know?

Plus I’d never want to insult us by writing an entire 875 word post full of absolutely no content whatsoever. That would just be…well, it would surely be random lunacy, if you will, and I wouldn’t dream of doing that to any of us! Honestly, what do you take me for? Geesh…

While I dye my hair and get ready to go see my mom’s work at the Arlington Open Studios, and then attend my uncle’s big sixtieth birthday party later today, I will leave you with this quote my drum instructor told me yesterday. Apparently it is from a cowboy movie he watched recently.

“Never hasn’t happened yet.”

Yup, you’re right. That quote has absolutely nothing to do with anything I’ve written here.  Just like everything else.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Tired Worn Out and Exhausted Never Felt So Good

Life. Sometimes it’s a motherfucker huh? Yeah sorry, I know it’s a little early on a Saturday for a lot of you to read that kind of language so my advice is to come back later and finish up. I really can’t promise it won’t get worse from here.

This isn’t going to be a ‘bitching about everything going on in my life’ post though, on the contrary, I’m kind of in the best mood that I’ve been in a very long time. It’s more about irony. And why, while I love the concept of it, the reality sucks when it happens.

Huh. That kind of defines irony I guess, doesn’t it? How ironic.

I feel like one thing gets under control, hell in my case it’s about four, and life is going great but then BLAM!!, I get hit upside the head with the proverbial curve ball that promptly throws something else out of whack.

So what’s actually under control right now you may ask?

Matt and I started working out about 2 weeks ago doing the very popular at home program P90X. Talk about intense, with six days on and only one day off to rest and stretch my body has been beat to shit. And then after you’re beaten and bloody lying in the middle of your yoga mat, Tony whips you some more and asks you to love it. But I do love it. In fact its starting to get to the place where I can’t wait for Matt to get home at night so we can get to our workout because even though it kills me, by the end of the hour I feel lighter both physically and mentally. Clarity is my new best friend.

The manuscript I started for NaNoWriMo last year is, to my satisfaction, 100% finished now. After a whole slew of editing and help from various people reading it and giving me feedback, I am confident that it is now complete and ready to be published. This isn’t trivial to me so I do feel a little guilty plunking it in the middle of this post, like all it deserves for acknowledgement is a teeny paragraph and no fanfare. I know it is a huge accomplishment to have even written the 230 pages. (That’s why I’m starting it all over again in 23 days. I guess it’s just my career so I don’t necessarily feel like I deserve a big medal or anything; Matt doesn’t get a parade when he finishes a file.)

My brainstorm notebook has been filling up with all kinds of interesting stuff lately, and while I do have a few blurbs for writing the next novel, my inspirations lately have revolved around stuff to sew. This is good because with the FUMC Craft Fair on Saturday November 13 in Melrose, I need as much as I can get! I’ve pretty much abandoned handbags in favor of fun wall art, holiday ornaments and home décor (like pillows & placemats). Of course the threads to make all this loot are still coming out of my reclaimed stash so I’ll still feel all eco.

Yeah that’s about where it ends for feeling reigned in. Okay so maybe its just three things that are really under control. But in getting this stuff together, a lot of other stuff has seemed to go askew.

Working out is wonderful and I’m sure after a couple months of hard core exercise my body is going to begin to adapt but both of us falling asleep on the sofa at like ten o’clock every night (or earlier) doesn’t do much for the sex life. Yeah, that’s all I’m gonna say about that. In addition it means less time out with family or friends because I’m not going out for a pizza anymore and on a Friday night when I should be out laughing it up, I have to prioritize my workout first which leaves a very teeny window before that 10:00 cut off for tiredness.

Writing and editing a full length Chick Lit novel is great and all but so many other venues got shut down in the process. I’m certainly slack on blogging and reading other’s blogs which definitely pisses me off, especially with my long time bloggy friends. And I do consider those people my friends so there’s a nagging annoyance there. Plus I kind of miss writing my other blog. Sometimes.

Preparing to sell my wares in a public forum always causes my energy to have to shift from something else. In this case it has been practicing drums. I sit at my desk and stare at them feeling like time just slips away before I even have a minute to sit and make music. Paying my instructor to teach me the same shit over and over again is a waste of my money and his time. Period.

I do miss keeping up with my friends and family but I guess that’s what Facebook is for now. We can quickly peek into each other’s lives instead of spending hours on the phone or shoving greasy, expensive food down our throat at some restaurant right? And with writing I guess I just don’t care if I keep GLR going forever. It’s just a blog and frankly I’d rather throw my attention on this one. This one is so much more ‘me’. And the fair? The fair is temporary so I know that the drums will once again ring out in short order.

So what can I do? I guess the short answer is I have no freaking clue. Really, I don’t. I know it might sound weird but even though I’m having all of this stuff fall off the back end of life, the things that have taken over are more exciting and dynamic to me than any of that other stuff that seems to be slacking off.

Except the sex. Yeah. I guess it’s just a good thing that I enjoy snuggling too.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Comfort Zone or Pandemonium?

Buckling down and getting serious about my writing career means an entire life upheaval in the beginning. But isn’t that true with just about any new endeavor someone sets out on? No matter what new thing enters our life, chaos is sure to ensue while trying to fit it in.

I mean, new romantic relationships start taking time away from time formerly spent with others, and fresh hobbies steal moments from what used to be free time. So if my world is going to heave its kind of nice to know it will be for the betterment of my career at least. That is, as soon as I drag myself out of the house.

I’m considering joining up with a local writer’s group. Why not right? There is nothing about networking with other people in my industry that can hurt. Even if we don’t click, at least I’ll meet some new and inspiring characters out of the deal. Of course, again, in order to meet them I need to stop writing and actually leave the house.

I guess it just nerves me to think that if I’m out there observing characters (especially an entire table full of other writers) and then using them as inspirational fodder for my work, how can I ever know they aren’t doing the same to me? I can’t. So I guess that’s just the chance I have to take right? Who knows, maybe I’ll be interesting enough to become someone’s character.

And speaking of characters, it’s high time I started pulling out all the notes I’ve randomly scribbled into an almost full notebook over this past year and organize them into some kind of outline and background because I can’t even think about how fast NaNo is approaching. Funny, everywhere I went last year it seemed that very notebook and a pen came with me.

You know how there are some women that always have a bobby pin or a girlie product in their bag when you covertly insert yourself into their world to ask for one while standing in a public restroom? Yeah, well I’m the one who will always have a pen.

Because of that, my house is overflowing with free pens from anywhere and everywhere. Just this past Sunday our team -- The Forget Me Nots, Boston -- participated in the Alzheimer’s Memory Walk to raise money and awareness about this disease. With that many day care facilities, nursing homes and hospitals sharing information there were bound to be a few giving away pens.

I came home with three, one blue which is already in the Goodwill box, and two black which are now located in the living room and my purse.

The last pens I actually bought were the red Bic ones that I used to edit last year’s book. Call me crazy but seeing red for the changes that needed to be made had me noticing them more easily. I guess that’s why a lot of Editors use them. Though I am just taking a guess there, I don’t have an Editor yet so I have no idea what color ink they actually prefer.

Maybe they favor purple ink like Lucile Burt, Creative Writing teacher from my senior year of high school, did. Or perhaps they prefer graphite, or blue ink, so their suggestions for improvement stand out against the black typeface.

Whatever they use, I can’t wait to find out. I just pray it isn’t hemorrhaging all over the page.

Then again, so what if it is. There is nothing in this world that you have to work for that isn’t worth it in the end right? I’m ready to be up-heaved and forced outside of my little bubble of safety. Bring it.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Boredom Is…

Being sick. Okay, in all fairness it’s not really being sick that defines boredom but rather the lack of options when one is. I guess it was my body’s way of saying ‘oh no, I think you had plenty of excitement last weekend down at the Jersey Shore to suffice for an entire week of laying around.’ So lay around I do.

This week we got back from our long weekend in New Jersey and all I brought back was some awesome arcade booty and a killer cold. Thanks for that New Jersey. I was already on the fence about you, so this just pushed me right over the edge.

Tuesday morning I woke up and just knew something was off. I could feel the first rumblings of a cough in the upper area of my chest and my head had a slight tinge of an ache way in the back recesses. But since I never stop, I plunked myself in front of my computer instead of on the sofa. Mistake number one.

Hey, I finished 9 chapters and got all the pictures from our trip edited so I was feeling pretty good. But as the day progressed my eyelids started getting heavier and so did my cough. I made myself tea and repeated the ‘I’m healthy’ mantra over and over but by dinner time I had to admit it -- I was sick.

So I should back up here and say that being sick just isn’t in my vocabulary. I have a pretty healthy immune system and because I generally try to eat well and get decent sleep every night I’m able to fight off whatever germs come my way, even if Matt caught it first. Sick baffles me and I start to consider just how I could have picked up this nasty viral bitch.

Perhaps it was the hotel room door swinging back and forth in the breeze even with the deadbolt on (in the most ghetto part of town mind you) that kept me up at night, causing lack of sleep so I wasn’t well rested. Maybe it was the 5 beers I drank in four hours at the local townie bar while watching the Patriots lose to the Jets (its $2 pints every day and all day at Riggers woo hoo!). Or maybe, just maybe, it was the very drunk, and very sad, birthday girl crying on my shoulder in the ladies room that brought on the germs.

Then again it could have been from playing skee ball for 2 hours in the arcade with all of those under ten germ machines (high score 340,000 in one game…I rule!). It wasn’t like I was carrying around a bottle of hand sanitizer that I used every time after I threw a ball. Mistake number two.

Regardless of where the little bugger found its way into my system, by Wednesday morning I was toast.

And because I don’t get sick often I’m really no good at it. Like, really no good. I set up my laptop table and a cup of chai tea and decided that if I couldn’t be at the computer, there was at least going to be a little work done on my book that day. I was on a roll from Tuesday and wanted to finish everything this week.

Insert hysterical laughter here.

I barely made it through one chapter. One chapter I’ll have to go back and re-edit again that is. I thought it was just my body that rebelled against me but my brain wasn’t functioning either. I couldn’t get clear enough to wrap my head around my characters so every word I wrote sounded stiff and forced, and that was exactly what I was trying to get rid of in the first place.

Between flushing out the fluids, downing cough medicine like it was the latest drink craze and stirring chicken soup, I was spent. With a sigh I closed my laptop and admitted defeat.

But my next move was unthinkable. Even I couldn’t believe I was doing it but I went to the free movies list in my cable provider’s ‘On Demand’ menu and started cherry picking the best of the best.

Insert sarcasm here.

I let myself watch such classics as Single White Female, Sister Act, and Jury Duty (that’s right, the one with Pauly Shore). And just when things looked like they couldn’t get any lower I thought ‘huh, I’ve never actually seen The Blue Lagoon…’

Oh yes, I definitely went there. And it was everything I knew it would be. Luckily Matt came home shortly after that and distracted me or who knows where my viewing lows might have gone. Not that I could talk to him or anything, every time I opened my mouth to say anything I went into a coughing fit.

Insert Matt’s glee that I shut up for five seconds, and he got an entire night of peace for once, here.

With all of the best bad movies already watched on Wednesday, on Thursday I decided to go with the House marathon. I was hopeful that maybe some patient would get a rare case of the common cold so I could heal myself and stop watching television all day.

No such luck. But it was nice to see that Mackenzie Astin and D.B. Sweeney are still working. The Facts of Life and The Cutting Edge were a long time ago after all.

Today is better, I’m not as snuffly or heavy-chested but even just the hour it’s taken to type this up has caused me to wear out a little (okay, a lot but I’m still in denial). So look, I gave you two good long days body, now its your turn to give back because if I don’t get out of this house and to my drum lesson today or Town(ie) Night fireworks in Arlington tonight I’m sure to go mad.

Seriously. Don’t make me pull out Encino Man, because I will.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Never Forget

This is a very difficult day for me. For the past nine years it has become increasingly more so. It is kind of hard to explain why but I think you probably know me well enough to understand to a point. I'm one of those people who absorb the energies of the people around me, take it in, mix it up and do my best to expel happiness in its place (no matter what their original state was).

Nine years ago I was inundated with so much overwhelming sadness and dark sky all at once that I couldn't transform it. I couldn’t mix it into something positive, or beautiful or radiant because there was too much sorrow coming across the wires. My entire body went limp and I felt spent every minute of every day, until the first plane made its way back into the sky again and a small glimmering of hope returned to a few.

The feeling left me very hollow and empty for weeks and I struggled greatly with how to cope with the losses of the world on that day.

I remember what I was wearing (a sleeveless black and white zebra print top in a light weight polyester and black Capri pants with a strappy open toe kitten heel sandal, because it was unseasonably warm, and I had bright red lipstick on, because I was trying to make a statement), who I was with (a co-worker that I shared an office with), who told me (another co-worker who casually sauntered down the hall and said ‘hey did you hear the World Trade Center exploded?’), how fast we discovered that it wasn’t the building in Boston but in NYC and just what it meant.

Boston.com was our first stop and there on the front page was a picture of one of the twin towers in Manhattan with a ring of fire surrounding it and dark black smoke rising out of the blue glass. The reflection of it made it seem that much worse and it honestly took me a full minute to process what I was even viewing.

I’m not a New Yorker. The image of those towers was not something I witnessed on a daily basis and frankly I don’t think I had seen them in front of me, standing tall, with my own eyes ever in my life. But as soon as I figured out what was on my screen my co-worker and I went tearing out of our office to start looking for answers.

Our tiny little space was located in a back corner of the second floor, far removed from most of the people in the know (read: everyone else in our company). The reason we fought to get the space was that we could control the heat. And we both liked to sweat instead of shiver so it was a perfect arrangement.

But on that morning the temperature was the last thing on our mind.

We made it downstairs only to discover another friend was sitting with a female co-worker who was frantically dialing her office phone and getting nothing but a busy signal. Both of her grown kids worked in the towers.

Holy shit.

She thought maybe she would have better luck at home (3 blocks away) so the four of us piled into her car and sped over there. This entire scene probably took as long to unveil as it just took you to read so we immediately turned on the television once we arrived only to discover another plane had hit the second tower.

Holy shit.

Our friend was dialing in her kitchen while the three of us sat in the living room watching the news. And then in a flash, life as we knew it in this country came to a screeching halt. A train wreck of epic proportions that even Peter Jackson couldn’t have scripted.

We watched the first tower fall.

We hugged each other. We cried.

And then, silent, save for our gasping sobs, we watched the second tower fall.

We sat, statue still, with slack jaws and frozen limbs draped over each other’s shoulders.

We found out our friend’s kids were fine.

I immediately thought of my cousins who lived in New York. Then I thought of Matt. He grew up there and had to be freaking out.

As someone who spent little time in that city I had no clue where anyone lived or worked. All I knew was I had to find out.

We raced back to the office where all anyone could really do was watch the television someone had rolled into the first floor conference room. By this time they had discovered that the planes originated from Boston and our city was on high alert.

Back in my office I began the frantic dialing spree, running into mostly busy signals but I finally managed to get through to Matt. Nothing to this day will ever be as comforting to me as the sound of his voice on the other end of the line at that moment. I knew he was in Boston, I knew we had plans that night after I got out of my part time job, I knew he was fine but all rationality dropped by the wayside on that morning.

He tried to contact the people he knew in or around the City and I managed to get my aunt on the line. My cousins were fine. Everyone we knew was fine.

I exhaled for the first time in an hour.

My co-worker and I went out front to have a cigarette and couldn’t even look at each other. All we could do was stare at the top of the John Hancock Tower, perfectly framed by the street our building was on, and pray it would still be standing at the end of the day.

So proximate to Boston, we tended to be in the flight path and traffic patterns of the bustling city. It was eerily quiet outside. Most cars were stopped and with no planes overhead it was like living on a rural farm somewhere, not a major metropolitan area.

Matt and I talked again and I told him there was no way I was going to my part time job that night (I quit very soon after this as I quickly reprioritized my life and what was really important). He said he would pick up some stuff at his sister’s place (where he was still living after moving back from Ohio) and would stay at my place that night. I told him I was going to demand it if he didn’t suggest it first.

As days went on most news channels featured not much else while new revelations about who the hijackers were, their links to terrorist organizations and how they got into our country in the first place began to materialize.

It was all too much for me. My soul was beginning to ache and I felt I may just lose it forever if I kept watching the coverage. So I stopped. Right then and there. In the midst of a tragedy I turned off my television, radio and boston.com subscription and tried to release it.

But it wouldn’t go. Not until a few days later when Matt and I had tickets to go see one of my all time favorite bands, Godsmack, in concert in Manchester, New Hampshire.

I was driving a beat up, falling apart (read: LOVE) Mercury Tracer in those days and she was on one of her last legs. But we made it up to NH with no problems and we were ready to display our hand made patriotism at the show as we made our own flags on our plain white Hanes T-shirts.

We parked in a random lot behind some apartment building and headed for the arena. But it turns out the show was outdoors. There must have been 5,000 people on that field and every single one of them was talking to, hugging or shaking the hand of a stranger.

About five minutes into the set 5,000 people collectively held their breath for about ten seconds as the first plane we had seen in days flew directly over where we were standing. No one was watching the stage, I don’t even remember if the band was playing at the time.

All I remember is the exhale.

Five thousand people had their heads tilted up toward the night sky and erupted into the loudest cheer I have ever been present to witness. We shared that moment together. One people with one common purpose -- to stand strong in our humanity and American spirit. And it was beautiful.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Time to Every Purpose

Does it always have to be so perfect and lengthy? My blog that is. More specifically each post. The realistic answer is probably not. I’d likely get a whole heck of a lot more comments if I didn’t ramble on for 1500 solid words every time.

But that just wouldn’t be me now would it? Comment whore or not I will suffer with the lack of them to put my verbal vomit out there.

Who knew one could use the words ‘whore’ and ‘vomit’ in the same sentence? Oh wait, Vegas…

So there are a whole lot of happenings going down, stuff I’ve joined and things going on so it makes me wonder if I really can get back to posting more regularly (?). First of all there is the Book Club which is so rad. I always wanted to join a book club and now I did so yea! We read & reviewed Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert last month and September is all about The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bend. I’m looking forward to that one on mere title alone.

Because, really, who doesn’t love lemon cake?

Then again maybe I have eaten too much of it lately because exercise is about to take up a whole big chunk of the page in the current chapter of my life. I finally got back on my treadmill (now that temperatures in Boston have calmed back from the upper 90’s and humid) and on the suggestion of a good friend who is doing and sticking to it, we’re picking up P90X in a couple weeks with the next paycheck.

I have to, really, because no matter how much I avoid looking at my stomach, every time I do catch a glance it baffles me how it can possibly have morphed into the shape of an entire pizza plus a five piece chicken selects. Or maybe the selects went to my ass? Huh, no, that’s probably due to all the cheese and fries. (Ooh, cheese fries…)

Fast food. My one true nemesis on this planet.

So because a few of us were feeling a similar need to shed there is the new Fitness Club! Basically we’ll all talk about our good, healthier habits and give each other some virtual high fives for the efforts we’re all making toward being healthier people. No weigh-ins, no weight revelations, no pressure. And I love that.

While I’m spending all that time on the gerbil wheel I might as well get some kind of benefit so I’m reading a lot of Chick-Lit too. I really forgot how much I loved reading stories about dynamic women. Back when I was younger we simply called it ‘Fiction’ but the aforementioned mildly misogynistic catch phrase gained momentum and stuck.  So now, according to the industry, that’s what I write.

Some of the books I’ve read recently have been memoirs. I gobbled up all but one book by Jen Lancaster so far. She is hilarious, open and really, really good at conversational voice. I identified with her style and situations right away. Well, except I never owned & had to sell anything by Prada and I’m not a Republican but otherwise I get everything that flows out of that woman’s fingers. Right down to the constant cursing.

Though, unlike Word who has just presented me with a little red squiggle, at least I do know what Prada is.

Faux has trailed off again and honestly that is fine. After six straight weeks of body breaking labor work I’m fully content to not have to climb, roll, cut, pounce, sand or tape anything for a while. Plus, NaNoWriMo is coming up and I really have to start thinking up some baseline character stuff.

We went out a week or so ago with a friend of mine and I had one of those nights where my little notebook and pen got whipped out so often with hilarious inspiration that I should have had a mini voice recorder instead.

And FYI? People in locals-only type bars give very odd looks to 37 year old women in sweats and a bucket hat who “take notes” all night. But ask me if I care. I have another novel to start in less than sixty days people! There is no time like the present to create a character.

Oh, and FYI x 2? People in bars are some seriously interesting characters.

With NaNo comes the lack of ability to focus on pretty much anything else so before that whirlwind begins it seemed right to do one craft fair this year. It’s the same one I did a couple years ago in Melrose and I’m looking forward to it, mostly because I plan to whip up a whole bunch of fun home décor from fabric and faux and sell the pants off it.

Two goals achieved -- 1. I make something out of all the reclaimed fabric I have gathering dust in my craft closet and 2. all the fabric in my craft closet finally goes to a good home that isn’t mine.

Which leads me into the next eight week project. Not only creating craft fair merch but really organizing my entire crafty life. (Now all I hear in my head is the Beastie Boys…) I have so many old photographs just dying to be attached to the pages of the umpteen half filled or empty scrapbooks taking up space in yet another cabinet. Something tells me I’ll gain space by putting them together.

So in short (not) I guess its time to reorganize and reclaim my life back. The physical, mental, intellectual and spiritual. Not to mention financial or any other ‘al’ that happens to pop up.

Only 965 words this time, not too bad.