REPORT A PROBLEM
Now that April is over and all my big projects are finished, I feel lost. "Unmoored" might be a better way to describe it. After spending so many days and nights composing poems, to be suddenly without deadlines is strange. I feel like I've been left to drift in the middle of the ocean. I don't know what to do with myself now, and even though I want to write, it's almost like my mind won't let me. I've lost a little of my drive, I think, and that scares me. I'm crossing my fingers that this feeling is temporary.
7 a.m. and I'm the only one up, the only one awake and listening to the birds chirping outside the windows I've just opened. I used to know some of those birds by their calls—back when I was a kid—but I can't remember anymore. Is it old age or just the distance I've come from my past, the physical distance, miles upon miles of road, that has taken me from my sheltered roots and deposited me here, in a place so different that I sometimes feel that the sun—even the very air—is cartoonish and unreal?
Cup of coffee number two. My brain is finally starting to feel awake.
It's chilly this morning, but I opened the window anyway. There's just something about airing out a house that has sat sealed up all winter that makes me happy. I'm letting out the old, the stale, and letting in the new and fresh. "They" always say that spring is a time of new beginnings. I agree.
I hate cleaning, but spring makes me want to. Perhaps I should do as the old joke says and go back to bed until the feeling passes...
I feel like watching old music videos today, ones I remember from the eighties and nineties. "Pour Some Sugar on Me" is running through my mind right now. Odd to think of Def Leppard first thing in the morning...
It's a beautiful day again. I think that maybe spring really is here this time. The kids will want to play outside, I'm sure. Maybe I can talk them into a walk. I need more inspiration for my haiku.
My coffee is cold now, but I'm glad. It's been a productive writing morning. I'm hopeful for more.
I've been awake for about a half-hour now, but it feels like longer, and for that I'm glad. For the first time in about a month, I feel like I got a good night's sleep—I feel rested and (for once) not even in need of the large cup of caffeine sitting here beside me on the desk. I've been writing ever since I woke up, just bits and pieces of different things: a blog post, some comments on other people's blogs, these 100 words... Now, though, the rest of the house is waking up. My quiet is leaving...
I have two shirts that I've worn so many times now that they're only fit for home, and even though they're getting kind of ratty—one with a grease stain splashed across the front, the other with a quarter-sized hole in the back—I keep wearing them, much to my husband's dismay, as he once said that when the kids look back on their childhoods, one of the key things they'll remember about me is the way I dressed "not so nicely" at home, but I don't see why that should matter; ratty clothes don't mean I don't love.
As kids, my sister and I used to love playing croquet. I can remember one game in particular; I think it was a Saturday. We had just finished the game and were pulling the poles from the ground. Once I had the pole out, I remember looking down and seeing something...creepy. I showed my sister, who was also terrified, and we ran to our dad, screaming at the tops of our lungs about the devil's eye staring up at us from deep in the ground. He laughed and told us the "eye" was only water. I'll never forget that.
Sometimes I can picture myself smoking a cigarette and pacing back and forth in my writing room, most often in the form of a man. This is interesting for two reasons: the first (and most important to mention, I think) is that I'm not a man, and the second is that I'm not a smoker either (unless you count those Thirsty Thursdays in college when I'd hang out with friends at the bar, "smoking" and asking cute, strange guys for a light... Maybe I'm channeling some other writer, one long dead. Is it Bukowski? That would be cool, I guess.
I hate it when I think of something to write about here but neglect to jot the idea down, thereby giving my sieve brain permission to let it slip away...
going to write about was the middle grade novel idea I can't get out of my head. I'm afraid the thing that always happens is going to happen again: I'll allow myself to get excited about the idea, then my stupid inner critic will step in and tell me all the reasons why I'm unqualified to write the story. I hate that guy.
"I can't change my mold."
What else is there to say, really? I can't change, so why do I keep trying?
Of no avail.
There are bad days, and then there are horrible, hellish days, days like today, days when everything about the world—about me—is wrong.
On those days, what can you do but fly? Calgon, take me away—and don't bring me back.
"It's five o'clock somewhere in the world."
"Indeed. Pass the booze."
So far, this had been a crummy weekend. My husband is out of town, it's Mother's Day weekend, and I guess I'm just feeling sorry for myself. Oh, well. It's not such a bad problem in the grand scheme of things.
What else? I've been trying to write today but just can't seem to do it. Once the kids are in bed, I'll probably use my time wisely and watch stupid TV shows until I'm exhausted and fall asleep...
Can one sense a subtle turning of the tide, a small shift toward the better, a parting of the clouds, so to speak? Things seem different today, like I've jumped a hurdle or crossed through a dark woods, emerging unscathed in the sunlight—like I reached the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow (and all that froufrou jazz.) I don't know. In plain English: I just feel like things have shifted, like something has changed for the better. Am I right? Only time will tell, of course, but I hope so. And really, don't we all?
I'm at that point in the creative process where an idea—and I'm not even certain exactly what it is yet—is niggling at the outer edges of my mind. All I know is that it's a middle grade story with a male main character. I'm going to write tonight and see if I can clarify the idea.
In other news, I had a nice Mother's Day. My kids drew me some pictures and cards, and my husband brought me flowers and the best card he could have chosen. He scored a lot of points with that one...
There's always that one person you never stop thinking about, no matter how many times you tell yourself not to, no matter how hard you try to shove him or her out of your mind. I have one of those people; of course I do. Even after all these years—seventeen since we last saw each other—I think of him often, wonder what he's doing, where he is. Who he's with.
We never really know the impact another person will have on us until much later, when it's already too late for our hearts to let go.
I took my daughter to storytime today, and as the storyteller talked and danced with the kids, my mind started to wander. I looked around me at all the books on the shelves (storytime is held at Barnes and Noble), and I realized something that's elementary but still profound when you really think about it: People wrote all these books. People like me. People who likely had the same doubts about their writing and their talent. The difference is that they wrote anyway. They didn't let fear or anything else stand in their way. Storytime has never been so inspiring.
Back when I was teaching college, I would get up at 5 a.m. every day, even though my first class was never before 10 a.m. I liked having time to myself before my students started pouring into my office, even though claiming that time meant that I would have to drink tons of coffee to keep myself from falling asleep. As I was getting ready for work, I would watch a little TV.
and Joyce Meyer were two of the shows I would tune in to. I haven't watched either of them for years.
It's weird, but sometimes I don't feel as old as other people my age. Sometimes I even feel as though I'm younger than men and women who are actually younger than I am. I think I look into other people's lives and I wonder, with everything they have on their plates—everything they have to worry about—how they do it all. It just seems like they have so much more to deal with, but maybe that's just my perspective. Perhaps people look at me and my life and ask themselves the same question I ask. It's hard to know.
My husband and kids took me out for Mother's Day tonight since we couldn't do anything last weekend. We went to our local Mexican restaurant (so good!), and I ordered my favorite meal plus a large (and I mean
) frozen margarita. By the time our dinner arrived, I was already a little tipsy. I guess there's a reason many claim that restaurant has the best margaritas in town! I admit that I got a little giggly, but it felt good to let go for a change. I needed the stress relief, and it was nice to celebrate.
On the way home from church, we made a spur-of-the-moment stop at an open house. We'd like to move someday, but we don't foresee it happening for some time. Still, it was nice to take a look at another house. Seeing it gives us ideas of things we might try with our own home, and frankly, it's just fun to imagine what our life would be like in a new house and a new neighborhood. In the meantime, I've been working on downsizing. I can be a bit of a pack rat, so it's a big job.
The house is quiet now while my daughter takes her nap. Dinner is cooking in the crock pot, and a warm breeze is blowing through the open window beside me. Somehow I'm able to block out the city sounds—traffic, car alarms, sirens—and focus only on the chirping of birds and the scurrying of squirrels in my neighbor's walnut tree. I need to write—I
to write—but first I think I just need to
—to take time to quiet myself, to contemplate, to breathe, to reflect. Carpe diem—and seize the moment.
I've been cleaning. I don't know if I have some sort of spring cleaning illness or what. I normally hate to clean, but this time I'm taking great satisfaction in scrubbing and dusting and mopping and all the other usually unpleasant tasks that come along with living in a house. I'm also trying to downsize; I've been throwing some things out and donating others. The thing is, though, that I never seem to make a dent, and when I reduce one pile of junk another seems to spring up in its place. Too much stuff comes in; little goes out.
It's going to rain here soon. The sky is getting dark; the birds seem to be quieting down. This week has been very warm—in the eighties—and I welcome the cool, the small break in the humidity that the rain will bring.
Many thoughts today... Like, what makes a good person? I tried to do the right thing yesterday, saying "yes" to something I didn't want to agree to, just to help someone out, and now I feel like that old saying "no good deed goes unpunished" might really be true. What have I gotten myself into?
Twenty years ago, I did an internship at my hometown newspaper. I can't believe it's been that long since I worked there. I never thought I'd be one of those people talking about how quickly time flies, but here I am: Time goes way too fast. I turned twenty-one that summer. I couldn't even imagine forty-one; it was too far away to contemplate. Now here I am, looking back twenty years at the person I used to be and thinking about the future and the person I'll be in another twenty years. The time goes by so fast.
Sometimes I get ridiculously excited about new recipes. I'll see them in magazines or (more likely) on a Web site, and I'll feel compelled to try them, like some voice is inside my head telling me "You must do this" over and over. Crazy...
I've always liked to cook, but I don't always have a lot of patience for it. Usually I'm too tired. It's these four-hour nights that are killing me. I wonder how old I'll be before I learn that getting up early and staying up late don't go together. It certainly hasn't happened yet.
I think there's a good chance that someday I'll be one of those white-haired old ladies who sits on her front porch and keeps track of everything going on in the neighborhood. Even now, when I'm far from old—or at least what
consider old—I like to know what's going on. I guess it's my journalism background, or maybe I'm just naturally nosy. Something is going on at my neighbor's house right now. His truck has just been towed to his driveway. It looks wrecked. I can see him outside, though. I'm glad he's okay.
Is it sad that the thing I'm looking forward to most tomorrow is the fact that my husband is going to be handling the cooking? We sometimes call Memorial Day the official start of grilling season, and grilling is my husband's baby. He'll be making steaks and hot dogs; I just need to make the potato salad (a pretty big job, actually) and heat up some canned beans. Bliss!
I want to teach my kids, though, that Memorial Day isn't just about the food. It's a day to remember those who sacrificed so much to keep us free.
I'm enjoying a peaceful morning on this Memorial Day. My husband is snoring in the bedroom, and the kids are upstairs playing in their room. The city seems unusually quiet right now. The most prevalent sound is the calling of the birds. It's a gorgeous day.
I don't know any of you personally, but I want to thank those of you who serve or have served in our military. I'm grateful for all you sacrifice in your service to the United States. Thank you also to your families; their sacrifice is great as well. Happy Memorial Day, friends.
My parents would be proud of me today. Just moments ago, I opened my mouth to say something that was admittedly a little snarky, but instead I told myself "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all," and I shut right up. Mom and Dad would love that. I mean, really—isn't this what I want my own kids to do? Be nice to others? Treat others as they want to be treated? How can I do anything less than what I expect of my children? I get it now, Mom and Dad. Thank you.
☺ I wrote a scene for my novel while sitting with my daughter at storytime.
☺ I finally visited my friend yesterday and remembered why we're such good friends.
☺ I allowed myself to take a nap today.
☺ I had an idea for a poem while I was walking into the grocery store with my three-year-old.
☺ It rained today; I always seem to be more creative when the skies are stormy and gray.
☺ There's wine in the refrigerator.
☺ I'm making an easy casserole for supper.
☺ I am happy.
I overslept this morning, and all day I've felt like I'm trying (and not succeeding) to catch up. Such a frustrating day...
My three-year-old is upstairs taking her nap now, and about a half-hour ago, she yelled down the stairs that she wants to come down. Ugh. I'm not ready for her naps to be shorter quite yet. I've been blessed with two really good sleepers, so I know I shouldn't be selfish, but on a day like today, when I already feel behind, it's stressful to have her yelling to get up. Ah, well...
The last day of May. That was fast.
As much as I hate to say it, the diet is going to have to start tomorrow. Vacation is in two months, and I want to lose a few pounds before going back home. All day I've felt like I should live it up and eat whatever junk I want—chocolate, bars, chips (if only I had some), taffy... There's that little voice that keeps telling me that as long as I'm cutting all the crap out tomorrow I should just go ahead and enjoy it today. Hard to resist...
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