Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Writing lethargy....

I'm on my fifth day of vacation and I'm finally alone in my house.  I have peace and quiet.  Can I write?  Nope... I typed up the hand written stuff for a story I'm working on.  I stared at my computer screen and could not bring a single thought forth to continue once I was done with the hand written stuff.  Go figure. 

Does this mean I'm going to give up on writing stuff today?  Nope.  I'll turn to researching places to submit my work to I guess.  It is frustrating because I have been looking forward to finishing this story for a while now.  I know where I want to go with it but I'm in a slump.  Not a writing slump because I never stop writing (note I'm working on my blog instead of my story....)

One of the best things I can think of to do when I get like this is to take a nap.  I know it sounds like I'm sluffing off but in reality this relaxation helps me to unfocus from the computer and let my mind play through the possibilities so I can become more creative.  The great thing about a nap is I can relax and let go of the worries and when I get an idea, I can pop back to the computer and get it down right away before it fades away. 

Guess I've talked myself into a nice little nap...


I admit to liking reality tv.  I know it is probably horrible but I enjoy Survivor, the Kardashians, Gene Simmons, Real Housewives, and others.  Warped I know but it is one of my guilty pleasures.  Before watching Gene Simmons, I thought (if I thought about him at all) he was a chauvenistic pig who wasn't worth the air he breathed.  Having watched his show, I realize what a loving man he is and that more men need to emulate his dedication and care he gives to his family.  Regularly he shows how deeply he cares for his children and long time girlfriend Shannon Twead. 

Last night in my guilty pleasure of tv watching, I watched the first part of the wrap up for Real Housewives of New Jersey.  I have to say I am NEVER going to New Jersey if this is what the people are like.  These women are a poor representation of women.  If we could vote them off the island of womanhood, my vote would go to the four of them. 

The language they use would make a sailor blush.  I don't care about language - sometimes you just need to say a good cuss word or ten.  It is more than just their language.  Their demeanor is repulsive.  Their behavior is beneath the lowest scum.  If you don't like one another then leave each other alone.  For those of you who don't watch (don't start) there are four women - Caroline, Jacqueline, Theresa, and Danielle.  Danielle has managed with her behavior to alienate all the other women on the show. 

I'm not saying who I like and don't like on the show but mostly I stopped watching part way through the season because quite frankly they give the entire state of New Jersey a black eye and when it comes to women and feminism they put us back about 100 years.  One of the daughters on the show (19) was told she needs to know her place.  Granted her behavior was out of control but really?  We want to tell a woman she has "a place" in life.  Would that be barefoot and pregnant? 

I'm sorely disappointed that these women are representing anything.  Moreover, I'm disappointed that this is the kind of television that is being put out there.  How is it acceptable that we want to watch a train wreck of these four women.  They are vicious and catty.  If they represent women then it is no wonder men run from women. 

I know - I watched for a while.  I stopped when I saw the direction it was going.  The only reason I watched the wrap up show is to see if there was any resolution among these four women.  There wasn't.  It was more violence, vulgarity, and out of control behavior.  Just as I've stopped watching the Atlanta show - I will not be watching the New Jersey one any longer. 

Are women really that shallow and petty?  I don't think so.  I just want to tell each of them to grow up and get a clue. 

Friday, August 27, 2010

Writing tools

One of my biggest frustrations with writing is trying to cover all my bases.  I need to write to produce things for publishing.  At the same time I need to submit articles, stories, poems, etc to be able to get published.  Somehow I have to keep track of all of these things.  Then there is tracking leads, what has been submitted where and when, and follow up.  Oh and let's not forget about deadlines... don't want to miss them or be habitually late with meeting them or editors will stop using your work.

I'm attempting to use technology to my advantage here.  I've started a spreadsheet to track all my work.  Next will be one to track the characters in each story - though someone offered to make me a database for that.  I've spent a lot of time entering information on my spreadsheet and gathering more information to enter. 

I need a secretary or personal assistant but I can't afford one so I have to make this as efficient and easy as possible so I can do what I love to do - WRITE....

With any luck these spreadsheets will work nicely and I'll be able to keep better track of the work I have done and in progress.  Hopefully all of this prep work will help me to market my work better and get more of it published.  I just have to make the technology work for me instead of the other way around...

Day 1 of the Epic Tale (i.e. vacation)

It amazes me how much joy you can get from the small things in life.  I drove six hours today to spend two hours with my youngest daughter.  I LOVED seeing her smile, hear her gush over the wind turbines, talk about Wisconsin in that I love it - even if I don't live here tone.  It was great to hear about her week, her life,  her accomplishments.  It was wonderful to see the interaction between Stephanie and Vicki, hear the affection between them, and be a part of their converstaion.  It makes me miss my oldest daughter and wish I would have those moments with her too.

They have been gone now for six months for Virginia and ten months for Stephanie.  We helped Virginia move down in February so I have gotten to see Stephanie three times in the last ten and Virginia not at all.  I miss them.  Don't get me wrong.  I miss them, seeing them, giving hugs and backrubs, talking to them about their day... I miss all of that.  I miss listening to Ken and the girls arguing about whatever on a Sunday when they are all lounging around the house.  All these little things I miss... but I don't want them to move home. 

I'm so proud of them for all they have accomplished.  It takes a lot to move a half a country away from everything you are familiar with and make a new life for yourself.  They have done this.  They are still getting their footing but they are working on building their foundations from the foundation Ken and I gave them. I know soon Vicki will be joining their ranks in moving away from home and building her own life. 

Their accomplishments - no matter how big or small - amaze me and fill me with a joy.  This is what we were supposed to do - raise them to go out in the world and make their own way and chase their own dreams. 

It may be mushy and sentimental but I love my girls.  I'm very proud of all my girls.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

One More Day....

You ever have one of those weeks where life just whoops your ass?  I'm having one.  I'm in pain from the stairs I walked.  Work is stressful.  Sleep is non-existent.  All these things are weighing me down.  I know I should say something profound and wise... maybe even deep here. 

That's not going to happen.  Tonight I'm headed to bed and hoping for more than two hours of sleep.  That will be a bonus.  Tomorrow in all likeliness is going to be a day from hell with tight deadlines and the possibility of having to work late. When that is done, I will have 11 glorius days off.  I cannot wait. 

No I'm not doing anything fancy - no jetting off to some exotic locale, or gambling high stakes or even a quiet retreat in the mountains.  I'm staying HOME.  Stephanie is coming home for a flying visit.  I won't have much time with her but I plan to enjoy every second of it.  Once she is gone I will have part of a day to myself in the house.  I plan to WRITE as much and for as long as possible. 

The rest of my week is going to seem really boring to most people.  I'm planning to wander through a publications database and see if I can submit a lot of my writing work.  I'll be thrilled if I can make 10-15 submissions.  More than that and I'll be over the moon.

Oh I'll have some reality in here.  I've got to pay bills this weekend, run errands, see about grocery shopping, and so on - I'm thinking that will be Saturday.  Tuesday through Thursday are going to be devoted to writing.  I may stay up for the entire 72 hours or I may sleep really odd hours if the words are flowing. 

I'm taking vacation from my desk job to do a desk job of writing.  Go figure...

This short reprieve will hopefully recharge my batteries and allow me to let go of some of the daily junk that seems to build up in my soul when I earn the green stuff.  Don't get me wrong I like my paycheck and my benefits but it doesn't feed my soul. 

So I'm counting down the hours... 10 hours to go.. then freedom to do whatever I want - even nothing ....

Monday, August 23, 2010

Credit and finances

Money is a struggle right now for everyone.  I can't remember a time when I haven't stressed about money... not making enough... not knowing what to pay... hell just doing stupid things too...

So I've become obsessed... I watch Suze Orman and Till Debt do you Part with Gail Vaz Oxley (hope I spelled that right)... both of them are interesting and help in keeping me motivated. 

Best help I've gotten lately though is from Stephanie, my youngest daughter. She created a spreadsheet for her bills and sent me a version of it.  I took her spreadsheet and made my own to fit my bills etc.  Now I'm obsessed.  I have my general budget figured out from now through the end of December 2011 (yup 2011)... I know that I'll make adjustments and that figures will change.

I've never been one to plan things out long term.  My attitude has always been why bother putting the work in when tomorrow everything could change.  Well it could but here is what I discovered.  I started out only going to do my budget through the end of the year.  This is always a stressful time of year for me - from October to February we have extra expenses with birthdays and holidays.  So I thought okay I'll do a general plan and see how deep we are going to end up and what I can do to fix it. 

My first round of putting in numbers freaked me out to the point where I almost walked away - I was looking at being overbudget by a lot.  I took a deep breath and looked more closely at my numbers and realized choices were going to have to be made.  Tough choices ... but still.  I made them.  So I get through the end of the year without having any major heart attacks and I notice something.  Strangely, I see progress towards one of my BIG goals - I want to pay off all our credit card debt.  I see progress - I can actually see a card or two getting paid off.  What - how did that happen?  I look at the numbers ... I double and triple check because money matters never work for me and wow... sure enough if we stay on track and don't spend more on gifts then I budgeted then we will be able to take these giant leaps forward.

This is the first time I've seen progress on this... I have been stressing and considering getting a second job ... so to see things going the right way was quite the surprise.  I thought okay I'll do a few more months to see how long it will take to pay off the rest of the credit cards.  I figured it would take a couple of years - maybe more. 

I was surprised.  If we stay on track and don't have any catastrophes (cross your fingers and pray to all the gods and goddesses) then by the end of next year we will be out of credit card debt.  Sixteen months.. that is it.  I thought it would be years!!! 

So I got a bill in the  mail today.  I sat down to my budget spreadsheet and entered it in and discovered - oh no that week we are short.  So I shuffled and creatively found a way to not be short.  I'm back on budget and still getting everything paid.  The nice thing is I am not losing my goal even with the minor crisis.  It didn't affect the end results one bit. 

For the first time I feel like I might be able to make good decisions and climb out of this debt ... it is good..

To keep on track I plan to look at my budget daily.  This may be a bit obsessive but how else do you stay on top of things. 

Next for me is to call the credit card companies regularly to try to lower our interest rates ... I'll keep you posted on that task...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Writing = obsession... right?

I've been writing for about ... well okay I have to back up.  In the third grade I had a lovely teacher who assigned us some short story assignments.  I have no idea what the assignments were for but I remember that as being my first time of putting on paper my imagination.  I LOVED it.  I fell in love with it. 

For as long as I can remember I was very imaginative.  I would put myself to sleep by telling myself stories in my head.  As a kid, I would imagine all sorts of adventures.  Reading helped to feed that imagination, as did parents who told me I could be anything I wanted to be.

Fast forward 20 some years and I've gotten married, had three kids, and countless jobs (none of which made me happy)... At 30 something I begin journalling again and discover (or is it rediscover) my love of writing.  I write some pretty bad poems.. and then some not so bad poems... and then I start writing essays... and on it goes. 

Now here I am nearly 10 years later thinking why does work have to interfere with my writing?  I go to work four days a week.  I work to have insurance, benefits, retirement, and a regular paycheck.  But my heart, my soul.. the very essence of my being is in telling the story, in sharing information in whatever format and putting it out to be enjoyed (at least I hope it is).

When I'm working I think about writing.  When I am sleeping I dream about the stories I'm working on.  When I'm eating I think about how the next scene in my story should go a particular way.  When I'm supposed to go to sleep for more than four little hours, I am writing... I can't stop.  I don't want to stop.  I want more....

So obsession or passion?  Which is this? 

Well it doesn't really matter because no matter what I'll probably be writing on my death bed ... can't you see it.  I'm laying there and my last words will be to ask for a pen and paper....


Family is a blessing and a curse ... a big family is a big blessing and a big curse... I'm the youngest of six and we range in age from 59 to 46.  Somehow in all our years you'd think we'd have gained enough wisdom that we'd be able to get along.  Yet still we have our disagreements and difficulties. 

I love them all regardless of the bullshit .  I respect most of them.  I question many of their choices.  Though I know their choices are not mine.  They have to live their lives their way.  Having said that all, I'm sure they could all say the exact same thing about me. 

It's interesting for me to go to family functions.  I almost always feel like an outsider.  Like I'm observing these people for a science project or something.  Often I feel left out or lonely in the middle of the chaos.  I know they aren't aware of my feelings.  I watch as they connect with each other and I marvel.  In my family I am surrounded by amazing strong women and men.  They are examples of how I want to be and at the same time drive me up the wall. 

This dichotomy of feelings certainly makes for stressful and anxious times for me.  I sometimes feel like a gathering is torture.  The prep time up to a gathering is filled with anxiety and dread.  Don't misconstrue my statements.  My family is normal.  There has never been any abuse or harm done.  There have been hurt feelings, toes stepped on and harsh words upon occassion.  But there have also been encouraging words, love, support, and a sense of belonging.  It is ME who feels this anxiety.  I get keyed up about the gathering and worry about how things are going to go.  I've often said I don't want to go.  Then I go and have a very nice time (mostly). 

I guess I have to take the good with the bad...

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Drugs are good....

Drugs are good... they help me get through the day... they take the pain away... they make life bearable... now for those of you who aren't familiar with what is going on... I have arthritis (since I was 14 - really probably was born with it) and in the last few years it has become VERY painful.  I go to the pool to alleviate some of the issues with exercise and in an attempt to lose weight.  Mostly though I walk around in pain every single day.  Stairs are a HUGE obstacle for me.  When I do stairs I hurt a lot more than if I avoid them.  Yesterday I did an entire flight of stairs... so today... Drugs are good... I may be a bit dopey (literally) but it is better than the alternative...

Cleaning the basement

Someone please explain to me how in less than three years we can accumulate so much crap that my basement has become overrun with it?  I don't get it - it was big and beautiful and empty when we moved in.  How did so much junk get stashed into it? 

Needless to say, I've been to the basement and worked on cleaning it.  Thank goodness for help (thanks mom, Alicia, and Ken).  A dent was made in the accumulated stuff but now we have piles of stuff to deal with - Goodwill, garbage, junk yard (get whatever cash we can from stuff) and sell.  Hopefully those will go away soon.  Well it doesn't really matter if they do right now because we still have a bunch of stuff to go through...

Now to be fair... my household has been in flux... I've had girls moving in and out of my house for about four years or more.  Hmmm that kinda sounds kinky but it really isn't.  This is what happens when you have college age daughters.  Vicki has been in and out for 5 1/2 years while getting three degrees.  Stephanie has been in and out for 4 years while getting her degree.  Now Gin and Stephanie are out but not completely because there are still boxes of their things down there.  Vicki has moved back in - though not for long if she has anything to say about it and hopefully finds one of those scarce things called a job. 

Stephanie got a dream job last October in Georgia.  So in about a week or so, she packed up and moved out.  Rented a truck, filled it full to overflowing, and left for the dream job and life away from home.  February saw Virginia load up three cars and follow her to Georgia in the hopes that finding a job would be easier from down there (which it was because she is employed). 

Unfortunately they left some debris ... scattered through three or four rooms in my basement. 

Vicki moved back in and brought an apartment full of stuff back. 

I'm not blaming them (okay - maybe just a little I am) their stuff is only about 30% of the clutter.  The rest of the crap down there is all Ken's and mine.  So today we tackled it and I remember why I HATE storing things in cardboard boxes.  Nothing keeps in good condition for any length of time. 

The good thing is we got through about a quarter of it.  The bad thing is we still have three quarters of it to go through...

Are there any basement cleaning fairies available?

A New Start

I've been asked (told and nagged) that I should start a blog.  My contention has been that I have no idea what I would write about on a regular basis.  So this will be the theme - No theme... mostly you will just be bombarded with my odd crazy random thoughts.  I warn you - these will range from totally insane to completely dull to ranting about whatever has pissed me off to who knows where it will take us...

To begin, for those who are new to me, I'm a average woman, raised by average people, and I've led an average life.  I don't have a lot of angst with the world - though I think it is pretty fucked up (oh yeah warning I swear).

So not to completely bore you - here is me in a nutshell (or is that a nut house?)... I was born into a farm family.  I am the youngest of six (five girls and one boy).  I grew up in the 60s and 70s.  I am a mut - Irish, German, English, Prussian, French, Native American, and Scottish... I have red hair and freckles.  I have a nasty temper which I do pretty good at controlling (most of the time and my sisters can all just shut up). 

I met a great guy at 16, fell in love, got engaged, got pregnant, and got married (because that is what you did in small town Wisconsin).  Amazingly, we are still together 29 years later.  I have three daughters who are amazing and wonderful. 

I love to do genealogy (family history), write, crochet, meditate (fireplace is a great tool there) and hang out with the people I like.  Everyone else can just go away.  I love the people I love and the rest of the world can just leave them alone.  My heart breaks regularly, I cry, I heal... it is just the way I am. 

Well I've bored you enough (or maybe not)...

Back at the Grindstone

With nine days off, you would think I got a lot accomplished.  I did when it comes to spending time with my girls but off my to-do list?  No...