Thursday, November 3, 2011

NANO- Day 3

Still behind my goal. I'm at 12 pages and I should be at 30. Here's what my progress looks like:

There is a simple solution to my problem- pack a bag, grab my computer, printer, and check into a hotel for 30 days. Simple? Yes in a fantasy world but since I inhabit the real world I have to find a real solution. The best solution is to leave home and hide away in a Starbucks or Panera for a couple of hours where I not distracted by chores.

My husband says I should just leave all the cleaning and write. Sounds nice except that he leaves out a vital piece of that offer, the part where he says, I'll take care of the cleaning while you write. But I can't function in a filthy house. It's too stressful and my creativity suffers. So I have to strive to find some balance between work and play.

I'll try and keep this in mind as I push forward today for 18 pages.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

NANO- Day 2

Things didn't go as I planned yesterday. I was blindsided by my nemesis PROCRASTINATION. Of course I left the door open when I realized I had a nice chunk of time. I kept telling myself I had time but then life got in the way- errands, homework help, cleaning, cooking, etc. By the time the day passed I found myself with only five pages written.

It's not an impressive stack yet but at least I wrote 1295 words. Today, I'm putting myself on a timer and I'm hoping to play catch up- not a place I wanted to be on the second day. I'm shooting for at least 15 pages today.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

And They're Off!!!!

November 1st and NANO begins. I'm taking it on again this year. Not only do I plan on writing my 50,000 words but I'll be finishing this novel that's been playing around in my head in some form for the past seven or eight years.

This year there are a couple odds in my favor:

- All my kids are in school, so from 8:15am until about 3:00pm I have free time. Well it's not really free, there are hundreds of errands and chores to do but I'm putting a time limit on this and prioritizing writing.

- I've set a 10 page per day minimum instead of focusing on word count. 10 pages feels more real and substantial. I will print my pages each day and watch my stack grow to keep me motivated.

- And this is the most important factor: I am keeping my family completely ignorant of taking part in NANO. As much as my family likes the theoretical idea of me being a writer; the reality of me being left alone to write is a problem. I write and suddenly I become the President of the United States facing economic, national, international and political crises.

Because I just can't leave well enough alone, I've also decided to use the 30 days of NANO as a fitness and weight loss boot camp. Not only will I be writing but I'll be losing weight and getting stronger. I'll need the added stamina in the later stages of NANO when the uncontrollable desire to curl into a fetal ball and whimper strikes.

I'll be checking back each day, wish me luck.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Seduction Begins Again

It starts early in the heart of winter. Those gardening catalogs make their way from the mail box to the night stand beside my bed.

The photographs are beguiling- lilac trees bursting with luscious flowers, rudbeckia, lavender, butterfly bushes as big as trees... Then the seed catalogs promise me hearty heirloom varieties that my southern great-great grandmother might have grown in her vegetable bed. I start making lists of seeds to purchase, even for vegetables I'm not fond of like broccoli and eggplant. I can't resist the copy.

I start searching around for my gardening books and start mentally planning my beds. I gaze out at the snow covered yard and think, "Yes, this will be the year I clear more land for gardening." It seems so easy from inside the house to contemplate growing, digging, watering, fertilizing, and weeding. It's all so rational and orderly while the ground is too cold to consider doing anything with.

Then the snow melts, the grass is beige and still sleeping but the robins and grackles return. I begin fantasizing about creating rooms in my yard. Over there will be the the reading area; here will be a children's garden and maze, that's where I'll start the orchard, this will be our entertaining area, my wine grapes will grow there. I start hoarding magazines that promise to transform my yard into a garden oasis in under $100.

Now the grass is green my butterfly bushes are coming to life, the forsythia is almost neon against the brown brush and I am deep in the seduction now. I look out the windows and I'm confronted by the possibilities all around me. I ache to rush out to my favorite gardening spot and grow my way into the poor house. (Sure we may not have money to buy food but damn my garden looks good.)

Every year spring entices me this way until summer slaps me into reality with blood, sweat, tears and mosquitoes. Intellectually I know this. I understand it would take a crew of over 3500 (like the workmen who tamed Central Park) to bring my nature fantasy to life but I don't care. I'm rushing in head-first because, this will be the year it happens.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

It's Opposite Day

So in the midst of that confused mental state between waking a sleeping, I had a vision.

Well... perhaps I might have still been sleeping since my guinea pig Costanza was talking to me... but that's no matter it still makes sense in a backwards kind of logic. You may need to hold on to something to follow the thought patterns here.

So while conversing with Costanza, this image of George Costanza from Seinfeld pops into my waking consciousness. (Background info here: All of my guinea pigs are named after Seinfeld characters.) There's George sitting in the diner with Jerry bemoaning his pitiful life. And Jerry tells him he should do the opposite of what he would normally do.


It's a true Yoda moment.

George starts doing the opposite of what he would normally do. He winds up leaving the diner with a beautiful woman, lands a job with the Yankees, and gets his own apartment.

In the haze of early morning light, I wake up. I will become Costanza (the Seinfeld character, not the guinea pig. I will do the opposite of what I normally do (procrastinate) and (procrastinate even more). I won't complain. I'll balance between chores and playing. I'll write. Hell, I'll even shave my legs.

Today will be a grand experiment. If it works, you'll see me sitting on the couch on "The View" plugging my wildly successful self-help book, "What I Learned from George Costanza) while carrying Costanza is my designer guinea pig carrying bag by Chanel. I'll become a celebrity and cast-worthy enough for "Dancing With the Stars."

I'll tweeting updates throughout the day.

Friday, April 8, 2011

In Celebration of Here and Now

I interviewed a young woman today for an article. We were chatting after the interview and she was asking me if it was difficult being a student at 43 and managing school work, ambition, and children. My answer: Yes and No.

Yes. It's incredibly challenging trying to get the amount of time in that I need to study. It's a struggle, as I've written about extensively, to find the time to write. And it's no easy task to be involved in the lives of my three children who are at very different places in their development.

But no, it's not more difficult.

I can remember when I was in college straight out of high school. My friends and I complained bitterly about our work loads, schedules and trying to find enough time to fit everything in. There were so many directions to go in life that it could be bewildering.

At 43 I wouldn't even contemplate returning to the nebulous period of my late teens and early twenties. It's not that I have all the answers now. Well actually that's not true. I may have the answers but questions keep changing on me.

I enjoy school more now than I did then because I have so many areas of my life where I have to be grounded in reality. I have to go food shopping. I have to pay bills. I have be up early to make certain my kids get to school on time. The list can go on and on. Now many of these haves are wants also. I love being the first person to greet my children in the morning. Even though my older ones are completely capable of getting themselves out and fed in the morning. I still want to be there for them.

Returning to school has been a purely selfish act for me. I can still be a writer without a degree. School gives me the chance to, and I know this is going to sound like a cliche but here it is, SOAR. I can allow myself the room to expand my thinking in a way I would have no room for in my day-to-day world. I still have deadlines and exams but that's a small part of my experience of being a student.

At the heart of her question, this young woman wanted to know if I had any regrets about being back at school with the demands of family. Sure I hate missing out on lectures and readings but the reality is that my experiences since I graduated from high school give me an edge on many of my collegiate peers. This experience strengthens my writing, giving me a deep well of emotions and situations I can call up at any time.

Would I go back in time if I could, choose a different path? Heck no! The Here and Now is wondrously flawed and far too exciting.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Fiction versus Non-Fiction Brain

I seem to be unable to pick a side.

This semester, I wanted to focus on non-fiction writing but as hard as I try I am filled daily with incredible story ideas. The kinds of ideas that have had me almost driving off the road. (I go into this trance-like state when I'm seized with a hum-dinger of a story.)

I have numerous deadlines. I'm trying to get my right brain to kick into gear but the left brain is asserting its dominance. While I should be emailing, researching, and making phone calls, I'm crafting sentences, reaching into the subconscious of my characters, and inhabiting another land.

Maybe this is my brain's way of telling me it can't handle creative writing and journalism at the same time. Or maybe I'm just procrastinating. What do you think?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Lazy Kind of Sunday

The past couple of days have been full of tension and stress. I've been trying to find some way of balancing the demands of family, school, life and writing.

Yesterday I felt as though my head were going to explode as I spent the day running from one errand to the next only to come home to race from one chore to the next. I wrote about one page at while my son was at soccer training. I spent the whole rest of the day with the next sentence hovering over my head like a comic book dialog balloon. By the time I was able to stop last night I was too tired to put two words together let alone a whole sentence.

I swore I would wake early this morning and set to work finishing this short story. The alarm went off at 5am and I rolled over and went back to sleep. My sons came up to the bedroom at 7am, climbed into my bed and we all went back to sleep for another two hours.

I started to feel that familiar knot of disappointment and frustration but instead of carrying it around, I tossed it aside. I took a shower and then went out to get breakfast for everyone instead of worrying about what to fix. And miraculously, I'm still feeling light and airy.

I took care of some chores and now I'm sitting down to get a little writing done. If only I could bottle this feeling of euphoria and keep it with me always.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hour of Writing Update

So far so good.

Day 2 and I have written 2 hours.

Last night I powered through and wrote until the alarm rang. I'm feeling the same kind of high I feel after starting back to regular running after an erratic hiatus- relaxed and energized.

I've had this short story playing around in my head for weeks yet I couldn't seem to get anywhere with it because I kept starting and stopping. I would lose the thread of the story and feel it forming a knot. Now I'm deep inside feeling my way through it. I can't wait to finish it and begin editing.

If I am seriously considering continuing towards a MFA I need a stronger portfolio. The only way this is going to happen is if I'm writing everyday. Knowing what I need to do to get from point A to point B isn't complicated. The complication is in giving myself the permission to do it.

I'm elated now but when the schedule starts to become crazy again or illness strikes I'll have to remember this moment. For me, this has to be an everyday occurrence. I can't take one day off or else it becomes too easy to take the next day off.

Monday, March 28, 2011

One Hour A Day

Graham Greene had his 500 words. I'm starting with an hour a day. Given the complexity of my life these days I can spare at least an hour for writing.

My strict criteria is that this hour can only be spent on creative writing. Character development and plot development do not count as part of this hour. Blogging and tweeting don't count, nor does posting a status on Facebook. And... this may be going too far... class assignments don't count. Not even the most creatively spun feature story that makes an audience weep, laugh, and become one with the subject.

See now I've gone and muddied the whole grand idea. I've now tacked up a giant "NO PROCRASTINATING" sign. I will now be forced to be a writer who writes.

With the imposition of these harsh mandates, I might (gasp!) become a published writer and then what will I have to complain about?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

School Tomorrow

Spring break is officially over for me.

I spent my spring break suffering through the worse case of pink eye, a sore throat that left me in tears every time I swallowed, and exhaustion that had me sleeping at least 12 hours every day.

On the surface it was terrible but deep down I needed the mental vacation. I didn't open one text book. I don't even know what's on my agenda this week. Normally this would find me in a state of panic but I'm refreshingly relaxed.

This state of ease probably has something to do with the fact that I've decided to focus on one major. Creative writing has won out. As much as I'd like to continue in journalism, I'm not deeply in love with the major. It probably doesn't help that Journalism Department is in flux and seems to be seeking to define itself in the Age of the Internet. It's a tad bit disconcerting to have your professors wondering why anyone would want a journalism major in this day and age.

I still intend to freelance. I'll write for the school newspaper and online magazine to collect my precious clips but I'll do it outside of classes. As an English major I can still seek out internships at magazines and newspapers (it's actually encouraged by our rather practical English Department).

So I can finally take a deep breath and focus on my first love.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Sound of One Hand Clapping

Lately I feel I have become the embodiment of one hand clapping in the universe: here but feckless. I've become the shadow in my own life.

I know writing is a solitary profession. I know there is a need for silence in order to organize thoughts and ideas. But I wasn't planning on having that silence extend into every part of my life.

There was a time I had the best of both worlds. I could descend inside my cocoon, gestate, and then emerge seeking life and companionship. Now I emerge to nothingness. I'm constantly tapping the mike, "Sound check. Sound check. Is this thing on?"

Friends have abandoned me just as I have become a more compelling and substantial being. I accept the natural ebb and flow of relationships but here in this trough there is no flow to balance the ebb. I hold my phone sifting through the mental list of friends to chat with and it's always the same, 0.

I'm in desperate need of new friends but it's a task easier said than done. If I span my resume I have all the requisite skills- articulate, good communicator, sense of humor, well informed, serious but not too much, empathetic, loyal, etc... My quest has been much like the American economy- lots of seekers, very few seeking.

The true writer in me finds meaning. This is meant to be. This is my time to concentrate on the writing and ignore the extraneous. Someday this will make a good story.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Video of the Day- Foo Fighter's "Rope"

Writing Software

I purchased a writing program called "WriteWay" about a year and half ago. At the time I was convinced I just had to have it. I downloaded the program and promptly forgot about it.

Once my mother moved in with us and displaced me from my dreamed of office, I'm like a homeless person wandering around with their possessions in a shopping cart. I don't want to work in my bedroom because I feel too isolated. The living room is out since my mother needs to have the television on ALL the time. And not just on but on at maximum volume. We've considered getting her a television in her bedroom but that would mean enduring the television on high all night just below my bedroom.

I've considered working in the living room but then that was the reason I displaced my children from the third bedroom which was our family room and sent them to the living room. It's like writing in Grand Central Station without the crowds of interesting people.

I've basically been stacking all my notebooks, stories and books on a shelf behind the guniea pigs cages in our living room (oh, the trials and tribulations of the unpublished writer).

I bought the software so I wouldn't have to sort through various notebooks which hold writings, story ideas, journal notes and research. But I'm like an old dog. Once I had the software I ignored it. I actually forgot it was there until I was cleaning out my system and wondered what the hell this program was.

Now I've been using WriteWay to develop my novel. I've been playing around with this story for about six years now (God, has it really been that long?). I would start writing and then lose my steam or interest and start on some other idea (which I've come to accept as my style). A lot of times, I would give up because I couldn't find some notes or ideas I had scribbled on a post-it or the back of an envelope.

Theoretically, I should not have this problem anymore since the program allows me to consolidate. All I need is my computer and one notebook, I keep with me at all times, for those times when I'm on a soccer field for hours and not feeling particularly safe with balls whizzing around.

I created a character template since I realized that often I find myself bemused by my main character. I have been able to get inside her head in a creepy horror movie kind of way. If she were real, she'd probably have a restraining order out on me right now. I tried doing this with my notebook method but I must admit I would get completely distracted and begin writing out plot notes or reflections on other characters. With this program I can still do that but I have separate places to put that material outside of my character template.

I've always imagined myself as the somewhat organized yet chaotic writer with stacks of papers and books piled all over organized in some bizarre fashion known only to me. It's strange thinking in this contained space. I haven't started working on writing yet so the jury is still out on whether I am the software type.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Leave Me Alone and Let Me Write

I'm struggling this morning. I was home with sick kids last week and I'm finding it tough to get myself back into the swing of classes again. I would much rather be writing than going to class.

I returned back to school to get my degree so I could focus on my writing unfortunately I feel too often I'm spending far too much time concentrating on someone else's writing.

Don't get me wrong; I love the classes I'm taking. I have felt inspired, energized and my writing is stronger and richer than it's ever been. I'm not sure I would have reached this point in the craft if I toiled away in isolation but I'm not writing as much as I would like to be.

Daily I am blessed with ideas for nonfiction books, short stories, novels, poems and essays. I keep a notebook filled with ideas hoping that by writing them down I can maintain their energy. Then I go back to cobbling a few minutes here and there to work on any one project. There are some days I don't write at all between running a household of children and an elderly mother plus classes and deadlines.

Since my mother moved in with us, I don't even have a place to escape to write. My dream-office is now her bedroom. I'm like an addict when it comes to writing. When I don't write, I start craving. I find myself writing in my head, through the middle of conversations and lectures. I can still process what is being said and I can retain an incredible amount of information but this other part of my brain is off in the netherworld. This only gets me so far. I need to get all these words out or else I become one cranky creature.

I cut my schedule down to two classes this semester which gave me two free days off to write while my youngest is in pre-school. I head straight to the study room on campus with my computer and food and I only get up to stretch or for bathroom breaks. But most of that "free" time is spent on assignments for classes- researching, setting up interviews, or meeting with fellow classmates on a project. I enjoy this but my own writing is languishing.

I have class in less than an hour but I'm torn because I know I'll be there but my heart won't. I'll be longing to be elbow deep in my novel. I know when I get home from school the duties of mother and chief cook and bottle washer will take over. Maybe I'll get a run in to keep my sanity but I doubt I'll have that much needed uninterrupted time I crave to write.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Weight of My Weight

I am struggling. I stepped on the scale and I definitely felt a seismic rumble as the digital numbers flashed up (oh horror) then back down (relief) and then back up again; two pounds since Sunday. I cannot plead ignorance, my husband's de facto position. His immediate response is to question the findings, "This, can’t be right. I don’t know how this could have happened", uttered with a righteous indignation that would fill any politician with pride.

No I do not do this. I know exactly how it happened. After all, I was the willing participant- three packed tortillas with an extra helping of Spanish rice along with my usual cooking companion snack. I try to choose healthy and organic snacks.But like most Americans, I can't seem to stop myself and before I know it the entire container is gone.

For most of my childhood and adult life, I could eat whatever I wanted and I remained small. I was never rail thin since I was blessed with curves from both sides of my family but my weight hovered between 115 and 120 pounds. The largest I ever got was 180 pounds when I was pregnant with my son George but then he was almost ten pounds when he was born. I left the hospital weighing 135 pounds.

The trouble started after I had William. I was almost forty and it felt like I just couldn’t shake the added baby weight. Exercising was tough after I gave birth to him since he was a winter baby and the weather was snowy and brutal and my exercise of choice is running. Once spring began, I tried running regularly but then I was sidelined with allergies. By the time the allergies passed, the temperature shot straight to hot and humid. I ran when I could.

I was not obese and the weight was not very noticeable to other people but I didn’t like the way my clothes clung to me. I didn’t like feeling slight aches and pains where I had never had any before. I didn’t like that I was constantly thinking about food, especially during high stress times when the baby was crying, I needed to cook dinner, my other children needed help with school work, and there were the endless cycle of chores to complete. Since I was always getting a bowl for someone else why not for myself also? Some for you; some for me.

Then when William was well into toddlerhood, we were out with some friends who came up from the city to visit. We went for lunch and then stopped for ice cream. As we took a leisurely stroll through town, my pants split. Thank goodness for clean underwear! At the time, I didn’t make any connection between this accident and my weight. In my mind, I was the same lean athlete who ran every day and raced almost every weekend. The pants were defective, case closed.

Thankfully there weren’t any other wardrobe malfunctions on this scale but I did start to notice a lot of my clothes were defective. A perfectly fine pair of jeans wouldn’t go past my knee. The new pair of pants I bought off the rack without trying on, said my size but for some reason they didn’t fit. I’d never shop in that store again. Shirts felt tight in places and ripped with the simplest movement. I consider myself an intelligent analytical problem-solver but in this instance I was too deep in denial. It was cheap manufactured clothing from China, hard water and my crappy dryer were conspiring to shrink my clothing, and my favorite reason, the new lotion I was using on my skin which acted as an anti-lubricant preventing my pants from smoothly moving up my leg.

But then I went to the doctor for a check-up and found I was 154 pounds. I only ever reached 154 pounds when I had a life growing inside of me. Yikes! I was in a state of panic. In a moment of crisis, some people turn to religion in their moment of crisis, as a writer, I naturally turned to books. I read everything at the library but the advice was overwhelming- eat low-fat, eat low calorie, eat based on your blood type, eat based on your body type, count calories, don’t count calories, weigh every day, don’t weigh daily, keep a food journal, create a spread sheet, drink wine, eat chocolate, eliminate sugar, eat only raw foods, cut out all gluten or meat or dairy, use special Chinese herbs, eat an Asian diet or a Mediterranean diet or a French diet, meditate, pray—you get the idea. Is there any wonder Americans are so confused when it comes to nutrition.

Basically I've distilled these millions of pages of information to: eat less, exercise more. Less crap, more substance. Intellectually, I understand what I need to do, but emotionally I’m resisting. I’m resentful that I have entered this stage of life where I have to pay attention to my weight. I hate knowing there are consequences to having the giant Caramel Latte with whipped cream, I hate that I can no longer eat three slices of pizza and still fit into my jeans.

Enough whining and complaining; it’s time to take action and make substantial changes if I have any hopes of reaching my goal weight of 125 pounds by my birthday in July.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Little Moments

There are big moments in a parent's life. There are the firsts- first smile, first steps, first lost tooth. There are birthdays and graduations. There are photographs and video to commemorate these times. Hallmark has made a fortune from family milestones.

I enjoy the big moments but I live for the thousands of little moments... Like the one I'm having right now with my daughter, sitting on the couch watching re-runs of "The Office".

Everyone else is the house is sleeping except us. It's a Friday, the end of a long snowy week. There is a long list of things I could be doing right now, working on my novel, taking care of laundry or even working on finishing that damn blanket I started knitting more than four years ago. Instead, she's wearing her Wonder Woman Snugly I got her for Christmas and she's still my little girl, even if at fifteen she's taller than me. Her head rests on my knee and my dog is curled on my foot and we laugh at Michael and Dwight.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Having an "aah" Moment

I should be bouncing for joy.

I should be performing cartwheels through the aisle of the study room.

I should be getting strange looks from people because my goofy grin falls to close to the line separating normal and abnormal.

Instead... I'm subdued on my first day with time to myself. From about 10AM to 2:30PM, I have no commitments on Tuesday and Friday. My emotions are cut short of full-blown joy as a mixture of guilt, anxiety, and stress coagulate my system.

The guilt comes from an awareness of the hundreds of other things that have piled up behind me. Right now, this to-do list is larger than Mt. Everest. Intellectually I know that I will never complete this novel or any of the other novels clawing to experience the light of day unless I actually sit down and write. My children are in school, my mother is at home with sole rights to the television, and my to-do list isn't going anywhere so I have to pretend I'm Tolstoy or Dostoevsky and give myself over to the writing, forgetting everything else.

The anxiety and the stress are related to the same issue-- money. Money is tight right now and it would be cheaper to remain at home instead of driving an hour to get here and paying for this day of school for my son. Yes, it would be cheaper but I wouldn't be writing, no matter how many times my boy tells me he's going to let me work. And the book has the potential to pay for these days (at least that's the hope).

I guess it will take me some time to work up to being at ease with taking time to follow my dream. For now I'm just taking a deep breath and rolling up my sleeves.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A New Semester

School starts tomorrow. I finally decided which classes I'm taking, Feature Writing and Entrepreneurial Journalism. I'm dropping Shakespeare II and The Craft of Poetry. Although, I'm waffling on dropping poetry.

A facility and love for poetry has been a pleasant discovery since starting back to school and the class is with one of my favorite professor's. I know I can take the class the next time it is offered and there is nothing stopping me from continuing to work on my poems. So this cushions the disappointment a bit.

My son is excited to get back to school with his friends after more than four weeks. I'm looking forward to two free days to write since I'll only be in classes three days a week. I also have about two hours after dropping him off before my class begins which is a real treasure for me after three semesters of racing from one classroom to the next, eating on the run.

I'm looking forward to developing my writing portfolio and finishing my novel. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Realizing I'm Human

Classes start next week and I have come to the realization that I am not a superwoman. I am a mere mortal. As much as I would like to be back at school full-time it is impossible. I have three children at home, along with an elderly mother and exceedingly moody husband paralyzed by inertia. Oh, and I'm trying to complete a novel.

For three semesters I've carried a full-time load. I've stressed, put more gray hair on head, gained weight, ceased exercising, and tried to mainline caffeine. I've done all-nighters to make deadlines and all-nighters because I couldn't shut my brain off. I just don't want to do it again. I love school but I could do without the added baggage of my life.

Now I have to figure out which classes to keep and which ones to take at a later date. This is no easy decision since I've had each of these professors before and I find them all exceedingly stimulating. But the idea of opening up my schedule and having more time to write is incredibly attractive.

Since my youngest child attends preschool on campus, I will wind up with FREE TIME. This is time outside of the distractions of my house- no laundry, no cleaning or cooking, no interruptions. I will potentially have at least two to three hours each day for writing- like a real professional. This is quite exciting since I lost my office to my mother's arrival.

Sounds like a no-brainer, then why am I stressing over this. Is it because I secretly don't want to admit I can't do it all? I so like wearing the cape.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

So Many Many Books

I go to the library or the bookstore and I am like an addict. I've had this problem my whole life. I can not imagine not being surrounded by books. Had I lived in ancient Egypt, I would have been entombed with a massive library for the after-life.

Right now I'm reading three books at the same time, yet I went to the library and returned with five more books. And in the true delusional state of the addict, I've convinced myself I'll be able to read everything before the start of classes on January 24th.

If money were no object, I'd spend a year just reading... Oh, a girl can dream, can't she?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Snow Begins

This what it looks like right now outside my house. The snow dance is done, pajamas are inside out, and the spoons are under the pillow... So I guess, it's a snow day tomorrow.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Waiting for Snow

Am I wrong for wishing the approaching snow is as much or more than they are predicting so I can sleep-in Wednesday morning and then get some writing or reading done?

There is nothing more peaceful than my house on a snow day morning, especially since both my older kids are on the early bus and have to be up before 6am.

I'll be heading out to the supermarket to stock up on the staples- homemade soup, hot chocolate, and cookies. I'll also stock up on wood for a nice healthy fire.

Ooh, I can't wait.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Hitting Some Marks and Missing Others

After the end of the first week of the new year, I've hit some marks and missed others.

I'm up to four miles running which is great since I was still struggling to run for 30 minutes on Christmas Day. I'm just at that point where I feel odd when I don't go for a run.

I've blogged every day.

I've put up a photograph each day for Project 365.

I've fallen short of my 500 words a day goal. I'm still putting writing off until I'm too tired to give it my all. If only I could write and run at the same time.

My weight keeps fluctuating. It hasn't gone as high as my highest weight but I keep bouncing back and forth adding a pound and losing a pound. I know when I start running and strength training, I gain muscle weight and once I hit five and six miles, I'll start to lose but... only if I stop eating as much as I'm used to eating. I've never had to watch what I eat; now a handful of this and and a handful of that adds up.

So far, so good. Hopefully, I can keep it going once classes begin.

Writing With My Eyes Closed

I love when my imagination takes over when I'm writing. I started working on a scene in my novel and I had this clear idea of where I wanted the scene to go but then the story took over. A character came out of nowhere and suddenly introduced a part of my main character's past and I was on auto-pilot.

I know there are many writers who find the actual writing difficult but this isn't my case. I can sit down and write for hours (if I'm ever allowed an uninterrupted moment) but it's not always this automatic process where the story takes over directing the action. When this happens I know I'm at the heart of the story and I'm not simply the puppet-master just putting things in place.

I don't have any ritual for making this happen. I don't light scented candles, connect to my muse or play soothing music. I actually find my imagination takes over in the oddest places. I've written in waiting rooms, in bars and restaurants (my favorites), early in the morning and late at night. A good run (and even a bad one) can trigger the process as well as a glass of wine and a nice soak in the tub.

The real secret, to paraphrase, Jim Lehrer, is putting butt to chair and just writing.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Money Talks

I have my eye on a color Nook. I can't believe me, the book lover, is even considering this but I'm getting a little tired of carrying around heavy books and magazines in my bag.

Now I could just buy it but that feels too indulgent so I've decided to work for it, so to speak.

I'm rewarding myself for doing the things I need and want to be doing and docking myself for those days when I'm lazy and procrastinating. Hopefully, this will get me motivated to push forward on those goals which have been lingering far too long.

Just think, someday I'll be able to carry Jane Austen around wherever I go.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Law & Order

For eight years, my family lived without broadcast television. Then my mother came to live with us. Suddenly our lives are ruled by what comes on. I try to avoid the television but since it's in our living room and it's on all the time, it's impossible.

I've suffered through, "The Bachelor," "Dancing with the Stars", and "American Idol" to name a few. Then I discovered the DVR and old episodes of Law & Order and I am hooked. I've always loved the old New York show- stories ripped from the headlines.

Growing up, my mother watched every police procedure that came on television. I was weaned on "Mannix", "Columbo", "Hawaii Five-O", and "Barretta" to name a few. I have a weak spot for crime dramas.

Now that I have the DVR, I've been recording every episode and I can't get enough. The great perk about being a writer is that I can justify almost anything as "research". I am working on a mystery, so... roll another episode.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Runner Comes Alive

It's starting to happen. I can feel it in my legs and the way my shoulders are starting to drop into a relaxed posture. My breathing is no longer ragged, it's lengthened and evened out. I'm taking the big hill without hesitation.

The runner is staring to wake up.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Time To Say Goodbye

Today I realized, it is time to say goodbye to someone I've been friendly with for the past three years. We met in the supermarket. We both had two year old boys, were fond of cooking from scratch, eating organic and farm fresh foods.

Things seemed great at first. It was great to have my youngest have a friend his age. It was great to be around someone who shared my same interest in health and fitness in an area where most women I've met consider a walk from the parking into the store exhausting. But then cracks began to develop.

She wanted to get together every day because she didn't like being "stuck" (her words) alone with her son. She was bothered by the fact that I had other children and couldn't keep her company 24/7. She was less than enthusiastic when I was accepted back to school and my son was able to come with me. She was frustrated with me for not being more available when my mother became sick and I had to have her transported from a hospital in the city to a rehabilitation center close to my house.

I took all of this as part of her personality and I tried to maintain contact even when my son began referring to her son as "The Evil One." I tried even as she dismissed my success at school; when she made derogatory comments about people who had more than one child (apparently we're not able to give our other children enough attention). I ignored her constant need to interrupt every conversation, her need to flirt with any male within a ten foot radius, and her pettiness.

I was at school every day last semester and school is an hour away so getting together was not an issue. Then she called me during the holiday. She told me how she missed us. She wanted us to set a date to get together with the kids. She told me her mother was visiting and was looking forward to seeing me. I relented and we got together last week. It went smoothly, even my son had to admit her son, "wasn't so bad".

Then she called me today and began interrupting. I started telling her about a great burger place I discovered. She interrupted with, "I don't even know why you're telling me this. This isn't interesting to me."

The camel's back broke.

I realized I couldn't do this anymore. Life is too short; too short to wade through someone else's nonsense.

Monday, January 3, 2011


This is the magic number.

500 are the number of words a day I should be devoting to finishing my novel, so it will no longer suffer the indignity of remaining a work in progress.

500 are the number of calories I have to cut from my diet in order to lose this weight that's keeping me fettered to the ground as I run.

500 is a nice amount to cut from my budget each month for some added wiggle-room.

500 is the number of hours I'd like to find this year just for myself to day dream, sleep in an hour or two, wiggle my toes in the water... just remember what it's like to be carefree.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Don't Ask, Don' Tell 2011

So this is my theme for 2011.

No longer am I asking for the time I need to do the things I want to do. I suffer from that disease that afflicts many women- the Put-Myself-Last Syndrome. When it comes to taking care of the household chores, I never ask.

"Can I please have an hour to vacuum the house?" I just vacuum and everything else waits.

But when it comes to taking the time to write, go for a run or to the gym, schedule a race, I'm always asking. Unfortunately, the answer is always no, and I'm left hoping to squeeze it in tomorrow.


The flip-side of asking is telling. I love to talk. I love to announce the latest idea that pops into my head. I tell anyone willing to listen as the idea develops and formulates. By the time I get around to actually taking action, the fire has sputtered out.


I tell those around me my plan and suddenly every obstacle is tossed my way. Instead of dodging, I'm falling flat on my face, doing nothing.

This year, I'm not asking; I'm not telling; I'm doing.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!!

It's been 9 years since I've been in a race and today I took the plunge. I saw the New Year's Day Resolution Run in Lackawaxen, PA online and decided not to overthink it and just do it. I knew nothing about the race. I wasn't even sure how to get there. I wasn't even sure I could push myself to sustain a steady race-pace. What I did know was that I wanted to start the year off running.

I was out the door with butterflies and a vague sense of where I was headed but I was out the door. I found the race with a little over a half-hour to spare. There were about of 20 of us hardy souls out there. Me and another guy were the only two running the 5K. As a certified-midpacker, I was a little intimidated by the low turn-out. I was used to races in NYC where attendance averaged at least 500 and I could be one of the many faces in the crowd crossing the finish line. I took a deep breath, wished for the best and beeped along with the other watches as the race started.

Before I left the house my 11 year old, wished me luck and hoped I'd win the race. I thanked him and told him how I wasn't going to win, I was just running to be out there. I explained how the winners of these races train hard and run every day. He said, "But you train hard, and you run everyday." Then he chastised me about my defeatist attitude.

Well what do you know! I actually won the 5K. I won my first race 9 years older and 30 pounds heavier. What a way to start the New Year!!