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!!