Saturday, June 20, 2009

Writing Manifesto

I have often considered that the books I want to write have already been written. I was devastated when Bridget Jones's Diary came out because I had that exact kind of book in mind. (Not that I had the book written or anything, just the idea that I would write *that* book.) When I was an early graduate student, I was preparing a book proposal on the importance of teaching kids to learn cursive writing and found a number of books on the subject had already been written. It's been about nine years since that class and I just found another on the subject on Amazon. I had a third example in mind when thinking about this subject last week, but it's escaped me. If I think of it, I'll update this post.

My point here is that even if my book ideas have already been written, it doesn't matter. Someone feel free to help me attribute this paraphrased quote, but all the ideas/stories have already been written. There are no new ideas, just different ways of expressing them. So, I have mentally, and I here typographically, uttered a manifesto that I can write the book(s) I want, even if others have gone before. What, did I think I was going to have the first original idea for a novel ever? More than one, actually? That I was going to break through with some great pedagological insights? Not without going to graduate school and writing a PhD thesis, I wasn't, and those tend to be reflections of what's gone before, is my impression.

I started a fiction piece yesterday that ties in to the concept I wanted to do for my first NaNoWriMo (incomplete) and that got subsumed into the second one (officially complete at 50,000 words, but not a coherent finished project). I'm sure something like The Common Senses has been done before, but that is not going to be an excuse for me to stop working on my own stuff.

Okay, enough said. I am mentally exhausted from supervising 4-5 kids today and the prospect of 4 tomorrow. Off to play solitaire now.

~N. 06/20/09

Friday, June 19, 2009

Some fiction for Joe

At Joe's request, the beginning of a fiction piece:

I woke up this morning and I couldn't feel my feet. They weren't tingling like they were asleep, I just couldn't feel anything below my ankles. And it wasn't an uncomfortable or worrisome feeling. I woke up and thought, Huh, no feet. I didn't try to wiggle them or anything. Why would I? I didn't have feet.

As I lay there in the groggy state of early morning wake-up, I considered how my day was going to go with no feet. I could hobble over to the bathroom probably or even crawl, like I did that one time when I threw out my back and couldn't walk. I could scoot myself on my butt to the stairs and scooch down them like a toddler. Once I got down though, how would I get around? We had a rolling office chair down in the den. I could lever myself up into that and push myself around in that. Problem solved. I faded back to sleep for a few minutes, content with that solution.

I woke up again twenty-two minutes later, rolled to the side, stepped out of bed and shuffled off to the bathroom. It wasn't until I was standing at the sink washing my hands and looking for skin imperfections on my face that I remembered the no feet scenario. "Wacko," I said to myself in the mirror. "What?" Jack called from the other room. "Nothing," I said, "Just talking to myself." I turned away from the mirror and turned on the shower to preheat. I turned off the bathroom light and went to lie down next to Jack to wait for the shower to be ready. "Is everything okay?" he asked, using his own groggy morning voice. "Oh, yeah," I said. "Just thinking about waking up with no feet." He settled lower into his pillow and pulled me in closer. "Wacko," he said, tickling my ear with his breath. "Right," I said, snuggling into him, "Just what I was saying."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

It's beyond my control

I like routine. I like simple routines with plenty of padding on either side to get things done and without bad consequences. I like those routines to *not* be dependent on the whims or needs or actions of others. Based on this, I guess I should be Emily Dickinson, home alone upstairs in my room with my little writings and occasionally coming down for tea.

Instead, I have to deal with kid schedules and needs, which are mostly planned out by me but can have a wrench thrown into them by illness or a certain ex-husband; plus today doctor's appointments, which may be scheduled by me but are most certainly not controlled by me; plus the unexpected malfunction of a car, making getting all of the above coordinated a mighty effort.

My car didn't start yesterday morning. No problem, I borrowed the neighbor's car to get the girl to camp and rescheduled my dentist appointment. The car started later in the morning and again in the afternoon, so no worries. This morning, the car did not start. I borrowed the neighbor and her car to get girl to camp and me to the rental car place and onto the doctor, because it would be crazy impossible to reschedule the endocrinologist. I got to the doctor's office and waited a long time with the result that we are going to do more testing, but probably to no new conclusions. Oh, and I have to make a different appointment for tomorrow and collect my pee for 24 hours, yay, so I'll be back at the doc's again on Friday.

After giving blood, eating breakfast at 1:30 pm (had been fasting because I knew there would be blood work today) and picking up girl, I get home to rest briefly until I have to take malfunctioning car to shop (of course, it starts this time). I then get ride home from SO to get kids to take to dinner because the plan was for two of us to get dinner out, but father of children is "busy at work" so now we are four. And I am announcing here that I do not intend to take them out to a restaurant meal again until at least July 3rd. The novelty of eating out is gone so they aren't stunned into happy silence. They can't seem to sit and talk without arguing, so we let them bring electronics. Watching them be electronically sedated makes me crazy. So, I'm spending money to have them play video games and pick at their food. Forget it; they can do that at home for much less money, plus I can leave the room when I don't want to see them.

I have found a silver lining, though, if you'd like to hear it. I found The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood at the library last week. I forgotten how much I FUCKING LOVE her writing. I am in the process of reading it now and letting the more recent stuff fade away to the background while I get totally engrossed in this. Life does not totally suck.

~N. 06/17/09

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Parenting Whine

And the chain is broken...It's been four days since I posted and I can tell you the number one and two reasons why - Thing One and Thing Two.

I'm still working through why the kids sap me of energy and purpose, but I guess the overreaching reason is that when they are here, I spend most of my mental energy worrying about them or planning for them or their needs or recovering from expending said mental energy. Saturday we took the girl to lunch, then dropped her off at her dad's, hung out for a while, then took an hour-plus drive to get the boy from Boy Scout camp (and back again). Got up on Sunday, took boy to lunch, retrieved girl, then back home to...goof off mainly, although there was laundry and dinner. Monday, up early to get girl to camp, back home to actually get some bookkeeping done, pick up girl, go bra shopping, make dinner, go to Boy Scouts, come home, watch TV and collapse.

I often ask myself where I think I'd get the energy to go back to work, when just dealing with these domestic issues exhausts me.

The other thing I've considered is that when they are here, my house is not a haven. And the SO feels this way, too. He talks about hiding out in our bedroom when they are both downstairs using the TV and computers and gaming systems. I know, I know, we need to assert ourselves as the adults to take control of the space. Part of the problem, as noted by Joe (Hi, Joe), is that every room (except the kid's bedrooms) has media of some kind - TVs, computers, gaming systems. The kitchen doesn't have anything, true, but it's open to the main rooms that do and the sound certainly intrudes. So at any time any of the three main electronics users can and usually are located in front of a sound-and-light-producing device. And I have to stop whining here, because I alone have an office that no one else is allowed into without permission. I guess what I don't like is the feeling that I've been chased into and trapped in my office by the minions that I supposedly rule. *rueful grin*

Oh well. The preceding post is really just a recap of some bitching I did earlier today, but now I get writing credit for putting it here. Ha. I'll try to think of something more gratifying or uplifting for tomorrow.

~N. 06/16/09

Friday, June 12, 2009

Keeping the chain alive

This post should be about writing, or HAES, or some other compelling topic to keep me writing and you reading, but tonight it's about the specific idea of keeping the chain going.

This is an idea from various self-improvement guides - I think Leo at Zen Habits mentions it and it's one of the visuals from Joe's Goals (both sites I highly recommend for their simple but effective guidance). The idea is to pick a habit and track it visually such that you want to keep the chain of consecutive achievements going, whether it be red "x"'s on a calendar or little green circles with checks at Joe's.

I am having a great time with my reading habit - no surprise; my exercise habit - which I'm just restarting; and my writing habit - see the posts this month. I really want to keep the chain going, which is the motivational point and why these words are here for you tonight. Leo, and others whose names escape me right this minute, suggest just one goal at a time, maybe for a month to get it really ingrained and get it to stick. I, of course, will not do exactly as told so I am trying for exercise (walking or swimming) and writing since I think these two are separate enough activities to not get in the way of each other, other than allocating time for them both. And, if I can't get time to write 500 words and exercise for 30 minutes a day when I'm mostly unemployed with few kid responsibilities, how do I think I'm going to jimmy time in later this fall when I *have* to be working somewhere and we've got school commitments?

There you go. I've written on Friday night, three days in row and seven days in June. I've been to the pool five times plus had several days of walking that should count because it's more than my usual downstairs, upstairs, downstairs that makes up the day. I've feeling pretty good about this. Talk to you tomorrow.

~N. 06/12/09

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Do I Already Own a Vacation Home? Doh!

While sitting in front of the computer today, reading a lot of feminist and fat acceptance blogs (that's the mood I happen to be in today), I have been thinking about the life the SO and I want to live. Part of that thought process currently involves mulling our financial situation here, which includes credit card debt, student loan debt, mortgage debt on an vacant condo and mortgage debt on our personal house. Since all of those debts are projected to be with us for a least a few years, I was trying to consider what other use we could put our assets to. One of the things the SO and I talk about is having a cabin in the mountains, projected to be sometime after we are out of debt with the cool loft in the city.

It occurred to me in a brain flash that we *have* a place out in the relative middle of nowhere - the condo. It's been unoccupied since December and seems likely to be that way for a few more months. I was just talking to the leasing agent about making the condo furnished or partly so as a way to move some of the furniture out of the main house here. Why not make it a place the SO and I can get away to? (Or maybe, a place where I can go write, if he has plans on a weekend with the BIL?) It's got a pool that we can use all summer. It's got membership rights to the country club next door if we want to go to dinner. The electricity is already turned on for the alarm system. We'd have to turn the water and gas on, but the rates would be pretty low if only used them occasionally. If we did this soon, I could take one or both kids there as a trip away from home, even.

I am now going to spend the weekend working out how much extra we would spend for basic utilities (no cable, I think) to keep it active all the time. And I'll have to talk to the leasing woman about the process of transition to renters if she gets us one. I am psyched about this. I like the idea of getting to *use* this big empty space. Also, I guess I'm a little aggravated that this did not occur to me sooner. More updates to follow to see if this is really a viable plan.

~N. 06/11/09

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Fuck MGCC Part I

At Scott's request, I am now going to start a series of posts on what I think about those jerks at MGCC letting me go.

I am not sure about the stages of grief, and I don't want to research it, but I think it's something like denial, anger, grief and acceptance. Possibly there is a fifth element (ha, inside movie joke coming...), but it definitely isn't love.

I did denial briefly, for most of the first month, when I pretended to myself that I *wanted* to take off the month of December, which the severance check covered, so it was practically a paid vacation, right? Sure, it sucked missing the big company party at the Hard Rock with the staff and superintendents - most of whom I had helped get started at the company, being myself one of the longest employees; and going down to the unemployment office on my BIRTHDAY; and not getting to do any of the goof around the office, eat cookies and treats the vendors send, and drink mimosas on the last day before the holiday (which is making me tear up right now, because that was sort of an in-joke with me and Dickhead #1 who let me go).

See, every time I think I might be angry, I get sad instead. They hurt my feelings letting me go. And it's fucked up that my feelings are still hurt. I get the business rationale. I understand that I was lucky to get a severance check and that the people let go after me probably didn't get as good a deal. I'm fortunate that President Obama got me the supplemental unemployment, and the extra 20 weeks, since I still haven't found anything comparable, and a break on my COBRA payments for a few months. There are still people working for those assholes who have had their hours and pay cut and they are stuck.

But my feelings are still hurt that I was first - I was the top of the list, quickest, most over-valued (overpaid?) person to go. Fuck you for stomping on me like that and fuck you for never really understanding what I did there. Looking for a new controller on Monster? That's because you morons never really understood the value of the non-field staff that support your company and pay for your trips to Vegas and Alaska and Chile and your boats and RVs, all of that I am *sure* you did not sacrifice while I am cutting my expenses to the bone to not go backwards financially. Fuck you, in case I did not state that clearly enough.

~Noelle 06/10/09

Friday, June 05, 2009

What about Twitter?

I am conflicted about Twitter. One the pro side: I get to dip my toes into other people's lives (including Facebook friends because I use Tweetdeck to see both) to see what's up without having to commit to a dialogue back and forth; similarly, I get to make quick (clever?) comments out into the ether with very little retaliation (so far); unlike Facebook, I can follow people I'm not friends with, like Penn Jillette, and get to see a little bit of what they're up to; it's quick with the 140 character limit. Cons: is this quick, non-relational, impersonal, text-based "conversation" really a good idea?

I think the value is that for the people I don't know very well or aren't as close to getting a glimpse of what they want to share, including the ones that are mainly promotional in nature, is enough to make me feel like I'm in touch with people outside my daily circle. It's not useful for the people I really want to communicate with, because there is no back and forth. Interestingly, in my world, those particular people (and you know who you are) are not really active on these sites, preferring the personal interaction of the phone. Maybe that's why we get along so well, we call each other to talk when we've got something to say. And for everyone else, I can satisfy my need to know what's going on by following everyone else remotely via the social networking site(s).

Conclusion: I'm going to keep checking the Twitter (and Facebook) on a regular basis, but I don't think I'm ever going to become one of those really successful social networking marketers.

(The other possible force at work here is that my husband may be succeeding in his plan to make me as anti-social as himself, but I'm fighting that. After all, I am the one who got him into the habit of talking to me up to TWO HOURS A DAY on the phone - LOL - which continued even after we were living together and could talk all night - and sometimes I keep him up doing just that. Love you, honey.)

~N. 06/05/09

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Richard Dean Anderson

The SO and I just finished watching an episode of Stargate: SG-1. We are about mid-way into season 6 (of 10, plus 4? 6? more of Stargate: Atlantis). Sometimes the writing annoys me, as they tend to want to wrap up the immediate conflict/storyline in 44 minutes, which means the resolution happens pretty quickly and/or someone gets the revelation how to fix the big planet-ending catastrophe amazingly fast. It's not much different from how Star Trek or any other of this type show operates, but watching it in big chunks like we do, two or three at a time, highlights this TV writing quirk.

As for the title of the post: we got the first disk of MacGyver from Netflix to show the kids. There is a show coming on tomorrow called Royal Pains that specifically references MacGyver. The original show is from the mid-80's and I don't know how long it lasted, but I think the reference in the new show indicates that the writers are my age or older, because if you are mid-twenties, as the new show is probably targeted for, do you know the reference? Or is it like cultural knowledge that was passed on from your parents?

The original MacGyver is not that great in terms of writing - I watched the whole pilot but tapped out about 10 minutes into episode two. Again, probably par for the course for that kind of show since I don't recall The A-Team having great dialogue and coherent plots either. More of the style of a long conflict build up with introduction to sympathetic characters, meeting the bad guys, calling in the good guys, a plan, a reversal, a new plan, a quick resolution that depends on everything going right with the new plan and a minute of reflection/humor to wrap it up.

I think this maybe why networks went to nighttime shows that were more like extended soap operas with action sequences - Hill Street Blues, ER, Third Watch, NYPD Blue. Some action for the action folks, but extended, not-easy-to-resolve-in-one-episode storylines. Let the writers stretch out the conflict, make it more like the real emotional train wrecks people really have. And 24 is probably the ultimate in this extension of the story across multiple episodes. Jack Bauer and everyone who spends a day with him go on the biggest emotional rollercoaster EVER that day.

It's late and I'm going to wrap up, so let me just say that RDA is still *wicked* cute. In fact, I think he's probably sexier as the older action figure, like Bruce Willis and Denzel Washington. Nice.

~Noelle 06/03/09

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Hockey mania

There are three big people and two small people in my living room cheering on the Pittsburgh Penguins - in vain I fear as I suspect the Redwings are going to take Game 3 tonight and Game 5 on Saturday to wrap it up. I have escaped up to my office where it is cool and quiet. It's not that I don't appreciate watching, it just got too crowded for me and kind of warm with all those bodies in that little room.

So I am here instead to provide the word count for the evening. I had no new writing or reading revelations today. Today was mainly a bookkeeping (the thing I do for money) day, plus my first day at aquarobics. I've been on the waiting list since last year some time (July? September?) and I was psyched to go. I had been to a similar class way back in '90 or '91 when I visited my mom in Chicago. (Wow, that was my early twenties.) The class tonight was about thirty people, mostly women, from mid-twenties to late-sixties in ages I would guess. It was about 60 minutes in the water, about half at a higher heart rate.

I managed to get out of the pool, get to the locker room, change, discuss my tattoos with a woman in her fifties who was very interested, get to the car, get home, get upstairs and flop on the bed with Scott, who had gotten home right before me. I was not able to get off the bed. LOL. Well, I knew I could if I needed to, but there seemed to be some sort of gravity well holding me there. In the words of Scott, I'm going to sleep GREAT tonight - that is after I get all these people out of my house.

I'm off to see the third period and hope for the best.

~Noelle 06/02/09

Monday, June 01, 2009

Something to write about

I was worried about coming up with ideas to write about in this blog. Ideas that I think are interesting enough to spend about 30 minutes writing and then are interesting enough to read later (or better, to have my future audience and/or agent read). I was worried about this on a low level all day today, because I really wanted to have a fresh start on the first day of the month and start blogging regularly. After percolating all day, something appeared. Yay.

Since my salaried job ended in December, not by my choice, I have been working slash hanging out at home. I have been doing some bookkeeping and house maintenance and kid maintenance, so I haven't been slacking too much. However, I am pretty much able to make my own schedule such that I don't usually go out if the weather is not pleasing. Like rainy or hot. And yesterday and today were wicked hot, so I managed to stay in until about six o'clock tonight when I had to go to Scouts to help with stuff.

It was not too hot when I left since it was getting into the early evening, plus I have A/C running as soon as I exit the garage. I went to Wendy's for a quick dinner, on to Scouts, then I drove my son to his dad's house where said son is spending the night until his dad's "vacation" with them ends tomorrow.

It might have been annoying to drive son 20 minutes in the opposite direction of my house to drop him off and then come all the way back again, but it was okay. I got to talk to son about his DC vacation and the plans for the week. I got to see daughter to say goodnight. And I had a leisurely drive home just after twilight, jamming to Stairway to Heaven.

It got me to thinking about this personal schedule I've developed going to bed late and getting up relatively late in the morning. I considered what it would be like to be on a more nocturnal schedule, where I would be at my most peppy and productive when other people are winding down. This idea got me thinking about the Stephen King book Cell that my best-husband-ever got for me in hardcover when it first came out. I'd started the book, but put it down about a third of the way through when I knew there was a large, dramatic, violent scene coming and I just wasn't ready at the time to read that. Now I'm thinking that I'd like to read the book, starting over from the beginning so I can recapture the story.

I'm in a good now because my night has been a success: got big brownie points for helping at Scouts; got to hang with my son; got a journalling/blogging idea; rediscovered and remembered a book I have on the shelf to read; and knocked out about 500 words, my goal for the day. Excellent.

~Noelle 06/01/2009