Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Word Count at 11PM of Day 1

3620

Last time I made a whole 600 words before my MacBook crashed.
This year I am sitting on that Inner Critic bitch and not letting her talk. She gets to talk again in December, or when I write all the summaries for work.... which I am planning on knocking drafts out on this weekend.....

Now I am off to read until I get to sleep.
Sleep has been eluding me the past couple of nights. However, tomorrow I have to travel several counties away for a training so definitely need my sleep....

Rereading will be strongly discouraged from now on....

Day Two approaches in less than 4 hours and I have already stumbled upon a rule, I'd better observe: not rereading my words.

Overall I like some of my imagery. However, I am already wondering about where this thing is going.

However, I am choosing not to worry about that. It will go where it goes. It already has started taking on a life of its own, which is the only way I am going meet word count anyway, so I am going to enjoy it and move on.

This does not need to be an exercise in perfection - or even editing.

It is only an exercise in persistence.

NaNoWriMo

Word Count from
12:01AM to 1:20AM 11/1/11:
1789

Monday, October 31, 2011

NaNoWriMo, or why I am either brave, stupid or both

It's not as if I have the time. For anything.
I mean, at this moment if I am to get the wild hair and want to take a bath, it requires a multiplicity of steps of gathering the biggest pans, boiling water, and scraping the nasty crap out of the tub left from the great unwashed before me...
So saying I have gotten the wild hair to participate in NaNoWriMo, to pretend to indulge my fantasy of being some kind of writer, to do something creative, to try to break out of my mundane workaday world of typing my ass off on dry service summaries which no one but auditors ever read...
Well, if I attempt this, I am crazy.

Never tried to deny it.

So here I am, poised a mere 64 minutes before the official beginning of NaNoWriMo, and typing away on my faithful if fickle blog.
The ground for my musings - whether they be philosophical ramblings about my personal recovery from codependency/food addiction/laziness/bitchiness/self-centeredness/excessive use of profanity/bitterness or my opinions about the REAL writers's works I am having the privilege of reading....
Well, this ground might be kind of quiet for the next month or so.
I will try to check in periodically if for no other reason than post reviews or word counts.
And who knows? maybe the next time I start blogging here I might actually write something worth reading.

Stranger things have happened.
All Wound Up: The Yarn Harlot Writes for a SpinAll Wound Up: The Yarn Harlot Writes for a Spin by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


It's been a while since I've read Stephanie Pearl-McPhee or her blog, so I had forgotten how jealous I am of her knitting skills. Having tucked my bitterness away, I proceeded on with her latest.

Having said that, I have to say I enjoyed this collection much more than her last effort because it was, gasp, a bit "darker" - and it's not as if she has gone serial yarn killer or anything - than her other works. In this volume her musings are more about the darker side of her personality: she is "All Wound Up," so to speak, and it is refreshing to know that sweet smiling woman is just as bitter as I am about several things. Beloved and faithful appliances choking out their last when the household budget can ill-afford it, idiots making inane remarks regarding her knitting in public, and heart-crushing sadness. She also touches on the less finer points of dealing with daughters, adolescent dating, and determining whether one's penchant for fiber qualifies as an addiction. The Yarn Harlot is nothing if not humorous, and this is humor to which I can relate.

I can forecast that some fans may complain that there are more topics than just the love of knitting. Yet this is just what I feel makes this collection stronger than earlier efforts. No matter what the topic, she knits it all together with love, laughter and yarn.

Well done.





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Monday, October 24, 2011

Where Darkness DwellsWhere Darkness Dwells by Glen Krisch

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I received the opportunity to read and review this novel through the Members Giveaway program; I am grateful to Mr Krisch for the gift.

Classifying this novel to myself, I would call it horror for the thinking person. More than simply a zombie novel, with imagery that is not for the faint of heart (yet is not gratuitous), I was swept in by the archetypal search for the mysterious fish and invested by caring about the fates of the characters. Part ghost story, part horror, part sociological fable, Krisch captures the reader and navigates a never-dull plot line that reveals so much while never fully playing its hand.
The only thing that kept me from a five-star rating were several typos that seemed pretty glaring - they stuck out even though I was totally immersed in the story. However, I would just chalk that up to editing issues, and it did not detract from the overall stark beauty of this novel.
I have enjoyed reading and reviewing this work, and look forward to reading anything and everything that Mr Krisch writes.



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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Priorities or Always Being Behind....

I know it's been forever since I have posted. Life has, once again, gotten in the way.

I have been working the longer than daylight to dark hours, and collapsing when I get home.... this past weekend I did some housecleaning, but otherwise just tried to catch my breath. I keep thinking that I will be caught up someday, but then it never happens....

Today I paused at my desk in the multitasking of completing 20-25 things that had to be done this morning and just thought, "What else?" Someone I work with came into my office and said, "You need a vacation. You need to actually get away."

True it has been almost 4 years since I have had a day off (not counting the two separate days I was in the hospital, the only two days I have not worked in 4 years).

I wouldn't know how to go about this vacation thing even if I tried. Even if I could take a day off.

So this afternoon, I had a temperature of 102, so I went home after only an 8 hour work day. I tried to rest, but spent another 2-3 hours on email and phone calls.

And tomorrow it starts all over again.

I really want to work on reading for myself - I am 44 books behind on my personal goal of reading 100 books in 2011.

And I want to participate in NaNoWriMo this year.... A couple of years ago I tried, but work - and my Mac motherboard crashing - thwarted my efforts. I am going to try this one more time..... It will take working only 50 hours a week or less, and other people having to do some work at home.

But I am taking the month of November for myself.

One way or another.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Another review of a good book

Two GravesTwo Graves by D.A. Graystone

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


CAUTION: This review contains spoilers.

If you are looking for a more complex mystery/crime drama, this is your book.

From the very beginning, readers are swept into the action and yet not spared good writing: intense imagery, developed characters, and a gritty, reality-driven plot line.

Graystone's characterizations ring truer than the old detective noir novels I grew up loving, and his imagery was every bit as rich. I love a good mystery and this was it. I especially liked Mann and Dani. I am heartened to learn that Graystone is working on a sequel to this, called Too Many Graves, due out in 2012. I will definitely be reading that.

Having said that, I was slightly disappointed with the overall development of some of the antagonists in the novel. The primary "villian," Preston Peterson, starts out as a complex character but in the end becomes more of a device of his role, and his motivations never become more complex. He is developed as a realized character. Yet I would expect a realized character to take more care than to just kill lookalikes. The idea he was somehow cleansing the world was a bit overwrought in my mind with the original development of the character. The other antagonists, Flem and Angelino, were not as developed and yet the last 20% of the novel was spent resolving their connection and existence. Flem appears two or three times and only once is Angelino actually introduced as anything more than a reference.

Yet overall, I enjoyed this book. The plot was not guessable, the twists not predicted, and this is a necessity for a good mystery, in my opinion. Rather than have simplistic heroes and foils, Graystone spent time developing his characters and depicting their histories and personalities. Many lesser mysteries do not do the reader this justice.

Well done, Mr Graystone.



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Sunday, October 2, 2011

This morning's reading....

Blood Rites (The Dresden Files, #6)Blood Rites by Jim Butcher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I am enamored with Harry Dresden and this series.

Having disclosed this, I must also admit that this one lagged a bit for me. It seemed that playing the White Court as ensconced in the porn industry was kind of a trite, too easy - and tempting to be sensationalized into fueling baser imagery for our clever, ephemeral wizard. Once I got past that, the book picked up somewhat around the 300-page mark, and I was swept back in again.

I am satisfied with my reading experience, but not as much as with previous books in the series. Maybe this is to be expected by book six. But I am still signed on for the long haul.



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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Dirty Little AngelsDirty Little Angels by Chris Tusa

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Other reviews have called this a brutal, gritty coming-of-age novel, and it is that.

However I feel such a description might place this story in the wrong category. It is a coming-of-age story in the same way Bastard out of Carolina was; basically a story of someone growing up and into the cruelest knowledge that those around her are damaged and not nearly good enough to be ushering a young soul into adulthood.

Hailey Trosclair is a sixteen year old girl in New Orleans whose father is an unmotivated and unemployed alcoholic and whose mother is a depressive living in the past and clinging to resentments. These people live in only the dreariest sepia tones, and from them springs young Hailey, our first person protagonist who is suffocating for the lack of color. Brother Cyrus is a protective if misguided delinquent, and all adults - save the compassionate neighbor, Verma - fail both Hailey and Cyrus utterly. Her peers don't do much better, as friend Meridian and the inconstant Chase (aptly named) also betray her.

Hailey's coming-of-age is then coming into the knowledge that no one can really be counted upon, and leaving childhood is ugly, demonic work. Even the dirty angels of our world are less dangerous than the wolves in adult clothing.

Reading Dirty Little Angels was an almost effortless experience. Characterizations were rich enough to add rather than detract from the story. Hailey's narrative voice was engaging, even when she was at a loss due to her own splintering despair. The plot rang true, even throughout the more gruesome or depraved acts of some of the characters.

However, this review would not be complete if I did not mention Tusa's gift of imagery. So few novels really pull it off these days, so I was extremely grateful to be carried into this novel by the rich visualizations Tusa's words created.

I was sent this ebook for a review, and I thank for the author for the experience. I certainly hope Chris Tusa continues to write.



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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Here's an inspiring idea....

In the middle of the partisan bickering, bad news about jobs and the economy and basically negativity everywhere, here is an awesome, inspiring way to pass on a legacy of kindness and hope.

Enjoy.

Think about what you can do.

I know I did.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Fifth Element of Love (While I Was Learning to Become God)The Fifth Element of Love by Roxana Jones

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This book, and its companion volume, The Fifth Element of Love (While I Was Learning to Become God) are best read by spiritual seekers with an open mind. Fans of Doreen Virtue, Deborah King, and other metaphysical authors will love this retelling of the life of Sybil Vaughan, a woman who fought against the odds in many ways, with the help of her angels, to make a difference and honor her destiny.

The author's bio states that she became a full-time author in 2009, as a result of her new heart and mind. At times I wondered where the thread of Roxana's life was weaving into Sybil's.

I enjoyed this book because it took me out of my comfort zone, and led me to question some of my own spiritual threads. An expanded review will be available on my blog later.



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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Weekends

I love weekends for the most part. It's time that I don't have to be at the office by 7:30AM and I get to work from the laptop in my room. This weekend I have worked quite a bit on work stuff, very little except preparing meals on house stuff and taken a nap.

Last weekend I did some research on how to request advanced reader copies of books so I could read new stuff and write reviews. I requested several books and actually got one shipped to me late this week, so I wanted to spend the weekend reading that so I could go ahead and write my review. No such luck. Every time I get settled in to read, I fall asleep. So yesterday I took a nap - in honor of the Day of Debauchery and Gluttony, and basically ignored the housework. Good stuff.

Weekends are also symbolic for me. They are two days into which I feel compelled to cram seven days of living. There is pressure - internalized, of course - to make those two days "count," when the rest of the week I am at the beck/call/whim of other people's desires and incompetence. They are two days where I try not to simmer and smolder with anger over other people's whims, desires and incompetence. They are two days where I try not to bemoan and catastrophize that I am on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The symbolism comes in when I think - "these are the two days I get to try to live like a normal person who works only 40-60 hours a week." Stupid, I know.

Now, however, the "holiday" is passed. I want to get some reading done, so I will most likely retire to the easy chair across my bedroom and start making notes as I read. Once again, I am compelled to do as much as possible because in less than 20 hours I will be back on for another 5 days. Or, if today is like yesterday, it may be far less before the dreaded work cell phone rings.

Carpe diem.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Just when you thought it was safe to crack open the Kindle (TM)

I have spent the last day or so downloading some good reading on the Kindle.

I have a love-hate relationship with the damned thing. On the one hand, I love the fact that at least 40% of the books I have on it are in public domain, so they were classics, and free. WIth the old BA in English Literature, people often forget that I am literate... or at least have pretty diverse reading tastes. And when you are supporting two children, a husband and a dog single-handedly, you don't have alot - or sometimes ANY - disposable income. So the public domain works on Kindle amuse me greatly.

I also love the Kindle for when I really want a new expensive book and I can get it on the Kindle for half that amount (not always, but often enough that I am still enthused). For example, in the past month, amazon and their Kindle allowed me to get the latest Jennifer Egan novel and Tina Fey's memoir (still reading Egan, downloaded Goon Squad this evening, Bossypantsis a solid C+).

Yet I am still old school. I love the feel of a book in my hand, the ability to -GASP - write or underline my favorite parts at will (and yes, I am aware of and do use the highlighting function of Kindle. I just don't give a shit what other people found fascinating - embracing my inner autism spectrum). I like the heft and smell of a book in my hand. Well, not that dusty, moldy, silverfished disintegrating one...aaaaa-chooo! I even like the look of all those damn books on my shelves. Yes, the very shelves that make me look like a hoarder.

Scary, huh? Keep in mind that this only ONE side of the "library" (i.e., small bedroom that I have dedicated to my books). I love my books, but they are numerous.

Which brings me to my final hate for the Kindle.
I read.
Alot.
Hours a day, when I can. While others watch television, eat and interact in society, I read.
While others form relationships, I read. (No thanks, yuck.)
While others do things like have a life, and vacations (a word I hear used and see in print but never actually experience, unless I am unemployed), I read.
Hell, I don't even knit anymore. Reading is a jealous mistress.

Apparently the Kindle battery cannot keep up with me. It actually has to be charged! Well, not that often. But inevitably, when I am in the middle of reading something on the damned thing that I don't want to put down.

Yes, I am aware I can read on my MacBook and my iPhone - and I do. In fact, I tally this capability under "The Reasons I Love My Kindle." But the iPhone is smaller than a book. And the MacBook (despite its jaunty name) is larger than a book (well, a book I want to schlep around with me to the john and kitchen and car). And the Kindle, while not a book, and a bit heavier than the average trade paperback, simulates a book. Somewhat. Especially when tarted up in a purple skin and ensconced in a purple case, such as this.


I could continue reading on my the Kindle's soft gray screen - which sometimes comforts me and sometimes maddens me - or I could continue blithely on using the MacBook or iPhone. I could even tether myself to the wall while the damned thing is charging and keep on truckin'.

Or I could get really scandalous and resort to my back-up plan. It's wild and dangerous, but so worth it.

I could read this:

I like to live dangerously. And it is one of the last 2 works of Neil Gaiman I have not read.
Yes, a walk on the wild side.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Namaste.... I see you in me.

Tonight I went to a Step meeting on Step 7.

Tonight I bitched, and then I shut up and listened. I was given the gift of perspective by someone who has been in this program for a hell of alot longer than I have, and it was just that. A gift.

Tonight I felt that when that same person asked for something that she needed, I needed to give that gift back.

This is how the world works. Not how it should work, but how it truly does.

To see it any other way means we are just kidding ourselves.

Let's try to give a gift back today.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Love and gratitude

I am the mother of teenager.

That is probably not the sentence one would expect as an opening for a blog post titled "Love and gratitude, " especially from me, who despises teenagers and all of their ilk.

But I do love my daughter. I love both my daughters. Both of them are basically awesome and interesting. I suspect I might like them even if I did not give birth to them.

It's been a rough few weeks. And I have basically been crawling home each night and feeling like crawling under a big rock when I see that the kitchen is filthy, and everyone is looking at me to come up with some great meal to wow them and fill their stomachs. It's been rough. And it has exhausted me.

Tonight I came home and the kitchen was clean. The dishes were done. And dinner was on the stove.

After I checked to make sure that I was in the right house, I went in and thanked my daughter.

Chloe made a delicious meal of grilled Creole chicken, macaroni and cheese, and green beans. And the kitchen was clean.

After dinner, I washed the dinner dishes. And I came into my bedroom and sat down. And breathed.

I am thankful I have a daughter who can make me understand love. I am not a perfect mother. I am not even off work and home enough to be a decent mother.

But I do love my daughters.

And I am thankful for them both. And the kitchen is clean.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Independence and interdependence

This is going to be a purposefully vague post, as I am not sure how comfortable I am writing about certain recent events. Quite frankly, I am a bit tired of thinking about and talking about and dwelling on recent events, and really would just like to rewrite the history of the past week. Since this is impossible, I blather on....

Today is the 4th of July, a civic holiday here in the U.S. which commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It's a heavy holiday, very symbolic. However, I just read a report that states a large percentage of Americans don't really know what it is even about. They know the bunting and the fireworks, and the day off work. But not much beyond that. Kinda sad, as I used to say.

I do not consider myself much of a patriot. The last presidential administration made this tantamount to godlessness, and yet I don't embrace that ideology. I do not consider myself a patriot, partially because I don't want to be that Ugly American that was so successfully celebrated by that administration. I also don't want to consider myself the center of the universe in some short-sighted, idiotic way. However, I did take offense when that administration played fast and loose with civil rights, and when the yes-men of that ideology now look desperately to blame someone else for the consequences. I don't pretend to know the answers, only the facts of history. And to have lived some of them a little too close to the bone.

Which brings me back to the present moment. The facts are as follows:

1. I survived, as I always have, at least up to this point.
and
2. The freedom I want to embrace today is the freedom to be myself and the freedom not to be a victim.

I have worked long and hard to not be a victim of the violence of others, or the stupidity of others. It has been a hard fight at times. And sometimes I get tired of fighting. I get tired of struggling through even when I feel I should be somewhere else, healing my wounds.

Especially when the wounds are real, can be seen and I have to make sarcastic remarks, to laugh instead of to cry.

So Happy 4th from that bitter, godless snarky old bitch. Make your fireworks be bright.

I'll be going to bed early.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ch-ch-changes... (my apologies to David Bowie)

One thing that can be expected is change. Daily, sometimes even hourly change.

Today I moved into my new office, and by all rights should love it. However, I was kind of content in my smaller office with the view of the capital bridge. Now I look out on the KY History Center, and can see some pretty tall hills beyond. Lots more room, lots more like. Kind of the corner office with a view, if I lived in the corporate world.

There is a part of me though that asks the jaded questions.
First, someone else had to be moved out for me to have this space.
Second, I had finally adjusted all the vents in the old office to just the right angles to provide me with my subzero air conditioning I love so much.
And I was in a rut.
I like ruts.
Not unlike a hog, but that is the topic of another post.

I have hired a RN as an assistant now. She is already stepping up and taking on some work so I can see light at the end of the tunnel. I am giving her the old office - but I will adjust the vents as she is normal and does not like to be kept at cool 62 degrees at all times like I do. This is going to give me some time back. I might even get a day off occasionally. I might get to see what things called "weekends" are that other people talk about.

However, this may also give me time to look at the other things in my life that are not working.

The upside to being a workaholic is that I don't have to look at the rest of the mess called my life.

Today someone made the comment to me that "it is lonely at the top." I never see myself as at the top. Sure, I am the boss at the place where I work, only answering to the owners (who are a couple of counties away, trust my judgement and back me on almost everything). But because I have been so immersed in this work thing, feeling compelled because I have a family to support and my income has been the one to pay the bills for so long, it feels like the bottom. Of a shoe, or a doormat.

It's all about perspective, I suppose.

This, too, shall change.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Expectations

In All-Anon it is said that expectations are premeditated resentments. I am learning this over and over again, and it is a bitter lesson.

Yesterday was my 7th wedding anniversary. I had kept my expectations low. All I really planned was us going to lunch together about a block away from the house. I left open the possibility of going to an early (matinee) movie, because I am low on money. I know that if we were to actually do anything for our anniversary, I would have to be the one to pay for it, because July 3 marks an entire year since he has had any kind of job.

So I moved heaven and earth and had to come up with plans and contingency plans and arrangements out the whazoo to be able to take the afternoon off of work.

I came home to pick him up to go to lunch, and he says he is not hungry, not interested in going to lunch, and not going anywhere. Of course, the 6 year old hears me mention lunch and so she wakes up - yes, he had her sleeping until noon - and I end up taking my 6 year old to our anniversary plans instead of my husband. At lunch I am so resentful and angry, because in my mind he is getting another day of puttering around the house, and now he doesn't even have to be bothered with his own kid.

Then I realize, that was my expectation. And my marriage does not work for me because of my expectations.

I expect my husband to honor basic plans with me like I see other couples do.

I expect my husband to work a job, like I see other husbands do.

I expect to see him apply for a job or look for work in some tangible way. I do not accept that he is "looking for work online," when he won't answer any calls on his phone. I expect someone who is looking for work would use their phone number and accept calls as a call might be a potential employer or job interview.

I expect my husband to fulfill some sort of fatherly role in supporting his child.

I expect him to try to financially support himself in some way.

I expect to have some sort of relationship.

So after lunch, instead of going home and sitting in my room, I got in my car and drove. I took Tara, the 6 year old, with me, as I didn't want to be alone and she is really the only one in the household who wants to be with me even when I don't have much money. We drove and checked out a bookstore cafe about 40 miles from my house a couple of counties away. We walked through the historic downtown there and I watched her enjoy herself. About halfway through the day the husband sends me a text message that says "Don't go back to work." I stayed out with my daughter and had a decent time. I talked to complete strangers at the cafe, and everyone was very nice.

When I got home I went to bed. About 3 hours later the husband stated he would go to supper with me. At this point I was thinking that I could afford lunch, not supper, and that is why I suggested it instead. But we went to a Mexican meal. At the meal he told me he did not know why I was so stressed out about work. I stated that I take my job seriously. He stated he did not know, if I am working a program, "why [I] let people live rent free in [my] head."

I wanted to say :"The same reason why I have let you live rent free in my home for the last year, and for most of the last 7 years, even when you had a job and should have paid some rent."

I said instead - and he interrupted me before I could get it out the first time, but I interrupted him and firmly made my point: "I am not going to listen to any criticism of what I am doing or what program I am working, because I am at least making an effort and doing something, from someone who is not."

We had planned on going to a movie as well. It stared raining pretty heavily during supper and I realized I had no desire to force any more type of facade from this day. I had been disappointed by this situation for far too long already. The day was a wash. And I could not afford, after paying for a lunch that he would not attend, and then supper, to pay for a movie with all the drinks and popcorn then. So we went back home, and I went back to bed.

So I have realized two things from this day:

1. Anything I expect from another human being on this planet most likely will not happen. I cannot ask or trust anyone to do anything I want or need them to do.

2. Others expect far too much of me. If I were to not fulfill their expectations even a small percentage of the time - much as they continue to not fulfill mine - they could probably learn to do for themselves, just as I have. The people at work could probably do their jobs or get fired. The adults in my household would have to work and support themselves or they would be homeless. The children would be less spoiled.

As far as the future? I expect God is working it out, loud and clear.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A weekend almost free

This weekend I actually got a Saturday off! After I recovered from the shock, Tara and I went to Lexington, got haircuts, Orange Leaf yogurt and then went to Joseph-Beth Booksellers and Whole Foods. We then came home and then I went out on the town with St Timothy of the Internest. St Timothy and I walked around downtown, and I was reminded of why I like living in this town. I appeared that I had missed the concert at Kentucky Coffeetree Cafe by a night, but there was a really awesome outdoor show happening down the street at the Cornerstone Art and Event Center. It was the Blues on Broadway show of The Paul Childers Band. I, of course, had the trusty iPhone in tow, and took two short videos more to capture the sound rather than the visual....

After a bit of eavesdropping we walked to the The Dragon Pub, where a DJ was spinning Top 40 songs that reminded me of going dancing in gay bars in the 90s. So we took off, went and got the kids a pizza and went home and crashed.

Since I got over 5 hours of sleep, I woke up this morning with a migraine from hell. I napped off and on this morning, trying to "sleep off" the headache, but gave up around noon, when the goofy work phone calls started. I took work calls and did computer stuff to help the calling clueless until about 9PM, when I decided that, in lieu of migraine medicine I would down some Midol and attempt to clean my bedroom. I got about 75% of it picked up and I feel much better with the room cleared a bit. I appears that I was listening to Hay House Radio and one of the solutions that was discussed for someone else - but sounded like good sense - was to clear out our physical spaces to get our minds together.

So the headache still clings but just barely. And I am still in shock because I got 24 hours of a break!!!!! I could so go for this.

I have been congratulating myself repeatedly in petitioning and getting to hire some help at work. I am looking forward to hopefully some more realistic work weeks - less than 100 hours per week anyway - and some balance back in my world....

The whole universe is as it should be.

Finally decided that my life was too short to try to force myself to read really bad novels. I have finally given up on Angelology by Danielle Trussoni. It still lies splayed face down on the bed next to me. Yet I cannot make myself read any further; it's that bad.

So what am I reading instead? Well, The Celestine Prophecy, Doreen Virtue's The Angel Therapy Handbook, and I am saving the latest Charlene Harris for a guilty pleasure treat. I have been having far too few of those, and definitely need to look for no calorie treats at this point....

Friday, June 10, 2011

Time, distilled.

I am spending the weekend sitting with a sick friend in the hospital, so it appears that time is going to slow down for me. I hope to get some writing done - most of it will unfortunately be work-related - and some reading done as well. I brought that damn Angelology novel, hoping being in an enclosed place and not able to leave, that I will be able to finish it. If this doesn't do it, it is definitely getting pitched. I'll at least get to do a blog or two, catch up on reading all the blogs that I love but have not had a chance to read in months, and maybe even get some catnaps in. I don't sleep well in anything but darkness so this may not be the best sleep. But I am so exhausted it will be what it will be.

At any rate, it has been an eventful week. Lots of work. Lots of just dropping into bed exhausted. Lots of being so tired that I have not bothered to always be kind. This disappoints me, as I was re-energized and re-purposed after attending the Step Workshop last weekend. I had asked that my character defects be taken from me, but alas, I took them right back. I suck like that.

One of my character defects is anger. Nasty, bitchy, raw and bitter anger. The white lightning, white hot, red hot, flaming kind of fury that will visit wrath in its path. I have the typical Irish temper, with some hot sauce thrown in. It costs me more than it costs anyone else. It makes me feel all indignant and righteous for a split second, and then I feel like shit. I feel like tucking my tail between my legs and not facing anyone because of my bad behavior. Because that's what it is. Bad behavior. A perfect example, today. I had a staff meeting and I looked out into their bland, blank faces, and I acted like an ass. I yelled at them. I meant what I said, and I said what I meant. But it was damn mean. And for that I apologize. To you, dear reader. But not to them. My amends will come, and they will come soon.

Another character defect I have is self-centeredness. I can't shut up about myself. This is most disturbing whenever someone tries to have a conversation with me and I hear myself use the word "I." The blog is where I will have to dump my navel-gazing musings. Sorry, dear reader. But the rest of the world thanks you. It's almost as if in the process of acquiring the practically useless Masters degree in counseling and hearing about relating to others, my verbal diarrhea-ic mouth took over. Boring stories suck. And unfortunately, I am full of them.

Yet another character defect I have is indecisiveness. I see this everywhere in my life: my inability to decide what I want to be when I grow up, my inability to make a decision about my marriage, my family, raising my children, or what have you... basically all of it. However, this character defect is being helped by my choosing to let go and let g*d/Higher Power take some of the freneticism away. Praying for guidance, that whole bit. Still it would be nice to have a sense of certainty about something.

I am sure of one thing. I am sure I love my daughters. They are very unique, beautiful people, and I wish I could see them every day, and spend time with them. Working as many hours as I do, and working every day as I do, I don't get to spend time with them like other parents. I hear other mothers talk about spending time with their children, days even, and I am at a loss. I see my children for minutes, maybe an hour a day, and in the next few days it appears that I will not be seeing them at all. Tim has said he will bring Tara by for a few minutes for the next few days, and I am grateful for that.

Last character defect - well, the last one I am going to talk about it this post - is my forgetfulness about gratitude. So I close with a list:

I am grateful for:
1. My daughters
2. I have a place to live
3. I have a job
4. Some people have helped me alot this week
5. My Al-Anon program
6. My Al-Anon friends
7. My cell phone that I can use to ask for help when I need it
8. My health
9. My dog
10. The people who have helped me this week

Time in a bottle

If I could save time in a bottle, I would put it on a high shelf and keep it away from my staff and everyone else on the planet with the exception of my children and my friends.

The unfortunate problem is that I don't even have time to write a blog entry, as I have 5 people in my office talking to me all at once.... maybe I will get a chance to try again this weekend.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

June, Writing, the Will of a Higher Power

Welcome to the lovely, hot month of June. Already this summer is proving to be a hot one as we look at our first full week of 90+ degree days here in the capital city. And last night I came home in the 92 degree heat to a house that was 88 degrees. Yep, the air conditioning has died for the second time this summer. Good times.

Prior to the air conditioning fiasco, I had spent the better part of the day at an Al-Anon 12 Step Workshop. It is one of those rubber meets the road opportunities for those of us who know that the spiritual solution to living with those who have addictions lies in the Steps themselves. The same Steps that addicts and alcoholics have to work if they are to be able to survive with their disease.

I have worked the Steps before. I worked them with the help of two sponsors and a group of Al-Anons - some of them black-belt Al-Anons. But this time it was different. For one, I was there with a group of about 20 who were working the Steps themselves. And we were being led to take the Steps by a person with 30 days in his program. And just from talking to him, I think his program was not the kind, gentle kind, but the kind that truly knows that the Steps are the Steps to survival - failure to work and take the Steps is just a choice to die with the disease.

See, in Al-Anon, we are not addicted to alcohol. We are just enmeshed, intertwined, and mired down into the life of an alcoholic to the point that it hijacks our own lives and experiences and takes us to an ugly, desperate, evil, frantic, obsessing, miserable, dank, dark, deadly place. And drops us off. Without cab fare.

We fool ourselves and say that we are the ones who have to hold the family, the household, the household budget, and the alcoholic/addict together. When in reality, all it does is tear us down and apart.

Deconstruction at its most efficient.

And so, with the same Steps that the alcoholic/addict has available to him/her to see a glimmer of light, we can claw ourselves out.

It is clawing, because it is a fight for survival, the same as it is for the alcoholic.

I am drifting off into a place I want to do a separate blog post about....

Yesterday, one of the exercises was to do a free writing exercise after a meditation/prayer opening of asking for your God's/Higher Power's will. We wrote whatever came into our minds for five minutes. At the end of the exercise I could no longer read my own handwriting - carpal tunnel be damned. Then we read out loud the phrases that we had written. This part was so we could know if someone else had a thought that could be meant for, or used by us.

Knowing me, you know that I loved this exercise. I have been doing freewriting since I started educating myself in the craft of writing at the age 17 by reading Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones.And of course, being a fan/student of Doreen Virtue, I *knew* that someone else had gotten a thought I could use.

My own knockout: "Live not in fear."

The line I got from someone else: "Writing is what makes me sane."

So without further ado, I knew immediately at least some of my Higher Power's will.

I have made it thus far. WIth my current health and lifestyle, I've probably made it at least 60-75% of my current travail here on this planet. And so there's really nothing I have to fear or dread. Or as one of my friends says, "What are they going to do? Eat me?"

And there is a message out there waiting for me. For all I know, there is a message hiding in that miasma of a synapse between my brain and finger for someone else.

Writing keeps me sane.

So that's what I'm going to do.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

May flowers...

This blog has suffered from me being so overwhelmed with work and all the other things that have been going on in my life. By the time I get home each night from work it is usually 8PM at the earliest, and 10PM at the latest, and I am too tired to do anything but get something to eat and go to bed. My days start around 6 or 7AM, so it makes for long days. On the weekends, work stuff still keeps happening, and then I have to do cooking, cleaning and try to spend a few minutes interacting with my kids. I spend Saturdays running around like crazy and then spend Sundays stressed out that I have lost the ability to take any time off. I spend Sundays in an angry funk. Needless to say, this type of life does not lend itself to many opportunities to engage in creative, life-affirming, pursuits.

On the bright side, I have a job. I am trying to still get to a couple of Al-Anon meetings a week.

This has helped me keep some semblance of sanity as my resentments are still breeding other resentment... I am still overwhelmed as I try single-handedly to support my family and handle the household and all the minutiae of keeping a household running.

At any rate....

I continue to want to be someone else when I grow up. I continue to try to stake my claim to tiny bits of time to explore just who this person is.

Lately I have been shopping for a bicycle. I really want to ride a bike as I live a 1/2 mile from my office and this would be a way for me to get my head together and some exercise as well. There is a bike shop here in town where I could build my own bike with a small donation of cash and time. I would love to do this. I would enjoy it, and I could learn how to fix my bike if there was every any mechanical problem with it. Once again, I am resenting that I cannot figure out a way to take the time to do this. It is a really neat place called Folkbike Re-cyclery. Check it out online, and if you feel strongly about community building and teaching someone to fish (metaphorically, of course!) rather than giving them a fish, then send some cash their way. They are non-profit and the money will go to a great cause.

I love where I live. There is a community here - even outside of Al-Anon meetings - that shares the same values and concerns I do. For example, one group Walk/Bike Frankfort sees that this town has the same potential that I see. And of course, there is the history and the old buildings and all the other things that make me happy.... If only I could spend more time working towards these causes....

Oh well, it's late and I am making the promise to work on the blog more, do more writing, and get more done... more enjoyable things done. However, tonight, I think I am ready to fall asleep with a book. I am still slogging through the Angelology novel. Underwhelmed so far with it, but trying to slog through.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Don't Sing at the Table: Life Lessons from My GrandmothersDon't Sing at the Table: Life Lessons from My Grandmothers by Adriana Trigiani

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I read this as an ebook on my Kindle.

Reading this book was more an exercise in revisiting and appreciating what my grandmothers brought into my life and awareness. It was less about what new or interesting value I got from Trigiani's grandmothers. After all, we learned similar lessons and values, and it was nice to see someone else appreciating them as well.
Trigiani is an entertaining writer. Her Big Stone Gap novels were a guilty pleasure for me in my thirties, and I still feel she has a great style and writes with heart.



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Thursday, March 10, 2011

340th Post.

Well, today St Timothy turned 48.
Funds are fairly limited but I wanted to do something nice for him. He was sick most of the day, but tonight he agreed to go to a crappy supper at a chain restaurant. I got him a piece of cheesecake after dinner and he seemed happy with it. Tara went with us to dinner, and she sang Happy Birthday to him.
I just had higher expectations for him, or at least wanted more for him that what we had to offer today.
Expectations being just premeditated resentments, I realize that I am setting myself up to have them on someone else's behalf! How messed up is that?
Well, maybe I don't want an answer to that.

At any rate, happy birthday, Tim. I hope this year is whatever you need it to be to be happy, healthy and wealthy and wise. Peace out, my man.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

When do I get a minute?

Well, tomorrow I am planning my first day off since Thanksgiving. Well, actually I cleaned and cooked all Thanksgiving day, so maybe "day off" is not the right terminology. I am exhausted beyond belief, too tired to face much of anything.
And of course, a low-grade fever, fibro flare, and coughing and congestion really make me want to crawl under the nearest rock and not emerge for a few weeks or months.

This has been a hard week. My younger daughter has been really ill with yet another set of ear infections and I have been powerless to help her in any way. I went ahead and took her to the ER, and so without health insurance we now owe the local hospital over $5000 for that visit. And then we were given an antibiotic that cost almost $200 so we could not buy it for her. So after the $5000 is paid, she still won't have an antibiotic or treatment. And people say we don't need to change the health care system in this country. Of course, those are always people who have health care.

Then my older daughter drops the bomb that her grades are cruising into the toilet. She is highly intelligent, a great writer, and very wily, so I am kind of shocked. However, she has been spending way too much time worrying about spending every spare moment with her friends, and has been posting from her cell phone to facebook when she is at school. She blames her worst grade on "not having time" to put her assignment together. So that tells me that time management is chiefly the issue. As a parent, I get to be the bad guy again and adjust accordingly.

Otherwise, nothing changes at Chez Terre. (house of dirt, how ironic.)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Checking in....

Being busy is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, I am blessed to have something to do, and to get paid to do it. Especially in these tough times when lots of people don't have jobs. It also keeps me from obsessing, over-analyzing and basically hanging out too long in that scary neighborhood that is my head.
On the other hand, being busy seems to bring out my innate, inane and useless character defects of PERFECTIONISM and IMPATIENCE.

I am a perfectionist. The reasons for this are many, and start way back in my childhood. However, looking back and getting stuck in overanalyzing it doesn't really do anything good for me. So I will not go there.
However, my perfectionism makes me even more impatient that usual.
I am least patient with myself.
And then I take it out on everyone else - and myself.

I have noticed this week I am very much into my disease of compulsive eating. At the end of last week I decided to "go on a diet." Every attempt to stick to that plan of eating has just triggered more and more (unhealthy) eating. This, in turn, has triggered me to be more critical and impatient with myself. And then I take it out on others - and myself.

So I am going to do more reading, talk to my sponsor, and otherwise try to get my side of the street clean.

I don't know the next right thing beyond that.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Here comes February.

The weekend delivers me, gives me a respite from running ragged. Right?

Well, not if you are me. On the weekend, I do the housecleaning, catch up on paperwork, try to figure out how to cram some kind of personal life into about 4 or 5 hours for the week, and mull over and try to prepare for the week ahead.

I would hazard to guess that many people I know do exactly this as well.

But does it really get me anywhere, except the corner of Bitter Blvd. and Exhausted Ave?

Regardless, I am still glad for the weekends. I get a few less calls, usually, and I can relax somewhat. I can determine when I do things, but I still am unclear on delegation at times. When I hand things over for someone else to do, I really don't hand it over. I still micromanage, and then end up doing the task or redoing the task myself because the job someone else did does not meet my standards.

Already, before 8AM, on my day off, I have taken out the trash, collected dishes to wash - as the dishes have not been done for a few days, and determined that I've got to clean the kitchen, do all the floors, and do at least ten loads of laundry, clean both bathrooms, and assemble a shelf that I bought last weekend that we desperately need in the bathroom for storage, but that is still in the box propped up on the dining wall. I also have to carry the stuff up the stairs to the kids room that has been collecting at the bottom of the stairs for the last three weeks. And clean Tara's room so if I can find a bed for her she can start using her room. Could someone else do these things?

Of course.
Will someone else do these things?
Not without my asking repeatedly to the point of nagging.
And nagging leaves me bitter and angry at everyone I live with.
And sometimes nagging and begging someone else to do the basic maintenance tasks of life is as hard as just doing it myself.

So, I have worked the program on this.
I'm lowering my expectations.
I'm doing alot of the stuff myself.
I'm not arguing all the time. Many times I am closing my mouth, when all I want to do is scream, "You want me to handle that too?"
And I am not jumping to provide all the creature comforts that are demanded by those who have grown to expect and have used me to enable their issues for so long. I am still expected to buy cigarettes and devote at least $25 to habit I don't have. I still am the emergency person when someone else fails to do something, I have to swoop in and save the day, no matter how many other things are on my plate to accomplish that day. But these things are going to have to cease if I want to keep my sanity.

Basically what I'm saying is that I am going to have to shore up my boundaries. Include time in my schedule to handle my responsibilities if they are truly mine. And if it is work-related, I need to delegate more. If it is not work-related, I can relax my expectations somewhat. And still delegate.

And most importantly, stop taking care of others so much that they lose all impetus to take care of themselves. Stop providing everything so they are provided the necessity and opportunity to step up and take an active role in their own lives by providing for themselves somewhat.

By doing this, I am allowing others the same opportunities I have been given to develop and prove themselves responsible, autonomous individuals. I also show them I trust them enough to handle this stuff, and believe in their ability to do it. I empower them to do it.

And maybe, just maybe, I get a moment of peace myself.

"My imperfections and failures are as much a blessing from God as my successes and my talents, and I lay them both at His feet." - Mahatma Gandhi

Monday, January 31, 2011

I'm baccccckkkkkk.....


Hello, Dear Reader.

For the past few days I have been rather dismayed because my blog disappeared from Blogger. I was having a minor meltdown - well internally - I was holding it together on the outside. A friend called after I had posted on Facebook about it, and I didn't even have the strength to talk to her about it. I love talking to her, and in every conversation she says something witty or wise that helps me philosophically digest this thing called life, but I couldn't even talk to her. That's how flatlined I was.

Fast forward a couple of days, and I am getting the wind back in my sails.

Slowly but surely.

However, I am actively looking for another host for my blog. After the "missing" fiasco, I am looking at putting my ramblings in a different format, in a different place. I'll still blog, just maybe not here.

Once I have found and set up a new home for the blog, I will post something here to direct you. A link, gasp.

So on with the post:

Today I got up and went to the old office to have a meeting with an Area Administrator. I really enjoy working with her, and I won't have the chance to work with her for much longer, so I am enjoying her company and picking her brain for wisdom.
Then I went to help a client move some of her things. This took so long I was late in picking up my kids from school - about 30 minutes late! - and then I took them home and dropped them off with St Timothy of the Parental Unit. I then got back in the car, went to the office and sent a fax, and met a staff and drove her to Lexington to meet with a new referred client. And then we drove back to Frankfort, I dropped off the staff person at her car and then went to an Al-Anon meeting. I suggested we have the meeting on gratitude - more on that in a minute. After the meeting I met with a lady I really respect and admire and asked her to sponsor me. I have a sponsor who has been really good for me, and I think this lady will also kick my ass through the goalposts of recovery as well.
I then came home, sent St Timothy, Patron Saint of the Food Run, to get some dinner, and then proceeded to complete some more work calls. Now I'm in bed, having been cuddled and debriefed from the day by Tara. Looking forward to reading until I fall asleep, and sleeping until 7AM, when the alarm will wake me up for another day of fun.
Good night, Dear Reader.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Physick Book of Deliverance DaneThe Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


After reading what others have said about this book, I hazard to guess I liked it more than most. Yes, the protagonist was priggish and dense in some areas, and I was not surprised about that. Overall, though, I felt that this book represented some matrilineal pride and was about history - personal history and myths and intergenerational revisioning of history - not exact history or scholarship. It's a novel, after all. I felt the exploration of the subject matter compelling, no doubt because Katherine Howe claims genealogical ties to both Elizabeth Howe and Elizabeth Proctor.
For feminist history on this subject, check out Devil in the Shape of a Woman.
But for a good read, compelling and interesting, this book did well for me.



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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Written last night around 2 or 3 am....

Tonight was one of those nights where everyone lost their fucking minds. It began as any other Saturday night. I cooked dinner, Chloe had a friend over (at 15, she cannot bear to spend a single weekend without a peer in her face constantly), and Tara was playing loudly and creatively. Tim was on the couch.

As I called everyone to dinner, the lights in the dining room began to dim, and then went out. The house was dark. The street was dark. Hell, the town was dark. Some kind of craptastic thing had happened to an electric plant transformer somewhere.

Suddenly, no one had any sense. Chloe’s visitor starting telling me she was going to cry, that she is scared of the dark. Never mind that I, hippie that I am, possess enough waxy wicks to candlepower a moderately large satanic ritual. She was not in the dark. She was in candlelight. My kids, never ones to be outdone, started telling each other how haunted our old house is, and discussing the difference between spirits and residual hauntings. The friend called her mother; mother came and got her. Chloe flounced back upstairs to stew in her emotastic miasma of a room. Tara crashed on the couch under four or five blankets. Tim was on the couch.

I retreated to the bedroom, caught up on the meditation readings in the books I use, and snuggled deeper under the covers to get started on the new novel I’ve been dying to read, Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese. I didn’t even make it through five pages when the work cell phone rang. It was a staff person at the old job calling to tell me the electricity – and hence the lights and heat – were out at the house she was working. No shit, Sherlock, I resisted the urge to say. However, after listening to her describe how she had called two other members of management who ignored her phone call and told her they were in the same boat respectively, I interrupted her to ask her what she wanted me to do. She had no answer, but continued to bemoan the lack of electricity. I again interrupted, what can I do? She then got haughty, “You don’t have to be an asshole to me.” So I put on my clothes, got in my car and drove through the blackout streets of the Capital City to inform her of the necessity of speaking with supervisors with some modicum of respect. Fake it, for fuck’s sake. As I entered the house where she works, I was struck first by the fact that it is at least 30 degrees warmer than my own house I had just left. Then I was struck by the fact that, although she claimed her cell phones were dead, that she was playing on them, texting and taking calls. Both my clients were in bed, snug as bugs in rugs. And she was sitting on the couch, wrapped up in a blanket with a candle burning. In other words, actually in better shape than I am at my own house. So I explain quite plainly that she is not to call her supervisors assholes at 11:15PM when she calls them at home to whine about unfixable situations, especially situations that aren’t that bad. And then I wait, as she only has 15 minutes left on her shift anyway. The next darling employee comes to work 15 minutes late. Gotta love punctuality, respect and problem-solving skills. While I am there, Tim calls me on the cell phone – no doubt from the couch – saying it is too cold and I need to come home so they can all get in my car and run the heat. So I turn back, get back on the roads, and drive through a darkened town. Four miles from home, my cell phone rings again. This time he tells me the electricity is back on, but the heat is not. Apparently our heat will not come on. I go home to fiddle with the thermostat while he tries to coax a pilot light on. Although we’re not exactly sure it was ever off. However, he has turned it off and on again so much at this point, it appears it will be 45 degrees Fahrenheit in my bed forever.

Maybe I need to go to the couch?