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Posts Tagged ‘writing’

I love my hairstylist. Love him. Not because he’s good at what he does, or because he’s tall and broad-shouldered with a sexy, baritone voice.

He’s just cool.

Gay and raised in a strict Mormon household, he’s endured pain, reflection and therapy to be confident with who he is. So in addition to being attentive, handsome and practically exotic in my Stepford town, he is soulful.

Last time I went, he told me he’d been getting signs from “the universe.” He believes that if we send out our requests out to the universe, the universe will respond.

“Isn’t that the same concept of prayer and God?” I asked.

“You could say that” he said. “But the point is to listen and pay attention. There are always signs or little nudges – you just have to be aware.”

So two weeks ago, the freelance project I’d been working on was starting to suck. The client was stressed and angry about all sorts of things, and her frustration was directed at everyone, including me. And since pleasing sadly defines me, I felt wounded. Maybe I can’t do this, I thought. Maybe ten years at home has made me ineffective at anything beyond making beds and nuking nuggets.

So I limped over to my laptop and posted on my blog, the blog I’ve been ignoring. And then by some strange stroke of luck, the post is featured on Freshly Pressed. I learned this at lunch when my email was besieged with amazing comments from people I didn’t know. And it didn’t stop – for two days. Hour by hour, strangers telling me they liked what I’d written or that they agreed with me. People sharing their own stories with me, from places like South Africa.

I tried to respond to every comment, I’m so grateful — but with my job and it being the first two weeks of school, I am still working on it. Every comment has meant something.

So I’ve shoved into some bootstraps and am getting on happily because of the encouragement that came to me in not-so-random droves.

Thank you.

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I can’t get it together to write a post.

I’m overwhelmed.

I need to go running, do 25 loads of laundry, sweep the gobs of cat hair off my stairs, buy two more linen napkins and a can of red spray paint to paint the thistle I clipped for my Christmas urns. (Do I need to do this last one? Hell yeah.)

Add this to the bigger stuff: I need to find a job – or more importantly: figure out what kind of job to find. I need to stop creating new blogs every time I have an idea (seriously, I’m up to four now due to the cunning words “register a new blog” — the metaphor for my life not lost on me).

I need to lose 10 pounds.

Before December 3rd.

So I sit down to post, to unwind by exercising some flabby creative muscles.

But I can’t, because I’m too jealous — of you people.

First there’s this gorgeous post by Mom Zombie. She and I are in similar places in life, but look at the beauty in her day that she thought about and then wrote about. Her post: soulful and original. My post: borrowed links.

Then Allison, does it with her post on holiday gift ideas. It’s not enough that she’s pretty and skinny and sooo nice. She’s also funny, charming, and made this amazing book of her amazing posts for her (I’m certain) amazing dad. I”m not only  jealous she has good ideas, I’m jealous she has a good dad.

Next, Mrs. Waltz – absent for like, forever! And she sneaks in a well-crafted, intelligent post with her characteristic wit — oh, and a super-smart link, which reminds me how clever she is, and how interesting her Google reader must be. I don’t even know how to set up a Google reader. I’m not even sure there is such a thing. Is there?

And Cherie, re-invented with a new blog so fresh, I can feel Maine, smell Maine, hear Maine — even though I’ve never been to Maine. Also, her new Internet presence is well-integrated with her other social media outlets. As a former marketer, this rallies further envy. Ha! — good objective, great strategy and even better tactics. 

Plus, isn’t is enough that Shauna just published her second book? No. She has thick hair and a million friends. And her friends come over and they have a party, and eat yummy things. So she posts recipes, inspiring another book. And, P.S. Is that a top-of-the-line Le Creuset baking dish I see in the picture? Of course it is.

One more: Did I mention my sister-in-law? She runs the marketing department of a big city, law firm and has a stunning garden — at her weekend house… in the country. And speaking of, recently her picture was in Town and Country — her picture with Katie Couric with whom she hosted a fabulous charity event where they raised mega bucks to help cure cancer. The other day, she sent me an email with a link to an essay that was just published. Published!

So, my point is this: With Thanksgiving just two days away, let me say, I’m grateful to know such talented, bright and passionate people. I’m further grateful a few of you kind people still read my little blog. Of course, what choice do you have with all the linking I’ve done?

But, please guys — could you just aim a little lower? Or maybe a lot lower.

Keep me company down here. I have  chocolate…and vodka.

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Dear Readers (i.e. Dear Mom),

It’s been a while, I know. I feel obliged to give you an excuse — I’ve been busy (sorta), I’ve been in a funk (only on odd days), I’ve been doing other exciting things (not even close). But I don’t have an excuse, I just haven’t been interested.

Instead I’ve been drinking lots of coffee, hanging in my jammies with my cats, talking on the phone way too much, shopping for things I don’t need, and eating everything in sight. I’ve been a real model of self-discipline over here.

I think my aunt was right when she said that my writing class screwed with my head. Now that I know a teensy bit more about what writing is supposed to include, I feel a huge obligation — to have something interesting to say and to say it well.

And I know it’s my blog, blah-blah-blah, and I swear I’m not fishing, but I can’t stop thinking of The Reader every time I sit down and type. The Reader is one demanding, time-starved, attention-needing, fickle gal, and I am sick of sucking up to her.

It just feels like so much work to write something. I need more fire (less sugar) in my belly and thicker (less wrinkled) skin. It’s just a phase, I know I need to keep going. And I will…but be prepared to be bored, because really, I got nuthin.

Sorry for the self-pity and the obsequious apology.

Okay, I can’t think of how to end this.

Um, how about a few daisies?

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Recently I’ve become addicted to NPR’s “This I believe” essays. I love them. Each little essay takes five minutes to read and is packed with hope, clarity and gorgeous writing. Consider a few recent titles: “How to Refill an Empty Life”, “Tomorrow will be a better day”, “The Making of a Poem.” They’re so pretty, Daddy, I want one.

I decided to try and write my own. Why not, right? I poured myself a fresh cup of coffee, put on warm socks, locked my cats out of the den and opened up Word. How long was the screen blank? Long enough to finish my coffee, grab a cookie and find a pillow for my back. I tried again…and again. I decided to just jump in and just type. I could fix it later. But after typing, “I believe” I just sat there.

Turns out, I don’t believe anything. Maybe it’s my age, or maybe the mundane details of my life have eroded my insight, but I got nothing remotely NPR-worthy to surmise. In fact, I feel devoid of any strong beliefs right now. I’ve been actively trying to be tolerant, but in espousing tolerance have I become indifferent? Have my edges gotten so soft, they’re dull?

Ah, screw it. I’m not having any defining moments, just a lot of basically fine ones – which are less poignant, but less messy, so I believe I’ll take them.

Today I believe I’m a fat mess and too old to be considering a maxi dress from Old Navy. I believe I’m the only one who picks up after herself in my house. I believe American Idol sucks this season. I believe my kitchen floor hasn’t been washed in over a month. I believe no matter how many vegetables I cut up and place in my fridge, I will always push them aside to find the cookies. I believe a nap cures all.

I believe I’m done. Anyone else out there with beliefs? Do share: what do you believe?

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The writing class is over. I promised my teacher I would write a review, and I will –when I can actually figure out how to write.

I’m totally stuck. I can’t put together more than a simple sentence with risky comma placement and a serious effort to not use these…oh, how I love these…so instead I’m trying to use more of these — which I read somewhere are preferable.

So I found Betsy Lerner’s blog . She wrote this amazing book on writing. I left a comment. It was pathetic. All of the other commenters were of the New York Times variety, discussing literary concepts with polysyllabic words and obscure author references. I think I used “OMG” to express my point. OMG, so bush league.

I found another blog from a woman in my writing class (yes, instead of writing, I stalk other writers). She’s in this new essay critique group I joined, formed by some women who took the class. Her blog has writing prompts. The most recent one is to write about citrus fruit. She instructs us to “use your novel words. Practice your metaphors. Use flowerly language, then be sparse.”

So I start: Lemons are yellow. Then my brain stops. Yellow-y lemons snuggled…(more ellipses…stalling for time…). I stop. Lemons nestled together in their shiny yellow slickers. Ugh, you have got to be kidding me.

I have no metaphors, no evocative language, no sense of smell (other than: lemons smell clean – see?).

In addition, I can’t decide on a broader scope what else to write about. I read this article in Writer’s Digest that said readers come to your writing not to learn about you, but to learn about themselves — to see “what’s in it for me?” I think this is absolutely true (even if this means using a useless adjective). As I look over previous posts, I see proof. My post on my grocery list – no one cared. My summer reading list — ditto. But when I wrote about depression, my second martini, my kitten dying, my husband losing his job, people commented.

What’s surprising about this? Nothing – except that ever since I read this, I’ve been paralyzed. I can offer you nothing. I feel fine (my back hurts a little), my husband got a new job, my house is a mess, my kids are bugging me. That’s all I got. My fruit bowl is a total yawner.

Even this post — why read it? In fact, why am I still writing it?

Someone please, give me your hand and pull me over this hump. Otherwise I’m going to have to go work at The Gap — if I’m lucky, because I have no retail experience.

Okay, no clever way to end this, er…I’m done.

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It’s the third week of my writing class. I’m learning a lot, and my writing has never been worse. I can’t even write a post as the minute I start typing I start reading what’s missing and how painfully hard I am trying.

I’ve been blowing off my writing assignments, too. I’m going to have a lot of explaining to do (to myself) if I can’t catch up. Maybe, I’ll ask myself for an extension. I just have to catch myself in the right mood.

On the other hand, I have been keeping up on my reading assignments, which are to read as many personal essays as possible. I have a stack of books next to my bed and the library keeps calling to let me know the books I special-ordered are in.

I’ve decided Nora Ehpron is my new BFF: so lovely, funny, and insightful. But David Sedaris…I mean, are there even words? I’ve read him before, but reading him again, years later, I am indebted.

Among so many others, I love this sentence from “This Old House” (When You are Engulfed in Flames): “Like anyone nostalgic for a time he didn’t live through, I chose to weed out the little incoveniences: polio, say, or the thought of eating stewed squirrel.”

Seriously, how does he do that? Duuuuuude.

I have to stop posting now. Even though it’s sunny, it’s like -10 degrees outside and my throat hurts. The kids (who don’t have school today) are in the basement making up a fashion show, using the dirty futon as their runway. I’m grabbing another cup of throat-soothing coffee, and sneaking back to bed with David.

P.S. Ugh — this post, see what I mean? I can’t write a thing. I curse you, writing class!

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Writing Class

I decided to take a writing class. An official one, by this woman who has published her personal essays in Newsweek and Oprah, among others. I love her essays, and the price seemed reasonable compared to other online classes I’ve considered. It’s a six week course. The “basic level” cost is $125. The “premium level” cost is $250 and includes “full email support.”

I signed up for the basic level thinking I’d still be turning in assignments and getting group feedback, I just wouldn’t get the “full email support” from the instructor. Apparently, not. I don’t turn in assignments. I’m supposed to just do them on my own, and give feedback to myself.

So I just figured out as I write this post that I’m paying (okay, on a credit card) $125 for her lessons, i.e. “thoughts”, which honestly, I could buy a whole a stack of writing books for $125 — or check them out from the library and spend the $125 on black riding boots, which I’ve decided I have to have – even though this means a possible consideration of skinny jeans (dear Lord). So these lessons had better be good. When I’m done, I’ll review here. That’s right, Teacher, I’m giving you “full blog support” – for free.

Anyway, Tuesday afternoon, I stepped up my usual jeans-and-a-t-shirt ensemble with a black cardigan, a lavender scarf and a smear of lipstick. It was the first day of my online class and I wanted to look good.

I headed to the Barnes and Noble cafe and treated myself to an order of the Cheesy Enchilada soup (two words: horrific, delicious). Gnawing on my plastic spoon, I opened my laptop and got busy with the first assignment: Write a profile of yourself as a writer, 750 – 1000 words. Three hours, two venti’s and one crooked spine later, I stopped at 685 words and thought – okie dokie, that was fun.

The next morning I took my coffee at home, in my jammies. I sat down at my desk and opened up my assignment to admire it again, maybe give it a few tweaks. I read it once. Wait – did I? I read it again. It sucked. I mean, sucked –suuuuucked. What the heck did I write? Of course, I never thought I wouldn’t need to edit (my own assignment that only I read), but this thing was a mess. As of Sunday, I have yet to delete it and start over (hmm, will I get in trouble for turning this in late to myself? – Not sure yet).

But it’s something. I like having homework that’s my own. I like having something to do besides check my blog stats*. I like putting on lipstick and feeling career-ish (oh, so sorry I can’t go to the PTA meeting, I have work to do for my ahem, Writing Class). And the there’s the Cheesy Enchilada soup. But I am still thinking about those riding boots…

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* By the by, I noticed all the middle-aged folks (men) in the B&N cafe who are hunched over their laptops, looking important, are checking Facebook. Seriously, Facebook. They are not doing work, editing novels or completing their assignments for a Writing Class. They are checking Facebook. And I know this because I peek at their laptop screens whenever I walk by. I spy. Aren’t they pathetic?

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