Just Write–Self-shaming Sunday Update

Forgive me followers for I have sinned, it’s been three weeks since my last self-shaming Sunday update.

Life is about choices.  Sometimes those choices are painful and difficult; sometimes they aren’t.  The last three weeks have been devoted to academics, work, a visit from my favorite brother, and a flu-like virus that sucked out my brain and left a snotty, sneezy mess in its place.

Okay, that last little bit might be a tad exaggerated, but I did feel like a big old pile of poo for several days.  In fact, today is the first day in days that I’ve felt even remotely human.

In spite of all this, I did manage to get some writing time in here and there.   Usually, before classes or at my daughter’s gymnastics practice.
Although, I must admit that I am often distracted by jabbering stage moms who complain endlessly about their trivial trials and tribulations.  So, I can’t really say that I get much accomplished at the gym beyond the occasional dark, homicidal scene which are usually unusable.  They do tend the make the hour much more enjoyable, though.

So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.

In the last three weeks, I’ve written a short story inspired by Wednesday.  Yes, the day of the week Wednesday.   I’ve always wondered, as I’m sure you have as well, what the days of the week, or the months of the year, would be like if they were characters in life.  I touched on this thought before in past blog entries:  Monday, the millionaire nerd; Friday, the former jock turned sad, lonely drunk; Wednesday, the voice of reason who hides his inner torment behind a bright reassuring smile.  In my blog entries, I didn’t explore the personalities in too much depth, after all, they weren’t meant to be anything more than just a writing exercise.  But Wednesday’s characterization struck a chord with me and I wanted to write something more substantial.  I finished that last week.  I’m not sure how I feel about it, or if it will ever see the light of day, but I’m glad that I got it out.

I also wrote a scene for Retribution.   I know I shelved it and deemed it to be a complete unworkable piece of crap, but this particular scene whispered relentlessly in my ear for about a week.  Who am I to ignore such persistence?

In addition, this week I made a break through on a story that I haven’t worked on in a couple of years.  Ironically, this epiphany came while I was working to outline a third, unrelated story.  Now I’m going to have to dig out that story’s outline.  I really hate outlining, too.  A necessary, but painful evil.

I wish I could give you an accurate word count, but I can’t right of the top of my head.  I should go look it up, but that would likely mean that this entry wouldn’t be posted until Monday.   I would surely be distracted by something ridiculous and forget to come back to plug in the number.  Yes, it is just that ADD in my head right now.

Last time’s goal:  I really don’t remember.

This week’s goal:  I have two actually.  Finish up the rough outline of Untitled Project; and pull out Max and Lola’s outline and see if my new revelation works as well on paper as it does in my head. 

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Things I learned this week

I learned this week…

Happy baby…that there is no place for pride in Yoga.  At its core, it embodies a deep spirituality that melds body and soul through the rhythm of breath and meditation.   I’d like to tell you that I’ve connected with Yoga on a level that goes beyond just moving through the poses, but that would be a barefaced lie.  This week, as I sat poised in a slightly modified version of the open-leg seated balance pose, staring at my reflection in the wall of shame mirrors, I was struck by a sense familiarity – perhaps even a bit of deja vu.   At first, I was confused, then like a tsunami, it all came rushing back to me.   I’ve been in a similar position before  – twice actually – during the birth of my children.  Of course, at that time, my enduring degradation was overridden by my overwhelming desire to rectify my condition, and bring the little beings inside of me into the world.   And so, I sat balancing quite impressively, if I do say so myself, feeling ridiculous and very much exposed.  I tried to mentally reassure myself that I was not alone in this, after all I was surrounded by several other students, all spread eagle and I’m sure they felt every bit as vulnerable as I did.  Plus, how much worse could it get – I mean, really?   Oh, silly me.  How naive I can be sometimes.  My Yoga instructor, as if to drive home the fact that we were required to check our egos at the door, had us end class in “happy baby”.  My shame has come full circle.

…that baby tortoises have belly buttons.  Who knew?  Not me.   Check out becomingcliche’s blog entry regarding this little bit of animal kingdom trivia and much more.  Very interesting.

…that it’s quite shocking when a story I haven’t touched in quite a long time – a couple of years, in fact – resurrects itself and begins to speak to me again.  While outlining the relationship between two characters for a new story I am working on, I was suddenly reminded of two characters who I loved dearly, but could never fully reconcile their conflict.  It came to me in a burst of clarity that I can only describe as electrifying.  Looks like Max and Lola are going to get another go at it.  It’s a good thing, too.  It’s always bothered be that I came very close on that one.

…that Retribution has been making some subtle rumblings in my subconscious, as well.  This week I wrote a short filler scene despite the fact that I told myself that this story is not workable and complete and utter garbage.  Perhaps there is hope there, too.

NUP_146666_0548.JPG…that there is no place on earth as cozy as my bed when I’m sick.  I have the most comfortable bed in the world.  The only thing that can make it better is catching a Real Housewives of New Jersey marathon on Bravo.   Don’t judge me.   I’m sick.

***Warning Pet Peeve of the Week***

…that I really dislike individuals that find it necessary to tell me how intelligent they are and that everyone they come in contact with loves them.  Okay, I’m all for a positive sense of self-worth, it’s what drives us to do great things, but you have to really wonder about someone who takes it to a whole other level.  Who are they trying to convince?  Me or them?

…and last but not least…this week’s awww moment is brought to you by this little “Brookesia micra” chameleon perched on a match head.  His species is believed to be among the smallest of chameleons found on Madagascar.  I just wanna hug him and squeeze him…yeah, not really.  I’m a little scared of his tongue action, but still, he’s really darn cute.

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Source:  http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1112475371/mini-reptiles-discovered-in-madagascar/

Things I learned this week…

I learned this week…

…that oral presentations aren’t all that bad.   (insert cheesy laugh track here)  I’m just kidding.  Oral presentations suck.  However, they do get easier.  And by easier, I mean that I only wanted to pass out once or twice and the uncontrollable shaking only lasted for half of the class period this time.  Progress.

…that middle school crushes are complicated.   My daughter likes a boy.  He likes her back.  Sounds simple so far – trust me it’s not.  Just getting to that admission was mind-blowing.  Now, as Valentine’s Day approaches, the question of what to give this boy in celebration of the Hallmark holiday has surfaced.  Card?  Stuffed bear? Box of chocolates.  This week, I quietly trailed behind her in the seasonal aisle of my favorite big box store as she grappled with this difficult decision.  After twenty minutes or so, she decided on an oversize Hersey Kiss.   I thought it was a good call.  Getting a boy something too affectionate or personal at this stage of the game is risky business.   Equally risky, I’ve discovered, is the mode of delivery.   She tells me that she can’t very well roll up to the park on her bike and hand him a giant Hersey Kiss in front of his friends.   That would be the kiss of death (har har).  No, she’s given this a lot of thought, consulted with many of her little girlfriends.  The general consensus among the great minds – she should most definitely drop, ring, and run.    This should prove interesting.

…that I am an introvert.  This is not a revelation,  I took the Myers-Brigg personality test years ago – several times, in fact, just in case I was doing it wrong.   I am a ISTJ and scored 1oo% introvert every single time.    As I age, I’ve learned to deal with it, and what I once viewed as a near crippling personality flaw, I’ve grown to accept and even, embrace.  This enlightenment, if you will, has aided in my journey of self-discovery, given me the courage to try new things, and overall, helped me grow comfortable in my own skin.  Susan Cain’s book Quiet – The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking is a must read for introverts trying to find their place and purpose in this life.   I’ve got a list of folks who could use a copy of this book.  Maybe if they understood me a bit better they would stop bugging me to speak up and contribute to debates I find pointless and beneath me.  Yes, I know – I am an elitist introvert.  Or so my husband tells me.  Sue me.

that Nicholas Cage is not a vampire.  This is good information.  For a minute there, I was worried.

…that another great musical voice has been silenced.  I am saddened and aggrieved by the loss of Whitney Houston.  Premature death, no matter the circumstances, is a tragic thing and one that deserves a measure of understanding and compassion, if for no other reason, than for those who are left behind to grieve the unimaginable loss of a loved one.

…that four weeks into “Yoga for a Grade” I find myself looking forward to the class.  I still think the instructor is a flake, and that she has failed to read the college’s catalog description of the course.  There is no way this class is beginner level, but I’ve kept up, and though my hamstrings have not quite gotten with the program, I feel my core strengthening and my stamina increasing.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I enjoy this class, but I don’t dread it.  Now, that might change if she makes us do another elementary level art project.   That was just humiliating.

***Warning!  Pet Peeve of the Week***

…that nothing make me angrier (and this is a bold statement because there is a lot of things that make me angry) than being manipulated and threatened, no matter how veiled.

…and last, but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by this adorable, and quite photogenic, kitty getting all spruced up for a night out.  I don’t know the source of this photo because my husband shared it with me.  If you don’t smile at this picture, then you need to see a doctor about that heartless whole in your chest.  Enjoy.

“…and all nature laughed in the sunshine.”

I’ve been struggling with my writing a lot in recent weeks – okay, recent months.  I often wonder who the hell I think I’m fooling.  Am I aspiring to be something I’m not?  Do I really want to be stuck in self-imposed solitary while the words inside my head beg for release, torturing me with every breath, as they threaten to rip out my very soul and leave me withering on the floor in a huddled mass?

Whoa.  A touch too dramatic?

Just kidding.  I’m not going to put you through anymore of my self-loathing this week.  We’ll save that for the Sunday’s blog entries.  Today I want to acknowledge a sweet honor one of my fellow writers has bestowed upon me.

Sunshine.

Julie over at Word Flows nominated my blog for a Sunshine Award.  She had some very kind words to say and it always does the ego good to get a little recognition from one’s peers.  I sincerely appreciate it.

I thank you, Julie, for both the award and your encouraging words of advice as I struggle to find my toehold in the writing world.

As always, these things have conditions attached.  Here are the rules.

  • Thank the person who gave you the award.
  • Write a post about it.
  • Answer some questions below.
  • Pass it along to ten people and let them know they received the award.

And the questions…(drum roll, please – because I know you are just dying to know):

  1. Favorite color:  If you ask me this question, I will tell you my favorite color is green.  This is despite the fact the I have a red car, my Android protective case is red, and the primary color in both my bedroom and my living room decor is red.  So, ummm… my favorite color is…green.
  2. Favorite animal:  I like cats.  Until the recent death of the old lady kitty of the house, I had three.  But if I were to pick one outside of the realm of domesticated animals, I would have to say that primates and apes are my favorite animals.  There  is something reflected in their eyes – it’s like looking into a mirror and seeing your own soul.
  3. Favorite number:  I like the number 5.  I like how groups of 5 come together.  There is a certain implied symmetry there that I find comforting.  What?  Don’t judge me.  Take a minute to think about how you arrange things.  I bet you will find a numeric pattern in most everything you do.
  4. Favorite non-alcoholic drink:  Hmmm…I’m a big water drinker, but I do like my morning coffee.
  5. Twitter or Facebook:  Facebook.  I had a Twitter account for about a week once.  I never could get into it.  It just seemed like a lot of work.   Plus, I’ve always been a little ooged by that hash tag thingy.  No, not rational, but hey…have you met me?
  6. Passion:  Chocolate.  I have a passion for chocolate.  🙂  Seriously though, I do love to write, even if it doesn’t like me.
  7. Getting or giving presents:  What a loaded question.  I like both.  But at the same time I find both to be unnecessarily stressful.  Again, rationality is not my specialty.
  8. Favorite pattern:  Plaid and stripes – equally.  Love them.  Would wear one or the other or both every single day, for the rest of my life, if my family hadn’t staged that intervention.
  9. Favorite day of the week:  Monday.  Again – don’t judge me.   For me, Monday is a clean slate; a chance to begin anew with endless possibilities.  I believe the key to a happy, productive week is all in how you approach it.  Attitude is everything.  I never begin my week by rolling out of bed and cursing Monday for its state of being.  That would be like dangling an antelope carcass in front of a salivating tiger.  It’s never wise to tempt bad Karma.
  10. Favorite flower:   Dutch irises.  They remind me of my favorite Impressionists.  Bold, beautiful, and unapologetic.

Now to pay this award forward.  Ten is a lot.  I think I may break the rules and cut that number in half.

  • The Literary Mom:  I love her writing insight.  I can relate to her struggles and I draw strength from her successes.  I found her recent series on the query writing to be extremely helpful.
  • Helen Taylor:    I love the way she looks at the world.  There is a refreshing innocence about her entries that I envy.  She also takes some pretty neat photographs.
  • Bill Chance:  He will likely grumble at me for doing this, but I love his blog.  It is amazingly eclectic, you never know where he is going to take you on any given day.  He never fails to entertain me, teach me, or amaze me.

Okay.  Four.  I think that’s a good number.  Five would have been better, but I’m tired and I’ve been remiss long enough in my response to Julie’s kind gift.

Go read their stuff.  Be sure to check out Julie, too.  You won’t be sorry.

***Title is a partial quote from The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte.

 

 

Just Write: Self-shaming Sunday Update

No, I’m not delusional.  I do, in fact, realize that it is Monday.

I’ve written a lot this week…

(golf claps all around)

…just not much in the way of fiction.

(boo)

Nope, this week has been devoted to the life and times of Thomas Hobbes.  The excitement is overwhelming, I know.  I feel largely the same and  I’ve only myself to blame.  As a returning student, and one familiar with this project, my Western Civilization professor allowed me (and two others) to pick my topic, in exchange for presenting first.  There is always a catch.  I tried to choose wisely, but my choices were limited.  He gives out topics as they relate to his lectures and schedules the presentations throughout the semester to coincide with such.  Ergo, I had a very short list from which to choose.  Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, or the War of Austrian Succession.

Hmmm…

I must admit, this is not necessarily my favorite part of Western history – the English Civil Wars and the Enlightenment.   I much prefer Imperial Rome or the Renaissance or the Cold War to the happenings of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  But,  such is life.

I didn’t particularly liked this Hobbes fellow, though I understand his place in western society and his contemporary relevance.  I wouldn’t want to live in his world, or be ruled according to his Leviathan.  I fear it would be a dank and dismiss existence.  Having said that, in my research, I discovered some rather humanistic qualities about him that I found intriguing.  He played tennis until he was 75, he loved to sing, and he wrote poetry – not good poetry, but it is something.

So…my goals…

Last weeks goal – make progress on short story:  Goal met.

I finished the set up, brought a few pages for my writing group to critique, and outlined the next section of the story.  Hopefully, I will be able to decipher the chicken scratch that is my handwritten outline.

This week’s goal – finish up the next section and present it to the writing group for critique.

Wish me luck this week.  I am not a confident speaker, in fact, it scares the shit out of me. This time tomorrow I will be sweating like a pig, shaking like a leaf, and wishing the buzzing in my ears would stop so that I could hear myself speak.

Things I learned this week

I learned this week…

…that I am old.  Or so my health insurance carrier tells me.  I received a very nice letter from them informing me that my recent birthday (the one that isn’t until mid-June) has pushed me into a higher age bracket and, though it pains them greatly, they must raise my rate by 2% effective April 1st.  Bastards.

…that once again, I find that I am a few steps behind everyone else when it comes to discovering new and exciting television.  First, the BBC’s Sherlock, and now PBS’s Downton Abbey.  I need to get with the program.  Both of these shows are well-written, well-acted, and well…just plain brilliant.

…that if civilization as we know it should end and the burden of rebuilding and repopulating the world falls to the brilliant minds of the students in my Sociology class, we are all screwed.   Newt Gringrich’s moon colony might not be such a bad idea after all.

…that my daughter’s sixth grade band is amazing.  I am very proud of her.  She’s come a long way in five months.

…that as the daughter of a breast cancer survivor, I’ve always had the highest respect for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.  Not anymore.

…that I really don’t like making my own coffee in the morning.  That makes me sound spoiled, doesn’t it.  Well, I am.  My husband makes coffee every night at bedtime, sets the little timer thing, and BAM!  I have coffee when I roll out of bed at 5 a.m.  He’s out-of-town.  I have to make my own coffee this week.  It sucks.

…that my fat cat has lost weight.  This a good thing for he tipped the scales at 19 lbs at his last vet check up.  I am happy to report that his “high fiber, low-calorie food that costs me a fortune” actually worked.  He’s down to a svelte 15 lbs.  Of course, he thinks he’s starving to death and has taken to counter hopping in search of something left unattended.  I turned around the other night and found him perched by the sink, staring a hole through me.  I was a little scared.  For a minute, I thought he was contemplating my nutritional value.

…that me and old Thomas Hobbes are not going to be good friends.

…that I find reminders of my dad in the strangest places.  This week on my way to the office, I was listening to a 60s themed satellite radio station I like and a song I haven’t heard in years came on.   (Don’t judge me.  I’ve made no secret of my opinion on the music produced during that decade – BEST MUSIC EVER)  As it began to play, recognition took hold,  and all I could see was my father dancing around in his stocking feet, lip syncing the words, and making Groucho Marx faces.  I miss my dad.

***Warning:  Pet peeve of the week***

…that I hate pointless art projects.  I hate pointless art projects even more when they are completely irrelevant to class curriculum.  In Yoga for a Grade, we were instructed to make a new friend (shoot me now), ask them asinine personal questions, and create a collage of their life based on what we learned in a ten minute conversation.  We are expected to present them to the class when next we meet.  Really?  I think I preferred the Down Dog into Plank (hold for one minute), then down and up into Up Dog sequences she made us do – fifteen times in a row! – during the last class.

…and last but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by Cousin Violet, the Dowager Countess of Grantham (Maggie Smith) from Downton Abbey.  She is quite warm and loving in her own way – really.