Things I learned this week…and last

“Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy.”

– Albert Einstein

This week I learned…

…that sometimes I do stupid things.  I know, hard to believe, but true nonetheless.  This week, I beamed myself in the head with my own car door.  I blame the rain – and my vain desire to protect my freshly straightened hair from falling victim to the frizz factor.  What’s the lesson to be learned here?  Making a mad dash from the house to the car through a steady drizzle with my head down doesn’t help me avoid getting wet, it just means I will inaccurately judge the angle of the opening door.  Ouch.

that you will never catch me driving along a rural Norwegian road at midnight.  It seems in doing so, one runs the risk of literally running into a moose – and a bear.  Crazy, I know. However, one unlucky motorist in Norway did just that.  I haven’t written a Man vs.. Beast blog in several months, but I can’t help to think that this incident lends credence to my long standing assertion that the animals are conspiring to take over the world.  Obviously, the moose and the bear were intent on a carjacking.  The question is:  Why?  Perhaps an errand for the Great Whites lurking just off the New England coast?  It bears consideration.  (See what I did there?)

…that the Dead Sea Scroll exhibit at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is fabulous.  As one who is enthralled with history, especially biblical history, this exhibit gives incredible insight.  It was definitely worth schlepping an hour or so west, through rush hour traffic, white-knuckle construction zones, and torrential rain.   As I said in a previous blog, my family was wholly uninterested in tagging along.  That’s alright, I bear them no ill will.   I recognized the glazed over look they got in their eyes whenever I mentioned going.   It’s the same look I get when my husband mentions that Dream Theater is in town.   I shudder at the very thought…

…that my daughter is turning into a cynic.  This week, while we were camped out on the living room floor watching the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, a commercial for a popular adjustable mattress aired.  It boasted that 93% of users saw improved sleep.  Out of the blue, my daughter says:  “Sucks for that other 7%.”  Indeed, it does.

…that the war on women continues.  I don’t like to infuse politics into my blog.  I firmly believe political ideology is something that should never be thrust upon the unwilling.  I think doing so polarizes the nation, and breeds hostility and hate.  I believe the same can be said for religion.  I usually make a point to avoid the discussion of both.  Having said that, I’d like to take this opportunity to address something that I find troubling:  The far right’s preoccupation with the mysterious inner workings of the female reproductive system.  I’m not really sure where they received their general knowledge of anatomy, but I’d like to reassure the male establishment that my girly parts (and those of every other woman in America) do not have mystical superpowers bent on world domination.  While I agree, that might be kinda cool, and would perhaps lessen the sting of the dreaded “monthly inconvenience”, it is, in fact, not possible for a vagina to take down nations.

I think it’s time to focus on a more imminent threat to the country’s well being – a broken economy.

On a similar note:  If you’d like to have a good laugh,and have an appreciation for the ridiculous, check out the Borowitz Report over at The New Yorker.  Maybe not for everyone, but I sure do get a good giggle out of it every now and then.

…that classes begin again next week.  As always, I’m filled with a host of emotions: excitement, trepidation, annoyance.  I am taking a freshman level science course this semester.  I’m not thrilled.  Science is one of those things that I could do without.  I understand the relevance, even appreciate its need in molding our young people into individuals who can competitively carry our country into the future.  I get that.  I just don’t want to sit through a three hour lab with said young people.  Does that make me old?

…that a See’s Candies has opened up inside my local mall.  This is bad.  Very, very bad.  But it’s so very, very good.

…that I’ve been nominated for the “Addictive Blogger Award” by Katy Brandes.  I always get a big kick out of these awards.  It’s the narcissist in me, I’m sure, but it’s always nice to receive a bit of acknowledgement from one’s peers.  Thank you, Katy.   It is greatly appreciated and puts a big smile on my face.  And, I’ll admit, found me standing in front of my bathroom mirror channeling Sally Field:  “You like me!  You really, really like me!”

Just kidding.  About the Sally Field part – not about the the appreciation part.  I do sincerely love that you may be addicted to my blog.

As always, these things must be paid forward.  The list of blogs I find addictive is endless, but in the interest of brevity, here are the first five that come to mind:

Cosy Travels of a Viking and his Kitten – a chronicle of European travel highlighted by some truly beautiful photographs.

The Writer’s Advice – lots of writing advice with a sarcastic edge I enjoy.

Word Flows –  lots of writing inspiration.  One of my favs.

Mike Osborn Photo – some great photographs from across the pond.

The Sugarlump – love those cats!

…and last, but not least, this week’s awww moment.  I was going to bring you a fabulous photograph of the Monarch butterfly I saw this week at a local nature preserve.  Unfortunately, I never got a clear shot because my lovely daughter photo-bombed me.  So, in retaliation, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by my mischievous daughter.  Enjoy.

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Chihuly and the dragonfly

A love affair?

A true appreciation for art?

Either way, who can blame him? 

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Things I learned this week

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”

― Charles M. Schulz

I learned this week…

…that, at the ripe age of 40, I’ve finally taught myself to swim.  I have kept this under wraps for a while.  I didn’t tell anyone what I was doing – not my friends; not my family.  I’m sure they are going to be shocked because they’ve put up with my number one phobia for a very long time:  drowning.  It’s kept me from doing a lot of fun stuff over the years.  However,  I am thrilled to announce that this week, I did the front crawl from one end of the pool to the other – without stopping.    And I did it a dozen times.  All by myself.  With my daughter cheering me on.  Of course, being a 40 year old unaccustomed to the physical exertion of swimming, I nearly collapsed and drowned.

…that my daughter is an evolving enigma.  She has quirks and habits that I’ve come to accept, even rely upon, as evidence that she is an independent spirit.  Take for instance her hair.  She is cursed blessed with thick honey blonde tresses that frizz curl wildly around her beautiful face.  She hates every strand, and insists that she not be seen without it firmly secured in a slick-backed pony tail.   This is non-negotiable.  If, by chance, there is an instance of variance from the norm, there will be long sighs, nasty glares, and even tears.  This week she rocked my world.  Out of the blue, she announced, as she pulled the band from her hair and let it flow freely down her back, that in a year or two she just might start wearing it down.  The truly remarkable thing, and what threw me into a state of shock, was that we were at our neighborhood pool.  In public.  Surrounded by dozens of strangers.  Who have now seen her with her hair down.

…that the next installment in the Jason Bourne saga (sans Jason Bourne) has been unleashed on the nation.  In the past, I have railed against Hollywood’s dirty habit of unnecessarily rebooting and remaking movies in order to capitalize on the viewing public’s need for familiarity at the box office. I won’t rehash my feelings – you can read them for yourself, if you are so inclined.   I have to admit, I don’t understand the need for another Bourne film, especially one without its namesake.   When I first heard rumor of it, I thought it ridiculous.  I swore I wouldn’t see it, but curiosity got the better of me.  I saw it.  I hated.  As I write this, I am watching a the original Bourne trilogy in hopes that it will wash away the stench of The Bourne Legacy.

For some additional reviews of the movie, check out:

Om Malik

Movie Talkies

Sweep the Legs

IMG_2213…that a girl in China was found to have spider living in her ear – for a week.  A lot of things creep me out.  Spiders, oddly enough, are not one of them.  However, upon reading this article (and viewing the pictures), I was struck by a sense of familiarity.  Then it hit me – that spider’s brother took up residence in my car two months ago!  It may be time to dig out the old bug bomb.  I now have serious case of the heebee-jeebees.

…that I can check “staying up late(ish) to watch a meteor shower” off my list of things I must do before I die.  I stayed up.  I sat in a lawn chair in my driveway, stared up at the sky, and – got nothing.  I didn’t see anything, but low flying airplanes.  Well, there was that one thing, with the flashing lights and erratic flight pattern.  I told myself it was a weather balloon – because they’re always weather balloons, right?  By and large, though, I was bored out of my freaking mind.  I bow down to my geeky science loving friends who have the discipline for such things.  I, obviously, do not.

…that while working on my WIP this week, I discovered that Anna’ brother is a lot more trouble than he’s worth.  Luckily my writing group was more than willing to come to my rescue.  If you write and don’t have a writing group – get one.  You won’t regret it.  Unless your group sucks.  Then you might regret it.  So choose wisely.  I did.

…this week’s awww moment is brought to you by these water droplets clinging to a spider’s web.  I know, there really isn’t anything warm and fuzzy about it.  So what.  I like it and it’s my blog.  Enjoy.

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On the agony of writing

I’ve written in some capacity since the third grade.   My first completed work was an alternate ending short story inspired by Aesop’s fable The Tortoise and the Hare.   I was very proud of that story.  I sat for hours, hunched over my desk, No. 2 pencil biting into my short stubby fingers, the eraser worn to the quick, and labored over every single word.  When I finished, I felt proud.  I had written a story.  From beginning to end.   I turned it in to my teacher, confident that I would earn an A for such blinding brilliance.  It was a great story.

My teacher saw things a bit different.   The evil Mrs. Rupe promptly tore my work to shreds, citing a laundry list of flaws, mistakes, and shortcomings.  She gave me a C.

I always hated Mrs. Rupe.

I’m not bitter about it.  Really.  Though, I do hold a special place for her at the top of my list of unforgivable grudges.  She was a miserable human being who should have retired from teaching long before 1980.   But for all of her petty viciousness, and she was awful for so many reason beyond just giving me a C, she did teach me a few important lessons:  writing is subjective, rejection is a rite of passage, and criticism keeps a writer grounded.

Of course, such lessons are meant for those who can actually finish something in a timely manner without falling victim to the hazards cluttering the road to success.  I seem to be having a bit of trouble navigating that thoroughfare, at the moment.   Or perhaps, it’s my mode of transportation that is faulty.  I blame the outline – I think it has a flat.

For several days, I’ve struggled to write a single scene, introducing a solitary character.   My trouble started when I made the decision to give Anna a brother.  His name is Aaron and he is a total pain in my ass.   I thought he would add an emotional depth and focus to the story, but instead he’s done nothing but cause me heartburn and an endless headache.  The latter may be from banging my head on my desk out of frustration.   I’m not really sure.  It’s hard to differentiate.

The way I see it, I have three choices:  delete him completely – move on and pretend he never happened; kill him slow and painfully – my novel is titled Retribution; or scrap the scene as it is and start over.

Oh lord, maybe I should tweak the outline again…ugh.

Writing is brutal; its hard; its agonizing.

I think I hate it.

But, I love it.

Note to self:  buy more Advil.

Things I learned this week

“Knowledge is power.” – Sir Francis Bacon

…or was it Kim Kardashian who said that?

I learned this week…

…that Kristen Stewart cheated on Robert Pattinson, sending a shockwave of despair through the fanatical world of Twilight fans everywhere, shattering dreams of a sparkling vampire happily ever after.  I don’t think my faith in monogamy will ever be restored.

…that water yuppies do exist.  I know, right?  I was just as surprised as you, but my research doesn’t lie.  Until this week, it was a term that was wholly unfamiliar to me.  I stumbled across it while researching houseboats in Amsterdam – a perfect place to hide someone who doesn’t want to be found, by the way.  It’s one of those words that just struck my fancy.  I’m dying to use it in the course of a casual conversation.  I haven’t figured out how I’m going to manage that yet.  When I do, I’ll let you know how it goes.

…that pumpkin patches are rarer than diamonds.  Or, so says my daughter to her friend while enthralled in a game of online Minecraft.   This is good information.

…that an orthodontist visit + a hormonal preteen entering 7thgrade + talks of a full set of braces = E.P.I.C. meltdown.  Take heed people.

…that the Cheer Moms at my daughter’s gym may have finally sacrificed their coach to the almighty Cheer God.   Their perky ponytails, color coordinated tees, and snarky, narcissistic chatter as been oddly absent from practice in recent weeks.  Now who am I going to sit and judge while I should be writing?

…that Jen Garner has made a warm and fuzzy Disney flick.  Excuse me while I bang my head on my desk.

(Pause)

Now that I’ve given myself a headache, I think I’ll go console my broken heart with an Aliasmarathon and a bag of Oreo’s.

that Donald J. Sobol died on July 11, 2012.  I’m not really sure how I missed this, but I did.  He is most noted for penning the Encyclopedia Brown seriesof kid’s books about a boy detective in high top sneakers.  I loved those books when I was young…um…younger.  RIP Mr. Sobol.

…that this week’s awww moment is brought to you by one of the bunnies I stumbled across during a recent early morning walk in the park.  I don’t believe he’s the criminal who has destroyed my flower beds, but I took his picture anyway.  You know, just in case I need to identify him in a line up.

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Around the yard

I had a busy weekend, but I did find the time to step out into the backyard with my camera.  Here are a few of the things I saw.

Texas is hot in the summer and with that heat comes grasshoppers.  All shapes and sizes.  This is one of the more interesting I came across.  He was a bit more aggressive than I would have liked.  I think I may have squealed like a pig when he dive bombed my head.IMG_6217.2
Up in the tree, I saw a tangle of hair snagged on a thin branch.  Logic tells me that it is remnants of a bird’s nest.  Perhaps a knot of hair snagged from the trash by one of the more resourceful species.  Of course, the writer in me envisions something a bit more chilling.  Is it evidence left behind after a sinister crime?  Will I find a body beneath the drooping branches of my Japanese maple?  Hmmm…IMG_6377
My oak tree is relatively young.  This is its first year of acorn production.  Awww…they grow up so fast.IMG_6395
Thunderstorms are rare commodity in my neck of the woods, this time of year.  Usually, the formidable “dome of high pressure” that tends to dominate our weather pattern, discourages substantial storm development.  It’s like we are held hostage by an alien life form who has placed a force field around us in order to deflect anything that will give us relief from the scorching sun.  IMG_6354

A book signing

I went to a book signing yesterday.

A bit out of the norm for me.  There are very few things that can entice me enough to schlep down into the city, fight crowds of rude strangers,and waste hours standing in line doing nothing but waiting.  I won’t do it for a Black Friday deal.  I won’t do it for a movie premiere.  I wouldn’t do it to meet Sting.

I will do it for Daniel Silva and his master Israeli spy/assassin/art restorer, Gabriel Allon.

I went early in the morning with the intention of getting some writing done.  I did, though not as much as I would have liked.  You see, I have a problem.  I am an addicted people-watcher, so writing in public often proves distracting.  Yesterday was no different.

While I sat in the café, sipping a venti unsweetened iced green tea, my writing flow was continuously interrupted.  First, there was the two women who wanted to know if my name was Kristin.  No, not me.   Then there was the older woman in a burnt orange blouse, lime green Crocs, holding a moderately sized postal box.  Her fidgeting was what initially caught my eye.  She didn’t order a drink, couldn’t sit still, and at times, paced.  At first, I thought maybe I should be worried about the contents of her box.  I mean, if I were writing this scene, there would be something like wires, a brick of C4, and a cell phone detonator in that box.  After ten minutes or so, I realized she must be waiting for someone.  I imagined it was a date with a man she’d met on a matchmaking website.  I wondered if she shouldn’t have maybe picked a different shirt to go with those shoes.  She definitely was not dressed for husband nabbing.  Turns out she did not have a bomb, and she wasn’t on a blind date.  She was a calligrapher.  Inside the box were beautifully addressed wedding invitations.  The bride-to-be was late, paid by check, and didn’t seem to notice the older woman’s lack of fashion sense.   I was disappointed.

Around eleven, a flash of movement in my peripheral drew my attention away from Anna and her troubles.  It took a second or two for my brain to register what my eyes were seeing.  Jerry Garcia, wearing a brightly hued Hawaiian-style bowler shirt over faded blue jeans and Birkenstocks, was unwrapping a straw for his blended frappuccino – caramel macchiato with no whip, if I were a betting gal.  As he walked away slurping, I texted my husband.  His reply: “You know he’s dead, right?”  Killjoy.

At noon, I moved my party upstairs.  I wanted to get my choice of seats.  I did.  Row one, seat 4.  Right in front of the podium and signing table.  A half an hour later, an older gentleman sat down one seat over from me.  He quietly read his book – not a Silva novel. Tsk tsk.  A few minutes later, a bulldog of a man with a shiny bald head sat between us.  They were friends, but their meeting here was by chance.  They chatted like catty women.  First, bemoaning the pros and cons of employment.  The bald man has a job in the surgical department of a local trauma center, the other was an IT technician who failed to keep up with changing technology.  He blames his troubles on his age – 68.  As happens, they soon began to compare their various health issues.  These conversations always make me smile.  It’s like a competition.  Who has had the most surgeries?  The most chronic diseases?  As it turns out, both men have had prostate cancer – with troubling complications.  I could describe for you in grave detail the extent of their complications, but it would likely scar you for life.  I know I will never be the same.

Thirty minutes out from the main event, the venti iced green tea I drank earlier came back to haunt me.  I needed to use the restroom, but I didn’t want to give up my prime seat.  I asked the elderly woman to my right if she would hold my spot while I ran downstairs. She smiled, patted my arm, and pulled a menacing cane from underneath her seat.  She said: “Go right ahead, honey.  I got my cane. I’ll whack ‘em if they get too close.”  Yikes.

silvaAt 2, Daniel Silva arrived with little fanfare.  He was much as I expected.  Handsome in that scholarly way, with an unassuming air and an intelligent wit.  He spoke of his characters with the love of a proud father.  I found it endearing.  I also thought he exhibited a great deal of patience with the group gathered, especially during the question and answer segment.  Some asked interesting questions; some did not.  A few even bordered on offensively stupid.  He handled it smoothly, though there were two occasions when I swear I saw his right eye twitch.

Or maybe not.

I had two books signed, took several photos for the little old lady with the cane and her friend, and left before the SRO crowd swooped in for the kill.

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10 things I learned in my 30s

Yesterday, when I sat down at the computer, my intent was to write a new blog entry updating my outline revisions and finish last week’s “Things I learned.”

That didn’t happen.  I just wasn’t feeling it.  I was having one of those days when every neuron in my brain was misfiring.  Ideas banged around inside my head like jumping beans, but I was powerless to capture and harness them.

Eh, it happens sometimes.  So, I checked my email, trolled Facebook, hit a few entertainment sites, and wondered if Catholic school is really the best choice for Suri Cruise.

That’s when I noticed the date.

July 16.

Hmmm…it appears that I have survived the month since my 40th birthday without suffering any adverse side effects.  A stark contrast to a decade ago.  Turning 30 nearly did me in and I spent four years recovering.    However, the years that followed were a time of great personal growth for me.  I discovered a lot about myself, the world around me, and my place in that world.  Here are 10 things I learned in my 30s:

10.  Eating junk food makes you fat.  In my twenties, this was a foreign concept.  I ate what I wanted, drank what I wanted, and suffered very little in the way of consequences.  In my thirties, my body rebelled.  All of those excess calories translated into excess pounds and my jeans size suddenly expanded – from size 4 to size 14.

9.  Losing weight requires effort – and sweat.  With excess weight gain comes the desire to shed those pounds.  Of course, laziness and gluttony made me fat and my first instinct was to find a method to lose without exerting too much energy.  A quick fix.  I tried the Cookie diet, the Atkins Diet, the South Beach Diet, the starvation diet, the “screw it I’ll just stay fat” diet.  I bought pills and potions and patches.  Nothing worked, and why would it?  The fact of the matter, and something I had to learn the hard way, is that if you want to lose weight, you have to change your lifestyle.  And by change your lifestyle, I mean you must put down the potato chips, get your ass up off the couch, and sweat – a lot.  Every single day for the rest of your life.

8.    Love the skin you’re in.  Cleanse, hydrate, and moisturize.  Do it twice a day, everyday and your skin will reward you with a healthy, youthful glow.  Trust me on this.

7.    Change is painful; change is good.  I’ve never been one to embrace change.   Early on in my thirties, I shied away from it, built a nice safe bubble around my life, and stared out as the world passed me by.  Then suddenly, that world shifted.  In the span of just a few months, I lost my home to fire, my father to cancer, and learned my mother had breast cancer.  In the blink of an eye, everything changed.  It was devastating, yet empowering.  I discovered through it all, that I am strong, capable, and resilient.

6.    Take heart in lessons learned.    Contrary to what I like to tell myself, I don’t know everything.   I have found that life is more than happy to fill in the blanks.  I just have to pay attention and take heed.

5.   A happy life begins with happiness within.   In Henry V, Shakespeare wrote, “Self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin, as self-neglecting.”  I’ll admit, I’ve never completely comprehended the true meaning behind Shakespeare’s words, but I like the quote just the same.  To me, it embodies the struggle of self-acceptance I endured throughout my 30s.  I am a personality fraught with flaws and quirks and insecurities, and I have learned to like me just as I am.   After that, the rest came easy.

4.   Being a joiner is not a bad thing.  I am, by nature, an introvert.  I prefer to stand on the periphery – watching, assessing, judging.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with that – most of the time.  However, to fully engage with life, I found that sometimes I have to step off of the sidelines and into the fray.   It’s scary, but the rewards are endless.

3.   The only way to conquer fear is to face it head on.  Anyone who knows me, or reads my blog, knows that I have a laundry list of phobias.  I am scared of flying, boating, drowning, camping, bears, sharks, brain-eating amoeba, and math.  If there is one thing that I learned in my 30s, it is that one can’t live their life defined by fear.  It stunts personal growth and makes for a boring existence.  So, in the last few years, I’ve gone whale watching in an inflatable raft (yikes), taken a sunset cruise into the shark infested waters off the Keys, flown a dozen or more times, and taken four semesters of math – back to back.  I’m still working up to camping with bears and swimming in a lake full of brain-eating amoeba.  I don’t feel the need to rush.

2.   Nurture healthy relationships, eliminate the bad.   Relationships are hard.  They are even harder when they don’t work.  It took a long time for me to accept that sometimes it is best to cut my losses and walk away.  Once I did, I was free to devote my energy to the relationships in my life that do work.

1.   Youth is relative.  If you perceive yourself as old, you are.

An update and an award

Usually, I post these self-shaming updates on Sunday, but I was too busy watching Roger Federer reclaim the top spot in men’s tennis.

One must have clearly defined priorities, right?

In between break points, I did manage to pull myself away from the television long enough to take a good hard look at my WIP.  I haven’t really done that since JuNoWriMo ended.  I was a little scared, but it wasn’t all that bad.  There are parts that work, parts that don’t, parts that scream WTF.   It could have been worse.   It needs to be better.

After reading through 90 or so pages of material, I decide that Anna needed a brother.  So, I added him, and then I killed him.  Cold, I know, but necessary.  It will add an emotional element and focus to the story that I felt was lacking.  Of course, adding (and killing) an important new character means that the underlying dynamic of my story has changed and therefore, an outline revision is in order.

I can’t tell you how much that thrills me.  You know, because outlining is my favorite part about the writing process.

Moving on.  I want to take a minute to acknowledge and thank Julie over at Word Flows for the Lucky 7 Meme Award she tossed my way a couple of weeks ago.  These sort of things always put a smile on my face.  Thank you, Julie!

Of course, this one is a little different from most.  It requires giving up a piece of my WIP for the world to see.  That’s not something I am comfortable doing outside of my writing group.  If it had been anyone else, I would have bowed out, but for Julie, I will do it.

The Lucky 7 Meme Award Rules are as such:

1. Go to the 7th or 77th page of your work in progress.
2. Go to the 7th line of the page.
3. Copy the next 7 sentences or paragraphs. Remember, they must be as they are typed.
4. Tag 7 authors.
5. Let them know they’re it!
 

So, here are my 7 lines – unedited and raw.

That’s all I’m willing to give.

“Rome, however, remained constant. The streets and lanes were still narrow and winding, paved in worn uneven cobbles.  The stucco facade of the old buildings were still faded and covered in graffiti. Smart cars, motor bikes, and scooters still clogged every conceivable inch of space.  Life moved on.

Anna inhaled.  Even through the fog of her grief, it felt good to be home.

She didn’t live far from the piazza, just around the corner on the Vicolo Moroni, a street so confined she could touch the walls on either side.  Her flat was on the top floor of a Renaissance era structure the color of salmon.  A heavy wrought iron gate shielded an intimate courtyard with a bubbling fountain and potted orange trees from view.   The entrance to the…”

There you have it.  Doesn’t tell you much, does it?

***There seems to be a formatting difference.  In Word, this excerpt is truly 7 lines.

Things I learned this week

I learned this week…

…that two months of twice weekly physical therapy sessions for a yoga-induced hip injury will result in thinner, more defined thighs.   I still have hip pain, but my thighs look much better in a pair of shorts. 

…that while I was able to eke out 30,000 words during JuNoWriMo, I am now questioning the relevancy of about half of them.  I suppose the point of the exercise isn’t to create a work of literary genius, just to get the juices flowing.  I succeeded in that, though I think I may need a big roll of Bounty to sop up all of that flowing juice.

…that the agony of defeat is a bitter pill to swallow (whoa – cliché much).  For weeks, I have engaged in a battle of wills with the bunny who lives in my front bushes and has made my ornamental sweet potato vines a dinner staple.  I tried everything short of the BB gun the scary man down at the local home and garden store suggested to deter his incessant munching, but nothing works.  He continues to dine freely, and my garden looks like it was hit by a swarm of locust.   I have come to realize that I am waging an unwinnable war against a rodent whose addiction far outweighs my need for the coveted “yard of the month” honor.  I am going to bow out now before I end up sitting on a bar stool next to Elmer Fudd and Carl Spackler slamming whiskey shooters.

..that I have become numb to Texas summers.  This week my mother asked me if it was hot outside.  I said, “No.  It’s only 95.”

…that Katie Holmes has left Tom Cruise.   I really wish I had something witty to say about this, but in all reality, who didn’t see this coming?  Tom Cruise, that’s who.

…that Roger Federer has pulled his head out of his ass overcome injury and secured a place in the Wimbledon final.  I have threatened for years to pull my allegiance and endorse a younger, up and coming player.  Federer, after all, is long in the tooth  and his days in the sport are numbered.  So far, though, I haven’t been able to bring myself to actually do it.  Of course, if he loses to Nadal one more time, I’m outta here.  I swear it.

…that nothing sucks the fun out of doing something nice for someone than the expectation that it be repeated for everyone.   Feeling obligated to do or to give something,  especially when it involves someone I don’t particularly care for, tends to bring out some of my least attractive personality traits.  I become spiteful and petty, almost competitive in my passive/aggressive rebellion.  I’m not proud of myself, but that won’t stop me from finding a new more creative way to avoid doing what everyone expects me to do without uttering a single word of protest.

…that I didn’t learn all that much this week. 

…that this week’s awww moment is really more of an ahhh moment.  This week we went to our local lake to partake in the Fourth of July festivities and fireworks show.  I snapped this picture from the bank while kicking back, watching the half-baked drunken crowd, and crunching on a sno-cone.  It was a fabulous night.

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Things I learned on vacation…

…and beyond.

You might have noticed that, with the exception of a few photographs, I’ve been largely absent from the blog in recent weeks.

Or then again, maybe you haven’t. 

That’s okay.  Sometimes, I don’t even notice when I’m missing. 

June turned out to be busier than I anticipated.  I had an impromptu week-long visit from two of my nephews, participated in Camp NaNoWriMo, turned forty, traveled to our nation’s capital on vacation with the family, and had an unexpected sharp increase in caseload at the office.  This inability to adequately judge my level of anticipated activity seems to be a recurring theme in my life.  You would think by now I’d have worked out the kinks.

As you can imagine, all of this activity came with a laundry list of new things learned.  Over the last month, I learned…

…that no matter how you try to spin it, turning forty sucks.  And, please, spare me the “forty is the new thirty” bullshit.  Turning thirty sent me into a depression so deep it took four years to recover.

…that my nephews think that I may not be completely human.  Here’s how that conversation went:

Nephew #1:  Aunt Peggy, don’t you ever get tired of typing (I was working on my NaNoWriMo word count).

Me:   No.

Nephew #2 (in a hushed voice):   Aunt Peggy is a cyborg.

This revelation was followed by a fit of giggles.   Of course, in response, I gave them my best stink eye.  I have a reputation to uphold, after all.  This earned me a fresh round of giggles.  It seems my stink eye needs an upgrade.  I’ll have to work on that.

…that as humans, we have been conditioned to stand in line, to patiently wait our turn. It is ingrained in our psyche even as we whine and cry and complain about it.  If you have ever had the opportunity to visit Washington, D.C. or any tourist hot spot, for that matter, you know that a great deal of time is spent standing in line.  There are lines for transportation, lines for security, lines for admittance, lines for viewing.  It is the way the world works, and something that we’ve come to accept as the natural order of our day-to-day lives.  It brings us comfort, gives us a sense of organization, and takes the thought process out of our hands.

At the National Archives, they like to mix it up a bit.    Sure, they shuffle you in like herds of cattle.  Force you through a line for the metal detector, another to search your bag, then corral you into a long snake-like line at the base of the steps into “the vault.”   However, once you cross the threshold into the room that holds our nation’s most revered documents, the rules of the game suddenly shift.   You will be instructed to go against your intrinsic nature.  Lines are not permitted.  You must move freely about the room and view the displays at your leisure.  Such a radical departure from the norm will cause you to cast a panicked look at the person standing behind you.  They will appear as shell-shocked as you feel.  No lines?  Crazy talk.  That’s simply not the way these things are supposed to work.  Of course, in reality such instructions are futile.  Humans behave invariably in the manner in which they are most accustom.  On my visit to the National Archives, that’s exactly what the masses did – they filed into the room, walked directly to the exhibit at the far left, and worked steadily to the right, in a nice neat single file line.  Myself included.

No line?

That’s the most barbaric thing I’ve ever heard.

…that in large metropolitan areas where public transportation is consistently utilized, there are rules of etiquette that must be followed when riding the escalators that lead to and from the underground metro system.  Stand to the right, or get your ass run over.  Lesson learned.

…that my family doesn’t understand or share my love for history.  This week I learned that some of the Dead Sea scroll fragments, along with other artifacts from the time period, are on exhibit just up the road in Ft. Worth.   So thrilling!  After a little digging, I discovered that in addition to the exhibit, there will be a series of lectures offered on varying subjects related to the scrolls and their impact on the history of Judaism and beyond.   I enthusiastically shared this news with my husband, my mother, my best friend, and my daughter.  All of them metaphorically patted me on the head and said “you have fun with that.”  I guess that means I shouldn’t buy them a ticket.

…that taking 5 days off in the middle of Camp NaNoWriMo is detrimental to the success of the project.  I did manage to rack up 30,000 words in the first 20 days.  That’s pretty darn good for me so I’m going to take a page out of the Book of Sheen and declare myself a winner.

…that the path that hugs the Tidal Basin and offers up a view of the Jefferson Memorial across the water, looks better in my head than it does in person. I will now have to adapt a scene I’ve already written to accommodate the lack of suitable spots for a clandestine meeting.  Bummer.

…that my daughter thinks my detailed character profiles complete with photographs are “cute.”   I’m not really sure, but I think she is mocking me.

…that last, but not least, this week’s (month’s) awww moment is brought to you by a duck I encountered while visiting the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C.  I had the distinct impression that he was a waterfowl on a mission.  His waddle was very determined.

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Irises

I’m still plugging away at my WIP, trying to keep up with the daily word count quota so that I can mark Camp NaNoWriMo off my list of to dos as a successfully completed challenge.  Unfortunately, I’ve hit a bit of snag.  You know, one of those minor speed bumps where you write an entire scene that is completely out of sync with your character’s profile, or you kidnapped a bad guy when you should have just killed him – now what the hell are you going to do with him – or the pulsating club scene has unfocused dialog that circles around but never quite hits the mark.  What is it that Elliot is trying to get out of Gerhard?  Do I even know?  I think maybe I don’t.

I’m a little frustrated.

So I took some pictures.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. 

Why on earth would you take a black and white photograph of beautifully vibrant irises?  Seems a bit pointless, I know.

Indulge me for a moment.  I am practicing the art of avoidance. 

Plus, it’s growing on me.  I think it may even look a little bit…cool.

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Week one – Camp NaNoWriMo

Life is all about choices, and accepting responsibility for those choices – good or bad.

If you read my blog regularly, you know that I am in the midst of rewriting a novel that I have struggled with for a very long time.   At the beginning of the year, I tried to force myself into a whirlwind of writing in order to finally complete it.  That backfired on me and I wound up walking away from the entire project.  In March, I picked it back up and decided to approach it differently.  I drafted a detailed outline.  I hated every minute of it, but it helped.  In mid-May, I started the rewriting process in earnest.  It was slow and tedious – almost as painful as the first go around.

In the last few days of May, one of the members of my writing group mentioned a June installment of the November NaNoWriMo challenge.  I’ve never participated.   November is a crazy month around my house between school, work, family, the incoming holiday season, and my irrational desire for sleep.  By contrast, June is a relatively easy month.  I took the plunge.  I signed up.

I’ll be honest, the prospect of writing 50,000 words in 30 days scares the shit out of me.  Not because it is this great unattainable thing, but because I have never before produced that volume of words in such a short time frame.   I see other writer’s do it and I am in awe.  Julie over at Word Flows is a prime example of this.  She is a writing machine.  I envy her free-flowing ability.   I’m not like that.  I’m a slow, methodical writer.  I tend to write for a bit, stop, go back to review and reassess, ponder my position, let things percolate around in my head for a while, and then rewrite it before I move on.  In my professional world, this works out great for me.  Unfortunately, in my creative world, its debilitating.

When I went into this challenge, I knew that I was going to have to let go of my notion of perfection, understand that the story wasn’t always going to gel completely, and accept that I was going leave a trail of mistakes in my wake.   The thought of that made me all itching, but I chose to do it anyway.  The first few days were tough.  Around day three the little perfection troll that shares my head with my phobia troll pulled out all of his hair and ran screaming from the building.   That was the best thing that could have happened.  My head is much quieter now and I am letting go of old habits, rereading only the proceeded paragraph, and referring to my rough outline for guidance.

As of last night, I was right on track with 12,034 works written.  Each day it gets easier to just let it flow and I find that I am enjoying myself.  It’s been a long time since I felt a connection to my writing like this.  It seems this is exactly the kick in the pants I needed.

Only 23 days and 37,966 words to go.

Just Write: Self-shaming Sunday Update

June Camp NaNoWriMo!

I’m not going to ramble on too much in this update.  I just posted one this past Wednesday – a few days later than usual – and not much has changed since then.  Well, that’s not exactly true.  Camp NaNoWriMo started on Friday and I’ve been busy working to keep up with the daily word count quota.  I’m pleased to say that I’ve kept up nicely, though I did have to skip my weekly “Things I learned this week” entry.  Those take a bit of time and consideration to compose and I thought it best to focus my energy on the task at hand.  For my followers who only stop by for those entries, I apologize.  I promise to have one up by next Friday providing that my brain hasn’t imploded by then.

Last week’s goal:  Finish up what I lagged on this week; begin the frenzy that is Camp Nanowrimo; have a very nice word count to show for my efforts.

Goal met?:  YES!  I have caught up and am navigating quickly through the scenes that deal with the explosion and the immediate aftermath, setting up what is come.  I am volleying through a handful of scenes, introducing key characters, and foreshadowing their roles.  Eventually these characters will come together, but for right now they are doing their own thing.

I have accumulated 5334 words since Friday.  Not too shabby.

Next week’s goal:  Continue moving through the scenes listed on the outline;  keep word count on par for the projected 50K by June 30.

Things I learned this week

I learned this week…

…that Donald “Duck” Dunn has died.  You might not recognize his name, but I guarantee you that at some point, you’ve heard his telltale bass line.   He was a member of the studio band at Stax Records in Memphis and played with such artist as The Blues Brothers (he was in the movie), Eric Clapton, Arthur Conley, Neil Young (with whom he extensively toured), CCR, Wilson Pickett, Bob Dylan (who you all know I loathe), Rod Stewart, Otis Redding – just to name a few.   One of my favorite songs is a little ditty called “Green Onions” by Booker T & the MGs.   He wasn’t the original bassist on the 1962 recording, but I think he does it best.

…that Donna Summer has died at the age of 63.  I often talk about how my father’s love of old school country, early rock & roll, and 60s R&B influenced my taste in music.  However, in all honesty, my mother probably had a greater impact on my personal “musicology.”  She is a lover of all music.  She doesn’t discriminate – from old Dean Martin and Sinatra to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and the Beatles to Gordon Lightfoot and Simon & Garfunkel and everything in between and beyond.  When I was a kid, one of my mother’s favorite things to do was to throw open the windows, cue up a homemade reel to reel tape and crank the volume until music filled the house – and the neighborhood.   Sometimes we listened to oldies, sometimes to folk, sometimes to country, but more often than not, we listened to disco.  What could be better than doing your Saturday morning chores to the infectious beat of ABBA, the Bee Gees, and yes, Donna Summer?   She will be sorely missed in my house.  My friend Kelly said “disco died today.”  Perhaps it did.

…that I have been nominated for the Kreativ Blogger Award by kittyb78.  She’s a fellow writer who just happens to be a Black Dragon Kung Fu instructor.  I’m not sure what that is, but it sounds very cool and makes me want to write her into one of my stories as that bad ass character who…okay I digress.   Many thanks to kittyb78 for bestowing such an honor on me.  I appreciate it very much.

Of course, these things come with rules.  I’m supposed to tell you seven interesting things about myself and then pay the award forward to a few bloggers I think are deserving.

  1. I give good stink-eye, and not always intentionally.  I have an odd face with a heavy brow and a natural frown.  It makes me look angry – even when I’m not.  It serves me well.  People leave me alone.  Usually.
  2. I hate the sound of people eating.  Seriously.  I hate it.
  3. I am cynical by nature, but I try very hard to use humor to stave off the negativity.  It’s made me a happier person.
  4. I am a James Bond fanatic.
  5. I have no natural rhythm and no amount of alcohol can change that.  Ask my BFF how long it took her to teach me the Electric Slide back in the day.
  6. I have an affinity for dates.
  7. I love striped pants.
Now to pay it forward:kreativbloggeraward
Check ’em out.  They are all creative, innovative, and worthy of your time.

…that yoga for a grade is like a bad penny.  It just won’t leave me in peace.  As a memento of our time together, it has left me with a little hip injury.  Nothing too serious, just some tendonitis.  They tell me it will go away – with a little time and four weeks of physical therapy.

…that I am captivated by the train-wreck that is Ancient Aliens.  I spend the entire hour yelling at the television, snorting in disbelief, and cursing their flawed logic, but for some reason I can’t bring myself to change the channel.

…that last, but not least, this weeks awww moment is brought to you by a pair of small woodpeckers who distracted me from my gardening this week.  From their behavior, I can only assume they were a mother and her lazy child who refused to get off his ass and get a job.  I could be wrong, though.

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Just Write: Beginnings

Plato once said that “the most important part of a work is the beginning.”

Planning is key.

I think for most of us mere mortals, this philosophy holds true.  Unfortunately, I had to learn this lesson the hard way – through humbling failure.   I have always hated the process of outlining, but I understand now that it is an evil that must be endured – for the greater good of humanity.   At the same time, I think that the spirit of Plato’s words can be applied directly to the physical beginning of a work:  the first sentence, the first paragraph, the first chapter.   They set the tone for the entire body of work.

A few months ago, I accepted that my WIP  needed a major overhaul.  To do that, I had to suck it up and draft an outline.

It was painful.

It gave me a nasty rash.

It took three tries to get it right, and even now, I think “right” might be an overly generous description.

There’s only one problem.

I didn’t know where my story – Anna’s story – begins.

I know where she’s going.  I know why she’s going.  I know, for the most part, how she is going to get there.  I just don’t know where she begins her journey.

That’s a pretty significant problem, eh?  It sort of reminds me of the third Indian Jones movie – The Last Crusade.  You know, the one where the senior Dr. Jones has spent a lifetime plotting a map that will lead him to the Holy Grail, only to fail to figure out where his quest will begin?

That’s where I am at right now.

At the beginning.

Still.

Things I learned this week

This week I learned…

…that sometimes being a responsible adult sucks.  It’s that time of year again when everything converges and there just isn’t enough hours in the day to get it all done.  There’s certainly no time to do the things I want to do – read, write, sacrifice a few brain cells sitting on my couch wearing holey pjs, eating ding dongs, and watching everything the Bravo channel can throw my way.   It’s just the nature of things, and usually I am very good at accepting that this is the journey I chose to embark upon – you know, that whole personal growth bullshit.  This year, however, my rebellious self seems to be having a little trouble keeping his eye on the prize.  Spring is warm, sunny, and intoxicating, and the allure of it all, is just so damned tempting.   So, what do you do when you have a nagging conformist on one shoulder and a mocking rebel on the other?  You lock the conformist in the closet, and you go out to play.  Duh.  Of course, these little bursts of self-indulgence are not without their consequences.   I’ve spent the last week or so digging out from a stack of homework so deep it surely rivals Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stouts’ garbage pile.

…that after sitting through a lecture on sleep deprivation, I realize that I should probably reevaluate my anti-napping ideology.  My husband will be relieved to hear this, and I’m sure he will take full advantage of it should I decide to change my stance.

…that just when I thought I might actually miss “yoga for a grade”, the instructor goes and does something that makes me want to roll up my mat, go home, and say screw the GPA.  From the onset, this class has been disorganized – and that, I feel, is being generous.  Goals and expectation were never established and we’ve had very little guidance in the actual fundamentals of yoga practice.  All of these shortcomings and failures could be overlooked, indeed forgiven, because for the most part, I enjoyed the physicality of the class.  We did, of course, have that little incident early on with the humiliating quiz – you remember, the one where we had to each perform a single pose at the front of the room for our classmates to guess. Charades for a grade.   Couldn’t get much worse than that, right?  Guess what?  I was wrong.  I should have seen it coming, but alas, I did not.  Two weeks before scheduled final exams, she dropped the ultimate bomb on us.  It was nuclear.   It seemed our final exam would require us to come up with a sequence of yoga poses, combine them into cohesive segments, and then teach them to the class.   But wait, there’s more.   We had just two class periods to get with a partners, choose the poses, arrange the poses, practice the poses, and choose our accompaniment music because she wanted to do our final a week early.  Oh, and by the way, our performances would be videotaped so that we could relive our most humiliating moment at the end of semester party she’d planned.  I’m sure I will see the humor in all this someday – when the scars have healed.

…that there are few things in life more enjoyable than sitting poolside with my BFF, a little drunk on wine, trading child rearing war stories.

…that Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys has died.  There have been a lot of notable deaths of late, but I find his to be one of the saddest.   I can’t say that I am an ardent fan of Beastie Boys’ entire body of work, but their first album brings back fond memories of my favorite summer.  It would be my last carefree summer; not long after, the reality of adulthood reached up and bitch slapped me.

…that the three seat belts in the backseat of my car are deceiving.  It is nearly impossible to fit three passengers back there.  Guess I should have considered that before I volunteered to carpool a Sunday field trip to Boyd.

…that I was nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award by my fellow writer Julie over at Word Flows.  It’s always so nice to receive an acknowledgement from one’s peers.  It is doubly nice when it comes from someone you admire and respect.  She, herself, is one inspiring lady.  Go check her out.

…that my work in progress, Retribution, has evolved into something quite different from my original vision.  I blame the outlining.

…that when you add a warm late spring day, a community swimming pool, and a tennis ball together with a group of twelve-year-old boys you will get stupidity to the ninth power.

…that last, but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by this little creeper who has taken up residence on my back patio for the duration of the season.

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Things I learned this week

I learned this week…

…that while bears and sharks top my list of the world’s scariest creatures, Cheer Moms run a close second.  My daughter’s gym has been inundated with them the last couple of weeks.   They are like nothing I’ve ever seen, and as I watch them from the safety of my hidden corner, I can hear the voice of Marlin Perkins echoing in my ear:

Today on Wild Kingdom we travel into the barbarous depths of the neighborhood gymnasium in search of the mysterious and elusive creature called the Cheer Mom.    They are a capricious lot, social in nature, tending to move in tightly knit packs of a dozen or more.  We are in luck today, a group seems to be congregating at one end of the tumble track.   As with all of these factions, there is an alpha female among their ranks.  See how her domination of the other members is easily discernible by her superior vocalization, aggressive fist pumping, and springy ponytail.   Note the catty banter.  We believe this behavior to be both a defensive and offensive tactic used by the beta members as they jockey for the coveted top spot.  Collectively, they are fearsome.  Today they appear on edge, dissatisfied by something they see just beyond the balance beams.  An underachieving offspring?  A rogue coach?  It is unclear…

Wait…what’s happening?

They appear to be organizing for something.

If I didn’t know better, I’d say they are preparing for an attack.

Yes, they are on the move.

The rogue coach seems to be the intended victim.

Yes, they have the coach in their line of sight.

He sees them.  Note the terror that flashed across his face.

He tries to escape, but it’s too late, they have him surrounded.

*gasp*

The circle of life is complete.

…that my new neon pink tennis shoes are indeed the most hideous things I’ve ever put on my feet.  I know this because the young hip girl who sits in front of me in Sociology thinks they are “beast.”

…that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are finally going to tie the knot after spawning (and adopting) six children.  I am so relieved.  For a while there, I feared for the survival of the human race should these two forsake the sacred vows of matrimony.

…that it’s the 100 anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic and the fifteenth anniversary of the debut of the James Cameron film.  In honor of this event, we have been given the gift of Titanic in 3D.  You know, because 3D makes everything better.  One might think that the use of 3D technology could  somehow allow the captain to better ascertain the enormity of his impeding doom.  Guess not.

…that Florence + the Machine’s new MTV Unplugged album moves me on a level that I can only describe as transcendental.

Drumming Song

…that there are only 3 weeks left until the end of the semester.  That means the chapter of my life known as Yoga for a Grade must come to a close.  I find myself oddly saddened by this prospect.  I’d like to believe that this is because I’ve come to understand the spiritual melding of the mind and body through meditation, physical strength, and rhythmic breath.  Unfortunately, I think my melancholy has more to do with the knowledge that I will soon lose a wondrous well of writing gold.

…that last but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by Herman the Rabbit who haunts my backyard.  And, yes, I’m pretty sure that Herman is a she, but who am I to argue with my daughter over gender based names.

Things I learned this week

I learned this week…

…that Nadya Suleman has finally figured out that prolific reproduction is a costly endeavor.

…that my daughter is turning into a girl.  I know this may sound strange, but if you knew her, you would know exactly what I mean.  She is the epitome of tomboy.  So much so, that I often forget that she is indeed a girl.   It’s not a bad thing.  She is who she is, and we love her unconditionally.  It’s just that sometimes we catch a glimpse of her elusive femininity, and it leaves us speechless.  This week we were treated to a full moon.  My daughter loves the moon and in an effort to get a better look at it, she dragged her telescope out into the backyard.  She invited a couple of her friends to join her.  One of them was the boy she likes.  When she had confirmation that he would be stopping by, she barreled into the house and up the stairs announcing as she went that she only had a few minutes to change her clothes and brush her hair.   Exactly one minute later, she reappeared with her hair freshly coiffed, wearing a brand new pair of shorts, and her low top Converse sneakers – her idea of dressy.  As she disappeared out the backdoor, I was left feeling a little shell-shocked.  I don’t think I’m ready for what lurks right around the corner.

…that it seems I will never learn that studying just before bed will lead to strangely disjointed dreams that seem to mock my efforts.  I diligently studied for two tests, back to back, and was rewarded with a night filled with images of Stalin chopping off Trotsky’s head as Darwin preached of natural selection and social stratification with a finch perched upon his shoulder.   Otto von Bismarck stood atop a trench and expertly choreographed the slaughter at Verdun while Milgram and Durkheim argued the importance of imperialism as an innate function of society as a whole.  This dream was almost as strange as the one I had about Jen Garner and the lady in the orange overcoat.  Almost.

…that sitting poolside for three hours on a warm spring day will yield three things:  convincing conflict between Anna and her father, a crudely drawn map of cities Anna will have to visit during her crusade for vengeance, and sunburned knees.

…that some people have something to say about everything, even if they don’t really have anything to say at all.  This annoying habit will provoke me to say something that might be construed as snarky or spiteful.  I’m not proud of myself, but sometimes sarcasm is the only viable alternative to homicide.

…that the misuse of quotation marks is on the rise in social media.  I’m confused by this epidemic and wonder what makes this particular outlet so susceptible to ignorance.

…that last but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by this cute little bunny.  I can’t help but wonder what he’s up to.  Is he bashful?  Did someone say something funny?  Oh…I know…he’s allergic to Easter eggs.  Somebody get this bunny a tissue.

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Source:  http://v-o-g-u-e-i-s-a-r-t.tumblr.com/post/13590455052

Resisting the Itch

A writer writes.

That manta has been drilled into my head since the moment I decided to embrace my desire to put pen to page.   There is a societal expectation that if you have the audacity to call yourself a writer, you must produce proof of such a claim.  I’ve always taken this to heart.

I think, therefore I am.  – Rene Descartes

I write, therefore I am a writer.

It’s a mindset that is very hard for me to reconcile at the moment.  If you read my posts, you will remember that at the beginning of the year I made the decision to shelve my work in progress.  Recently, I’ve felt the magnetic pull of characters that will not be ignored.  In an effort to stave off the voices, and because I believe in the essence of this story, I decided to begin again.

Back to the drawing board.

To start over.

From scratch.

As new ideas begin to take root, grow, and blossom, I am overwhelmed with the desire to write.  Witty dialogue mingles with vibrant action in scenes that swirl around my brain, begging for an outlet.  It is the order of things.  In the past, I’ve been very much a fly by the seat of your pants writer.  As the voices grew louder, the scenes more vivid, the siren’s call of the keyboard more desperate, I inevitably gave into the temptation to write, mindless of the consequences.

Herein lies the reason my first stab at Retribution went down in glorious, Technicolor flames.  I gave into the voices and lost sight of the big picture.  I planned poorly – or rather – I didn’t plan at all.

This time it will be different.  It must be.  I took an oath to myself that I would resist the itch to write until I had a thorough, well-planned outline.   It was a promise that fell freely from my lips.  It sounded so easy, such an attainable goal.

I was wrong, as I am so often lately.  It is very hard to resist the itch to write, especially when you have set such boundaries.  It is as if my rebellious self is testing the limits of my resolve by spitting in the eye of my iron will.

But, my iron will is a determined beast.  Resist I will.

For now, anyway.