Monday, February 3, 2014
Something that limits my productivity is my desire to have the perfect work environment. It's hard enough to get motivated, but if my fingers arent used to the keyboard, forget it.
We are officially house hunting now, spending our Sundays driving around Delco with our realtor, looking at people's weird houses, and all their weird things. We are looking for a place we would be happy spending the next 30 years or so of our lives. No big.
I'm going to have a room in this house. This is non-negotiable. This is... selfish? Perhaps.
It could just be the shitty weather, but the apartment has felt really oppressive lately. I took out all my sculpey stuff, but then I couldn't get inspired to do anything with it. I find myself writing in my head, but I don't have a good place or the necessary equipment. I've been kinda bummed out lately, and I can see the effect it has on the other people living here. I have to keep reminding myself that I am the mom now, and that my mood often dictates everyone else's.
I was happy last week. I had a great assignment to write at work and I was in the middle of a great book. But now the Goldfinch is over, and it's back to the same old, same old at work, and the sculpey stuff is everywhere and my fingers are not used to this keyboard...but getting better.
I'm not happy unless I am doing something, but I will look for a perfect excuse to not do something - and not having a studio is a really great one. I don't want to use it for the next 30 years and then regret it.
And so, I am searching for my room in every house - and I am trying not to drive Tim crazy in the process.I'm trying not to say things like, "I get a bad vibe in this room." or "I don't like the energy in here."
I have rejected unseen houses because I don't like the feel of the neighborhood. It could be our dreamhouse, but I don't care. Some of them are just depressing. We are already going to miss the city so much, do we need more reasons to be depressed? I am fixing typos. I can't help it.
And The realtor just doesn't get the whole studio thing. "What about this windowless room in the back of the basement?" Dude... I need good light! How about this little purple bedroom that overlooks the crappy fenced-in yards and dog igloos and playground equipment of the other eight families that live 50 feet of your house? C'mon man...I need to see some trees out there - and creatures of the furry woodland variety only.
Tim is attracted to the guts of every house. He checks the electrical panels and the water heater, I am looking out all the windows for an inspirational view. Practical stuff too - a kitchen I can cook in while simultaneously keeping an eye on my future babies, with cabinets I can actually reach - but you get the gist.
Naturally, I am in love at the moment with a house that is completely wrong for us, in a really beautiful neighborhood. It has the most awesome 70's paneled basement with a wet bar and all these funky built in shelves. The downstairs is great except for a semi-horrible kitchen and the upstairs is downright nightmare inducing. Of course Tim says we can't buy it. He hates character.
I think we'll find the house in the spring. In the meantime, I have to learn to do the stuff that makes me happy in a less-than-perfect place. It's hard, but my fingers are pretty well used to his keyboard by now, so I've got that goin' for me, which is nice.
Thursday, January 16, 2014
As a mom with a full-time job and a household to manage, it's easy to say that I don't have time... but - let's face it - that's bullshit. I do have the time. What I lack is the discipline.
The first post of the year on this blog has typically been a long list of unrealistic goals and resolutions... but not this year. I still made the list, but it only exists in my head. It won't be here 365 days from now to remind me that I did a shitty job of improving myself. This year I made one small and concrete resolution in the interest of cultivating some discipline: I have resolved to make the bed.
I've been doing it every morning as soon as I get up and I have sustained this for a record sixteen days. So far, I'm happy with it. It encourages me to keep the rest of the room neat and organized, and it has created a peaceful and stress-free environment in there as well. Most of all it has taught me that maybe I am capable of a little bit more discipline in my life.
Last night I attended a reading for a former member of the writing group who has just gotten her first novel published. My mentor was excited to see me and immediately put his arm through mine and began scanning the room for people I should meet. He pushed me right up to the front and began telling the author about how great my writing is, how I have that special something, how I am better than I believe myself to be, and on and on. (He embarrasses me like a dad.)
He introduced me to several other successful authors, each time praising my talent - and everyone of them reiterated that James does not bullshit, and if he thinks highly of my "work" it must be very good. But the word "work" is in quotes for a reason.
When it was time for the author to read from her novel, James went to the podium and gave a fabulous introduction. He was going on about the importance of discipline and determination, and even though there might have been 75 people in the room, I felt like he was talking right to me. "Writing is 10% talent and 90% hard work." (words I have heard from him over and over again.) He believes I have the ten percent, but I have to be willing to put in the other 90. It frustrates him and I know it. It frustrates me even though I have control over it.
This author who read has just published her "first" novel, but it is actually the third one she has written. She scrapped two whole novels, this after sending 5 queries a week, finding 3 different agents, and many, many, many years of research, editing and revising. The amount of work required beyond actual writing - a shitload.
But that is why I go to these things. I needed to hear a lecture and I got one. I wanted to be surrounded by the creative energy of writers talking about writing and the inspiration that it brings. It felt great to be back in that circle, to meet new writers, to chat about books and drink wine, to walk through olde city with a slight buzz on my way home, to add another book to my collection of autographed novels.
I want to return to my novel, to my short stories in various states of unfinished and "close." I want to have a little bit more discipline in terms of forcing myself to sit down and write. But as far as making a grand statement about this being the year I will publish something - it is baby steps instead of resolutions and promises.
Here is what Peanut looks like these days:
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
We have been on a bit of a roller coaster for the past few weeks... Tim and I got engaged over Irish Weekend. Four days later the baby got sick and we spent ten days at Children's hospital. I am still coming to terms with the experience, so I will not write about it here. I did a post about it on the baby's blog...and that's all I have to say about that.
Just as we were beginning to get back to normal, I lost my Nana. (Also covered on the baby blog) So...2013? I'm kinda over it.
But maybe I needed a kick in the ass to get over some other stuff too. All this misplaced concentration on trying to get ahead in my career? Over it.
Taking an English lit class on Wednesday night and spending my evenings reading novels and writing papers? Over it.
Living in the city? Over it.
Anything that doesn't involve spending time with my future husband or my kid? So fucking over it.
So to sum up:
Engagement - Yay!
Sick Baby - Boo!
Baby's Birthday - Yay!
Death in Family - Boo!
We are due for another "Yay!" any day now - and we are about ready for some good news or at least a little peace and quiet.
Also, I've got a 12-inch stack of thank you cards waiting on my desk at work, but if anyone out there is reading this, I want to thank anyone and everyone who prayed for us, sent us things, came to visit, made us food and sent good vibes and happy thoughts to our family in the past couple of weeks.
Even at the lowest point of my life, I have never felt so blessed and loved. Thank you!
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
This post comes to you from my bed and my phone. Some thoughts on tonight's class.
First to raise my hand tonight and get discussion rolling. Have overcome shyness that characterized most of my school-going life. New found confidence.
Made me realize that I am l like this at work also and it has helped my career immensely. This is good.
Class went into overtime by 20 minutes. This is not good. Three hours is the limit of my tolerance for discussing one of Jane Austen's lesser known works.
Much difficulty reading the whole of Persuasion over labor day weekend. Old school brit lit is not my thing. Just marry him already.
There are 15 people in the class. Some undergrad geeks of a spectacular variety. They are incredibly smart and enthusiastic. English major types mostly... 13 out of 15 wear glasses. One girl in particular rocks the shit out of hers. She is Shakespeare expert and was wearing today a fantastic Charlotte's Web shirt.
One of them says "like" a lot. When asked by prof if there were questions about the syllabus, inquired if snacks were allowed in class. I quote Bad Santa to Thurman Merman when he discovers a candy corn in his advent calendar, "They can't all be winners, now can they?"
I am just glad I am not the candy corn.
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Jane Eyre is the first book on the syllabus. "Oh yes...I am familiar with the book," I tell myself. "I have read it before. I have a good grasp of what it's all about." Then I begin reading it. Not a single sentence seems familiar to me. If I have ever read this book in my life, I have done some serious damage to my brain. I'm hoping that I just cliff-noted it in high school, or whenever the hell I was actually supposed to read it.
"This degree will be easy," I tell myself, "because I already have the thesis half way written. I have a 90 page paper that only needs to be completed." But where?? Where is the actual file? I don't even know if I even still have it.
I hope my brain is up for this challenge of obtaining more temporary knowledge that is soon to completely disappear.
Thursday, August 22, 2013
I felt bad about not being able to sculpt up a pair of cufflinks for her (and make $30 bucks for the saving account), but is it really worth the stress?
My whole life is kinda in vacation mode, although the word "vacation" takes on a whole new meaning when parenting is involved.
I was off from work last week because I had planned on attending the on-campus residency for the MFA program I enrolled in. After a lot of soul searching and advice from mentors formal and informal - I decided against it. Not only does spending $40 grand or so on a useless Masters degree seem irresponsible at this point in our lives, I am simply not capable of doing my best work at the moment. The writer's group has finally ended for the summer, and I am so happy to be relieved of that extra stress. It's also nice not to have Etsy orders hanging over my head. It's also part of the reason I've let this blog fall by the wayside a bit. (Although the baby's blog is close to 100 posts).
My daughter is nearly ten months old - and her babyhood is so fleeting. I'm taking some time off from extracurricular activities to just be what I have to be - a working mother with a household to run. I am starting to see how it effects all of us when things are running smoothly at home. When the house is clean, the laundry is done and a homecooked meal is on the table - we are just calmer, happier, less stressed. Do I really need more shit on the side?
Kind of... I did enroll in a MPhil program at Penn - but I plan on taking it really slow. I'm taking a class about novels in the fall. It directly addresses my thesis, it's only one night a week, and it's totally free. I have most of the books on my shelf already and the rest are free on the kindle. If I decide it's too much, I'll stop going. I'll take a semester off, a year off, 5 years off - but it will always be there if I ever feel like I need to do something for myself. I'm super excited about it.
I'm also brainstorming for ways to turn our extra bathroom into a combination powder room/mini sculpey studio. I'm thinking wire shelving in the stand-up shower we currently use for storage.
I'm waiting for Tim to ask me what I want for my birthday this year. It has been so long since I could even think of anything I needed for myself. But now that I don't just buy whatever I want anymore - I have some ideas. Ikea gift certificate. I want that damn Norden Sideboard to organize the mail - and shower shelves for my sculpey stuff. And because my life requires extra fuel - a Keurig.
So that is all - not much fodder for the old blog these days. Busy, happy, rolling along.
Here is my big girl exploring the beach:
Thursday, July 11, 2013
This is what's going on in my world of writing (not writing).
I accepted enrollment to the MFA program, but I haven't yet applied for financial aid. I'm terrified to bite the bullet on that one, especially since we want to get married and buy a house. It begins in less than a month.
I am ignoring scary emails from Penn, saying that if I don't indicate my intention to enroll soon, my acceptance will be rescinded. I was hoping this could be a fallback in case I wimp out of the MFA.
I re-joined the RWG for two reasons. One, to help me prepare some material to be handed in August 1st, prior to my first MFA residency - and two, to prove to myself that I still have the time and the will to write.
Truth be told - I am having a lot of difficulty keeping up with the workload.
The experiment seems to be failing, but the true test will be tomorrow's 5 p.m. deadline. Do I have the brainpower/enough caffeine in my body to turn 5 pages of rambling bullshit into an acceptable short story by then?
I certainly fucking hope so.