Thursday, February 5, 2015

Captain's Log

The year is now 2015. I just read my last post and although the house is still clean and organized, moisturizing has fallen by the wayside. That's ok. I am currently up seven pounds, but down 1249 cigarettes. (that's 124 days and $594 dollars of not smoking, thank you Quitnow app!).

Sculpey is good. On track to make about $2K this year if my projections are correct. Made 3 non-penis sales this week, which is a new record.

I am back in the writing group at the moment and working harder than ever. Finished a story that was very well-received. James says I must quit my job and write fiction full-time. Isrut says, Someday, James, someday. Tim says, No.

Taking a class this semester as well, "Writing for Children," which sounds like it would be easy, but most definitely is not. Every week we are writing (and illustrating!) children's books and it is proving to be quite a challenge for me. As an exercise though, I think it is always helpful to push out of one's comfort zone. It also provides a more interesting context for thinking about the books I read to Q every night.

Well, not every night. Tim has been stepping up with a lot of bathtime/bedtime duty so that I can go to the workshop on Mondays, attend class on Wednesdays and write and sculpt to meet deadlines. He is awesome for doing this, and I plan to marry him before the year is out.

I also bought a new domain and have been intermittently working on posts for a new blog that will explore domesticity in an unconventional way, so that's in the works as well. 

Lots of projects, but they are keeping me busy and happy.

My favorite resolution of the New Year is to make more time for friends. I've been letting this goal trump some others because people are the most important thing. Nobody will die if their glow-in-the-dark penis earrings don't get in the mailbox before 5 p.m. It will not hurt my bottom line if I get a C in a class I'm taking for enrichment and another useless Masters degree. People are where it's at. I've had a few reminders about this lately, and I don't want any more of them.

Here's one of my favorite people, and the face she makes when the soup is a little too "zippy."

Thursday, December 4, 2014


Today marks two weeks of living in our very own house. For me, it still seems like I am on some kind of vacation where I am staying in someone else's really nice house. I never imagined that I would ever live in a place with a bathroom like this:
Or that I would get to cook in this fabulous kitchen:
It is very surreal, and it has made me feel terrible that I have resisted the idea for so long and given Tim such a hard time about it. Whoops!

I decided that I am going to make it up to him by making him proud of what I am able to accomplish with a space of my very own. One of the 2nd floor bedrooms has been designated as my studio - a dedicated place for me to write, sculpt and work. Not having a space has been a very convenient excuse for a long time - no more. 

I did not anticipate feeling this way, but buying this house has really made me feel like a true adult even more so than becoming a mother. Life prior to this has felt like a dress rehearsal. Now it is time to stop preparing to be the person I want to be, and to start actually being that person.

This person has so far managed to keep this house as immaculate as it deserves to be kept (we shall see how long this lasts, I hope it's not "new copybook syndrome"). This person makes her bed every morning, moisturizes on a daily basis and wears earrings and foundation to work. She also does NOT smoke cigarettes. (Quit 61 days ago I am proud to say).

*This optimistic post has been brought to you today by the first tantrum-free weekday morning in recent memory. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


I'm on day three of a headache that will not go away.  I'm pretty sure it's a brain tumor, but I can't tell Tim, who has considered me a hypochondriac ever since I went to dermatologist for what I thought was a cancerous freckle.

The headaches may be from stress, or my computer monitor at work, or my terrible posture, or the metal in my reconstructed jaw reacting to the humidity, or the fact that I look at the world through glasses that are permanently encrusted with toddler funk.

I get the feeling that I am slowly poisoning myself with Splenda. I consume four yellow packets of chemicals per day.

I'm afraid of buildings. The lobbies are hollow. How do they not collapse?  They will.

Every time I walk down South Street I am overcome with the fear, no, the certainty - that I am about to get shot.

I can't even think about those concrete balconies that jut out from the sides of apartment complexes.

Never before have I been the type of person who worries about things like this.  I think it's a mommy thing.  I have never been afraid of death, but now I am afraid of my death affecting my child.

One advantage to this new paranoid perspective is that it has given me some fodder to write. I am planning on going back to the writing group this summer and writing some really fucked up things.

To end this post on a positive note, I will report that last week I had a four-day burger streak going. A burger a day for four days straight - and it was glorious.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

No Lawnmowers Required

I'm BORED to death with looking at houses, talking about taxes, answering the same questions over and over. "Where are you looking?" "If you don't mind me asking, what is your price range?" "You should check out ___"

I know people are trying to be helpful, but in general, I don't want to live down the street from you. I don't want to buy your old house that isn't good enough for you anymore. We already have a realtor and aren't looking to employ your friend, cousin, daughter or uncle.

Recently a co-worker was touting her neighborhood as a place where the neighbors will simply let themselves in to borrow a cup of sugar if you aren't home, which sounds like my version of hell.

The truth is that I don't want our permanent home to be anywhere near other people. Yes, we are surrounded by people in our current situation, but city living brings a certain anonymity that the suburbs do not allow. 

We had so many goals in the beginning, but this soul-crushing journey has reduced those goals down to one tiny "must-have."  Let's just try to find a place that won't make us entirely miserable. 

And since this marks the 5th day in a row that I have written an unpublished draft on this blog, I am just going to hit the button and hope that the universe will see it and grant my wish for newer house with old world charm, that is in the middle of nowhere, yet is still walking distance to a hip urban area full of bars and restaurants. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Are you there, blog? It's me, Isrut

These days, excitement is using an entire ingredient for two different meals before it goes bad. Happiness is when the cashier at Superfresh tells me that I saved fifteen bucks. We are in the dark days of a never-ending winter. I go to bed alone - last night I had a risque dream about Vladimir Putin because I was reading the news right before I went to sleep.

The house hunt continues.

I've recently begun a new experiment where I have a third cup of coffee around 4 p.m. It has allowed me to become somewhat more productive.

I sculpey on occasion. It brings me happiness even though I am failing miserably at being a businesswoman.  I continually lose money on shipping.  I had cards re-printed with my website on them, cancelled the hosting for the website, lost all the data on the website.

I haven't written in months. James has sent me a note in the mail that is currently crumpled into my pocket. James has called and left a voicemail knowing that I will never call him back.

I started this post on March 18, and am just getting back to it now.  The baby's blog hasn't been touched in a month. And yet I keep thinking that the solution to all my problems is to start a new blog. I want to write about the work of running a household, the creativity that goes into cooking and feeding a family on a budget. 

It is all procrastination. I have a deadline looming at work and the only words I can muster are, "I hate being a writer. Why did I ever want to do this?"

Some writers hate writing, but they love having written.  If only there was some way to skip the middle step...

Monday, February 3, 2014

keyboard practice

This post is not a post. This is not an attempt to "blog more." This is an exercise to train my fingers into using this new keyboard - nothing more.  I will not proofread. I will not fix typos. I will just write.

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

No Promises

It's no secret that I have not been blogging at all, but I have not been writing either.

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: