Monday, August 29, 2022

Did any of us ever actually get over Angel?

I'm finding it impossible to write anything about myself these days.

I did it for decades - on one blogging platform or another. Daily, at times. But it became tedious. At some point, you had to start using subheadings and breaking your posts into bite-sized chunks to make it lazier to read. (Don't forget the gorgeous visuals.) And then everything you had to say had to come with a tutorial or a recipe to make it pin-able. What was the point of saying anything if you couldn't find a reason to add it to Pinterest?

Eventually, every thought needed to fit into an Instagram caption. And then it needed to be read to you or shown to you in video because, who has the attention span for reading anymore?

Pretty soon, YouTube videos became too long-form, and in walked TikTok and Instagram stories, and now Reels. (Reels are the worst of the bunch!)

And I'm not boo-hooing or bah-humbugging any of it. I'm not anti-technology or change or growth. I have fun with all of it. (Except you, reels - you can go to hell.) 

It's that there is no joy, no passion, no fun, in formatting what I have to say or share to fit the tiny little bits and pieces of what our brains now deem consumable. When I consider pouring my heart out into a post and then finding a way to chop it up and pre-chew it and slap a fitting filtered photo into the middle of it, it feels exhausting. So I don't bother.

And it sucks a little, because I always have so much to say.

purple & yellow flowers

I suppose it's kind of liberating. Knowing that my blog isn't consumable enough for the masses so I can sort of slip into obscurity right in front of everyone. I suppose that has its merits. But I also sometimes wish for the type of camaraderie I don't have to pay for. (Don't get me wrong, I love my therapist, but there's something gritty and deeper about chatting at will with someone that might get it without being trained to understand getting it, ya know?)

So. Anyway. 

I've been writing things through fictional means instead. And through the slow, meandering process of junk journaling. (I only learned what it was this summer and have since jumped in head-first and now have a gold colored journal filling up that almost feels like a work of art. Obsessed.)

But I'm here, because I'm trying (at a lot of things), and while the world may have moved on, I still love blogs. And I miss it.

It's been a sweltering, humid day, and now that it's dark, I'm sitting here with an ice pack on the top of my head, thinking about life. I've been struggling with a bizarre hormone migraine this week while slogging through back to school preparations, and I'm pretty beat. Physically, mentally...with this world. All of it.

I'm just tired.

And I guess the stars aligned in such a way that I am meant to get weary and maudlin about my birthday. (Something my therapist and I discussed this week, actually.) With only two days left, it's settling over me. The things I'm leaving this year with and without. The things I hope I get to harvest from the next. The overarching sadness of feeling like at a core level, I am wildly disconnected from the majority and not understanding why. 

It's just all kind of a bizarre existence at the end of the day, isn't it? Even after 37 years and 363 days, I feel like I barely grasp it. It doesn't all align. That's probably my neurodivergent brain talking. But it all just feels so...disorienting. The idea that we've been all these different versions of ourselves and the little reminders that take you back to a different one of them, or that show you certain things that were always meant to be. The older I get, the more I feel like time is such an unknowable thing - or that we've been really sold on this linear idea when it's really just always buzzing around you in different forms.

Or maybe it's the headache talking, who knows.

Lately I've been watching old Buffy episodes like I'm 13 again. The way it's transporting me...I don't know, maybe that's really to blame for my confusion. I'll say this, though. For all the things they say that they shouldn't say and the plethora of 90's babydoll graphic tanks, one thing stands: David Boreanaz can get it.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Give them words.

I've become a writer. By choice, and by practice.

After years of wanting to be able to say that with any amount of legitimacy, I finally feel like I've found it. Even though I didn't earn the feeling the way I expected to. I've published nothing more than blog posts and some miniscule-content journals. But that doesn't even matter to me anymore.

When I study writing, I get it now. It sinks in. When I read, I see how the author wrote it. Sometimes I wish I didn't - without the fourth wall, the way I read is forever changed. 

But most importantly I'm just...finally not ashamed to be called a writer. My new therapist calls me a writer - recently she told me how she couldn't put her finger on something about me before I told her that I write, but then she immediately knew. "You speak like a writer," she'd said. "It's in the way you form your sentences and the words you choose - everything makes sense, now."

I didn't know what to do with that at first. I'd never been told that before, and it made me cry. To be seen that way - to be seen as what I've always wanted to be is an incredible feeling. And it's coming from several directions. I'm hearing it from friends, from my husband - from everyone that knows what I've been up to. The more my projects become reality, the more it just is. 

writing supplies

Maybe I've given myself permission to accept being a writer because I've written a whole novel. (I still can't believe I did it.) I did it in the sense that there's a 400+ page document containing 95,000 words about a couple of characters that I created out of a dream I had and some of their friends, but it's not...good.

It has its moments - but I wrote with the goal of getting it down and getting it done knowing that I could go back and fix it. And now...I don't really know the best way to do that. Sometimes, it feels like a hot mess. Steaming hot. There are some places where I either know what's lacking or how to fix it or both, but there are plenty of places where I don't know either. Where I just can't figure out how to make it work. Some of those chapters have been re-written three, five, seven times, and they're still not there. 

And I suppose this is where an editor steps in, but it doesn't even feel ready for that. In the same way one wants to clean before the cleaning service arrives, I want to make sure that I'm not wholly embarrassed by this manuscript. It needs polishing that I know I can still give it before it's fixed professionally, but the task feels tedious knowing that I'll have to look at all the glaring flaws while I do that. I will do it - because I'm a writer now, and because I love these characters as though I know them in my waking life. And because I want to be not just a writer, but an author. 

Man, that's interesting.

I've always wanted to publish something - to be a published author. It's my life's dream, second only to being a Mom. But for the first time in my life I actually want to build a career. Like a whole-ass, all-in, make it happen career. I will create it - even if it's only on a small scale. Even if it's only something I "do on the side." Because it's who I am. Because it always has been. 

But the doubts poke at me daily. They say things like - maybe I can't articulate things the way I think I can. Maybe my abilities as a writer haven't developed as much as I thought they did. Maybe I have no actual freaking clue what I'm doing. Laughably.  Maybe even the most voracious romantic fiction reader who loves a shitty, sappy novel for the respite it provides from this dumpster fire of a world would find what I've written to be absolute crap. It's not the story or the characters I'm worried about - it's the way I've delivered them to the world.

I told myself that I was going to spend time studying before I edit - reading books on writing, watching videos, reading more comps in the style of my story. All of that should arm me with more tools to polish my book. And I've been doing those things. But I'll be bumping along, collecting new understanding, and then suddenly need to get back to my book. I'll miss my characters, or feel like I got what I needed to fix one particular scene or chapter, but then I can't stop. Because I've gone back to their Universe (and I like it there - because it's mine to create, and there's no covid or school shootings or racism in their world), and I don't want to jump back out. Honestly, my superhero name would be Captain Hyperfixation. (Well, either that, or like...Indecision Girl! Able to avoid the smallest decision in a single bound!) The ADHD is strong with this one. OMG - no one tell my husband I just semi-quoted Star Wars. Clearly I've been force fed too much of that Universe.

I know I'll get there. I know there's a way forward and I'll figure it out. Because I spent 37 years wanting to write a book, and about 738 attempts later (approximately) I figured that out. I'll get this, too. But it's scary and shadowy and molassesy, so I'm calling it out from under the bed to spritz it with my monster spray. Looking it in the face. Talking to it. Communicating. Doing what I know best.

Because, the stickiest things in life, I find, are slowly cleaned up when you give them words.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Summer Prep List (Freebie)

Life has been inching along, despite so many worrisome uncertainties. 

Everything feels like a weird balance as a parent right now, doesn't it?

summer essentials list freebie

Trying to find the place between taking care of yourself and your family, making memories, living life to the best available degree, and staying aware and active in today's issues. We're living in some crazy times.

June in particular is always a very busy month for us. There are field days and celebrations at school, half days and exam schedules to stay on top of, camping plans on the horizon, family visiting - it's just always chaos. Something that I tend to overlook every year is the prep I could do to make our summer days a little bit easier.

You know - the things to have on hand for hungry kids or for unexpected visitors. 

I was thinking about it recently - knowing that this summer will be extra-busy with one son on a swim team, and all three of them hitting ages where they want to have their friends over full time. So knowing that's coming for me soon (with less than three weeks left of the school year), I thought I should make a list of things to collect in time for the summer craziness. 

And maybe it would be helpful to you, too?

I realize we are one of the last districts in the country to end the school year, so you may already be into your summer vacations. But, I think this is helpful regardless. My list accounts for everything from last minute dinner guests, to thirsty or overheated kids, to spontaneous evening campfires, to endlessly snacking teenagers. 

So, just in case it helps anyone get prepared for the summer crazies, grab your list of summer household essentials here:

Summer Household Essentials List

Happy Summer :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

It's Time to Get Loud.

I was so angry last night.

I couldn't sleep. I was awake hours later than I normally am - all full of jumpy anxiety and rage. 

You know what they say about anger. It's just sadness with motivation. 

But what was I to do, in the darkness of my bedroom at midnight, other than angrily retweet and shame the portion of the internet that still refuses to vote in favor of gun reform? It was all I had, so I did it.

Short on sleep and worried as hell, I felt like a zombie this morning.

I normally write or read a book with my coffee. That felt incredibly trivial. So I just stared out the window, wondering how I would be okay kissing my kids goodbye today.

Before they woke up, I decided I'd spend my day writing letters. Getting loud. Using my anger for something, even if it falls on deaf ears. I was numb while I packed lunches - pausing to google resources and listen to my kids just being kids with their bin of Legos while they waited for their breakfast.

I thought about my kids' teachers - how hurt they must feel, how worried, how tired. I stopped and wrote a quick email to my youngest's teacher.

Then I helped my second grader get dressed. I did his hair. I hung a mask on a lanyard around his neck because guns aren't the only current threat in sending our kids off to school right now. 

And then I hugged him extra long, kissed him extra times, and said right next to his ear, "I love you so incredibly much."

When he left, I checked my email and saw that his teacher had responded. And she was heartbroken. I could sense the devastation and fear in her response. 

The combination of ensuring my 8 year old got a proper goodbye and his teacher even having to say the words that she would protect him with her life broke me.

School should not be a potential threat to a child's life.

I've been a sobbing, blubbering mess since.

My heart is struggling to comprehend how much senseless death we have allowed in this country. There should have been change from the FIRST instance of a mass casualty event by an assault rifle. Real, immediate, effective change.

Instead, we're letting our kids and our grandparents and our communities get slaughtered at the hands of angry, evil people who have been sold a narrative of hate and selfishness and greed. And we let those people have weapons of war because money and elections mean more to our leadership than human lives. 

Screw your votes. Screw your luxuries. Screw your republican tax breaks.

If you aren't doing your part to work towards gun reform, YOU are part of the problem. Yes, you. And if you're ignoring this because you or your loved ones are not a minority in this country, or you don't have a child to send off to school hoping that they'll be safe enough there, I hope you are aware of your extreme privilege. Use some of it to help those who DO have to worry about those things.

Do better.

Monday, May 23, 2022

A Life Update

It's a good thing no one comes here to keep track of me. 

I say all the time that I'm going to keep this updated, and I've got plans for doing that, but life is relentless. (That, and I have multiple hyperfixations right now.)

So, what's new?

I'm not even sure where to start.

My last real life update (other than sharing our covid experience) was back in January, when the kids went back to in-person school. Yikes. SO much has happened. Leeet's get into it.

The Best Trip to the Most Magical Place

50th Anniversary Cinderella's CastleIn February, we went on what was supposed to be our, "hurray, covid is over!" celebration vacation. Our assumptions, as most are regarding covid, were wrong, but we lucked out. The first surge of omicron was down to almost nothing at the time of our travel, we were all vaxxed up, and we were still able to go. It was a big, 12-day, multi location trip with 8 nights and 5 park days in Disney World. We had the *best* time. Maybe I'll go into more detail one day - if I ever feel like doing that much work and letting my Disney side have a piece of my blog. For now I'll just leave it at: I miss it, we made some serious core memories that week, and I wish I had DVC kinda money.

The Viruses Won't Leave Us Alone

I'm sniffling as I write this, because I'm wrapping up another cold-allergy-something. To be fair, this is only my second one since I had covid in early March. However, since that day, someone in my household has had something. We might have had one week off in there somewhere? But yes, March and April were germ city and May hasn't been much better. We all know about covid, but wtf is the rest of this? Why is EVERYTHING aggressive right now? SO over it.

The Inevitable Found Us Again

That's what I'd called it when we got covid. But there was another Odin huginevitability that we could see coming for our family for a while, and it finally arrived in April. Odin, my 18 year old, white-fluffed best friend passed away. He'd been sick for a while, and rapidly fell apart in his final week. We did get to celebrate his 18th birthday together, and we covered him in love to the best of our ability. But oof, this was hard. Rocked my world. Odin was a fixture throughout my entire adult life, and to lose him was to close a circle of my identity. He comes to me in dreams sometimes, now. He's usually just perched somewhere, often in a box (lol, typical), watching me. I'd like to think that in my dream state, I'm able to witness how he's looking out for me now - guardian style.

As Is Typical, I Can Never Pick Just One

I'm writing three books. Actually, five. Low-key more than that. But let's go with three, because I am giving constant, daily attention to three of them. I never used to say these things out loud because I've always had some writing project or another that I felt abandonment coming for (uhh I have like thirty 50-page drafts just hanging around...whoopise). But I am mad-scientist style writing on a daily basis. Like to the point where my entire life crumbles around me and I forget to defrost anything for dinner and time warps into this unknowable thing. I write for a while before my kids get up, and then I write the second I get back from drop offs and I'm shocked when pickup time arrives seemingly five minutes later. I've mentioned my dental fear book before (if you've never taken my survey for that it's in the margin, I'd love it if you'd check it out!), but I also have a novel that I'm only a couple weeks from sending off to my first beta reader. Don't even know how that happened, but here we are. And then I have an old book I've rescued from the pit of unfinished drafts that I'm polishing up to begin a collaboration on. 

It's wild. I wasn't sure I'd actually get here. I've never had such clarity - such a plan of attack. Such dedication. It's thrilling.

I'm Building a Whole Ass Library

library shelfThis one's kinda fun. One morning, I was sitting on the love seat in my living room, sipping my coffee and staring out the window. Matt and I'd just had a conversation about the real estate market and how we maybe need to chill for a while (and put our long moving aspirations on hold), and I was wistfully saying goodbye to my dreams of an in-home library when it dawned on me. I can still have one. We'd refinished a room recently to create a home office for Matt, and it freed up his old work corner for whatever we wanted it to be. In a split second, I was on my feet declaring that it was going to be my library, come hell or high water. I immediately got to work. Like, a couple sips later. In the spare moments when I'm not writing, I've been sorting, purging, shredding, moving boxes, vacuuming, disinfecting-wiping everything in my basement. It's a long process, but it's getting there. I can't wait to share it. (This has also taken my book shopping habit from, "Oh no, I'm running out of nooks to shove these into!" to "Mama's got bookshelves to fill!") Photo is from my public library - my actual library will be way more vibey.


Even Therapists Can Gaslight You

I'm starting a new treatment with a new therapist this week. Tomorrow, actually. I'd been cruising along in therapy, paying a stupid amount of money to vent about my anxieties while being given no actionable solutions and having none of my problems solved (or even progressed). When I spoke up about it, it got messy. I ended up speaking with the owner of the clinic, and found out that my therapist was telling us two different things on a regular basis. It was kind of a slap in the face - to find out that my therapist was the kind of flawed that she'd lie to keep her job, even if it was to the detriment of her patient. So the lesson is this: therapists are people, too. And they often come to their jobs with their own mental, emotional, and developmental deficiencies. We're all human at the end of the day, but we should all stop trying to show up to things that we don't actually have space for. When we do that, we give others the impression that they can count on us when they really can't. Not fair. 

My Fish Kid is on a Swim Team

henry pool jumpWhile all of my kids love swimming, I have one that would willingly prune his entire body on a daily basis if he could. When we went to Disney, he liked the pools better than any attraction. When he's in the water, he looks like he belongs there. Which is weird, because I'm the opposite - I freaking hate water. I don't know where he gets it. We've chatted and researched and we found a summer program for him to give competitive swimming a shot. I am...not the most thrilled about the daily early morning wake ups, and neither is he, but I'm confident this will be worth it. When you ask him what he wants to be when he grows up, he says Michael Phelps. So, we'll find out soon if he's got the chops. (Or, the fins.)


It's Been 84 Years 

Just kidding, it's only been twenty. But that makes me feel impossibly old. To be able to say I did anything twenty years ago speaks to some damn life experience. To say that's when I finished high school is just straight bonkers. There's some sort of sloppy rag-tag reunion planning going down because our class government is MIA, and I have no plans to participate. But a small group of friends that I've managed to hang onto for these past couple decades are chatting about doing our own little thing. That feels exciting. I just can't even believe it's been that long. Life comes at you fast.

Sooo that's about it. 

Nothing wild, but that's what's filling my time. I'm also starting to make some summer plans despite the fact that our schools will still be in session for an impossibly long time. (If your kids go to one of those schools that's wrapping up this week, please don't tell me, I can't handle it. We have weeeeks to go.)

So far we've got a camping trip on the books, a mini 20 year reunion, and a return of the Camp Readaway read-a-thon I birthed last summer. (Plus, all those daily early morning trips to the pool for my swimmy kid. Currently accepting Tim Hortons and Starbucks gift cards.)

Hope you enjoyed this sign of life. Maybe I'll make it back here again soon.