Sunday…(or, how weekends run at breakneck speed no matter what you do)

January 27, 2013 § 6 Comments

newyorkerCurrent issues of THE NEW YORKER are starting to breed like rabbits around the house. I haven’t had time to read them all, much less in order.  HM tracked into our house some insidious little ice melters from the courtyard of the building where his office is found, and they hurt bare feet and yet break into pieces like little apsirins. I’ve been chasing them with the vaccum. Everyone in his building complained; the superintendent doesn’t know who put them down in anticipation of an ice storm, but it was discovered they’re not ice melters – they are, in fact, for breaking down grease. Someone got confused.

Meanwhile, the weatherman can’t get the weather correct, which ultimately is ok, because he’s so darn dire with forecasting sleet and slips-n-slides and rain and frozen temps, all stirred into one big weather pot so that he doesn’t actually appear to be wrong…and who cares? we have ourselves and our cars as winterized as possible with layers of hoodies and coats and fingerless gloves and scarves and scrapers, sand-in-the-trunk and big fat all-weather tires, so …bring it on.

Friends and neighbors have been quiet in the gloom this weekend, with everyone badly needing some rest and some unscheduled time.  Christmas is boxed, bagged and stacked in the tool room, everything labeled and the house has lots it glitter but there’s a certain uncluttered thing going on that’s not so bad. Greenery does perk a person up quite a bit though, even if only sticking one’s head out the back patio doors and breathing in the cold humidity and discerning among the many winter greys which branches are holding birds and the squirrels, all waiting to hit the feeder as soon as the human stops sticking her head out there, into their business.

Ya gotta love it, all the comforts of Sunday, wherever you can find them, as you teeter on the precipice of Work Tomorrow. While America is glad to have a job, sometimes the schedule just makes you want to put the typical time compendium on tilt and run it your own way.   As the dowager Countess in Downton Abbey says, “What’s a weekend?” I am intrigued by how such a character, if real, would actually measure time.

Perhaps not at all.

And that sounds like a fine idea to me.

It was back to work this week…

January 4, 2013 § 13 Comments

head laptop

out and about…

March 3, 2012 § 12 Comments

Several weeks ago, I took a new position within the company. 

It’s been full tilt around here since then, either with planning and studying work stuff, getting around the country for meetings, getting the household on track and on schedule, doing taxes!, having excellent time with HM (who is also incredibly busy) and time with the kids when they visit, helping our lovely Nor plan her wedding, meeting up with friends, catching the occasional show on the telly, catching a few winks and reading. (None of the activities listed in the prior sentence have been prioritized in any way. In fact this whole blog entry is a melting pot meant solely to say I’m here and haven’t completely given up on blogging.)

Oh, you’d be shocked and appalled at my reading choices but when you’re on a plane or in a taxi or just waiting in line for something, you’ll read just about whatever is at hand, or that fits into your purse.

I have returned to Franzen’s FREEDOM, though, intending to finish it because I stopped halfway through it months ago. He’s just so darn real but the book hums with a disturbing undercurrent. Can’t put my finger on it. 

I’ve barely picked up my camera, either, not to mention the pencils and yarn that show up in my prior blog entry. Harumph.  That’s about to change. Like the weather. This morning had that very subliminal hint of spring in it, with that moment, that color, that says “spring is not far off!” And my journal waits patiently on the desk. Have not done anything but cram pictures, tickets and other ephemera into it. I missed journal class for good reason – HM’s band had their premier gig at a local pub and tho’ it was a Thursday night, the place was packed. A far cry from journaling, it was great – yes, dancing!

I will now stop treating this like a wandering entry in  my handwritten journal and will go for a walk with my camera.
And think of something to actually say, to share and tell you.

signed, Oh, the new road warrior

I gotta go find those pencils and some paper.

No make-up Fridays

September 8, 2011 § 19 Comments

On Friday mornings, I meet with my friend PZ for coffee at a local cafe. 
We get large coffees and finesse ’em nice with milk, sugar, cinnamon, shots of the various coffees in the huge carafes – whatever.

And we sit, outdoors whenever possible and in spite of the leaf blower guy who was so moved to have the parking lot spotless at 7:15 in the morning. Really?

We sit and we talk.
We don’t gab; we don’t gossip.
We talk.

And last week, when we had some serious stuff to share, we ended up laughing, out loud.
Right after we had shed some tears, the kind that require a tissue.
And THAT, my friends, is what made us laugh!!!!

OK, we don’t sit in public and cry like crazy suburban characters in a Franzen story.
But we do share stories and anecdotes about people we care about and love and how things are going, and often, the lives we see are so touching that we tear up.
Certain things, certain happenings and surely things related to our kids and dogs can have our eyes spilling quietly over.
We share a certain etiquette in the face of this  “welling up.” It’s ok to dab or swipe at teary eyes; neither of us comments on it to the other. It’s understood that it’s ok, that it, well, it happens.

So last week, there were discussions on the Kids, and how they’re doing and also discussion on the perserverance of human kind and then I mentioned that our ancient beagle Huck had died.
And that did it.
We went immediately from welling up to those silent splashy tears.
PZ also had recently lost a beloved dog.

And so it’s been decided in an offhand manner that perhaps no makeup should be worn on Friday mornings. 
Because Maybelline and Mary Kay can tell me ’til they’re blue in the face that their mascara is waterproof, like their foundation and blush, etc., but I can assure you – no, it is not.

Tomorrow’s Friday.
Coffee with PZ.
I will show up (eventually) at work and surely someone will remark that I look tired (yeah, it happens when I skip the maquillage.)
That’s ok.
I will have kicked off the day with a fearless BFF who is not afraid to cry or laugh. Out loud.

The weekend …

July 30, 2011 § 11 Comments

FRIDAY NIGHT…unwinding, poolside ….

SATURDAY …  flowering and kitchening…

Sometimes you think you’re the only one. The week rockets by with spins, turns and not so well performed pirouettes at work.  You push large rocks up steep hills, you listen as people transfer monkeys from their back to yours and walk away, you envision, you list,  you write and rewrite,  a dear friend resigns a position you thought was ideal and you realize that even in this economy, the trend is not only that people lose jobs but that people leave jobs because the job have become untenable. That is not the case where you work; nevertheless you put in long long hours and long long meetings and stay so awake, alert, visionary, on point, that by Friday night, you curl on the couch with your spouse and fall so deeply asleep that when you wake, you think you’re still at work and have fallen asleep at your desk and has anyone seen you, sleep wrinkled and tousled?

When you reach out to friends you find they are spinning the same delirious tale.

And so we learn to really vacation and lounge about when we take vacation time.
We learn to really sleep when it’s time to sleep.
We learn to love even more the preparation of simple meals and being at the table together.
We learn to look up and say thanks.

If a weed grows in a small crack in the driveway, it’s ok.
If two little bambis fit their heads inside the iron gate to eat the glorious morning glories from our garden, it’s ok. There are plenty of blooms to enjoy.

How lovely to resist schedules.

Writers, speak up!…

April 9, 2011 § 12 Comments

The Missouri Writers Guild is hosting its annual conference right here in my own backyard (figuratively) and the biggest “cool” about it all is hanging out with all kinds of writers.  We had three “panels” yesterday, some of them enlightening (the agent panel) but overall, not one person (on magazine & ezine panel) addressed the $$$ issue. We were regaled with queries, what editors expected (blah blah blah) and how they refused to work with those who couldn’t measure up, but not once did a magazine or e-zine editor or publisher mention what they were willing to pay for articles, and various pieces. It’s as though the prize is having one of them say “yes” but indeed, the writing is the prize, one that deserves worthy pay. Don’t settle for what they would pay an intern if you’re not one. Don’t do it for free or “on spec.”  Writers, speak up!  (I will, today….)


Full moon, getting its freak on

February 24, 2011 § 9 Comments

I know the full moon occurred sometime last week for its usual amount of hours. However, I believe there is some conspiracy afoot (incurred by Mother Nature, of course) that involves an extension of the full moon.
I’m saying that, according to all the quirks, faux pas, mistakes, twists, dips and downright “what the heck?s” that happened this week, the full moon is ongoing. I dont’ know how it looks like it’s no longer full – perhaps the power of Wikileaks or sci-fi writers banded together or some secret group engaged in adjusting the light reflected from the moon so that it no longer looks full, just to trick us,  but I’m telling ya, it’s been a rockin’ ridiculous, rioutous week that has included everything from lost project files, to frozen PCs to misplaced money to a million individual moments of quiet head-shaking – and it’s been totally full moon-able.

Thank goodness for the peace of writing with a pen, the reading of a thick good book and the moments to stare off, thinking about a particular line just read and for the rituals of  returning to home life after work.

And thank goodness for stepping outside an hour past twilight with the dogs and all three of us looking into the parklike area where all the backyards meet and seeing seven deer, all lying there, unfettered, unconcerned,  just bathing in the moonlight.
Freaky. Unexpected. Beautiful.

If the full moon is going to go long, then fine, let all the nonsense occur as long as we can have those deer right there, nearly invisible, among us.

OK, and I might have to do a little howling, but that just goes with  moon territory.

Write what’s on your mind and push and pull and twist it (like taffy) so someone else might want to read it. Just go. There is no writing “in the box.”  Crawl out of there and write, write, write. If you go long enough, there will be something in there, in your writing: something good, something lesson-able, something that makes you say “oh.”  And just for that, it’s good enough, it’s wonderful.

Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype (1992), by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. It was on the NY Times bestseller list for 145 weeks. Impressive.
But no, I haven’t read it yet. Yes,  it’s been on my shelf for at least nine years.
How can I recommend it? I don’t know. It just seems like a good time to open it up. 
And wait for that (I know it’s not really full) moon to go away.

Writing, week #1, learned…

January 8, 2011 § 17 Comments

A four-day corporate work week can wreck a person’s blog-a-day stamina.
Still, there are writing lessons out of the whole 4-day mess:

In Tech Writing World:
1) Non-writers can be far more concerned with a document’s appearance than its content.
2)  IT specialists have a weird faith in software apps they’ve never used themselves, and they have far more in common with Jimmy Fallon’s SNL character, the IT Guy (move!), than they realize. 
3)  Offices have doors for a reason; close them when writing!
4)  Resources, like the AP Manual, The Copywriters Handbook, and often the Web, are great, important, necessary, and like silent little friends when you hit a wall on something you shouldn’t bother to carry around in your head anyway – period after the word Inc? hyphenate the word reorganization? etc.
5) Have a writing compadre, always, somewhere on the premises, or at least a phone call away. Always.

Real Life Writing:
1)  Don’t let a day go by without writing something for yourself or your editor. (No, this is not about tech writing.)
2) Go to lunch or coffee with that writing friend. If he/she doesn’t live nearby, ask them to move closer. (Yeah, writers can be a little unrealistic in their requests sometimes. It’s an offshoot of writing creatively.)
3) Realize that you may/will start off writing several (times bajillion) pages of crap but the “good” stuff will come. What’s the “good stuff?” You will know when you hit it. It’s like knowing when you’re really in love but can’t necessarily explain to someone how you know when it’s for sure.
4) Focus, focus, focus on getting your writing (done) in one place. Beware of using too many different notebooks for too many different things.
5) Carry your journal with you everywhere. Really. It’s a catch-net, a safety net, a friend, a go-to and a place where you can write anything from lists and ideas for queries/articles to a line that jumps into your head that starts or finishes a creative piece you’re doing OR the phone number of someone who just might be a connection.

holiday warm…

December 4, 2010 § 16 Comments

There is still a great deal of decorating to be done, mostly because the household loves Christmas, loves living in the midst of it, the green, the gold, the red, the reindeer, the Christmas trees, the angels, the creche, the fire in the hearth.

But tonight, having written a few cards and strung lights on the balcony and enjoyed a long lunch at a cantina after a week of full tilt corporate projects and really early mornings alone in the kitchen, writing, writing, writing ’til the freelance piece was handed in yesterday, tonight I’m recharging, writing notes to old friends and just saying “hey” out there in Blogworld.

Book Recommend:
One of the bookshelves in my office just fell apart as I tried to move it just a little to center it under a painting. Fell. Completely. Apart.
Annoyed I have sworn not to ever buy one of those DIY things again. It’s already out back by the garbage can. And every book on it is stacked in one of three giant stacks agains the wall where the shelf was.  What’s my point? I can’t think of a book at the moment. I can’t think of one that should join this stack. Surely by morning, my bookshelf-failure-and-concomitant-mess- annoyance will have dissipated. I am somewhat concerned that this is a sign that I shouldn’t have anymore books. Til I’ve read all the ones I have.  That can’t be, can it?
OK, ok, who are we kidding here? But I’m going to go a little off track and rather than a book, mention a magazine.
Martha Stewart’s LIVING December 2010 issue.
Just got it yesterday to celebrate being out at lunch with a writer friend.
Will I do any of the recipes within?
Will I set the table just so, copying the pages?
Maybe, maybe not.
But a holiday magazine is a powerful indulgence and I recommend it, whether you’re an Art, a Lifestyle, a Crafts, a Lit or a Hollywood magazine lover, this is the month to have one; they’re all glitzy and decked out.

The write book at the write time…

November 21, 2010 § 8 Comments

Timing is everything.
And this book was there on my “library” stack just as I was about to flee the house rather than face down an impending deadline on a very short piece that’s giving me nothing but trouble.

HOW I WRITE   THE SECRET LIVES OF AUTHORS, edited by Dan Crowe with Philip Ottermann; Rizzoli, New York: copyright 2007  was just the bridge I needed.
It’s almost coffee-table size, but not. It fits upright on a standard book shelf.
The white cover has a giant bracket with a list of all the authors inside who will be divulging.
The paper stock is superior, holds the imprint perfectly and the photos and drawings within are so book-ish, colorful, sometimes b&w, hugely appealing. To a bookaholic little writer. 

There’s a Kafka quote just inside from his diary , 24 December 1910: “I had a close look at my desk just now and realized that it just wasn’t designed for quality writing.”

When you sit in a place long enough, you become very sensitive and particular about your tools – from the paper to the pen to the keyboard to the furniture you’re using.

Anyway, here’s the thing. The authors within this book are not dishing on how to write. They are talking in paragraphs about what one thing they keep around, what objects icons, totems, rituals, souvenirs or symbols they keep present as they write. And why. It’s all in their words, on one page, maybe two, with great fonts and graphics. And photos.
They’re funny, interesting, serious and sentimental.

The editors have compiled a fine work here, a glimpse into writing life. It could be a glimpse into any profession which might be equally as compelling. But on this morning when I’ve promised myself I’d snap this laptop shut by noon and be finished with my doggerel, this book is just the oomph I needed on my way to meeting a deadline.

And it would be nice on (my) coffee table. Along with some coffee, of course. (Are you listening, Santa?) 

Here’s a peak at some of the pages.
I am not familiar with the author (above) but after reading his entry, have decided he’s an excellent story-teller and character writer. The “stovchen” refers to the little stove under the cup in the picture; it keeps the tea in the cup warm while he writes. (You’re going to love his entry in this book.)

I don’t know Will Self, either (do I?), but love his writing method and his Post-its all put into “zones” and then it all turns into a book.

Jane Smiley might be a Pisces. I have to look that up (not that I’m zodiac-ally inclined) but the water thing could just be an indication. Her piece is so good.  You’ll hear her better in her books if you take a look at this entry.

Bourdain is brash, honest (tho’ I always feel he’s doing it for the camera, like Madonna) but this is a good piece. His “thing”, btw, is cigarettes. So ’50s.

Nothing like a shadowy pub full of characters to pump the “noir” in any crime… Ian Rankin is the UK’s no. 1 crime-writer/ seller. But oh, how we all love our English pubs!

There are plenty more, approximately 70 authors included in this book. But it’s not encyclopedic, nor is it even a tad boring. Love the format. Love the stories, true stories all.

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