Made to write?

The other day an old old friend and I were together and talking about what we should do with ourselves when our littlest kids go to school. Old old as in I met her when she was a sophomore and I was a freshman at UW. We've lived down the hall from each other and countries apart, but the blessing (and curse) of the NDCF is that it trains you how to talk about God in your life. It teaches you to ask questions and expect answers and to go there, if you will, in a way that I haven't found many people outside of my old NDCF world know how to do. Like a current NDCF staff friend of mine likes to say, NDCF grads are total snobs about conversation.

(Not sure I've mentioned the NDCF in eons, so it stands for Non Denominational Christian Fellowship (my blog name for it, not its real name) and it's basically what I majored in in college and where I met my husband and many of my closest friends.)

So anyway, even though Old Friend and I haven't lived in the same town for forever, it's been easy to catch up and we went down the rabbit hole this last time: where is God? What does he want me to do? What am I supposed to do with my LIFE?!

We actually talked about writing. Long long ago we would take creative writing classes together and read each other's work before the arrogant snots in our class (every English department has its share) got their hands on our stories and ripped them to shreds. Didn't I want to write? she asked me. Didn't I do that anymore? 

Ummmm, nope? Not in a long long time. And as I admitted this I realized AND HEY! I DON'T FEEL GUILTY ABOUT IT EITHER!

Because WRITING was going to be the thing that I did that made it worth having me in the world. I was only biding my time, the universe tolerating my presence, until I finally wrote the thing that yearned to be written inside me, and then I would have earned my place. I would be worthy of my parents who still talk about the writing I did in elementary school, my junior year English teacher who thought the world of me, my senior year English teacher who pushed me harder than anyone ever has, and those college professors who thought I was a wooden useless mute until I wrote my first papers and I'd see the inevitable PLEASE SPEAK UP MORE IN CLASS scrawled across the tops. When I finally WROTE something I would have then achieved the thing everyone I'd ever known had told me I should achieve. Then I'd be worthy of their love and praise and all the things they'd said about me. Then I could feel okay about however many years I spend on this planet. Wasn't I made to do this? Wasn't I BORN for this? Everyone saw this in me. *I* saw this in me. 

I just had to do it. 

This is where my old friend had left my story. And I needed to catch her up.

OH, I told her. Yeah... I don't really write anymore. I mean, sometimes? Sometimes I think about it? But... not really.

Things have happened, I told her, in the last few years. Things that have shown me, revealed to me, made me understand on entirely new planes of thought, that God doesn't love me for what I DO. That God doesn't love me less when I screw up and he certainly doesn't love me more when I do well. That I cannot earn His love. That His love is not shut away in cage with a lock inscribed OPENS AFTER PUBLICATION. That he loves me right NOW, right NOWWWW, when I haven't done ANYTHING amazing in my life! When the one thing at which I excel is eating a whole bag of chocolate chips in one sitting. I mean, that is a good God right there. 

And I told my friend: once this truth became a truth that I wholly and completely and entirely absorbed, I didn't really care about writing anymore. And I certainly did not care about getting published

For a while I've felt bad to say that out loud. Because it sounds... I don't know. Like, maybe to someone who thinks the God stuff is eye rolly it sounds lazy or dumb or like someone who gave up on a dream for a totally whack job reason. Yeah. Like someone who GAVE UP. But the thing I realized when I was telling my friend this story was: I DIDN'T FEEL BAD. 

So YEAH everyone who went to high school with me! And all my teachers! And all the people who told me I had TALENT and blah blah blah. Writing is awesome! But it's not my thing anymore. It's not the thing that makes me special or makes me ME, even. It's not the thing that I'm about or that I do or that I want to do or that I was made to do. It's not the thing that makes me worthy and it's NOT the thing that makes me lovable. 

I love Anne Lamott for saying that publication does not solve your problems. 

I love to write. I express myself best in writing. I am MUCH better on paper than I am in person. :) And I keep writing even when it's stupid, like the fact that hardly anyone writes on their dumb blogs anymore, but here I am! I would do this even if no one read. No one DID read for the first couple YEARS I did this! And now I'm learning to write prayers. It's different from straight up journaling... I'm still figuring it out, but it's good and I'm excited about it. 

But I'm probably not going to write a novel. I mean, it'd be awesome to write a novel! But I don't have to write one anymore. I can reach the end of my life and if the only writing I leave is the heaps of drivel accumulated on this website, fine by me. (I mean, hopefully someone deletes this thing, but you know what I'm talking about.) 

Am I communicating how terribly horribly VERY MUCH IMPERATIVE it was for me to be a REAL LIVE WRITER and for people to KNOW I was a REAL LIVE WRITER? 

And now how I don't give a crap? 

This is God in me. It's amazing. I never thought that would happen. I never thought I'd feel free. I didn't know I NEEDED to feel free. 


While I've been sitting here writing about how I don't want to write anymore, my children have seen fourteen television shows and the breakfast dishes are strangely still unwashed and no one has thought of what to make for dinner. CLEARLY there is still Building of Character to be done and Life Lessons to be learned. But this tiny piece, this piece is good. 



Like candy to my soul

I was sitting at a stoplight when 'Crash' by the Dave Matthews Band came on the radio. I heard this song for the first time on a mix tape a high school friend made for me - she was a freshman in college, I was a high school senior, and we were hanging out over Christmas break. Also on this mix tape: the Indigo Girls, Ani DiFranco, Sinead O'Connor... it was a very influential mix tape. 

The light changed and I realized I was hearing the lyrics for the first time. I know the words, like a lot of people Of My Era, but I hadn't really heard them and I found myself thinking my my Dave, you're making me blush. 

And for some reason I flashed back to the moment a few years ago when I happened to be standing next to Dave Matthews at a church-sponsored toddler gym morning while he chatted with a friend of mine. Out of context (though what would the right context be? A CD cover?) he looked to be just another exhausted parent wrangling a two- or three-year-old, a person to be pitied just like the rest of us. But I heard the whisperings of the other moms, realized exactly who it was talking to my friend, and became tongue tied. You are famous, I thought. I am a stranger to you, but you are not a stranger to me.

Listening to this song was now intimate, almost uncomfortable. The Dave Matthews at the toddler gym had struck me as quiet and unassuming, and here he was crooning these innuendo-ish things over my car radio. And I wondered if he knew, if he ever thought about it. Does he walk into a grocery store and feel known? Does he visit a toddler play gym and understand the moms there will have heard his deepest thoughts? How does that make him feel? When he drives his car and hears his own music on the radio, does he look into the cars passing by and wonders if his own heartbreak touches them in some way? I thought these things as I drove, and in those moments I felt that Dave Matthews was a very brave soul.

But lately, and who knows why, I am consumed with wanting to be Dave Matthews. I am drawn to what he does, what all artists do. I feel called to it, like I am not living my whole life, I am not fully who God made me to be, unless I also reveal a truth in some highly vulnerable, highly public way. And then I think get over yourself, Maggie and go on with the rest of my day, making food and cleaning up spills and changing diapers and wishing for Phillip to get home. 

I have a great fear that I will never get my truths out. I don't even know what these truths are. But I don't intend to sing or paint or dance them, they need to be written out and (this is important) read. I dread that part and crave it at the same time. This is just a vague floaty feeling inside me, the nebulous gas of whatever it is I should be doing with this life. 

In which my weekend put me in that Let's Sit And Talk For Hours About WHO WE ARE MEANT TO BE! kind of mood

I had a fantastic weekend and I'm going to tell you all about it. 

First I got my hair cut. Again. I went to a different salon, I said, "I just have too much HAIR back here" and all the hair that was giving me the Very Short But Still Sort Of A Bob effect was promptly razored off. Which is exactly what I wanted. I'm now feeling all the things I didn't feel the first time I went in, ie: OMG WHAT HAVE I DONE. I mean, I love it. But I'm also extremely aware that it will take yeeears to grow it out. So even if I didn't love it, I would decide to love it. But I do love it. So there.

Second, I went to this thing at Seattle University, a Jesuit college, called The Spirituality Book Fair. Or Festival? I forget. It was advertised in my church bulletin, but all I really saw in the ad was the name ANNE LAMOTT and obvs I had to be there.

I really had no idea what to expect. The schedule included dozens and dozens of authors speaking on dozens and dozens of topics. The one I really wanted to attend was called something like Pious Trash: Writing About Faith For A Secular Audience, but more than anything I wanted to see Anne Lamott give the keynote address. I've loved her nonfiction books (I haven't read her novels) and I thought she was hilarious and brilliant when I went to one of her readings last spring. She is also my High Priestess Of Writing Advice and I'm just really encouraged and inspired by the things she has to say about not just writing, but the kind of person a writer is. For example, being a highly strung neurotic person may actually help. WAHOO!

Anyway, my friend Beth went with me (HI BETH!) and it was just awesome. Awesome! Even though we only attended 1) the Anne Lamott keynote and 2) a session called Spiritual Intimacy, which Beth picked out by the way, and during which I pretty much wanted to die a thousand invisible deaths. We would have seen more, but we spent most of our day in a fabulous French cafe eating a weeks' worth of calories. Totally worth it.

So I didn't see as much as I wanted, but I enjoyed just being in the hall with the book tables. I just loved the VIBE. Not in the Spiritual Intimacy session, ha ha, but the whole event. It was jam packed full of people interested in the kinds of things I'm interested in. I am very fond of Middle-Aged Leftwing Activisty And Maybe A Little Bit Strident Christian Ladies, and their ranks were flush. There were Roman collars and yarmulkes and head coverings and tables heaped with books and bookish people milling about, drinking coffee, talking about The Search For Meaning. 

That was ostensibly the topic of Anne Lamott's speech, but she more or less rambled on for an hour (a wonderful hour), just sort of talking about the kind of people we are. You know, the people in that room. The people who are interested in talking about The Search For Meaning and why we are the way we are and the things we do to move forward. She often used writing as an analogy, which of course I lapped up like a wide-eyed puppy. "If you think writing is your calling, your spiritual calling, and you're not doing it right now, one day you'll be eighty years old and you'll wake up and be heartbroken." That was, ah, rather convicting. 

She talked about how no one wants you to be a writer. When you tell people you're going to write, no one says, "Oh good! Wonderful!" It's in no one's best interest, in the same way being a pilgrim, embarking on a search for a higher power in your life, is in no one's best interest. It's not going to make anyone's life easier. If you want to write, according to Anne Lamott, you must waste a lot of time, a lot of paper, and stare into space. Same thing with looking for God. One thing she said really hit me: if you live this way, you might not achieve all the things you want to achieve. Things like earning a lot of money, climbing corporate ladders, getting published, becoming famous in some way. Things that often require a singular focus you can't necessarily give. 

There was a way that she sort of befriended the audience, knew that we were her people. She talked a lot about her plight as an "overly sensitive" child and assumed a lot of us were as well. She talked to us like she knew who we were, and since I was already feeling the Vibe, you know, I felt clued in. In some ways I felt like she DID know me. I felt I was part of a group of survivors. People who were familiar with The Abyss, as AL put it, and for whom God was real and large and present. 

Afterwards I was trying to describe to Beth what I so admire in AL's words and manner of speaking, and then Beth said, "She is comfortable in her brokenness." And that is so TRUE. That is exactly what I latch onto. It's not about shocking you or preaching or impressing or competing, it's this sort of matter-of-fact there but for the grace of God go I

I've given a lot of thought to writing, and the kind of writing I want to do, this weekend, and while I haven't come up with any big thoughts or decisions or realizations, I do know that I want to write about brokenness. Not in sappy or judgmental or preachy or know-it-all or super intellectual or even well-written ways, but just matter-of-fact. That this is who I am, and I know it, and I am as comfortable as I can be in it, and I can see my Abyss, but I am a pilgrim too, and there but for the grace of God go I. 

APPARENTLY I should have posted this on the Catholic blog. WHATEVS! And all of it reminds me that I have to respond to a churchy email from a beloved reader... seriously, if YOU want to send me churchy emails I EAT THEM UP. Perhaps certain people are too busy earning money and going to school and meeting with professors on Sunday afternoons to spend much time Discussing The Meaning Of Life with me. ALAS. 

Oh and THEN we totally invited ourselves over to Liz and Bubba's place for football watching, which is hilarious because 1) I know next to nothing about football, neither do I care 2) my kids are always little pests at their house 3) it just ENCOURAGES my husband to sit on the couch and eat and ignore me and 4) their TEAM was in the GAME. So I had to actually ROOT FOR A TEAM, when what I really wanted to do was finish off Liz's freaking amazing dip while writing snippy letters to the NFL powers that be re: Hair Guidelines. I mean, what was coming out of some of those helmets?! Yuck! And let's not talk about that quarterback's beard. SHUDDER.

Where is Anne Lamott when you need a good pep talk?

Last year at this time I was zooming through what I hoped would turn out to be My First Novel. The goal was 50,000 words by November 30. I ended up somewhere around 70,000. I also wrote "The End" at what was actually the end. It felt pretty amazing. 

Of course it wasn't a GOOD novel, or even really a NOVEL, but it was a start and I was proud of it and I didn't hate it or get tired of it and I've been working on it all year long. I was halfway through the third draft sometime in mid-October when I decided: Oh God, this is terrible, this is a very bad idea. Confidential to my writing group: it was possibly a very bad time to start a writing group. 

It was, as many first novels probably are, a fictionalization of a personal experience. An extreme fictionalization, I hasten to add. It really WASN'T a memoir with different names, or even therapy disguised as a YA novel. But I started to think I wasn't cool enough, smart enough, edgy enough, brave enough, interesting enough to pull it off. And while my kernel of an idea was, I think, a decent premise for a YA novel, I didn't know how to put my characters at risk, or have them do things I didn't want them to do, or become unlikeable... and really that's just so ME, to not want to get in TROUBLE. 

And then you look at what's on the YA shelves and you think (if you are me): oh dear. I do not want nor do I have any business writing about Issues. Or vampires, for that matter. 

So it's not just my parenting I feel doubtful about lately. And I look at this heap of words in a word processing program I bought especially for The Novel, and I tell myself that it's not so bad, this is the most I've ever worked on one project, the longest I've stuck with something and gee I sure have learned a lot in the process. It's okay to move onto something else. Shouldn't I be writing middle grade stuff? That's more me. That's more my speed. Right? Maybe? I'll think of something else. Then I realize I can't think of something else. And if I do, I'll probably just do the same thing to the something else that I've done to this project: give up. 

Oh, what depressing drivel from someone who ate cookie dough for dinner!

I think, if I were able to peel away this ridiculous Generalized Crisis of Confidence I'm currently undergoing or whatever, that I would still like to work on this "novel". Because it's kind of fun, because it's an escape, because sometimes I think I pull a good line out of nowhere, because sometimes I think not everyone wants to read about Issues, maybe they just want to read about themselves. 

But right now I am tired and anxious. I get to talk to my husband once a week if I'm lucky. My kids are awesome, but one of them waits until an hour past bedtime to go poo and the other doesn't nap. I've stopped caring about what I eat (obvs) and I have rotting pumpkins on my stoop and I don't think I'm going to run tonight because it's almost nine and I'm beat and Molly is STILL singing to herself in her crib. I can't go hang out in the garage with earphones and the noisiest treadmill on earth if the baby monitor is continually flashing because Molly is on the eightieth verse of 'Wheels On The Bus'. 

Writing feels... like another thing I'm behind on. 

I loved NaNoWriMo because I HAD to pull it out. I HAD to keep going or ELSE. And sure, it was horrible and ridiculous and nonsensical, but I kept making things happen. That feels like the biggest difference for me right now: I feel completely out of things that happen. 

Oh you guys I have about ten million more things I could say about this writing thing, but I fear it would get REALLY out of control, you know, all philoSOPHical-like and no one wants that and only half of you are interested in writing-as-a-thing-you-do anyway and did I tell you I ate COOKIE DOUGH for dinner? That's something you can't wait to do when you're a grown up, but when you actually DO IT as a grown up it means someone should probably arrange the intervention. 

So maybe I will end this dreary little post with a note that Jack was much nicer to me today and I to him. God bless preschool and sisters who have the afternoon off and choose to spend it hanging out with you and your little monsters. God also bless the fabulous women who comment on my blog because SERIOUSLY, I really appreciated your not-advice-giving super-kind made-me-feel-so-much-better words. And my husband just instant messaged me tonight asking me (RHETORICALLY) if I might one day want to move to the city he is currently holed up in (RHETORICALLY) because he could see himself working for the company in this locale (RHETORICALLY) and you know how I'm always talking about how I am married to Seattle, they will have to crowbar my body off the Space Needle before I move? Well GOSH if I'm not sitting here thinking about moving (RHETORICALLY) to where Phillip is currently and what that could possibly be like. (RHETORICALLY). (OMG GO TO BED ALREADY.)

Giving up before I even start

This morning I woke up convinced I needed to write a middle grade fantasy novel set in some sort of medieval-ish boarding school with a very Jonathan Franzen Freedom-esque ending. You know why? Because I dreamed I was a CHARACTER in this novel and I was THAT impressed with my own dream. Like: Dude! This NYT Bestseller came out of my OWN DREAM! 

And then my next thought was: NaNoWriMo! Is coming up! Now I have an idea! WAHOO!

The problem (well, one of probably many problems) is that I wasn't going to do NaNoWriMo this year. I am supposed to be working on LAST YEAR'S NaNoWriMo project, for starters. And then I am BUSY. The Blathering eats up four entire days of November, which honestly is not enough days for Blatheringness but way too many days to skip NaNoWriMo. And Phillip goes on a week-long business trip right before Thanksgiving. And yet: MEDIEVAL BOARDING SCHOOL! Sigh. 

Okay, and I have to tell you that the only reason I know how Freedom ends is because I read two rather disdainful reviews of it yesterday (in the Atlantic and The New Republic) and GAH. I read The Corrections whenever it came out and I didn't finish it. I felt guilty, because everyone was talking about great it was, but for me the characters were extra super unlikeable and the whole story just depressed the heck out of me and no thank you. It's still sitting on my bookshelf in some attempt to make me look like I am With It, but now you know: I didn't finish it. 

So I have no intention of reading Freedom either, because I hear the characters are even LESS likeable this go around. But I felt guilty about it, because he was on the cover of TIME! And he is The Author Of Our Time! And then I read several GLOWING reviews, but I just couldn't do it. I don't like his people, I don't like his topics, maybe it's okay if I am NOT with it. I have, after all, confessed to the fact that Anastasia Krupnik is my favorite literary character of all time. Someone with those preferences is not likely to enjoy Jonathan Franzen. Yes? 

Then I read yesterday's reviews and WOW. I've decided I'm not going to write ANY book because there's this thing called REVIEWERS. 

But NaNoWriMo still sounds fun to me. I know I could go into it without any real idea (perhaps my medieval boarding school dream is not THAT fleshed out) and give up four days and struggle through a week on my own and just see! what! happens! But I am not into half assing things, people. I am a Gung Ho sort of person and the fact that I would have to be telling myself it's OKAY if I don't reach 50,000 words, it's OKAY because I have LIMITATIONS would probably drive me out of my mind. And you know, I'm already sort of at that point - why push it?!

Are you going to do it? And if you are my writing group, I owe you an email and a half. Which I will send. One of these days. Swearsies. 

And now Molly, who is sitting next to me in bed reading Peek-A-Who? and playing with her Miffy doll, is getting a touch demanding for breakfast. Harrumph. 

Career paths

In case you are playing along at home, today was better. 

I also finished what I thought was a WONDERFUL book: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, which won the Newbery this year. I only finished it today, so I haven't really dwelled on it, you know, SAVORED it, but I really liked it. So I emailed Elizabeth, as I do when I am proud of reading a book I'm sure she's already read and she was all, "Meh." Oh the disappointment! And then the full on Project Runway-esque terror re: do I have a TASTE problem? I mean, is Nina Garcia (in this case, Elizabeth) looking at my four- and five-starred books on Good Reads and going, "Maggie is a good READER but I'm not sure her TASTE LEVEL is where it should be." 

Why this kind of paranoia spurs me to write, I have no idea. But my kids slept freakishly long today and instead of doing any number of my SAHM duties, I sat at my kitchen table and hammered out a 27th version of The Beginning and while it's nothing fabulous, I don't think it's trite or contrived or THAT boring. Hopefully. But now I feel better. Sort of. I read something recently about writing pitfalls and one of them is evaluating and creating at the same time which: GUILTY! This is why NaNoWriMo was so awesome: I wasn't ALLOWED to evaluate! Word count was king. I kept going. I've never ever done that before. 

I've been doing too much of it recently too, but now that I have a beginning that doesn't feel... well, I guess CONTRIVED was my biggest worry. And possibly I should still be worried about it and I still think I could probably cut out the whole beginning and just begin with the next part and that would be okay too, but at least now I feel like I can go ON. I don't have to keep going back and feeling like this entire stupid story was built on NOTHING. 

Now just the MIDDLE is made of nothing. Note to my writing group: I'm afraid we may have to disband as I'm starting to think my story contains no plot and no conflict and I'll have nothing to submit whenever I finally get around to calling for submissions because I'll have wiped my hard drive clean with giant magnets. 

(Can you even do that? Phillip just read that part and put his head in his hands.) 

Speaking of computery stuff. I was in a... SITUATION yesterday where someone said something like, "People are finding out about our organization through our website!", like it was this completely novel idea and I pretty much wanted to find a gun and shoot myself. BECAUSE DUH! Right? I am so right. So obviously I complained about all of this to Phillip, about how if Organization just sucked it up and dove into the 21st century, we wouldn't be having some of the issues we seem to have and Phillip, because he is a nicer person than I am, basically told me I was being a brat. Or, rather, to suck it up because HE has to deal with that EVERY DAY. 

Which, okay, fine. BUT STILL. How can you be an Agent For Change when you are pretty sure you're going to have to wait an entire generation before change is made? I feel so POINTLESS! I mean, I don't know a lot, I'm far from some SEO blog-monetizing professional blogger real writer, but I still want to stand up and shriek, "IT TAKES FIVE MINUTES TO MAKE A FACEBOOK FAN PAGE FOR THE LOVE OF GRILLED CHEESE!"


Then we crossed into this whole OTHER conversation (my goodness, the places tonight's post is going!) about What I Would Be Doing If I Didn't Have Kids And Also Knew At 18 What I Know Now. Because while it is well established that I do not want to work for The Man and I am QUITE happy being the kept housewife working on her "novel", I finally did think of a Real Job I might like to do. I think I would really like being a web designer. At my old job I spent a lot of time learning Visual Basic-ish stuff to build databases, all of which I either taught myself or begged my husband to teach me via instant messenger at work. And I took an HTML/CSS class and I've done all my own blog redesigns and yeah, they're nothing fancy, but I totally know how to do this stuff and I can get pretty nerdy about all the coding and it makes my little anal-retentive wannabe-designer heart go pitter pat. 

Oh, except for the part where you have to work with clients. I probably wouldn't like that part.

HOWEVER. All the stuff I learned in that class four years ago is, uh, old. I don't know any scripting. I don't know HTML 5. I can still make a website from scratch with Dreamweaver, but it's a crappy one. And this totally feels like a thing that Passed Me By. Like, if I were younger and starting out and could go to school, or if I didn't have kids, or if I really wanted a Full Time Job and wanted to pursue a new career path. But I am none of those things and the next time I tinker with my blog I'll have to hire someone because I'm so tired of relearning everything, especially if I want to switch platforms... 

ANYWAY. Blah blah blah. Not important. Just stuff I think about... when I should be creating, not evaluating. 


The day lies ahead

We're headed to Phillip's parents' house today and I have big plans. Big! Plans! Mostly involving an Attitude Adjustment re: my posts over the weekend. There's an awesome new library near their house and I intend to take full advantage. If I can't write without having two sets of able and willing grandparents around, I'll never write anything. 

Speaking of, I keep entertaining this idea of Molly going to preschool. INSANE. But there's a twos program at the exact same time Jack is in school and I keep thinking: TWO HOURS TO MYSELF TWO HOURS TO MYSELF. And the library is steps away from the preschool! I could get so! much! shopping! writing! done! 

And then sometimes I think about next year, and if we are still near this preschool (which I love) and how they could BOTH go on Monday/Wednesday/Friday and suddenly my world busts out of it's crib-sized cage and WOW. One day my kids will be in school. ALL DAY. Whatever will I do with myself? 

Right now we can't exactly afford to put two kids in preschool (do you get preschool breaks? Buy one year, get the other year half off? Something like that?) and I make jokes about how we'll have to choose one kid to educate. And I am JOKING but also: dude. Preschool is not free. How are we ever going to swing Catholic school? IF we decide on Catholic school, which is a huge OTHER conversation. 

Thoughts for another day, I think. 

Today I am going to write and try not to hate everything that comes out of my brain. And then I am thinking about going to buy an immersion blender. I bought one last year during Fall Soup Season and it was a piece of junk. It never got anything smooth and the handle got so hot I couldn't even hold it. I'm thinking I should not buy the cheapest immersion blender this time. 

It looks like it's going to be a beautiful day, which means I should really spend some time outside and dismantle my aphid-infested, powdery-mildewed garden and figuring out what to do over the winter so that the weeds don't take over the entire yard. But I am going to be There not Here and what's yet another day of aphids and powdery mildew?

And I need to do other Administrative things, like figure out when we can get a babysitter this monthand who is going to watch the kids when I go to the Blathering and update the budget spreadsheet and obsess over Redfin and update Google calendar with all the minutiae of our days. And I enjoy doing those things - getting them all finished makes me feel accomplished in a way that doing all the dishes and making sure the kids are clean and fed doesn't. 

I guess this entire post is to say: thank God for grandparents. 


Oh you guys, you are so sweet. Except I feel terrible for misleading you - I realize now that it totally looks like I submitted something and was duly rejected except NO, I was (am) just feeling rejected without having submitted anything. Which, when you think about it, is even more pathetic. 

I spent about an hour and a half today sitting on my parents' couch staring in horror at what I wrote yesterday. The writing group is going to kick in here pretty soon and I'm trying to clean up, rewrite, reorganize (read: save SOME face) and it just wasn't working. For one thing, I've written the beginning about a hundred times and it's never right. And not just little writing, we're talking total reworking of scenes - setting, characters, the whole shebang - and IT'S STILL NOT RIGHT. So I decided to leave it and move on to my current scene and OH GOD has there ever been a "novel" so contrived? So dimwitted? So fake? So mortifying to its author? NOT THERE HAS NOT.

I honestly feel like I need to chuck the entire thing in the fireplace and start over. On a completely different story. I mean, right now I feel like I might rather die than upload the first chapter for my writing group to inspect. DIIIIIIIIE.

Possibly I feel this way because I was following links around online and found this INCREDIBLY snotty article about how Jonathan Franzen is so not All That although really, according to the author, NO author has been all that since the 19th century, Phillip Roth, John Updike, don't make him vomit. It was enough to make an aspiring author of mostly frothy YAF throw her angst-ridden self out the nearest window. That and the fact that my dad would so not want to read the book I am writing which makes me sad because my biggest hope in the world is to impress my dad and I know - I KNOW - he wouldn't make it five pages into MY book. 

But then I say to myself: Self? Your dad will just be impressed that you WROTE a book. 

Which brings me to the comic strip, which I found in someone's desk calendar when I was in high school. I ripped it out and it's been pinned to various bulletin boards and walls and mirrors ever since. I think it's hilarious. It also reminds me that one day I want someone to be afraid that I might have licked the stamps. Because that means I'll have at least finished something and had the guts to submit it. 

It hasn't happened yet, but that's the goal. 

I will shake off today. I'll write a hundred-and-first beginning and maybe that one will stick. I will keep writing, even though my story is beginning to feel so large and disorganized. (AND LAME!) I have so many scenes and ideas that aren't yet written and I'm not sure where they go and the not knowing is paralyzing. But I will keep writing, because I've kept writing this far and it seems silly to stop now. And, like I told my dad this afternoon, I think maybe I just have to get this one out of my system so I can move on to the next. Which I'll undoubtedly get right on the very first try. 

In the meantime, I so appreciate your comments. I think you're pretty too. 


Oh goody, another week is starting

Well, it's always uncomfortable when one of your real life besties calls you because she read on the blog that you aren't doing well. I mean, normally I'm the Champion of Blogging and all that, but such a circumstance really does put a socially awkward lonely-girl-in-her-underwear-in-the-dark-with-her-laptop spin on things. Especially when you tell your friend, "Oh, I just write it out and then I feel much better! The end! Or at least until we go out for a restorative cocktail because I haven't seen you in weeks AND I NEED HUMAN INTERACTION." 


How was YOUR weekend? Mine was weird. As I briefly alluded last week I got all bee in my bonnety about a house - new construction in our price range, we must be dreaming. So we drove down there on Saturday, but not before I googled the everloving you know what out of the house, the builder, the area, the amenities. I did my homework, people. And by the time I finished I was convinced that if only the house was the right kind of house, we would be breaking our lease and moving. 

Well, I TOLD myself that that was ridiculous, do not get emotionally invested, you are so bad at these things, YOU KNOW YOU ARE GETTING YOURSELF INTO TROUBLE. So it was probably a good thing that it was not the right kind of house. It was a pretty house, brand new, and prewired for surround sound so that I would never have to argue with Phillip about exposed speaker wire again in my life, but... no. These houses were SO squished together. There was no yard whatsoever. And yes, one of them looked out on a huge park with a huge playground, but even then, NO YARD. Barely enough patio for a tiny table. 

There were other Slightly Wrong things about the house and the neighborhood, so I drove home not so much disappointed as annoyed with myself for wasting so much time. Everyone I've talked to about this says that I'm not wasting time, I'm just doing research so I'll be super informed when we do find The Right House, but whatever. My "research" always comes with a huge helping of "neuroses". ANNOYING. 

Then YESTERDAY we went back to the exact same area and looked at another house, only this one was about three hundred years old. I have to say, if we were the types who liked to flip or work on houses, this one would have been awesome. It was GRAND, you know? But no, we are not those types. AT ALL.

Blah blah blah new house SNORE.

It also just occurred to me that Molly turns two on Wednesday. Her kid party is Tuesday, her family party is on Saturday. That's TWO PARTIES. I am a big fan of party-throwing, but 1) it's going to rain on Kid Party Day and 2) this house has nowhere to eat. We crammed our table into the kitchen and it works for just our family (or two kids visiting for a playdate) but other than that it's a little... tight. I've already warned a few partygoers that I plan to put newspaper down in the playroom, maybe a tarp? I'll put out the pan of mac and cheese, hand out spoons, lock the door and then go upstairs to drink mimosas with the mothers. I THINK this will work. I THINK it could be an excellent way to spend a morning. I THINK.

IN OTHER NEWS. When you start a writing group? You sort of have to WRITE STUFF. And if you are in CHARGE of said writing group and you tell everyone the assignment is due Friday, it looks really bad if you don't turn it in until very late Sunday night. I'm just saying that maybe this wasn't such a great idea. 

Oh, and remember when I bought Molly underpants? It appears that underpants signaled the end of Potty Training Interest. I am trying to care.