I Am Not a Poet

I am not a poet.

I read in choppy snippets when my circus lets me. I don’t do justice to heavy, important books when I can’t dive into them, so the drug-store romance novellas are my escape when I have time. It isn’t Dostoevsky, or Atwood, but it is words. On a page Kindle.

Lately, as “busy-and-tired” becomes my perpetual state, I’ve gravitated further towards what I can digest in micro-bites. Poetry fits into the nooks and crannies of time I have before demands of the rest of my life take over. I sit down in the chair the poem makes for me, and live in its world for a moment, relishing the swirls and patterns the words dig out of my imagination.

Heady, but brief.

Sometimes I’ll try my hand at writing a poem. A phrase or a word will come to me and I write it down hastily in my journal, often times so scribbled I need a personal Rosetta Stone to decipher it.

This is not helped by bumpy bus rides.

I call them “Navel Lint”. They sound like first world problems met a TV drama and moped about in the rain with cold tea and no jacket. My untrained mind just barfs up a bunch of ^%&* where most properly blooded writers would utter rude noises and promptly toss it on the pyre.

Poems are supposed to whack you over the head with significance in carefully crafted, sparse verses. My prolific word count makes them seem more like a barrage of superficial feelings and profound epiphanies mashed together and thrown at the wall to see if it sticks.

It doesn’t.

I first tried my hand at poetry when I was in primary school. I was challenged to write about something other than horses for a writing assignment. “You need to expand your world!” my teacher said. I was quite happy in my green-grass-and-tweed fenced paddock. I didn’t want to delve outside it. But when I was told that I would fail if I handed in one more story about a horse, I capitulated, the fear of a bad grade potent.

So I wrote poems about darkness, death, unhappiness, and the general horribleness of life as a tween. Navel Lint, but in a vengeful sense, as I wanted to write the most terrible poems ever. Maybe if they were horrible enough, I could go back to writing about horses. Clearly it was all I was good at, because who wants to read poems about death?

I received an A+, and a note home to my parents about therapy.

I’ve long since lost the poems I wrote those 30-some-odd years ago. They have faded from memory, the ideology of that young girl replaced by the real world. The act is remembered, but the words slip from me. I would love to remember them, if for nothing more than posterity.

To laugh at the stilted, spiky, aggressive verses needling shouts of protest at a teacher who – in her brilliance – pushed me out of my comfort zone. And I went, not looking back, the line in the sand erased by the tidal wave I rode when I realized I could write about anything, in any way I wanted.

So in that moment;

wearing red duck boots,
covered in horse smell,

my mind switching gears like a wobbly bicycle,
held upright by a tooth-marked pencil in grubby chore-stained hands;

I was a poet.

 

Writing

I am writing. It may be terrible stuff, not fit for public consumption, but it is on the page. That is the start, it can be improved from there. Rewriting IS writing. The first draft of anything is *^&%. Write drunk; Edit sober.

You get the point.

To shake the cobwebs out last year, I started a Wattpad for tiny story slivers I get. the ones that I don’t think would flesh into books, but deserve to have some space because I like where they go. It is sporadic, but it is there. I also wanted to test the platform on the encouragement of a woman I met at an Ottawa Romance Writers Association get together, and gave a lift home to.

I’ve been too shy to go back to ORWA, and feel silly for it, but I did take her advice and looked it up.

You can find my small selection here:

First, Finallys, and Forevers

This is what I want to write, and the past year has shown me I enjoy romance the most as I experiment. I love the happily ever after. I love the emotion, the rush of new love, lust, arousal. I enjoy the creation of a story line that can be bonkers, yet feel believable when two people are meant for each other.

So if you would like to, have a read. I’m hoping I can add more to it in the coming days. ♥

Base Zero and Metaphors

Holy *%^$balls, life went Kersplody.

Messy, happy, snotty, sick stuff everywhere. I’m still mopping up, and I am still deciding how to get through December without going bat@#$* crazy. The holidays are upon us. I have so far been able to avoid doing any cookie baking, and have done most of my shopping online. I have begun the Great House Purganization 2013, with some success. Now… If only the dust bunnies would move out (and take those darned Cheerio elves with them) and the Laundry Gods would continue to favour me, I could tackle the massive pile of baby stuff to sell, sort the toys currently lurking in the basement, and get that stain off the basement stairs carpet… We’d be almost back to base zero. Hoo! Think of the free time! Hah… Right.

I have ventured into a store or two for gift shopping, but at off-peak because I hate Christmas crowds. Also? I have no idea what to get my husband, so I am left wandering a lot, not inspired. Not a clue, honestly. And Dad? What do you want for Christmas this year? My creative batteries are on low, so let me know what would make you a happy Grandpa, and the kids and I will go get it.

We’ve also decided not to have a Christmas Open House this year. This will be the first year, since 2008, that we haven’t had one. We looked at cash, and time, and the fact that we are so stretched energy-wise that we’d be nuts to try and get the house company-clean and cook for that many people while maintaining the work/ home life schedule we have. I have to say I am completely relieved, but also sad. We love having people over, it is a chance to see as many of our friends as possible around Christmas, and provide some cheer. Plus, having 40 some odd people (17 of them kids in your basement watching TV) is quite an experience in a three-bedroom bungalow.

That said, friends are always welcome to give us a call, or come over for tea on the weekend. Just don’t mind the crumbs, constant noise, and bedlam, ok?

The past couple of weeks, truly, has been really great and really awful all at once. I have done a couple of runs, and they were awesome. I have been in the gym kicking butt. Also awesome. Missed a kick-butt Tupperware party. Not awesome.

The worst was that my wonderful, beautiful, never-replaceable Mustang Blue Running Room Run Jacket is gone/stolen (I think, since it is nowhere to be found and I was certain where I had left it). The realization, when it hit, made me break down sobbing. It was passed to me from a really awesome and inspiring friend, Ally (http://runningawaywithmyself.blogspot.ca/) and I am really at an emotional loss because that gift meant so very much to me.  I loved that jacket, it fit perfectly, and was a comfort on every run. I have to replace it, but I have to afford new running shoes too. *^&%. I am still looking for it, checking the lost and found at work periodically, but… Hope is fading.

Curse you, whomever took it out of the locker room at work, if that is what happened. CURSES UPON YOUR BLACKENED SOUL! *ahem*

Finally surfacing after my stomach flu is great, but with the massive green and red twinkling freight train of Christmas approaching, I want to dive back down. Let’s not talk about piles of snow, holes in my winter boots, tense school meetings about my son, my lack of gym visits in the past few days, or the entire family having colds all at once. I sound whiny. I’m not, really. Just tired. Really, really tired.

I think it is time to start Vitamin D and iron again. Blargh.

Finally, along with being bedridden and achy for the past few days, I’ve been thinking in metaphors, and I wrote some down in my flu-like haze. After re-reading them, I wanted to share some of them with y’all. I kind of liked them. Note, I am not sad. Ok, some of these may sound sad, or depressing, but they aren’t. Just snippets, ideas. Playing with the ideas. See after the More. ♥

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Creative Me

I’m in a funny mood this morning. Not sure if it is funny ha-ha, or funny-strange. And yes, that distinction does exist in my world. Pipe down over there, you. *stink eye*

For some reason, the alarm did not go off, and the first thing I was greeted with upon waking up was Grumpy Husband, sweaty and stinky from his morning sojourn to WOD-land (Crossfit, yo!) saying “get up!”.

&^%*. Great way to start off a Monday *grump*.

I was having the most luxuriously indulgent dream, and was ripped unceremoniously out of it by the needs of my family and the requirement to get my *&^ moving for work. *^(&. Buzzkill.

I used to, when allowed to wake up slowly, remember the dreams I had, and  wrote them down as book ideas or simply to remember them since they were so lovely. If I was ripped away from that, they dissipated into the air like mist on a humid summer morning. I liked to sometimes pull on dream memories throughout the day to calm, recenter, and build on them.

Sometimes they just had to stay in the recesses of my mind because I shouldn’t keep them, really, or I had to forget them to prevent hot flashes all day while I was supposed to be concentrating on the real world. (TMI? too bad.)

I haven’t remembered a dream in a long, long time. Since getting married, having kids, and generally having a lot less of my cycles to devote to this… Well, my dream remembering has gotten dusty. Heck, my writing has gotten dusty. I still do write, but when was the last time I actually finished something, or fleshed an idea out to the point where I could actually *write* it?

Yeah. Once I had my daughter, I relegated my idea of being a published writer to the back shelf. What time? What energy to be creative and emotional while living through people that only existed in my head?

HAH!

But…  Here is the thing (idea/debate/ridiculous hypothesis)…

My dreams give me surges of creativity, and I miss that. I want to write them down because I want to get it out of me onto “paper”, see it manifested, so that I can believe in their artistic merit. Is this a good idea? Is this something I would want to read in a book, or is it just my brain driveling out random awesomeness from the day just past? You can take that debate all the way to some deep, inner-workings melodrama, but sometimes your brain is just dumping the crap, not the world giving you plot bunnies. No need to over analyze that dream where you were flying on a mechanical pig into the Andes to find a McDonalds. Right… Best not to touch that one.

At all.

But sometimes, I did get gems. Dreams that were so vivid and beautiful that when I did sketch them out, and think back on the details, I received a sense of elation that I remembered them. That I could draw upon this creative moment for energy. It gave me a purpose other than the rat race compulsion to pick a career path that made money and paid the bills.

Creativity gives me energy, and I need to remember this. So the funny mood I am in today, where I can’t seem to sit still, and am sketching out the dream I still remember, even with the abrupt wake up…

Maybe it isn’t a funny feeling at all. Maybe this is me finding a little piece of the old me. I have been thinking a lot about that lately. Trying to find something to grasp onto. The creative me, the writer me. maybe that’s the ticket?

I have no idea. I could just need more coffee, or a good slap upside the head. It could be the recent spat of character-driven television shows I have been binge-watching making me miss my care-free 20’s. It could be the crispness of Fall making me look inward to cocoon from the impending winter snow. or maybe I just really need to get back to running…

But I’ll take it… And I hope it stays.

*As for the sexy reference GIF, you’re welcome. *grin*

Repost: Morning Bus

In honour of my first bus ride to work in quite a while, I shall repost an entry I wrote on August 19, 2009.I rather liked it, at the time.

https://mustangsabby.wordpress.com/2009/08/19/fresh-carrots-and-berries/ is the permalink. Enjoy!

Fresh Carrots and Berries

She got on the bus this morning smiling, and stood for the twenty minute ride downtown, balancing awkwardly with each jerk forward and back. People stared into space, slept precariously in too small seats, or had the world blocked out by white headphones and music loud enough to deafen. She watched people with dark circles under their eyes, funny twitches, and frowning apathy studiously avoid interaction with one another.

No one was smiling. The sun was shining, the river beside the road was sparkling, and everywhere outside the bus people jogged, bicycled, and walked with summer fervor.

She stopped smiling.

She got off the bus amid choking exhaust, swirling people, and noisy engines. She walked through a mall full of things to buy, past evocative ads for items she would never want, and never need. She tripped on a homeless man, stubbed her toe on a sawed off street sign post, and dodged, just in time, a delivery truck pulling up to a store front. She was vibrating from the chaos around her, her urge to scream and run almost overtaking her.

The saving grace was the smell of fresh carrots and berries from a market stand, and she stopped to bask in the freshness for a moment, forgetting the concrete and garbage surrounding her. She wanted to unzip her skin right then, and walk through the reality portal, straight into the field with tilled earth and neat rows of produce, begging to be picked.

Never more than this moment did she want to go back to where she came from. To come home each night to a front porch light with moths beating themselves helplessly against the searing heat of the exposed bulb. To hear crickets outside her window in the evening, and be able to see the stars when she looks up on a cloudless night. To open her door and feel fresh, clean air on her face, and walk with fingers touching grass and flowers and wonderful growing things no matter which way she faced.

She could imagine the nicker of horses at the gate in the morning, the cluck of chickens pecking pebbles in the heat, the bleating of sheep following one another to nowhere, the soft lowing of cattle as they head to the watering hole, tails swishing flies uselessly. The buzz of bees in the flowers and apple blossoms, and the chirping of small birds in the lofty maple trees.

But reality is where she has her foot placed now, firmly on a marble curb, awaiting the change of a light to walk across. The dream of her past, and hopeful future dissipating with the blare of a stereo, and the distant whine of a siren. Funnily enough, even with the juxtaposition of where she was to where she wanted to be, she was smiling again.

Because, In her hand, was a paper bag with fresh carrots and berries.

 

Work/Life Lessons

This morning, with all the snow, I was late for work. As I rushed into my cubicle, I slowed down, reminding myself that it was ok. My boss was fine with it. It was ok if I took work home tonight. It was ok, as long as my work gets done.

Then, as I sit here doing my morning writing exercises (prompt: Write about a time you were hated and you didn’t know why), I was reminded of a job where my stress level was not what it should have been, and was, in retrospect, damaging me without me realizing it. I have permanent health issues today that can be squarely related to the stress I experienced there.

Before I go further, let me state: I don’t regret working there at all and overall loved what I did. I had good friends there, some of whom I still keep in touch with. I don’t want anyone to think “X was a horrible company!”. Not at all. Awesome place to work, yo. Awesome. But, for me, not all was rosy for some time. Not because of the company, but because of one person.

I feel I am being brave posting this. I’ve never really detailed this story before (even to co-workers while I was there), and I do not intend to make anyone upset or point any fingers. It was a long time ago now, before I was married or had kids. I am making no direct references to the company or the people. So those of you, who know my history, please refrain from making direct references if you wish to comment.

I had a co-worker at a job hate me from the moment I started working there (for reasons I never found out, or no one would tell me…). She went out of her way to lie to my boss about my work habits, which was detailed to me after the fact, once she was gone. I was snubbed when I brought her a Christmas gift (I brought gifts for the whole team) and she refused to work directly with me. I would sit in my car at lunch and cry after she would ignore my “Good morning!” or brush past me in the hall, knocking my shoulder, spilling my coffee. Once, she saw me come into the break room, picked up the coffee pot, and dumped the fresh-made coffee into the sink, glaring right at me, the steam curling up over her hands as she poured. I just made a new pot, not even reacting as she stormed off with the used filter in her hands. When I got back to my desk, I found wet coffee grounds all over my chair.

Mature, right?

I tried very hard never to react to her escalating behaviour in public. I would only ever lose it in private, in the bathrooms, or in my car, at home. But it was hard. I had no idea why she didn’t like me. I went out of my way to be nice to her, be cheerful, helpful and professional. I once asked her, point blank, what I had done to upset her, and she just stared at me and then turned her back. Privately quizzing co-workers got me nowhere either. It was like no one saw it but me. At one point I thought I was imagining the whole thing, my super-sensitivity to being not liked coming into play. But then I heard her talking in the bathroom on her cell phone one day, and she said “That short %&$#* who just started, I ‘m going to make her quit if its the last thing I do.” . I froze in the washroom, afraid to even breathe, and afterwards sat there, feet drawn up on the toilet seat, hugging my knees, crying and contemplating doing just that. Quitting.

I didn’t, and I have never told ANYONE about what I heard that day No one. Not even the company’s HR, my manager at the time, or my co-workers.

I would get so tense at work that I was losing my appetite, the beginnings of stress-induced depression setting in. I couldn’t concentrate, was shaking all the time, and dreaded being even a minute late – for fear it would get me in trouble – because she would assuredly report it. I was more upset that she didn’t like me, than the fact I was being overtly and aggressively bullied at work. I took to locking my computer at all times if I stepped away from my desk (even to the printer a cubicle over), once catching her on my network folder deleting important files (She said she needed a pen and knew I would have one in my desk). Worse, it was being allowed by my manager. (Even though I reported the bullying, it was never addressed, and I was indirectly told I was the problem. I went to HR, they contacted my manager, he again told me to stop stirring the pot.) When she left for greener pastures, it was immediate and immense relief, the physical effects of her departure noticeable by others, some even commenting on it. Immediately my work-life improved, and folks who were afraid to be my friend at work came forward and said it was because of her they stayed away, or were told I was a raving &*$#^.

Good times, good times.

I used to ask myself why I stayed, why I put up with it. But, I needed that job, and had to make the best of it. I look back on that now and will never, ever forget what I told my (now) husband as I sat in his bedroom that afternoon, after my last day there.

“I will never, ever let a job ruin my health again, no matter how much I get paid, how many good friends I have, or how much I love the company.”

And I have stuck to that.

I will never know why she didn’t like me, or chose me as a target for her seemingly ridiculous and immature actions. I don’t do bullying; I was bullied in school, and abhor it. I would never outright be mean to someone. Not my style. Never has been. So if I did do something to upset her… *shrug* completely unaware of it.

But… It doesn’t really matter now. I learned a lot from it about myself, and about being productive and professional in a workplace with someone like that. It has changed how I interact with people I work with, for the better, I think. It has changed how I view work/life balance, and I treat that part of my career with a higher priority now. I also stand up for myself now, and do not let workplace bullying happen. I push back.

So to that co-worker who hated me for some unknown reason? Thank you for the Hell, and the life lessons. It made me better.

The Table

I have not posted any fiction on my site for quite some time, I find that working with words for a living means my creative writing takes a beating. For those who haven’t read that far back in my archives, I have several WIPs that I have posted up over the past couple of years.

I like to write.

This blog was started way back when with the intention of sharing my writing and random thoughts, and kind of turned into my running and life blog this year. Today I thought I would share a short bit I wrote recently for a writing exercise, after seeing a table with pretty designs in it. It’s not done, but I wanted to get it down before I forgot it, and once I cleaned it up, I rather liked it.

Enjoy.

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Taking Care

Katie Squires, of Fit Mom in Barrhaven, on her Facebook feed, asked us today “How do you take care of yourself?”. She found the question via Elisa Blaha, who’s crafting/fitness/life blog is quite a lot of fun.

I was riding in the car on the way to work with husband, and I looked out the window and thought on that, being super quiet. Normally if I am quiet, my nose is stuck to my iPhone. I closed it to think more clearly. Yeah… I was also processing the fact that I got four hours of sleep in a row. Oooh baby… SLEEP! Gimme some more… Please?

*ahem*

Anywho, my thoughts were this: Have I ever quantified how I take care of myself? I know there are lots of things I do, but me, the list-maker Queen, has yet to write it all down and make sense of it. I wondered, briefly, if it might be overanalyzing something that is instinctive and simple.

I came to the conclusion it might be a great exercise in understanding where I am, and what I need to do better for myself in order to be a better mom to my children, a better wife to my husband, and a more motivated employee at my job. A check-in, so to speak, and perhaps some validation that I am on the right track with my new lifestyle. It also commits it to more than just in my head, and makes me accountable to make sure I do these things.

That’s heavy stuff, man.

So here it goes, my list (You know this was happening, y’all) of how I take care of myself. It may be a scratch-the-surface kind of list, but I think the point is to understand the activity, and let it send your brain off to think of the why’s. If you can understand the why, and it jives with your idea of happy mojo-makin’ funtimes, then it works! If you can’t understand why you do something for yourself, or realize that you do it but it doesn’t help much, or you hate it…. Well, then guess what? STOP!

  1. I exercise – I run, I am starting to do exercise classes, and plan on adding a gym routine come winter. It makes me better physically, mentally, and emotionally. ‘Nuff said, eh?
  2. I write – This blog, my creative dribblings, my career. I paint with words. It helps me express myself, something I do not always do well verbally.
  3. I take “Introvert time” – I spend short periods alone to do timesuck things like play games on my iPad, surf the Internet, read, research things I want to know more about. That time alone “playing” recharges me, makes me more patient, loving, and emotionally available to my family.
  4. I shop for myself – Online, window, or even in stores. I try not to spend too much (or nothing at all!), but that retail therapy is sometimes just the thing I need to rejuvenate my spirit. It helps me to remember the “things” I like that identify “ME”. It makes me more relaxed and re-centres my creativity. (Pinterest is very useful for this)
  5. I make lists – Yup, I do (Uhh yeah… Look, a list with an item about making lists! I am officially OCD about lists…). I organize things so that I feel less anxious about whatever it is we are about to do. If I feel stressed about situations/trips/chores/upcoming events, I make a list, and suddenly I am able to tackle the challenge. Making lists takes care of my own need for organization.
  6. I sleep – This one drives my husband nuts, because I ask him to be the parent on weekends for short stretches so I can sleep more. I think he feels it is wasteful of our family time. Since having my first child in 2008, I have been sleep deprived, and when I am tired, I hit a “wall” and my energy goes to nothing. I will never regain that sleep, I realize this. Napping helps me feel refreshed, and I am a much happier, cheerful person afterwards.

I can add to this list infinitely, but it is supposed to be a current snapshot, so those are the biggies for me right now. Six months from now, it will be different. That is also key. Taking care of yourself is a fluid thing, and must change as your life changes. Stick to the core principles like exercise and healthy living, but hey, maybe in six months I won’t need to nap so much?

Riiiight.

So what is your list? Jot one down, blog it, commit it to something (A napkin, your Notes app on your phone? Crayon on the back of an empty cereal box?). Be positive, don’t focus on the things you don’t do (but want to) or the things you shouldn’t do. Make your “things” affirming, motivating, and encouraging.

Something we all do is forget to take care of ourselves. Let this be an exercise in doing so. It has helped me!

Rainbow Socks for Skinny Feet

Of all the weird shrinky things going on in my body as I journey towards fit-dom, the weirdest is that my shoes are now too big.

Yes, my shoes.

Apparently my feet were fat.

This means I must be resized for running shoes when mine give up the ghost. I am in 9’s right now (I am a midget with snowshoes for feet, yes, I know), and the heel is a little loose. I compensate with a new lacing pattern that the cool people at Running Room showed me, but I also have to wear really ugly man-socks when I run to prevent the agony of a blister.

I want rainbow socks with a wee pom-pom on the back. Those are totally awesome. And girly. But mostly awesome. Where does one procure rainbow pom-pom socks? (Hint: These would be a lovely Mother’s Day gift). I remember as a kid I had rainbow toe socks. I wore them until they fell apart. Those would be fun too. Would they suck to run in though?

Maybe I’ll have to hunt down a pair and try.

I suppose it is normal for feet to lose inches along with the rest of the body when you start to fit up, but I’ve never had such a phenomenon happen before, unless you count my feet impersonating balloons after I had my babies.

That was fun… Not.

Maybe, if my feet lose enough weight, they will be able to slip into a pair of sexy black field boots, and confidently step into stirrups when I get back on a horse! Or perhaps even some slinky black flats. That would be lovely. The possibilities are endless!

The only problem with my feet’s new size? I need a pedicure. Pronto.

This is Not a Cupcake

I bought my first running accessory on the weekend.

Well, my first other than shoes and a new Wal-mart bought sports bra that is all kinds of awesome. Seriously, Wonderbra, I was dubious, but the girls did not jiggle, even a little! I love you, new sports bra. My husband? Not so much. He was crestfallen that there was no jiggle. He’s weird. I would be grumpy if there was jiggle, and he hates it when I am grumpy.

*ahem* Where was I? Oh yes. Behold, the reward for completing ten runs! My new SPI Belt!

20120423-111324.jpg

At first, when I ordered it off the website, I thought “Why do I need this? I can just use x instead of spending the cash”, but then I told myself to (wo)man up and buy it because I have ten runs completed, I deserve it, and it is better than wolfing down a cupcake to celebrate my achievement (which was motis operandi up until now).

It was considerably more expensive than a cupcake, but who’s counting here?

Not me.

Henceforth, I do not have to have flapping work ID and keys in my sweatshirt pocket when I run. The thought of being able to go out without so many layers (read: sweatshirt) that has pockets simply to keep all the required items on my person is very exciting! No more overly-heated-fat-girl-running-in-a-hoodie! No more layers that bunch around my middle! No! More! Dropped! Crap!

This likely makes me happier than it should, but it is the small things, ya know?

Now if only it would stop snowing today, I could go out and use it. *glares out window*

A Busy Blogger Gathers No Posts?

Good thing I’m not a stone, otherwise I’d be gathering no moss while I was rolling through it (yuck, slugs and bugs and wet, slimy stuff). I suppose a better title would be “Where the [bleep] Have I Been?”

I have not posted in quite some time. My apologies. Not going to beat myself up about it.

I’ve been kind of busy.

But, on a positive note, I’m averaging 500 words a day on my current WIPs, so I am kicking A$$ with available time versus words written. At this rate, I may actually finish something in a few years (har). The worst part is deciding which WIP to work on each day for that coveted half hour I allow myself. I have several, which may be a stupid endeavour, but its kind of how my scatterbrain works. Just can’t confuse them, or whoever gets to edit these might become very vexed with me.

However… The point of today wasn’t to get into anything specific. I wanted to send a shout out and link up to a friend’s new blog. Check out OttawaMichelle. She’s a new blogger in the Ottawa area. Go give her some love.

While you’re at it, think up a name for a greasy spoon diner breakfast special. I’m working on a diner scene in one WIP, and need something fun to name a plate of eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, and hashbrowns with a pancake. My overtired brain can’t come up with anything good right now, hence why I am here, and not (figuratively) at the diner writing my scene. The name of the diner is Dracon Plates.(sharp A, hard c, “dray-con”, not dray-son or drah-con).

Ya’ll gotta help me!

Where I’ve Been – Part 11

When it rains it pours. Got an inspiration to do some writing when I c ouldn’t sleep this weekend. As usual, no idea where this story is going, just puttin’ it out there. Decided to leave my blog the way it is for awhile, see what happens. Tired of “running” to maintain my privacy. I can choose to look past the shenanigans.

Enjoy the visit with Barley and Nessa.

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Micro-Story – “Parting”

A random, yet vivid dream I had a few nights ago has spilled out onto the page. The emotions were so strong I lifted myself out of bed and wrote it, then sat on it  until now, wondering where on earth it came from.

I have no idea who the characters are other than what they do, where the story is, and what will happen. Consider it a short glimpse, or a micro-story.

Enjoy.

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Privacy

I am contemplating yet again the need to take a blog private. Yet again, my family’s privacy, and our peace is in jeopardy. Once again, I am forced with the decision based on the actions of another person not respecting that privacy, not respecting my wishes.

I want to be a writer, talk about what I want, enjoy sharing, and be part of this online world.  I may not have a lot of time to blog anymore, but it is still there. I want to talk about my fears and my triumphs, I want to share my fiction writing. I want to be able to share without worry that something I say will be fodder for someone else to use against me, no matter how anonymous and ho-hum it may be.

I was trying to share as generically as possible, without using real names or other personally identifying details, but unfortunately, upon yon Google search, I was listed on a website where personal information was divulged alongside the blog URL. That has since been fixed, which makes me sad, since traffic to my blog came from this source, not all of it bad. My fault for not being dilligent enough,  I suppose, and I should not be surprised. The Internet is like a pasta strainer, full of holes you can see right through.

I don’t want to lock this blog down. I don’t want to put it away from eyes that might see it, enjoy its writing.  But if I leave it out here for all of you, I will have to deal with the consequences that this person will not leave me alone, and may try to use the information held within to cause trouble.

I am frustrated, and unsure of what to do. I could say “screw it!” and let it be, or I can add the layers of privacy necessary, hoping some people might ask to be added as trusted users. I can also start anew somewhere else again, under a new name that is completely unlike any of my old Nom de Plumes. I don’t want to do that either. I like where I am now!

I do know, even through all of this, that I can’t stop writing. That isn’t an option.

Writer-Angst at its Best

How do you get past writing criticism? How do you get past the “This blows” critique on something you have worked really hard on? How do you not cry when the red ink bleeds off the page of a piece you poured your emotion and heart into, and feel it is an example of writing you are proud of?

In my professional writing career, I hand a user manual over, and I am at the mercy of the user. Whether the document I have sweated over will be usable and effective, whether it is laid out properly, that sort of thing.

I know it is correct, because it went through eleventy-billion edits to ensure it. But what will the user think? With so many different types of users, not all are going to do a dance of joy and hug it to their chest. Some will come back with comments such as “too long” or “too simple” or “Where are the redundant and detailed technical appendices that give me a sense of ethos even though I can’t understand the diddley?”.

This type of criticism I am ok with. I smile, nod, take notes, and sometimes incorporate, sometimes not.  I forge ahead without a blink or trod-upon pride. I had my orders on the manual I was to create, I created it, and it was approved. Done. End of story.

But switch me over to my fictional-writing self, and I am a mess.

I recently put a piece of writing out, on a whim, to a website, and they posted it. I eagerly went to the site that day, wanting to know what people thought, anxious to get the feedback. I knew there may be some negative criticism, and given the happy-go-lucky nature in my professional writing, I was not expecting to find it completely gut-wrenching and defeating.

But it was.

There were comments of “this is rubbish” and comments of “This person should stop writing”. There were detailed descriptions of every litte thing that I got wrong historical-wise, and someone even went so far as to criticize my Canadian spelling! In the end, it was not the constructive experience I had hoped. The voraciousness and free-rein of the Internet bowled me over. Something I should understand, being part of this online world for over a decade now. Putting your stuff out on the Internet for comment means you may get burned, like trying to make new friends with the popular girl in the schoolyard. But it still hurt to know that people thought I sucked.

I haven’t been able to write a word since. I can’t even go back to the website to see if more comments were posted, maybe some positive. Those first few sword-jabs were enough.

So I ask for advice! Give me some coping mechanisms to pick up my socks and keep going, break through the feeling that I can’t do this goal I have set for myself.

I’m feelin’ needy.

The Perfect Pumpkins

The perfect pumpkins would be on our front porch. Round, deep orange, corrugated evenly, and ready for carving. Decorating to complement the Fall mums blooming madly in terracotta pots, sentries at our doorway.

Those pumpkins would be the ones we bought on Wednesday. The ones we picked out at a local pumpkin patch, excited to have four gorgeous, large pumpkins for our son to enjoy, on this his third Haloween, but the first one where he is understanding what is going on. The first one where he can walk to the door, dressed in his costume, with his tiny candy bucket to say “Trick or Treat!”

Those would be the pumpkins that, upon arriving home from work yesterday, were no longer on our front porch.

Gone.

Stolen.

Likely on someone else’s step, or smashed in a parking lot for fun. Likely being used by the thief, who did not notice the red wagon in the front yard, or the tricycle, or the realization that perhaps the pumpkins they were taking were a family’s, a two-year-old boy’s pumpkins. Ready for funny faces and carvings. Ready to bring joy to a child and his parents.

Its not about the money or the value of the items, its about the violation of our family, and about the idea that someone would be as callous as to steal from a child, right off of someone’s front step, in the middle of the day. Its about the fact that in the three years we have lived in this neighbourhood, we have never felt unsafe, never worried about leaving our son’s toys out, or decorating the front step for holidays. We never thought that things would be taken.

We aren’t upset to be out the $12. We can replace the pumpkins, despite their perfection. But when I saw our bare front step, I was ready to rip someone’s head off, rampage in my wounded mama-bear armour, and find the punks that took them to give them what for. Not because I wanted the pumpkins, but because they were for my son. I was angry for my son. I’ve never felt that way before. I don’t think it would have mattered what it was that was gone, just the fact that they were taken from him.

I thank God that we had not carved them, and set them out on our front step, all in a row, ready to grin at children on Sunday. I thank God that we did not come home to them smashed on the driveway or road. My son didn’t notice they were gone, but I am sure seeing his pumpkins, or God forbid ruined Jack O’ Lanterns he helped create, would have caused tears.

Tonight, we will find our next set of perfect pumpkins, and I think we’ll keep them in the house until Sunday.

Apples and My Grandmother

This was a post I wrote in September of 2006, on a blog I no longer use, but keep archived. I wasn’t married, had no kids, and my husband was still just my boyfriend. Seems like eons ago now.

I decided to share it today after reading a post by Amber Strocel over at Strocel.com as part of her Crafting My Life series. Her post today is on what makes her house her home, and why she is proud of it.

Her post reminded me of how much I love where I grew up, and how much I miss parts of it, especially in the Fall. This is one of those parts.

——————

Afternoon had slowly crept the sunshine to the back of the house, and through the window by the stove, I could see my dog sunbathing, his little pink and black splotched belly exposed to the weak Fall rays. His chew toy beside him, he was the picture of doggy contentment. He saw me looking out the window, and perked his ears, before flopping back onto the deck, completely horizontal, rotund midsection and wee legs sticking out in all directions. I couldn’t hear him, but saw the huge doggy-sigh escape from his tiny body, and I smiled.

I turned back to the stove, wooden spoon in hand, and wiped my hands on my apron. Steam from the huge pot in front of me evaporated up and filled my nostrils with the scent of brown sugar and cinnamon. Apples jumbled about in the pot, and as I stirred, the *spluck-spluck* of the syrup bubbling between the pieces of fruit echoed into the kitchen, disturbing the quiet.

Today I woke up and felt really worn out. You know those mornings. The ones where the monumental effort to swing feet out of bed and face the day is almost not worth the pain and suffering you are sure to experience if you do so. I have been battling a cold, and for the past two days, have dragged my sorry carcass into work and coughed and hacked and sniffled and sneezed.

So I stayed home. Something held me here, whether it be comfort in my big warm bed, or my cold finally winning.

Today was one of those days where I was able to just sit, be quiet for awhile, listen to the noises around me, take in my home, and feel good about it. Fall has a way of bringing out the cocoon instinct in me, and in the Fall, I love my home’s colours and inviting warmth of the wood stove. I love my farm. I take long walks in the Fall.

Today I made applesauce. Not just applesauce made with store bought apples, but from apples right from my backyard! We have two apple trees on the West side of the house. Two years ago, we thought the Wealthy apple tree was dieing, since it had lost a huge branch, and was slowly getting rattier and rattier. It bore no apples last year, and lost another big branch. We feared the worst.

This year, the fruit it produced was plentiful, and massive! I was excited, thinking about the uses for these apples. Not since I was a child had I seen so many apples on this tree, and it was marvelous to see the tranformation from dieing scrub to healthy leaves shimmering in the breeze!

Now, we don’t spray these apple trees, so the fruit did have some malformations, and of course, scab across the skin. Scab is very common, and harmless, but makes the apple look icky, and thus producers spray for it so that they can sell nice shiny red apples. I had picked some on the weekend (The good windfall and the ones I could reach), and I proceeded to peel and quarter them.

As I sat in the kitchen, cutting apples, I suddenly felt not alone.

I looked up, but the only set of eyes looking back was the dog, anxiously waiting for slivers of apple from my clumsy quartering. Having arthritis means every now and again, the apples would slip out of my hands and go flying off in any direction. Annoying, but humourous, since the dog was waiting just for that! He would pounce, and trot off with his bit of apple, tail wagging.

But this sensing was different. It wasn’t an eerie feeling, or uncomfortable. I just felt like someone was with me. There was an aura of happiness, and of peace. Of familiarity, and love. I don’t know if it was my body finally de-stressing, and me realizing that this is what I am supposed to feel like, all happy, and I got the maybe-you-shouldn’t-work-so-hard vibe…. but, in all that, I felt very safe, secure, and happy right then. Perhaps it was God talking to me, giving me that hug He knows I need every so often.

I also wondered if maybe my grandmother was with me, proud of the fact that her granddaughter was making applesauce from the same tree that she and her family had made applesauce from for many, many years.

When my dad was growing up here, he said they kept the apples to eat over the first half of winter, since they were always so good and sweet. He said his mom would make applesauce from them as well. I wondered, as I sliced and peeled away, if perhaps I was mirroring her stance, standing at the kitchen table, a bowl of peelings to the side, another bowl of water and apple quarters in front. I wondered how many times in her life she did just this, with family coming in for lunch, or bustling about on the farm around her.

I had pulled a large pot down off the wall to boil the apples in, and as I added the brown sugar and cinnamon, I wished that I had met this woman. My grandmother died when my father was still in his 20’s, before I was even an idea.

so as I stirred and watched the dog out the window, I thought of all this. How sometimes life circles back. I did feel her presence then, or what I hoped was her, and I stopped for a moment. It felt similar to when I made her peanut butter cookies for the first time. I distinctly remember having this stange feeling of someone helping me to put the crosshatch of fork scores on the top of the cookies, then dipping the fork in the hot water to do the next one.

Dad loved those cookies, saying they were just as good as he remembered. I can remember feeling proud right then, and even though it was sad to know that he might’ve missed his mom right then, I had brought back a good memory of her with this simple recipe. I need to make some soon.

I think sometimes I am inadvertantly trying to bring back good memories of this place, or make new good ones. We certainly have some bad memories, and some traumatic ones over the years. As I have gotten older, I have tried to make this farm ours now. Maybe not in the physical sense with renovations, but in the memories I can bring for my father, when things here were simpler, happier. Memories of his mom, her cooking, the way they used to live on this land. I know I can’t replace her, or remove the bad from the time that has passed. But I know I can grasp the good memories and make them new with old traditions.

As I have gotten older, I have appreciated just how much of my heritage is on this place, and how much it really does mean to me. I would love to be able to stay here, raise my children here, but I also know that I need to travel and live in other places to experience life, our earth and all it has to offer us. But this will always be home. This will always be the place that I feel the most at ease and happy. Despite the bad memories. My family is here, some just in memories. But here they are.

So if it means harvesting the apples off these trees and making applesauce, and picking raspberries to bake pies with, then I’ll do it. If it means making shortbread, and cookies, and maybe even the odd roast turkey using my grandmothers pans, I will find the time for myself to do it. Its important to me, I think, and maybe just as important for my dad.

I even have a mixing bowl that was hers, that I still use to mix dry ingredients. I won’t use it for blending, since I don’t want to mark the surface with the beaters. That bowl means the world to me.

I hope my grandmother approves of what I am trying to do, and maybe how I am helping myself to understand who she was, and to love this place the way she did. This was her family home, then when she married my grandfather, the farm was passed to her and grandpa. Then, it was passed to my dad, and now… if in my life plan it comes to pass, it will be mine and my family’s.

Now I sit typing this, and thinking that today, taking a sick day, was a good idea. I was able to get the rest of the apples picked, thanks to a neighbour’s help, do some laundry, have a nap, read, play with my dog, and take the knots out of my back.

I also had a great visit with my grandmother.

Tired

I am so tired I have become something of a slug. A pregnant, pajama-wrapped slug. I am barely making it through my days without a nap either on the commute to and fro work, or on weekends, wrapped in a comforter, blissfully checked out from the sounds of a toddler and a husband.

My brain is fuzzy, and writing just isn’t on the radar. My GDM blog is woefully empty, this one sporadic. I used to be prolific and excited about blogging, and now I can’t even raise my wrists at the end of the day to make a coherent thought. I am in bed by nine, and have to drag myself up at 6:30 in the morning like a wet dishrag left too long on the bottom of the sink, wrinkled, stiff, and smelly.

Yes, I just compared myself to a dishrag.

March cannot get here too soon, and with it will come a new baby, and a different tiredness. Likely one where I can’t write then, either.

My fiction has been neglected yet again, and I add to the long list of reasons “why I cannot write”. Someday I will figure out how to kick my own butt into sitting in the damned chair and finishing something. For now, I am allowing myself to leave it alone wishing I could have more energy, more time, and more support to spend evenings writing in my own space instead of squished between dinner plates and crayons at the kitchen table.

Is it like this for all moms who write? Am I lazy, or normal? I wish someone could reassure me it gets better, because right now, this dishrag is feeling mighty low about her aspiration of leaving a desk behind and writing for a living, at home.

</whine>

Where I’ve Been – Part 10

Yes! yes its an update! My Goodness I realize it’s been awhile since I visited Barley and Nessa. Since I am pantsing this story, I have no idea where it will go, but for now, I hope some questions are answered for Barley. The poor guy’s been agonizing. Stay? Go? Without further delay, here is part 10. I’m so sorry it took me so long!

Continue reading

Dilemma

I have a dilemma that I have been sitting on since the middle of the last decade. It’s not embarrassing, per se, but it is something I’m not sure how to go about achieving what I want without causing problems elsewhere in my life. My doubts and my worries have kept me from leaping into the fray, so to speak.

I’ll get right to the point. *deep breath*

I write Erotica.

There, I’ve said it. *whoosh*

Now, some of you way think “But all romance has some form of erotic writing in it, i.e. the sex scenes!”. No, this isn’t like that. This is a storyline which revolves around the sexual nature of the protagonists, their journey, with specific tastes and fetishes, some of it a little less emotional and profound as you read in a typically well written romance novel sex scene. In Erotica, there is sometimes not a Happily-Ever-After, perhaps instead an understanding, or a parting of ways with the knowledge of an interlude never to be forgotten. Sometimes it can get risqué, and enter into territory that does not fall into the category of “normal”. Erotica is about the sensual pleasure (or pain) of sexual explorations and awakening, or perhaps even, yes, sexual healing.

Correct me if I am wrong in this definition, of course. This is how I see Erotica, but someone else may have a different take that would prove very effective. (any takers? *nudge*)

What I discovered, all those years ago, as I wrote out the story, was more like what you get in the Spice line from Harlequin, or some of the anthologies you see on the half-shelf at Chapter’s labelled “Erotica”, hidden in the back corner of the Romance section. A little bit out there, a little bit harder.

“So?” some of you say “What’s the dilemma of that? Write what you love to write!” and I know, really, there should be no problem with me wanting to write what makes me happy. It does. I write it, and it flows for me, it fits. No shame in that.

At least there wasn’t.

My life, as everyone’s does, changed in the past few years. I have a husband, a family, a child. I have a newfound relationship with God. So now, with all these changes, I hesitate completely in sharing it anymore, based on the accepted norms within this stage of family life. Before you castigate me with “What is normal?” let me remind you that I too buck at these constraints of normalcy in some ways, but am also comfortable in the level of safety and comfort they afford. Hence my worry.

I would love to publish in the genre someday, perhaps without a nom de plume. But in that dream, I turn to what others might think, especially my in-laws and relatives. When I started writing this type of fiction, I had not yet met my husband and his family, or the church. What on earth would I say to my in-laws, if I have published an erotic fiction book? What on earth would happen if my Dad wanted to read it? Would he be embarrased or shocked?

These are the things that circle in my head as I read submission guidelines to different publishers. I read the story I’ve got mostly finished, think it’s got great potential, and then never send it. I worry about what the people whom we used to go to Sunday service with would say, if I would be looked at as some sort of wanton deviant in need of prayer and saving. Would we be snubbed in church? Would I be openly admonished for my choice of subject? Most people believe that an author puts themselves in the story, that they have done and do what the protagonists do, on some level.

I say this to myself, and read it from other authors; We are not what is in the story, we are not the characters. Imagination takes the grain of experience, and creates the pearl of the story around it.

I tell myself that it matters not what these people think about me, and my relatives would get over it, even with statements like above. But still I hesitate. Approval from others I respect has always been a crutch I lean on, especially in endeavours where I produce something that must be graded or critiqued. I have learned in my day job not take criticism personally, but technical diddley is emotionless compared to the pouring of heart and soul onto the page that happens when I craft fiction.

Do I take a chance and send it out, braving the potential for people to disapprove or treat me differently, wondering at what strange things I do? I think about my husband and child, and how they would be treated. Do I respect that the risk for upheaval is too high and keep it hid?

I often wonder how other erotic fiction writers handle this situation. What do they say to family members, children, and parents when they tell them they have been published? How do they push through the stereotype (if it rears its silly head), or the self-doubt of acceptance? Sex is still taboo to a lot of people, and to write so blatantly of it evokes a strong response in some.

This is my dilemma.