Category Archives: Creative Writing

Silver Linings

You may think I’m delusional, but there are silver linings in this pandemic situation, don’t you think? I imagine if we all gave it some thought (now that we have more time to think) we could all come up with some.

And I propose that we should all do it now, before the novelty of our new normal starts to fade. Because if we’re being honest, it will.

So I am going to strike while the iron is hot and go first:

  • Getting to know my co-workers better. Because we serve low income seniors, many with underlying health conditions, we have to band together to meet their needs in new and different ways. We are finding ourselves problem solving together on a moment to moment basis it seems. Like drive up service, which we started doing last Friday.
  • We are all learning to be more hygienic, washing our hands for longer, and more thoroughly. Did you see the video clip of Gloria Gaynor singing the 20 second chorus to her hit “I Will Survive”? Wouldn’t it be fun (and smart) to take that to the next level and find other 20 second choruses to belt out while hand washing?

Like this guy did:

  • We have more time to get stuff done around the house. The small projects, like cleaning the refrigerator and a bit of re-decorating, organizing file cabinets. Which can all be done at a leisurely pace, because we have the gift of more time.
  • We have more time for reading and expanding our knowledge base. That’s always a good thing, right people?
  • The leaders are emerging, which gives me hope. Not tRump of course, but others. Governor Cuomo comes to mind.
  • We all get to catch up on those favorite shows we have dvr’d and not yet had the time for. Mine include This is Us, Bless this Mess, and Shameless. What might you all have in the DVR hopper?
  • We get to enjoy live virtual performances from our favorite performers in their homes. Please feel free to share your recommendations in the comments.
  • We get to sleep in more. Huge bonus in my opinion!
  • More time to relax (read:cuddle)with our funny, furry companions.

I know there’s more I’m not coming up with. But I’ve got time to figure it out. As we all do at the moment.

How I’m Rolling In The Current

At the tail end of 2019, I submitted in this post that 2020 ought to be my year of “Clarity”. I won’t presume that any of you fabulous readers will hold me accountable for this declaration, so I will do the deed myself.

I’ve gained much clarity in my work life in this new year. The dynamics are changing (new boss) and the expectations my employer has for me in the coming year have been clarified. I’m feeling enthusiastic about the new changes to come and the support that I’m experiencing.

I’m also feeling more clarity in terms of what I am paying attention to. As well as what I’m not giving my attention to. For instance, I’ve decided that for Lent, I’m giving up on stalking a certain state’s court website for updates on the legal status of a person who has wreaked havoc on the lives of my family (for the last 6 years, give or take), specifically it’s most beloved members. I’ve come to realize that this stalking I’ve been doing is draining my mental and emotional energy. Not to mention it’s completely pointless. What happens, happens. Checking it obsessively is not going to impact the outcome.

A musical “epiphany” I had recently drives this realization home for me. It’s from the momentous song we all know by heart: “Let it Be” by the Beatles. The line after “Let it be” is “there will be an answer”. And all this time I’ve been focusing on the “let it be” part. I have faith that there will be an answer, not only in this wretched aspect of my family’s life, but in all things. It’s about faith; letting go and trusting the answer will come.

My 2020 soundtrack is providing me with clarity in how I approach things these days. “Listen as your day unfolds”. That is a great line; the first in “You Gotta Be” by Des’Ree. I see it as a directive for me to pay attention to my environment in the day to day. To pay attention to the people I encounter. The feelings I’m feeling, both emotional and physical. The media I consume.

Clarity with what my writing process is happening as well. I’m honing in on what works and what doesn’t. A prime example is that, per David Sedaris’ suggestion, I’m jotting down my daily observations. I find it to be a sort of therapy in that after I’ve done it, I feel refreshed. It’s helping me sort out what it is exactly that I have to say and how I want to say it.

A rare moment in time with pretty kitty Karl and Radar-ling napping peacefully together.

Before I sign off here, I have a question for you all: What are you clear about in your writing and/or personal life? Right here and right now-in the current?

18 Things That Need To Be in My She Shed

Imagine the tune “If I were a Rich Man” from Fiddler on the Roof while you read the following:

If I had a she shed

Doodle doodle doodle

Diddy doodle doodle blam!

All day long I’d write and putz and sing

If I had a sheee shed!

I would of be writing and playing hard

Doodle doodle diddy blam!

If I were a righteous bitch

Doodle doodle doddle diddly blam!

Now that I got that out of my system, here’s what I envision will be in my future “she shed”:

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  • A small fridge/freezer combo in which to store bottles of Pinot Grigio and Merlot, ice, and pints of gelato.
  • A window with a view of lilac bushes.
  • A good sound system and internet access.
  • A large desk for my chromebook adorned with pictures of family and friends and uplifting artwork. Like the image above.
  • A comfy gray or tan love seat with large matching pillows.
  • A large vision board hanging on the wall above the aforementioned (leather) love seat.
  • A sturdy bookshelf that I get from a thrift store and up-cycle.
  • Hearty plants in colorful pots of varying shapes and sizes.
  • A special little table to keep essential oils, diffusers, and candles. This place is going to smell goooood.
  • A comfy yet indestructible dog bed for Radar.
  • A microwave. To heat up my peppermint tea or to make nachos.
  • A Keurig coffee maker with an array of caffeinated options.
  • A pair of bean bag chairs. So when I invite a friend or two over, we have comfy places to sit down and shoot the shit.
  • A dart board. Pictures of OWM to affix to it for when I feel the need to rage against the patriarchal machine.
  • A special basket to house all my fuzzy socks.
  • A ceiling fan for when the hot flashes emerge.
  • A sink, so I can properly clean up when I knock over a glass of wine or the essential oil diffuser.
  • A velour blanket to drape around myself on chilly mornings.
The original version, by the Monkees, is featured on my Soundtrack for 2020. Plan to learn this on my ukulele ASAP.

Passwords and Other Secrets

Recently I changed my primary work password to “GOODJuJu!!”

And I don’t care that you all know it now. What on earth would you do with it anyway? Break into my office, type it in and read my totally uninteresting emails? Go ahead, knock yourself out.

I think this is the best password I’ve ever come up with. Every time I type it in, I remind myself that my daily goal is to spread light in all my interactions with others. Not like I achieve that goal on the regular. But I try nevertheless.

Since I’ve shared my work password, it makes sense to follow the thread of spilling secrets. Tell you about the stuff that I’ve been doing to gain clarity for myself as an ambitious and creative writer.

Don’t get too excited. It’s all really just baby steps. But I think they still count for something.

First secret: I partook in David Sedaris’ Master Class online for Storytelling and Humor. Truth be told, I signed up for this class because of the “storytelling and humor” part-not so much for David Sedaris. I can’t say that I don’t like him, I do; it’s just that I knew of him but hadn’t read anything he has written. Still haven’t, actually.

Signing up for this class was something I did to help me learn in more detail how I can improve my creative writing. My ability to tell humorous stories that people can relate to and appreciate. It was a purely selfish investment that I decided to make in myself. And I have no regrets.

I had have great interest in interacting with the “community” within this online class. I’ve introduced myself, entered a piece of my writing in a contest even. The prize in this contest is David’s feedback on your piece. I think it’s safe for me to assume that I’m not going to win. And this is not me feeling sorry for myself or me being fake humble. My life is too good and blessed for that shit.

I’m not a great writer. I might be, someday. Or not. Either way, the joy writing gives me will not be overtaken by feelings of self-doubt about my ability to grow my readership on this blog or elsewhere.

I would estimate that it took me 3 hours, within the span of 5 days, to decide which piece I should enter for this contest. That’s how I found “Grammerly”, because in order for my piece to be accepted for consideration, it had to be under 600 words.

“Grammerly” also informed me that my piece was at an 11th to 12th grade level. So clearly, there’s room for improvement.

After doing a bit of editing on the piece I chose, I gave it a couple of days, then went back in to see the one comment made on my piece. It was “I feel like there’s too much information in this piece. I’d like to see it pared down to it’s bare bones”. He was spot on. I veer into the rabbit hole of verbosity in both my speech and my writing.

Whether or not I go back in, make some major edits and re-submit is up in the air. I honestly don’t know if that’s even allowed or appropriate. Or maybe it’s expected?

For now, though, I just want to share what struck me most from being a student of this class. The following is taken directly from the notes I made to myself as I participated in this class and worked through the accompanying workbook.

David’s “work spaces”. Loved the imagery. Made me think that I could write about my ideal work space. Like a “she shed” type deal.

Tuning into your surroundings will open you up to moments that could become stories and the parts of your world that belong in your writing.

“I don’t like to write about people I don’t like”. I concur, David. Neither do I. So I won’t. Period. Hopefully this declaration doesn’t come and bite me in the ass later.

David has a conversation with every person in line at his book signings. He also writes thank you letters. He’s such a nice boy.

Take incidents and stitch them together for a story. I love the creative reference of stitching. Also, following threads. And rabbit holes.

Paint a mental picture in a readers head. Go to readings?? David said he learned a lot from doing this. A lot about what not to do, that is.

Now onto my second secret (or is it my third? That’s subjective, I suppose): During the time I was taking this class, I received an email announcing spring 2020 dates for the Listen to Your Mother shows.

Let me back up for a sec: I first heard about this annual event in 2016 from a local-ish “mommy” blogger named Stephanie. Essentially, LTYM is a franchise that is locally produced in various cities in the U.S. Primarily women get up on a stage and read original pieces on the theme of “Motherhood”. A percentage of the proceeds from ticket sales goes to charity.

I instantly loved this whole concept. The idea of others sharing their personal stories about motherhood, a topic dear to my heart and which I have much to say about, really intrigues me. I knew I wanted to be a part of it, someway, somehow.

So, with David encouraging me to do readings, I started considering applying to be part of the cast. I congratulated myself recently when I realized that I could simply click on the “word cloud” I have featured on my blog’s front page and read all the posts I have written on one particular topic.

But then after reading the few posts I have published that featured “Motherhood” and then proceeded to view video clips of past LTYM speakers, I was overcome with self-doubt. I mean, if this is is all I’ve got to offer and these are examples of my potential “competition” why the hell should I proceed?

Now is the part of this post where you might expect me to say something along the lines of “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” or “What’s the worst that could happen?”. Both of which are 100% true.

However, while I’m not closing the door to auditioning for LTYM, I’m also not necessarily doing it this year. At least not with any of the pieces about motherhood I have published on this blog.

I think it’d be wise to heed David’s advice: attend readings. For me, it’ll be the LTYM show this spring. See what it’s like. Take notes. Make some connections.

Baby steps, right?

Swearwords: the spice of the English language

The following post is brought to you by the mantronym KISS. Which, today, stands for Keep It Sweary, Sister!

Swearing. Colorful language. Cussing. Foul language. Profanity.

I love it all. Truly. But my thoughts and feelings about it are a bit nuanced.

  • Fuck is clearly the “worst” one. But one I really dig when it’s used in the right way. For humorous purposes. When it’s shouted in anger and with malign intent, not so much.
  • Shit! Love this one for sure. I feel like this is one swear word that is harmless. And it’s just so fun to say!
See what I mean?
  • Goddamn. I was totally going to write it as “GD” because I personally think it’s the harshest of all the swear words. It’s almost always said in anger or extreme frustration. I always want to kick myself when it comes out of my mouth. I’m (obviously) not a big believer in swearing being a mortal sin, but I feel like God would surely disapprove of this one.
  • Bitch. To me, this is a fun one. It wasn’t always. It was something I whispered (and truthfully sometimes still do) to myself when another female is pissing me off. Note to self: Cut that shit out! I think as a gender, we women have begun to embrace this one. Like “way to be a Boss Bitch!” or Lizzo’s line in “Truth Hurts”: ” I just took a DNA test and found out I’m 100% that bitch.”
  • Sonofabitch! Makes me think of my dad, which makes me snicker. Besides his other favorite swear word, “Horseshit” (his response sometimes when asked how he was feeling or when his restaurant meal wasn’t to his liking). He also used it when he was railing against some dude that pissed him off, like when Trump spoke on tv.
  • Motherfucker. I know, technically I commented on this one already (see “Fuck” above). However, “motherfucker” is really in a realm all by itself, right? Not that I haven’t uttered this word in conversations before, when speaking of some despicable male who committed deplorable deeds. I just think it’s a spice to be sprinkled very lightly to have maximum impact. I love, love, love Eddie Murphy, for example, but after about the 22nd “motherfucker” in the “My Name is Dolemite” movie on Netflix, I had to turn it off. The word, unlike “Shit”, loses it’s power when said too liberally.
  • Asshole. Such a funny word!! And isn’t it funny that while it’s literally a body part, it’s also a swear word? I have no misgivings about hearing others use this word or using it in personal conversation (well, maybe not in a professional setting I suppose).
  • Dick. Also quite hilarious as it’s also a name. And a body part. But my favorite use of this one is:
This can be seen in the home of one of my friends, who lives with her husband and two teenage sons. One of the reasons why I love that woman!

Hopefully I haven’t alienated any of my patient followers with this post, but to make up for it I will end with this spectacular image…

Kevin Bacon as “Dick” in “I Love Dick”

My last blog post for 2019: What are you ISO?

Man, I love myself a good acronym. Almost as much as a finely crafted mantronym (for those of you new to this blog, that’s a mantra that presents as an acronym).

The first time I saw “ISO” it was on a work email. One of the other social workers was “ISO” something or other. Probably a way to get rid of bed bugs, because that is the type of shit we had to help our clients with on a disturbingly regular basis. I had to read the body of the email before I understood that “ISO” was “in search of”.

My personal theory is that we are all “ISO” pretty much all the time. It might be a lost sock or cell phone. It might be recommendations for a dog walker. It might be for the best cheesecake recipe. Or it might be something deeper; like meaning, purpose, or peace. Or maybe a little bit of all of the above and more.

This song comes to mind as I’m writing this. I happened to hear a truly awesome version of it recently as I was tooling around in my CRV. Here it is:

I have gratitude for the fact that in this life I have found what I was looking for: a happy marriage, a place to call home, two awesome adult children, a grandson, a dog, and a career that have all brought me a lot of happiness.

But there’s still more I’m ISO.

What might that be? Well, a whole bunch of things honestly. But what it boils down to more than anything is balance.

Balance between writing/doing/connecting is what I’m searching for in 2020. Maybe I should christen 2020 as my year of Clarity. I need to avoid the “overwhelm” and remain rooted in the present, in my writing life, professional life, and personal life.

One of the major take-aways for me from 2019 is that working is highly important to me. Working at my part time job running the food bank. Working on my writing; improving my blogging skills. Working on strengthening the connections I have with the people I love and making new connections with those people I have yet to meet. I like staying busy, moving forward, accomplishing things.

What I know for sure about 2020 is that it’s incumbent upon me to work even harder that I did in 2019. Up my game at work. Find ways to improve myself professionally. So that I can contribute more to the team, to our clients, to our mission.

Another thing I know for sure about 2020 is that I will need to hyper-focus on my writing via this blog (and otherwise, but that is currently a batch of baby WIPS that will need some careful coaxing to show themselves to the world).

Suffice it to say: I have much to say about a variety of things-from my personal history, my current reality and the (hopefully) fabulous future. I have stories to tell. I have more to say about some of the topics I brought up on this blog in 2019. I have more to do and say in and about the present. And I have a freaking ton to say about the future.

While all of the above is true and right and good for me personally, I recognize that I can’t blow off taking care of myself. Because in real day to day life of the year 2020, there’s gonna be obstacles. Some I am fully cognizant of and others will be new and uninvited. So while I don’t anticipate becoming a self-care guru (because really, we have so many of them we can refer to on the internets and in real life if we are so fortunate), behind the scenes of this here blog, I will be aiming to practice a healthy amount of it.

I sincerely hope you stay tuned.

But first, please indulge me and answer this question in the comments:

What are you ISO in 2020? This particularly curious mind would love to know.

Kiss: my Guiding mantronym

I’m such a weirdo. I like to think the other weirdos out here in the blogosphere have received that memo by now. I like to think I’m in good company.

But just in case, let me tell you about my guiding acronym mantronym (because it’s not just a mere acronym, it’s also my mantra). The one that has been stuck in my head probably since I started blogging. The one that suits me best. The one that speaks to me. The one that repeats itself in my head as I write like an earworm.  

That mantronym is KISS.

Traditionally, it stands for Keep It Simple Stupid. But for me, it stands for Keep It Simple Sister. Because no good can come from me calling myself stupid. I believed the lie that I was stupid for far too long and now I’m 52 and the fucks I gave in the past are (mostly) history.  I’ve evolved.

Keep it Simple Sister is a kind yet firm way to remind myself to not be verbose when I’m writing. Because while I am a bonafide spaz, I don’t think my readers need to be pounded in the head with it when they read my posts. You all have lives, right? Responsibilities. Schedules. Important shit to do. Me getting to the fucking point already in my blog posts is essentially my way of recognizing and respecting that.

But very possibly the best thing about my beloved acronym of KISS is how darn versatile it is.  While  “Keep It Simple Sister” will forever be the guiding principle as I write my blog posts (and live my life), there’s often alternate versions of this mantronym at play within them.

For instance, “Keep It Specific Sister”. This one came to me while I was using my wicked crafting skills  creative energy to put together my  vision board. I firmly believe that having a physical picture of what specific things or experiences you want in your life increases the chances of it becoming reality. For instance, instead of affixing a picture of, say, a wine bottle or grapes to my vision board,  I affixed a picture of Napa Valley because that is a place I very much wish to visit with Hubs, asap. Seeing it every day keeps it fresh in my mind, which is good because, I am 52.

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Then there’s “Keep It Sincere Sister”. Bottom line-I’m just going to be me. I will continue to write (and breathe) with my heart in the right place. Which happens to be on my sleeve.

I also enjoy the “Keep It Sassy Sister” version of KISS.  Because. THIS.

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A highly important version of my beloved KISS is “Keep It Surprising Sister”, because that is what I’m aiming for. I want to surprise you, dear readers, as well as myself. But in an interesting and smart way of course. In a brave and new way. A meaningful way.

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A more recent version of KISS that I seek to inject into each blog post is “Keep It Sincere, Seeker”. Because while what I write comes from my heart, I’m also very much a seeker. A student who’s learning and growing as a blogger and a human. I’m eager to continue that, with the knowledge that I don’t know what I don’t know. I read lots of other blogs for tips and tricks as well as for inspiration. It keeps me engaged in the whole process. And I know that by continuing this practice, I am likely to keep improving as a blogger.

Any of you other fellow weirdos have a mantronym? Or a mantra? Or a guiding acronym? Or does “KISS” resonate with you? Perhaps you have other suggestions for what “KISS” could stand for? I’d love to read any commentary you have about this 🙂