Category Archives: Writing

How I’m Rolling Write Now

I think I’m in this writing thing, or maybe I should say blogging thing, for the long haul. I’ve been at it for over 2 years now, and while I don’t have a ton of followers, I continue to gain them.

I have no intention of monetizing this blog. First off, I don’t have the time or energy for this. Or the interest. It just wouldn’t feel right to me. That’s not to say that I don’t fervently hope that at some point in the not-too-distant future, someone somewhere will stumble across this blog and be like “this woman needs to have her own column in our online magazine” or, “We need to make this woman a part of our writing team”,  or “I need to be this woman’s agent because she’s going to write a bestseller some day”.

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I think over time, I’ve honed in on the primary (but most certainly not only) topics I want to write about: food, music, travel, and pop culture. But I really want to write more posts about politics; however, experience has taught me that this does not result in many likes or comments; nor does it garner me new followers. On the flip side, however, if I were to flash forward 20 years into the future, do I want my spawn’s spawn or their spawn to uncover my writings and be disgusted by the fact that with all the turmoil and injustice that occurred on a daily basis due to the Trump presidency, I chose to write about frivolous things like my favorite playlists or the travel experiences/dreams I had, as opposed to using my voice to rail against the forces of evil? I wouldn’t want to be perceived in the future as being complicit in these tumultuous times.

This is such a huge conundrum for me as a human being and a writer. Perhaps I’m overthinking it. I am such a champ at that.

What I am most certainly not a champ at is the whole tech side of blogging. I joined another Facebook bloggers group a few months ago, which I haven’t been engaged in at all. Because the members are clearly in a different league than I. They are far more ambitious and I don’t understand their language. I feel like if I were to decide to become a fully participating member of this group, translating their lingo would eat up so much of my time and energy that I’d be tempted to throw my hands up and quit blogging altogether. So I don’t even know where to begin. What questions to ask of them or how to phrase them.

If only I had an intern for a few hours a week to do the behind-the-scenes techy stuff for me. I could pay them with home baked goodies and free wi-fi. Pimp Radar out for free puppy cuddles.

Then there’s the fiction I have been working on. Or, more to the point, wrote a bit of but got distracted by life and kind of forgot about. Will I ever actually share it? If I do, how might it be received? If it’s well-received, do I have it within me to continue the story and create something really special, entertaining, funny, relatable, and financially rewarding for me and Hubs down the road so we can have the most awesome early retirement life ever?

These are my honest-to-God struggles these days when it comes to this blogging thing.

How about you, my fellow bloggers? How are you all rolling “write” now? This curious mind would love to know.

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Write now: Just the Facts, Mostly

 

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Let me start by saying I don’t have enough time to write or read these days. This is the bottom line, so I’m going to cut to the chase.

Facts:

I have been using what time and mental energy I have this past week working on my first blog post for the non-profit I work for. I just submitted it to our Executive Director today. This is a gamble for me as I haven’t worked for her for too long a time so I don’t have a good read on how she will respond to it: aka if it’s good enough to be published on our website.

But it’s not in my hands anymore so I’m going to do my best to just let. it. be.

Hubs and I will be leaving soon to spend a few days in Minnesota with my side of the family. First “activity” on the agenda upon our arrival is to attend the burial of my mom’s ashes at the cemetery. It felt so weird to write that sentence. Mom passed back in late February. I’ve accepted this. Yet this will be the first time since that we’ve gone back to my hometown. Suffice it to say I’m feeling emotional about it. Unsettled.

On the up side, I am thoroughly enjoying the companionship of our new pup, Radar. He’s so very smart and is now doing very well at our weekly obedience training sessions (likely because they are being conducted on a one-on-one basis with the trainer). I’m anticipating missing the hell out of this mutt while we are away. And anxious about how he’ll do amongst the other dogs where he’ll be boarded.

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Crazy mutt!

 

Summer is nearly half over. I can hardly believe it. It’s truly been great so far however, for which I am grateful. We have many activities to look forward to between now and the end of August. The one I am probably most looking forward to is the Wisconsin cabin getaway, where we’ll be bunking with my in laws, my sister in law, and our beautiful, smart, curious, funny, delightful 5 year old grandson. There’s a couple of concerts and a visit here in Colorado with Spawn #2 in the mix as well.

I could say that due to all this busyness the frequency of my blog posts may decrease. I don’t intend for that to be the case, and in fact my fear that this blog will suffer as a result of blogging for my work website, may very well ensure that I will indeed continue to publish a post each and every week.

Often, as a matter of fact, because I have so much I want to write about on this blog, I can envision increasing my posts to twice weekly.

But…time. Right? There never seems to be enough of that stuff.

That is precisely why this particular post is not being posted today, which is Wednesday (my usual time slot). I’m aiming for a post next Wednesday where I will share in more detail where my head is at regarding writing/blogging. Hint: it’s all over the fucking place.

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My draft folder has 18 sorta started blog posts at the moment. Makes me wish I could take a whole day (or 5 or 8) to go into “boss bitch” mode and edit the crap out of it. I would feel so much more settled if I could somehow make that happen.

Maybe this time when I’m on vacation, I will actually use the chromebook instead of just slugging it from airport to airport, to the motel and to my sister’s house. Now that’s an idea. One of so, so, so many.

I hope you all hang in there with me.

In the meantime, enjoy a little flashback in time from my teenage years!

 

 

 

Bingeworthy TV

I was planning on putting on my “reviewer of t.v. fare” hat on and wax on about how I love the Amazon Prime series “Catastrophe” and how you should all watch it.

But then I caught the Netflix series “Dead to Me” and decided you need to watch that one too.

First things first.

About Catastrophe: this show is, to me, the perfect blend of romance and humor. The writing is simply brilliant. And the very last episode was perfection. So unlike every other show that has a sucky last ever episode. Every single person who worked on this show in any capacity will benefit from this being on their resume.

Weirdly, the last episode included a joke about ceramic bananas (in reference to one of the main characters mom, played by the late great Carrie Fisher). While I believe one could posit that this is a great name for the next great rock band, in the vein perhaps of Greta Van Fleet, I related to it on a personal level.

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This ceramic banana bowl was bequethed to me by my grandmother-in-law before she passed. It now sits as a “catch all” atop my dining room table.

 

Short description of this show: it’s a highly relatable, humorous tale of a marriage between middle agers Sharon, from Scotland, and Rob, from the good old USA. It’s set in England. The two meet, get between the sheets in record time, and before you know it, they are married and Sharon is pregnant. They muddle through life together, have another kid, and presumably live happily ever after (that is why the last ever episode ROCKED.)

Here’s a clip that I think gives you a taste of how this show rolls.

 

Other factors at play throughout the series include both Sharon and Rob’s struggles in their careers (she an elementary school teacher, he an ad man), their periodically dysfunctional family members and friends, and Rob’s struggle with alcoholism. The two of them banter just like real life married people. I so heart this show.

Now onto “Dead to Me”. This show is about sisterhood. The two main characters, played by Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini, are tied together by fate. One accidentally kills the other’s husband with her car (it was dark out and they didn’t see him in time), and they wind up in group grief therapy together. The two actresses play off each other so well. Their character’s personalities are quite different, which makes for interesting dialogue. There are twists and turns and plenty of drama, but plenty of laughs as well. I found it incredibly easy, not to mention enjoyable, to watch episode after episode in the span of a couple of weeks. This first season had a “holy shit” sort of ending which makes me so curious where the writers will take the story next. I can only assume there will be a Season 2.

I have recently begun watching “Little Big Lies”, which may be my next bingeworthy series. I was interested in watching it largely due to the actresses in the series: Nicole Kidman. Reese Witherspoon. Laura Dern. Shailene Woodley. Zoe Kravitz.

Now, I have only watched the first 5 episodes of Season 1 thus far, so for anyone who has seen the entire series: No spoilers, please. I love surprises!

My take on this show (aka why I find it bingeworthy): it is set in beautiful California. The camera work showing scenes of the ocean is spectacular. The characters live in beautiful homes and have fabulous wardrobes.

I think the opening credits provide an excellent example of the aesthetics in this show. And this song is gorgeous, right?

Beyond the aesthetics is the complexity of the five primary female characters. They are all dynamic, multi-layered, strong women. They are moms first; they fiercely love their children. They have love/hate relationships with each other and in some cases with their spouses. The superb acting and storytelling are highly compelling. I just know there are deep, dark secrets going on under the surface and I am looking forward to their unveiling.

So tell me, my fellow bingers, what shows are bingeworthy to you? Please share comments on the shows I mentioned if you have also found them bingeworthy.

My first Dream house

Hubs and I just got back from spending the better part of a week in the house I grew up in.

Because my mom died.

The last good picture of me and Mom (July 2018)

I’m going to be processing this fact for a good long while.

But for now, let me tell you a little about this special house.

It’s a small house that was filled with a lot of love. It’s very old but well maintained, because of my dad’s abilities with carpentry, plumbing, and virtually everything else.

As the story goes, my grandfather (whom I never met), at the age of 58, had a massive heart attack and died while standing in the archway between the tiny kitchen and the dining area of this house.

Both of my parents had experiences with his presence in that house over the years. It never scared them at all. I think they found it comforting.

This is also the house my father grew up in. He bought it from my grandmother. Between about 1960 and 1985, he and mom raised me, and my older sister and brother in this house.

The kitchen is quite small. I’m always amazed that despite not having more than 5 feet of counter space to work with, my mom always churned out delicious, homemade meals for us each and every night. The woman had a knack for using small spaces as efficiently as possible. It’s too bad she never got an opportunity to visit Ikea, with their mock up small spaces that have cleverly placed nooks and crannies for housing all the necessities for day to day living.

This is the house in which my two teenaged siblings threw a wild party at, in about 1974, while our parents were on a Las Vegas vacation. The party where 7 year old me was slathered with attention and plied with sandwiches and other treats in an attempt to ensure my silence. I, of course, being the bratty little sister, immediately told on them once our parents got home.

This is the house where my dad, fully immersed in his Alzheimer’s fog 2 years ago, gestured towards the corner of the living room, and relived, for me and mom, the delight he experienced in that very space where 75 years prior, his father sat with him and read stories.

This is the house where, back in the 80’s, my best friend burned a hole with her cigarette on the handmade-by-mom quilt that covered my 4 poster bead while my parents were out of town for the weekend. I lived in fear from that day on that mom would notice that little burn hole. But, surprisingly, she never did. 

Yes, the quilt (as our bright 5 year old grandson said: that sounds like it starts with the letter “Q”!) came back home to Colorado with us.

This is the house where people gathered to celebrate. From mom’s bridge club nights to family/friends steak fries during the summer in the backyard to high school graduation parties to wedding present openings.

This is the house where my writing dreams began.

*This post was in response to a prompt from lovely Lorna from Gin & Lemonade: “Dream House”. And in response to the emotions involved in the passing of my one-of-a-kind mother. https://ginlemonade.com/2019/02/13/house-hunting-as-a-wheelchair-user-other-stories/

Hot Mess revisits an old post

I find it annoying when my Facebook friends post something vague that intimates there is some major shit going on in their lives. Examples: “I just can’t anymore”, or “FML”, or “I give up!”. Oh, the drama.

Right now, I legit could be one of these people, based on how I’m feeling about a couple of different, unrelated circumstances going on with people I love dearly. But I am not going to do it.

I am also not here writing this post wishing and hoping that one of you readers will take the bait and ask me to spill the beans. I don’t want to spill the beans. Truthfully, they are not my beans to spill. And there’s nothing more I can do or say to effect the outcomes for the loved ones I am referencing.

That’s where faith comes in. And the Indigo Girls. And some hard liquor.

Okay, enough of that.

Everything will be fine. Eventually. This is life. There are ups and there are downs, right? Dwelling on the downs is not going to get me anywhere.

In the process of starting (this is the key word folks) several new blog posts last week, when things were going along rather swimmingly for me, I stumbled upon an an older post of mine. One I published in my first year of blogging (side note: I just hit my 2 year anniversary with WordPress!).

Please bear with me, kind and gentle readers,  while I take a moment to reflect on this particular post.

I mentioned at the outset in that post that I was lacking focus. Well, what with the number of started and now paused posts in my draft folder (it is getting crowded in there!) from last week and the other stuff I alluded to earlier, I am once again unable to focus on just one topic, one opinion, area of concern.

I am still a work in progress. Especially as a writer. With each post I publish, I feel that I’m working out what kind of writer I am. Sorting out who I’m writing for and why.  Am I just an optimist who is occasionally humorous? Am I an advice giver? Am I a teacher? Or am I just a student of life with her hand up in the air, waiting to be called on to ask or answer a question?

It just might be that I am a little bit of all of those things and perhaps more (to be determined, but I’m hopeful). It depends on what the post is about, I suppose. It also depends on what kind of mood I’m in as I am writing a post.

Clearly, my mood right now is “reflective”.

In that vein, let me just say that since publishing that post back in 2017, I have determined the most important bits of wisdom, aka the things I know for sure, are that, as a writer, curiosity and imagination are my friends.

Curiosity, because I value learning and I don’t believe just because a person reaches a certain age they should stop learning. Curiosity pushes me forward and gives me energy and compels me to keep learning, keep growing.

Imagination, because it takes me out of my funky moods and makes writing so much darn fun. Using my imagination when writing, as opposed to spouting off my opinions or shelling out advice on this blog, brings me back mentally to moments as a pre-teen writing funny stories and terrible poetry in my bedroom. Essentially, my happy place.

Thanks for indulging me, folks. If you got through this entire post, you will understand why I labeled myself a “hot mess” in the title. Because it’s clearly true at this particular moment. I just wouldn’t be true to myself if I had chosen to publish a cheery, upbeat, quirky sorta post like I often do.

As I said, I am a work in progress.

Fiction Writing Angst

Sometimes I worry that I put things out there, in the blogosphere, prematurely. Things that I want to do, want to write about. I worry that I’m setting myself up for failure. For embarrassment.

If you haven’t yet figured it out yet: here’s the truth. I’m a bit of a spaz. AKA, overly enthusiastic/nervous. Especially when it comes to writing.

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Like how I voluntarily shared on my newest blogging group “Kick Ass Creators” (Sorry, Ritu, I’m a tad anal about spelling “creators” with a “K”) that I was going to start writing fiction.

Ever since I did that, I’m in this weird state of feeling overwhelmed, excited, and just flat out scared.

Sometimes I worry that if I start publishing stories on my blog about the fictional characters that have been in my head for years now, someone will steal my idea and make it an even better story than I could possibly imagine. Turn it into the next comedic blockbuster, leaving me frustrated and without recourse. Maybe I ought to trademark this shit? How do I even do that? Is it going to involve a lot of technical skills or legal knowledge that I don’t have? It is going to cost me actual money, which I don’t exactly have much of for extra expenditures, especially given the fact that Hubs is currently furloughed and not being paid?

Sometimes I worry that I will get started on this fictional story of mine, and I will learn that I do not possess the skills needed to write snappy dialogue. Or that I will start the storyline then get totally stuck after a little while and decide that’s it. Or that my characters will come off as cartoonish, annoying, or just unrelatable.  Or that I will be made aware of another show, or book, or movie, that is so similar to what is currently in my head that it would be pure folly for me to press on, because my characters, my story, is simply just not that original after all.

I’m such a freaking mess.

Maybe I should just concentrate on writing blog posts. Keep my eyes, ears, and mind open to the fodder that is around me in the day-to-day. Write about that shit.

But then my characters will be stuck inside my head forever. Never to see the light of day. Stuck as perpetually middle aged, empty-nested, marrieds from the midwest for all eternity (as you might surmise, the main characters are loosely based on me and dear Hubs). Nowhere to go. Nothing to do. Just stuck in my head along with my to-do lists, recipes I really need to try one day, worries about my loved ones, and concerns about the fate of the world.

If I write about these characters and their shenanigans, even if  it is only in my super top secret draft folder, they will not die the slow death caused by being smothered by all those other thoughts and plans in my head.

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And I might have some fun along the way.

On the other hand, when I shared with my blogger’s group that I was going to “try my hand at fiction”, I didn’t exactly say I was going to publish anything. So technically,  I could write stories to my heart’s content about my fictional characters and keep them all to myself. That way I’d still be expressing myself creatively and actually writing fiction, so these poor characters are no longer in pause mode, like Sims characters just waiting for direction. I’d be protected from humiliation and I wouldn’t have to live with the fear of being outed as a horrible fiction writer because no one would be reading my stories.

Or I might just keep writing blog posts about writing and publishing and all the anxiety that comes with it for the rest of time.

At this point it’s a bit of a toss up. Either way, my characters will at least be given a bit of a life in my draft folder. Maybe once they start blooming there, I will introduce them to you.

Excuse me, I’ve got some fiction to write.

And some research to do. Some inspiration to acquire. I’m starting to think I might be in this for the long haul.

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I went to the library! A writer needs to read, right? And FYI,  I’m not planning on writing chick lit. I grabbed that book for the main title. Make what you will of my other literary choices. 

How do you do Community?

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Community is the glue that keeps our society together. I’ve been blessed in my life to have been a part of a variety of different communities. These experiences with community have shaped me. They have inspired me. They have taught me so very much. They have most certainly been a source of joy.

Like the community of church folks who came together back in Wisconsin a few years ago to fix up a single mom’s beautiful old house to get it ready to be sold. This was a days long process involving probably 24 of us. We painted. We put up curtains. Some of us did some electrical work and plumbing. While working on these tasks, we also got to know each other better. We ended with a shared experience that benefited not just the single mom and her kids, but all of us.

Like the community of friends, many of whom hadn’t officially met before, who came together to make a home accessible for a friend’s spouse who in her 30’s suffered a stroke while vacationing out of the country and was soon coming out of rehab. We organized closets, we built an accessible ramp, we updated the bathroom and re-arranged the bedroom to accommodate the spouse’s new way of moving through their day to day world.

Like the community at our local brew pub, 3 miles down the road from our townhome here in Colorado. If ever there was a “Cheers”  in real life, this would be that place. The owners and bartenders know our names. The owners regularly schedule events that build community.

And this sign is prominently featured, which I very much appreciate. This one hangs in the ladies’ restroom.

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Then there’s our current church community. Our major fundraiser each year is a lawn mower clinic, held in May. Hubs and I, along with probably 2-3 dozen other church folks came together on three Saturdays this past May to check the oil, change spark plugs, and clean those well used, clunky machines up so they would be in good working condition for their owners when the time came to get back to mowing their lawns again. Each of these Saturdays were nasty, weather-wise. Snow. Rain. Cloudy, cold, and breezy. From my perspective, only experiencing 2 years in Colorado, this weather was a-typical for the time of year. But yet we all bundled up, drank a lot of hot coffee, and got things done as a community.

The Facebook blogging community I’ve recently become a part of is another example of how I like to “do” community in my life. In this group, bloggers often lift each other up. They turn each other on to new ideas, new tricks to improve their writing and their blogs. They  We support each other as best we can. We seem to understand that while we all have our individual blogs, we’re in it (aka the Blogosphere) together. We all want to succeed at what we’re doing and we all love to write. We respect each other. There does not seem to be a sense of “my blog vs. your blog” competitive b.s. going on in this group. We all seem to engage with this group in an effort to build each other, and ourselves at the same time, up. I’m so glad I decided to join this community.

The bottom line, for me, is that being around others, especially with a clear goal in mind, energizes me. It appeals to my social and socially conscious nature. It opens up my world, teaches me things I didn’t know I needed to learn, both about myself and others. It helps me focus on the positive and reminds me that there is good in the world. That the number of good people in our universe far outweighs the number of bad people. It gives me hope.

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