100 Word Challenge*: South


South is a direction. For most people. And in most circumstances.

But for me, South has more often than not been a place.

When I lived in Iowa, South was Texas, the Gulf Coast and Florida. Places I regarded as the farthest points from the brighter spots of the universe for reasons that were as stereotypical as often as they were based on fact.

Today, South is the United States of America, a place I consider as uninhabitable as I would swampland, Mars and Saudi Arabia.

It seems the farther north I go, the less South appeals to me. Curious.

*I found this prompt via a Twitter friend, who is a very talented writer and comedian. Not unlike how I found the 30 Day Challenge. It goes like so – Using “south” for inspiration, write 100 Words – no more, no less – then add a link back here from your post. (A pingback is like bread crumbs, it helps your readers find the other 100 Word stories, and it’s nice to share.) – and you can check out the creator here.

And a side note, my 30 days will not include weekends unless I am spectacularly bored or maddened about something to the point of beating my outrage to death with words. I probably should have stated that upfront.

30 Days of Writing


30 Day writing challengeIn no particular order, and completely subject to whim and whimsy, I am going to take up this challenge to blog for 30 grueling days in a row.

Or maybe just 30 days.

No fewer than 10 though, fer sure.

As I go over the topics, I am reminded that I have been blogging for over a decade and have covered many of these topics – in one way or another – already.

For example, I am fairly certain I have written about my first kiss.

I know I have (more than one probably) “interesting facts” about me posts.

I pet peeve all over the place. Twitter. Facebook. Here. Ad nauseum.

I’ve debated tattoos. Whether to get one or not. And I know I’ve written about memorial tattoos, and yes, I still think they are a bad idea.

My family, immediate, extended and in-law have all been covered. Sometimes so thoroughly that I’ve gotten myself into trouble.

For example, I blogged my father’s death. I don’t think I spared anyone really. And this was back in the day when quite a few people, my family included, were reading this blog on a regular basis.

I consider my family and my feelings about them well-trodden ground.

The only member of my family who is fine with me writing about them anymore is my husband. This owes partly to my incredible fondness for him as a topic, and the fact that my characterization of him makes him chuckle and openly wonder whether readers even believe he is a real person based on the stories I share.

Not sure that my daily agenda would be worth writing about. I am such a housewife and mom these days. A privileged one. But still. Does anyone really want to know about the yoga classes I attend? My media habits? How much I hate Costco?

I was a mommy blogger with a “syndicate” of mommies back in my early blogging days and I am really done with that kind of navel gazing.

Earliest memory? I was lost at the circus. Literally lost. Forgotten by my father who was getting drunk with his friends. I have written about it. It’s not a feel good story.

Can’t think of a single phrase or certain word that make me laugh, but in my family, anything to do with poop or farting is the starting point for hilarity.

Yes, we are that kind of family.

I have nothing to say to anyone who might be considered an “ex”. Anything I had to say, I said. To them.

One guy I called immediately following our last encounter and railed at his answering machine until it cut me off. I had to call back twice more to get out all I needed to say. After that, I was good and ignored him. Often to his face. Much to his displeasure. He never did get to rebut a word.

And I could never write an entire post about what I wear because I am a uniform type of girl. I blame it on 12 years of Catholic school. Totally ruined my sense of fashion or more accurately, crushed any interest I might have developed had I been forced to put outfits together from a variety of clothing choices from an early age.

I have had several uniforms over the years. As a high school teacher, it was jeans or khakis and a polo shirt. Every day. All year-long.

Currently, it is yoga pants, a sleeveless tunic top and some sort of sweater.

Fashion is for people who space in their brains for a closet. I don’t.

My morning routine is relentlessly focused on getting the child to school on time and ahead of the cluster-fuck of other people trying to do the same. The end.

Hmmm, I may have to supplement this challenge list.

No matter. Day 1 of this challenge has been met on the page of battle, and I emerge the victor.

On to day 2!

 

On Writing


Actually, on NOT writing. Mostly.

“You should blog again.”

“When are you going to get back to your writing?”

From my youngest daughter, “I know you will finish your book.” And she didn’t even add “someday”.

I used to write a lot. Every day in fact. There are 1500ish posts here to attest to that. Not to mention (but why not?), posts and a few stray articles here and there on the wide web providing a testament to my more prolific writing past.

So, why don’t I fire up this old blog and getting my writing back on?

I don’t know.

There’s too much to write about is one of the issues. I simply don’t know where to focus my attention.

Fiction? Poetry? Politics? Social issues? Life in general? Self-help? Advice?

I’ve typed around, over, under and through all of these genres. I can’t say that I have a favorite, or a particular strength, which is probably part of the problem.

I’d write about everything if that were possible.

Maybe it’s possible. But I would have to rouse myself from my mostly retired state and find a whole lot of an ambition, a perennial problem for me.

I am just not an ambitious person. I have a lot of work ethic. It would be difficult not to given that I was raised by Depression Era farm kids. Work. Hard, dull and practical is what I raised to know. It was instilled in me at a very early age. And I resent it.

At some point, working hard morphed into working smart and that transformed me into the creature that I am. Someone who can get jobs done but views most energy expense in terms of bottom lines.

How negatively will my life be affected if I don’t bother? Or half-ass it? I am a Gen-Xer after all.

So in terms of writing, when it was something I loved – and I did love it – I could do it all day. It was day-dreaming on paper and later on – a screen. But once it became work, when I was mommy blogging and then working for Care2, my old work ethic kicked in and efficiency, out-put versus in-put mindset, took over.

How much effort do I need to expend to make X number of dollars or drive Z number of page views or snag a syndication run for Y blog pieces?

Sucked the joy right from the marrow with sharpened fangs.

Oh, I know. What horrible problems to have.

People were reading your writing and someone was rewarding you – with money sometimes even – for your efforts. Poor baby.

Yes, I get it. Fair criticism. Don’t think I haven’t scolded myself. I have.

The upside of walking away and turning inward. Getting back to the organic with paper and pen. Was that I found a bit of joy again. A little bit of that love.

But the downside was that I missed being read. I really do like people to read what I write. It’s a bit of an addiction.

I satisfied it with social media. A little. For a while. It’s a cheat.

However, I am here again and my novel is screaming at me from the corner of the living room where it is piled up but unable to be forgotten. So the time is now to get back to “work”. The dilemma is rousing myself daily to do it.

I am lazy at my core. I like reading. Thinking. Walking. Broken up by Interneting and house-wife’ng and momming. It’s not a bad gig. Truly.

Being writer is a job and kind of calling . Like teaching was a calling.

I’m not afraid of competing. I am a better writer on my worst day than many people are when they really try hard.

I am aware, however, that I will annoy, possibly infuriate, and very likely disappoint people. Despite what you might think, I don’t really want to do any of those things. Although sometimes it’s necessary.

So, if you decide to read – going forward or trolling back – best to bear in mind that I am a real person at a keyboard somewhere. I have good and bad days. My interests, and therefore my choice of topics, are varied. I am not static. In thought or opinion. I’ve held views that I don’t anymore. I’ve written things that I might not now. And I am just as likely to change my point of view as I am to cling to it.

In other words, if you have some sort of idea of who you think I am, discard it. You don’t know. You don’t even know what you don’t know.

This was a rambling post. Like splashing and treading a bit of water before settling in and doing laps.

There’s a lot to write about. Rob Ford. The Liberal Budget. Unisex wash and change rooms. Donald Trump. And why I’d still vote for Clinton before Sanders. Why Twitter still sucks hard. And less weighty topics like house hunting, being too lazy to take a proper holiday and why I love Ottawa.

I’ll get to it. But first, I need to do some laundry and make a cup of tea.

Wintering in My Discontent


Snow Cat

Snow Cat (Photo credit: clickclique)

Nothing is wrong and yet nothing is actually all right. A most annoying state of being that plagues me of late and is contributing to a general lack of … what is the opposite of “inertia”? Ertia? Probably not, but still a state of general non-interest and lack of  motivation.

Attribution for this could conveniently be laid at the foothills of the longest winter I can remember. Four months and it’s not even Valentine’s Day.

“It’s actually only three months,” my husband pointed out as he readied to leave for work this morning.

“We’ve had snow since before Halloween,” I said.

“Barely,” he countered.

And by “barely” he means we didn’t have snow that stuck until the snowstorm that descended as Dee and I cased the hamlet for treats on Halloween, but we had snow on and off for over a week before that first big dump. To my mind that puts us nearly to the four-month mark.

“It hasn’t been too brutal,” he reminded me as he left.

And by “brutal” he means gods-awful-fucking-cold … by Canadian standards. Far north Canadian standards. Pioneer days don your bear skin coat and tie a rope between the cabin and the stable so you don’t get lost and freeze solid type of winter.

Even though he is right, in a purely technical sense, it’s still been the longest winter I can recall, and I am past the point of sanguine acceptance, pushing firmly up against being completely and irrevocably done with it.

Still, I don’t think that winter fed-up’d-ness is entirely all that is in play in terms of my Shakespearean mood.

The limitations of my surroundings play into it. The hamlet hasn’t any walking paths, or even sidewalks, so I am forced to trek into town to the fitness centre to walk. Something I am doing with regularity but not without resentment.

I’ve overdosed myself on teaching, which I am in the process of remediating, but still have a few obligations to complete before taking a break. Though I always enjoy a class once I get there and begin, I find that it’s harder and harder to pump myself up to teach, a sure enough sign of burn out.

Some of the weariness rests all about me in boxes and piles that scream to be sorted, organized and purged. There is nothing I dislike more than under the surface tidying up and cleaning. I am great with the superficial aspects. I can vacuum, launder, clear off this or that surface, render it accessible for use again, and clothes, mostly get folded and put away. However, the kind of purging that borders on excavation is something that only extreme situations like moving, for example, are likely to push me towards.

It could be the near absence of a social life. Although I am the least social person I know, aside from my husband, the fact that our only getting out of late is either related to soccer matches or children’s birthdays might be nagging at me a bit. But this leads back to issues finding babysitters (our last one grew up) and settling on things to do. Dining out and movies just don’t appeal and we are not pub people. And, of course, there is the problem of having to drive a fair ways before hitting upon anywhere that one would normally associate with a “night out” and finally culminates in my general laziness and indifference to venturing out at all when the degree of difficulty in doing so rises about “moderate”.

Or maybe it’s just February.

1500


An illustration by W. W. Denslow from The Wond...

An illustration by W. W. Denslow from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, also known as The Wizard of Oz, a 1900 children’s novel by L. Frank Baum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You probably didn’t notice but my last post made it 1500 even, which is a lot of writing. Like a book’s worth easy. And I was a bit startled when WordPress announced it to me because I haven’t been paying all that much attention.

Not like in the beginning of blogging when I counted everything. Page views. Blog visits. Number of posts.

Now, it’s just … oh yeah? 1500. Cool. That only took 6 and a half years – ish.

What’s more amazing to me is that after all this time, I still bother to blog at all.

But I can’t quite seem to walk completely away from the keyboard where blogging is concerned. Personal exposition has always been my favorite form of writing. It’s about as exhibitionist as I get and this in spite of my being a Sagittarius and all.

The widow dating stuff is probably the most popular if my search stats are to be believed.

If someone had told me back in my early single girl days at university that one day people would be reading my dating advice, I wouldn’t have known what to say. I was the hands down princess of the wallflower set. I had virtually no idea of how to get anyone to notice me, ask me out or how to go about initiating and maintaining a relationship. Seriously, hopeless on the romantic front and utterly clueless about relationships summed me up well into my thirties.

I wouldn’t even say that I was all that good at marriage the first time around.

So, the dating stuff, which pulls people in daily, is a bit of a shocking surprise.

Though I prefer writing about current events and politics, these are less of a draw. Understandable as I am not mainstream and neither buy nor sell the Wizard of Oz version of politics. I think that looking behind the curtain and seeing the Wizard for who he/she actually is works better in the long run than blissfully buying into whatever the current hope and change fantasy is. Most people wouldn’t agree, but it doesn’t keep me from reminding them that Emperor’s are rarely as clothed as they appear.

I still write about myself, which is amazing. And people read those posts. Which is equally astounding. And somewhat scary because I know some of these people in real life. I try not to think about that.

Originally, the blog was random, whiny and a bit about my annoyance with having been widowed. It was never really about grieving. Probably because I was nearly done with that by the time I started blogging.

Then, the blog centered on dating and remarriage. But that has a shelf life too.

Though I still write about Rob and I, we are old married folk in practice now if not in boots on the ground years. Perhaps we should count in dog years?

I have never been a mommy-blogger and I still find the writing from your uterus point of view repellant. I bred once. I have children. I mommy. I don’t think any of this defines me as a writer or is enthralling enough to do much of. Even my brief stint at a mommy blog was more a genre experiment than anything else.

So? Will the blogging continue?

Oh, I imagine so. I am not totally over it though I think that blogging as a writing form is at one of its lowest points, having been saturated to the point where everyone thought they could blog because they didn’t realize that it was about being able to write as much as it was about being self-absorbed. The narcissists eventually quit and the writers remain.

1500. It’s kind of inspiring.

You are Supposed to Resolve to Do Things in The New Year


Writing

Writing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Typically, I have resolved nothing, which isn’t to say I didn’t think about it. I just got busy, ran out of time and suddenly the deadline passed me by. Resolving after a new year begins simply isn’t protocol and probably is against the rules.

Freed then from the burden of resolutions, I can now take my time while plotting the new year. What I need to do. What l should do. What I’d like to do. What would simply be fun to do. Why some things probably aren’t worth doing. Just really give it all a good long think.

Could take the rest of the month.

In the meantime … purging … because we have a bathroom and dining room to gut and rebuild.

And by “we”, I mean Rob. Goodness knows that during the gutting process, my hyper immune system means that all I am good for is humping drywall and other debris to the truck bed and nothing more. That work is dusty enough.

The rebuild is his territory alone and not just because he is a bit of a fuss-budget about things being just so. Between the Virgoness and the engineer-ness, there isn’t a hope that I could – even with supervision – do anything that wouldn’t make him too anxious to leave me alone with the task.

So I will be responsible for cleaning out spaces in advance and providing support aka food, drink and reminding him to take breaks, which have become my specialties. I am also first aid.

As I won’t be teaching yoga as much as I thought I would in the next weeks, I hope to instead suss out a real writing project for the year.

Yes, the year.

This writing a book in a month thing is nonsense. Mostly, you get crap.

I haven’t picked a topic.

I hear that the world could use decent porn. And no, I don’t consider 50 Shades of Shamefully Promoting the Hapless Female Who Finds True Love Through Submission to an Abusive, Stalkerish Asshole, “decent porn”.

But Rob is really much better writing erotica than I am. If he doesn’t decide to teach chemistry at the community college when he retires, I think he should write porn. We’d be rich.

Maybe I should writing a dating book for the widowed?

LMAO.

Just kidding.

No, actually I have a couple of ideas but I am keeping them to myself. In fact, aside from this blog post, I doubt highly I will be discussing my project again until a first draft is done.

One thing is certain. I am beginning my training to complete the additional hours of yoga training I want to get my 500 Hour Certification in the province. Applied. Was Accepted. Will begin courses next weekend.

It will take a while. Two years? Perhaps a bit more or a bit less. But that is resolved.

The rest? There is no rush. February is still a ways off.

The Beginning Is Near


The Beginning is near #occupy #m1gs

The Beginning is near #occupy #m1gs (Photo credit: pieceoplastic)

 

With the Hollywood/Walking Dead version of the Mayan apocalypse giving way to being a complete bust, I found this Facebook/Pinterest meme that was rather appropriate for the occasion.

As a people, we are fond of catastrophic endings. Immersing ourselves in the wreckage of aftermaths. It’s the rare person who immediately upon the heels of an upending situation ponders the possibility of a future that doesn’t dwell on all the stereotypical gloom and self-defeatist propaganda.

And I am not thinking about the Oprah-esque self-help faux bootstrapy cheer, but of considering the very real fact that nothing starts anew, generally, unless something else is over.

It’s naive to believe that little has changed in the last five or six years and that a return to the status quo of a decade or some ago is just around the next corner. The world became a different place one bad decision and several startling events at a time since the century turned over nearly 12 years ago.

Although it’s unfortunate that many of us are still stranded in outmoded ways of thinking about the basics of daily living, it doesn’t mean that time is patiently waiting for clues to be caught.

A new beginning is nigh. I have felt it coming for a long while now. Whether it is a good or a bad thing will be in the eye of the particular beholder, whose choice will be – as it always – to reach for the future with empty hands or to make half-assed attempts to hold onto past crap while scrambling to grab onto what is ahead.