Making sense

Anne Lamott, on writing ...

"We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are. Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason why they write so little. But we do. We have so much we want to say and figure out.”

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Staying connected

Alyssa Chandler's photo.
Me and one of my favorite former students, Alyssa Chandler.

One of the best parts of being a teacher is seeing your former students turn into adults. The 14-year-old  girl who sat in my communication arts class eight years ago  is now a mature 22-year-old young woman and fabulous mom to cutie-patootie Ivan. This picture was taken at Ivan's second birthday party mid-June. I was thrilled to have been invited.

Dangit, Harper

I was excited to get it; I was disappointed to read it. The much anticipated "follow up" to Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird is no follow-up at all; rather, Go Set a Watchman is the rough draft of Lee's famous (iconic) work -- before editors, Lee's rewrites, and Capote (I dare say) got to it. I'd been hoping for a completely different book, or a stand-on-its-own sequel. Sadly, Watchman is a lumpy, disconnected "collection" of small-town vignettes --no plot, really, unless you count the angry politicizing the young adult Jean Louise (fresh out of New York, back home for a visit) hurls at her father, her suitor, her Uncle Jack and her Aunt Alexandra. Go Set a Watchman wasn't published before now because it wasn't a well-developed, interesting, memorable read. The only reason it's being published now is to sell millions of copies to Mockingbird fans who were excited to discover their beloved Harper Lee had written something --anything -- else, even if this something else turned out to be a novice writer's first (polished) draft. Go Set a Watchman isn't horrible. It just isn't very good.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Deciding to be happy

A few weeks ago, a trusted friend, who enjoys research of the psychological, informed me that happiness is 50 percent genetic, 10 percent circumstantial, and 40 percent intentional. Initially, I thought I was screwed, doomed to a life of heavy-eyelidded, slow-motion existence, the kind where wallowing in bed takes up a good portion of one's day. Look. My dad suffered all his life from Major Depressive Disorder, a genetic hand-me-down that he got from his dad, possibly his mother, and then passed on to me, which I then passed on to my son. (Sorry, kid.)
Fifty percent, huh?
No wonder life seems harder for me than many (most?) people in my inner circle. Whereas they seem to just wake up happy, I have to consciously decide to 1) wake up at all; and 2) attempt to go about my day without dragging other people down with me.
For people who consider me Happy-Go-Lucky and have no idea that I have carried the heavy blanket of depression All My Life --and it's a damn heavy covering -- reading this post will come as a surprise. I come across all Smile-y and Optimistic, don't I? Let me tell you: it's work. It is intentional. That's the 40 percent that keeps me lugging my dark-cloud blankie around, that keeps me around at all.
So this morning I dragged my sorry ass out of bed and got the coffee pot brewing. Put on yesterday's dog-walking clothes. Logged on to and perused new listings --these days I am JONESING to live in a high-rise condo near the Country Club Plaza. Drank a cup of not-hot-enough coffee. Cursed my cheap coffee pot. Buzzed my cup in the microwave for 45 seconds. Settled in for residential fantasies. Gave myself twenty minutes. Intentionally walked away from my laptop.
Headed outside. Beckoned my cocker spaniel and mounted my bicycle. Millie and I did some laps around the cul de sac. Exercise is good for depression, don't you know.
Back to the house. It's 9:10 a.m. and I'm on my second cup of coffee. I got out of bed today.
It's something.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

God is great!

How is your Lent going? Easter is coming!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

What Writers Moan About

What Writers Moan About

Falling Down

The day started out well: two cups of coffee, a leisurely breakfast, a sweet episode of The Middle (I am obsessed with this show, thanks to Netflix), some gentle reading (A Year of Writing Dangerously: 365 Days of Inspiration & Encouragement, by Barbara Abercrombie), a trip to the office (upstairs, in my home).

I was eager to get back to work on my newest project --and I've been doing swimmingly--meeting my daily word goal, outlining and plotting strategically, monitoring and adjusting when characters change their minds, or the writing is so organic it doesn't want to be contained ... and then I noticed my desk was particularly dusty. (My chalkboard wall is both a delight and a curse.)
Rather than ignore the dust and pick up where I left off in my manuscript, I started to clear my desk; I started to dust; I started to get into a crappy mood; I fussed at the dog.
I have fallen from my Happy Writer Life ladder.
I must get out of the house, buy a latte, take a short drive, feel the warm winter air on my face (it's nearly fifty degrees), run two errands, get back to my room.
Pick myself up.
Start again.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Book #2 of 2015

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, by Anna Quindlen
 Once again, I found myself pissed that I was reading a library copy instead of a personal copy. I find it annoying that I cannot annotate or highlight adored passages in a borrowed book.
Instead, I marked favorite parts with magnetic bookmarks (a gift from a FB friend) and copied entire sections into my journal.

On exercise and body acceptance: (page 96)
"But I've finally recognized my body for what it is: a personality delivery system, designed expressly to carry my character from place to place, now and in the years to come. It's like a car, and while I like a red convertible or even a Bentley as well as the next person, what I really need are four tires and an engine. I don't require a hood ornament. It's not about how my body looks at this point; it's about how it works."

On why 2014 was such a sucky year for me: (page 153)
"Dan Gilbert, a psychology professor at Harvard who studies happiness, has said that one of the most traumatic experiences in the human span of life is unemployment. And retirement the way we once defined retirement is pretty much unemployment with a party beforehand."

On growing older: (page 170)
"I'm elated to have what the actress Laura Linney called 'the privilege of aging.' I'm living for two, for all the years, the decades, my mother never got." (Quindlen's mother died of cancer when the author was nineteen years old.)

When I do get some extra money, I will buy Quindlen's book and refer to it often. Excellent tome to aging and accepting and celebrating middle age.