Monday, April 22, 2013

Turns Out I'm Old

It turns out I'm old.

I had a fairly busy week with two children's doctor's appointments, my daughter's talent show, volunteering at her school, my regular work, yoga, and chauffeuring -- plus, I started installing a garden fence. And then, on Saturday, I picked up Ali from the airport, and we drove to Portland to attend a reggae concert.

We checked into our motel first, then walked to the venue. The concert was almost three hours long, and then we walked the mile back. We got turned around a few times, bought food at a walk-up window, (Thank God it was Portland, Oregon and I could get a gluten-free hamburger at two in the morning!) and finally fell into our bed (to the chorus of a party next door that Ali called the manager about, and whom were subsequently kicked out) at 3:30 a.m. (Maybe four a.m. I was asleep by then and didn't hear the rest.)

It was a weekend of records for me.

1. I went 21 hours without sleep.
2. I slept in until noon.
3. I left Powell's bookstore only spending ~$30.

Never before has any of those three things happened to me in my life. Let alone all in one weekend.

Despite 8 1/2 hours of sleep, I still felt groggy all the next day. I snoozed during the car ride home to Eugene, I collapsed dramatically into bed Sunday night, and woke up seven hours later exhausted. With five new zits on my face.

Ali said he'd never seen me so tired before. Which is code for, "Oh, honey. You look old."

I suspect I will be catching up on some sleep in the next couple of days. It makes me wonder though, if I were five years younger, would I have been so tired in the aftermath of the concert?


Try fifteen years.

I could have done it fifteen years ago, no problem.

But I still would've had those zits.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Launching in six, five, four ..

I was talking to my friend this morning about my manuscript. And other stuff. Kissing, boys, work habits, gardening. The usual. But the shocker of the conversation slipped out of my mouth, quite unexpectedly.

"I want to launch my book November 1st of this year. That's ..." I counted on my fingers. "...SIX AND HALF MONTHS AWAY."

This was definitely news to me. I mean. I'd been saying I wanted to launch in November for months now. But the knowledge that November 1st follows April 15th by only SIX AND A HALF MONTHS really threw me.

Good thing I've been researching self-publishing and talking with the pros on that. The writers' conference I go to every year is in August, so I want to be promoting the book even then. It's time to get some more nitty gritty work done.

I'm an editor. And I've edited this book for three years, but even I know that it still needs to be professionally edited by someone Not Me. Funds are uber-low right now, what with my van on its last "electrical problem" legs. (Even my mechanic can't find what's wrong with it. I'm just hoping I can make it last until August. I'll be done paying my daughter's private tuition by then, and can be a little less "creative" in my funding.) So, I might need to do without the editor. I've sent it to four beta readers though. Maybe that will help.


Next thing on the list is layout and cover design.

And reading the bible of self-publishing.

Can I get a cover and layout in six month's time? Time to find out!

I need a new title, too. Grief Shadows: Young, Pregnant, and Widowed isn't doing it for me anymore.

I'm really excited about this next phase of my book's journey. !!!

"Spring is here," said the bumblebees.

Right now I hear weed-eaters and lawn mowers and edgers beating up my over-grown nasty lush lawn. It's going to be BEE-YOU-TEE-FULL. I'm already so pleased. Next step, repairing lawn mower (it's already in the van to be dropped off at the shop) and renting a rototiller. 

Next Saturday would be the day I'd love to do the garden bed prep, but Ali will be flying home from California that day (job training), and that's a job I'd want help with. But we'll see. Maybe I'll get a bug up my butt and do it all by myself. If the lawn mower would fit in the back of my van, wouldn't a rototiller?

My friend Tamara is coming over Friday morning to do some garden plot planning. She wants to grow some corn here, so we'll have to find a good spot for that.

I need compost brought in to amend the soil, and a bit of wood chips (and maybe some landscape cloth) to border it. Then I'll get some metal T-bars and some chicken wire, and fence off the garden space from rambunctious doggies.

Chickens last.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Why Did I Dream That Dream?

Perhaps the Carrie trigger wasn't the Facebook page, or the pajama pants, but The Girl's Guide to Homelessness.

Call me a glutton for punishment, but I think I want to try contacting my sister again. The one from Wyoming. The one that said she didn't want to talk to me anymore because Jehovah didn't want her to. That was four or five years ago. My other sister and my mom say, "Don't bother. You'll just hurt yourself."

Call me a glutton for punishment.

Maybe it's because last night I wore the pajama pants that she gave me. Or maybe it was because I found myself on her public Facebook page, and saw the Friend Request Sent button from last year that she still hasn't answered. Or maybe it was the conversation I had with my best friend yesterday about unresolved family issues. But I dreamt of her last night -- my sister.

I was at a swimming hole with a big group of people. She was the only person I knew, so I gathered my resolve to speak to her, and she ignored me. To my face. Like she didn't even hear me. She blanked me. Even while I cried and pleaded with her, she avoided my gaze. A woman next to her saw me crying and checked in.

"What's wrong? Are you alright?"

"She won't talk to me. This is my sister, and she won't speak to me."

The woman looked at Carrie and only then did she feel pressured enough to converse.

The rest of the dream consisted of her telling me why she no longer wants communication, and me trying to re-phrase her words to make sense of her logic. I kept getting distracted, following her around, and I never did understand before I woke up. The only other part I remember with any clarity was a partial sentence.

"I barely have enough ... as it is ... own family ... things I need to do ..." -- insinuating that she just didn't have time to have a sister.

And then this reminds me -- now awake -- that when invited to family gatherings when the children were little, my dad would claim that same excuse for not attending. And now that he's retired, the children are less interested in hanging out with Grandpa when there is Minecraft to be played, or manga to be drawn. He's too late. And I grieve that.

I wonder if he does.

I don't suppose the children do. How can they miss something they never got used to? But then, how can I miss it? Is it really just a case of preconceived notions? Am I thinking only of how I want things to be? Why am I hung up on this? Why can't I be satisfied with the way things are?

My other sister and mother live in Minnesota and so are not available for Scrabble, or cleaning house together, or Sunday dinners. I miss them dreadfully, but at least they respond when I email or text them.

Maybe I'm being unreasonable. Obviously my family life is not going to be Little Women -- which, by the way, is the movie I compulsively watch when I miss my family (especially my sisters.)

Maybe my expectations are too high.
Maybe my idea of what family is, is warped.
Maybe I'm being unfair.
Maybe my family tries as much as I do to stay connected.
Maybe, in the spirit of diversity, my values around family are different than theirs -- so that wouldn't be wrong on their part, just different.

This puts the blame (self-correction: responsibility) back on me, where I'm comfortable with it, like a pair of shoes that don't hurt my feet, but still have holes in them. It's something I need to get over. They're doing nothing wrong. My pain is my own doing, and therefore something only I can take care of.


I must not be doing a very good job of it though, because this family abandonment/self-worth issue keeps coming up for me. I re-visit it once or twice a year.

And because I've been up since the wee hours of the morning writing, and thinking -- and even dreaming -- about this, somehow (in my mind) self-worth segues neatly into The Girl's Guide to Homelessness.

I found the book in the community library at Osa Mountain Village on the Costa Rican vacation I just got back from last week.

It's a memoir about a late-twenties, almost-well-adjusted woman that loved her full-time job, but got laid off, had nowhere to go, and became homeless. Coincidentally, she was raised Jehovah's Witness.

It was a highly triggering book for me because, for the first time, I could see what my old religion looked like from the outside.

It's one thing for me (an ex-JW) to witness Carrie's choices (who is still a JW) and make excuses for her, while not liking her actions. And it's another thing for people like my father, who tolerated his wife's religious choices because he loved her. But it's a whole new ballgame when the uninitiated observe JW idiosyncrasies, especially when they are written about in matter-of-fact journalistic fashion. Then you can see the raw cult-ish qualities frothing at the surface, and you worry about the riptides hiding underneath.

But this doesn't explain why I want to contact Carrie. To try again. One more time. To leave the door open. To reinforce the bridge. To let her know, that if she ever feels she wants to contact me, but can't, because:

"It's been so long, she'll hate me."
"It's been so long, I wouldn't know what to say."
"It's been so long, we probably have nothing in common anymore."

-- or whatever she might be thinking -- to contact me anyway. Except it does explain it. And if you ever read the book, you'll know why.

I'm willing to talk, to re-connect, to remember, and forget. I want to contact her again because I keep thinking that if I could only say it right, convince her -- she'd love me again. Enough to be my sister again. To accept me. To give me back my nieces and nephew. To give back my children's cousins.

A small voice even says, If I was only good enough, she'd want me.

So I keep trying.
Ad nauseum.
Because if I give up on her, then I'm giving up on us, and maybe someone, somewhere, at some time, would give up on me.

And that I couldn't bear.


After all these years, why did I dream that dream?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Best Friends Can Cure Writer's Block

I'm suffering from perfectionism. It's showing up as writer's block. Sort-of.

While I go about my day, I think of topics to write about, but don't jot them down, and then -- of course -- forget them. But in addition, I just want my blog posts (and essays, and book chapters) to be GREAT, so I don't end up writing them at all. Because ... they won't be great.

It makes perfect sense.

And I know what to do about it.

Just write shit.

I need to remind myself (on a frequent basis apparently) that I am allowed (encouraged even) to write badly. Just to get it on the paper. And then I can edit.

I went on this really great vacation with my honey ...

... so you'd think I'd have plenty of fodder to write about. And I do, but I want it to be great travel writing, not my diary. Sigh. But, again, then I just don't write anything. And that's just stupid.

So. This blog will just be my diary. 
I just gave myself permission to write whatever comes to mind. Whatever is important to me that day. And today it's this:


I visited with my best friend today. First time in a few weeks. It was superb. She brought her ukelele and played music while I made lunch, and then I gave her a massage. We talked about relationships, music, gardening, community living, Costa Rica, what we'll do when our kids are older, weight gain, and old times.

She's inspiring, and I hope I am still best friends with her when we are both 82.