Monthly Archives: March 2013

This. I Did This.

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So I just did this:

holy shit, right?

holy shit, right?

I just entered a fiction writing contest. For people who are 45 years or older. I am 45 years or older. I am 45.56 years old. I’ve written some fiction. I submitted some of that content. So, like … heck to the yeah!

I’ve never done anything like this in my life.

If you knew me, you’d say, “Why not? You’ve a winning personality and a bright smile and a cheerful outlook on life… why wouldn’t you go for this?” and I’d say, “Because I don’t know. Because I suck. Because I have no confidence.”

And you’d say, “But you have this blog, you write all the time, you love to write and you wrote this whole story, that one about the poor kid who injected himself to turn himself into a tree, but he didn’t know why he did it himself, like why he felt this irrepressible urge to turn himself into a tree, but he learned later, you know in that scene you wrote… and that scene, man… holy shit, did you submit that scene?”

And I’d say, “No, I didn’t submit that scene, but I did submit the parts that led up to it; the parts that started the story because while that whole scene, and maaaaan, yes, the ones after it, painted such a … wow, a detailed and intense reason and like shed light on a whole slew of effed-up family history, like real intense stuff, I decided against submitting that part because I wanted to follow the moderator’s advice, which was: ‘always leave the reader wanting more.’ So I did. I did that. I left the reader wanting more.”

And then you’d say, “Well, that’s OK, but you should’ve submitted that scene, Mol. It was so good, so intense. What about the later one, at the cemetery? Did you do that?”

And I’d punch you in the face because I would feel defeated because I had already submitted the content. I’d say “No. Just the earlier parts… because I didn’t want to give too much away and I had to keep it to 5,000 words and I had to have the content stand on its own…”

And then you’d nod and smile and say, “That’s awesome, Mol. Good job.” And you’d pat me on the back and then you’d think a little and your face would make a squinchy expression, like you smelled something rancid in the other room, but just a hint of it and you’d ask, “But when will you find out if you placed or won or got an honorable mention or anything, Mol?”

And I’d say, “Humph. You know what…? I have no clue. It sorta doesn’t matter. Except for the fact that if I won $1000 for the competition I’d use it to purchase a publishing package … or yoga certification classes. But the more I think about it, probably the publishing stuff. Right?”

And you’d say, “Yeah, I mean you don’t need certification to teach yoga and that Bikram dude is a total perv and that John Friend guy is another perv, so yeah… do the writing thing.” ¬†And I’d nod.

Yeah, so I’m stepping out of my box again. I have only one person to thank and she knows who she is. She lives on the other side of a fence line we share. Years ago she told me “I believe in you.” And she gave me this little card that said so. And if there were a little place to write a dedication for a content submission, it would be dedicated to her. So thanks, RICK. xoxo

So, if you’re on the fence to do something like this… just do it y’know? After your first writing contest what’s another one? The second… ūüėČ (I just said that to a friend of mine in a comment.) So don’t be afraid. I did this. You can too.

You can’t win if you don’t play. (That’s my motto.)

As for the rest of you: have a wonderful Sunday and a Happy Easter if that’s your bag; it’s mine, so I will.

Thank you.

When the Lights Go Out

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Our power just shut off here, the whole street. It’s so lovely and quiet; I imagine it’s how Bronte wrote, just the candles and the silence. Not even the heating or water pumps are running. No hum of the fridge, nothing. I’m posting this via my phone.

My kids can’t stop talking of course. They’re uncomfortable, but I’m in heaven. It’s truly wonderful.

Thank you.

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Don’t Judge a #Writer by Her Word Game Scores

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Many fatal errors exist in this internet age: the reply to all email when you meant to reply to one bashing criticizing everyone but the “one”; the inadvertent post of a crappy blog; connecting all your contacts in your smartphone with your contacts on LinkedIn or Facebook and then having to apologize or the gaffe; or finally, for me anyhow, the linking of your Facebook profile to Words with Friends, or Word Scramble. ¬†I the first two errors: I’ve made in my sleep, I was a pro. The third error, I just clicked “OK” to something that I thought meant the opposite and the fourth, the inadvertent linking of my random iDevice with my Facebook profile has all but done me in.

play me if you wish, but i warn you: i will lose and i won't care. publicly.

play me if you wish, but i warn you: i will lose and i won’t care. publicly.

People who read writers like me make a ridiculous natural assumption connection that just because I can words together string to sense make that fantastic be at will games word I. Especially the timed kind.

Nothing, my friends, nothing — not the popular underground theory that Bonaparte was a good guy or the CIA is just a misunderstood neighborhood watch program, could be more untrue.

I SUCK at word games. I don’t understand the use of Tokens in Scramble, and it’s proof positive that my scores of 215 to 790 in the first round, that I will never ever beat anyone at these games. Word Scramble is timed and when I play it, I become literally unhinged if someone asks me a question or if the house is on fire or we’re being raided by the CIA or if I have an itch somewhere because …

I can’t take it. You have to drag your finger along the screen’s mosaic of letters to make words for points and then the dopamine rush starts and you see the word TOP and then STOP and TOPS and POTS and POST and OPTS and you want to take hostages because you can’t make the E and the D part of the chain, so you cry and you yell for everyone to just stop, stop talking to you, stop asking you questions, can’t you see this is important? I can’t help you, just roll under a wet towel, the flames should go out… doesn’t anyone pay attention to that film strip anymore in Sister Marie’s Fallout Shelter classes?! AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO WATCHED THE FILM STRIPS?!

And what about the fickle nature of the dictionaries in Words With Friends or Word Feud or Scrabble (which frankly is my margin by which I base all other online dictionaries) where PHAT is a word as well as QAT (an Arabian bush):

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is a word but QUO is not.

Often, I’ve been heard stating this sentiment, “Oh, thank you Harrison, just place the Qat beside the Willow, it will be simply phat there.”

What’s a player to do? How many times must I execute: QI or XI or ZA or ZIT to earn the points?

What’s a writer to do? Would that I could, my favorite word would be JOULES. I don’t know why, but I can’t wait to use (?) that word. The J is 10 points, but I don’t even care that it mightn’t be used on a TW (that’s triple word) or TL (triple letter) tile; I yearn for the opportunity to use, JOULES, MIEN, REPOSE, GLOAMING, FECKLESS … HARKEN … these are the words I would like to play. Just because I have a writerly vocabulary doth not mean I’m able to EXECUTE it.

y’dig?

I prefer the fanciful nature of Draw Something anyway. Look at what I’ve done, and taken to an obsessive level, I might add, when inspired to sketch out a word…

This is “Lavender”:

yes, i take out my repressed and constrained creativity on my unwitting friends who must wait for my image to come up...

yes, i take out my repressed and constrained creativity on my unwitting friends who must wait for my image to come up…

and SAFARI (oh, I had fun with this one — it was for only 3 coins, but I didn’t care; I had just gotten destroyed in a WWF game with another writer — it was something like 4338 to 12):

and wait... I think that's me driving one of the trucks...

and wait… I think that’s me driving one of the trucks…

or try this — “CUSTOMER” — after a while, I’ve noticed that my people are starting to have stylized feet and shapes…

do you like their feet and hair? I had just lost another WWF game, 512 to 6.

do you like their feet and hair? I had just lost another WWF game, 512 to 6. My husband, who was the innocent recipient of this image thought it was a bank hold-up at first. He beats me at WWF. now that i have a stylus, it’s amazing.¬†

So the moral of this story is that you may ask me to play these silly noninteresting pedestrian word games that get people like Alec Baldwin tossed off planes excused from a flight, but I will likely lose because I can’t stoop to the tiny-brained fettering rules that squash scuttle my brilliance brilliance.

Word.

Thank you.

Tuesday Morning Press 22 — Mid-Life, Presbyterian? No, Presbyopia & Grateful for Age

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I didn’t do a Tuesday Morning Press last week. I didn’t feel like posting the content I wrote. It wasn’t ready, so rather than turn myself inside out, I decided to take my own advice: don’t over perform, don’t force, don’t exhaust the law of diminishing returns and just chill. Post content when I feel like it; after all, it’s not like I have an editorial desk waiting for me. Plus, the healthcare benefits of this blogging gig aren’t exactly like a pair of golden handcuffs.

Yesterday¬†I hit 45.5 years old. Based on my genetics, it’s unlikely I’ll live much past 90. If her TV isn’t blaring in the background when she calls, my mother likes to remind me of my 91-y.o. “aunt” (we’re related but it’s really nuts to explain it so I won’t) so who knows, maybe I’ll make it to the mid-90s.

No matter… Conversations with my mom are hard for me. It’s not that she’s old and sort of losing it, it’s that she’s always been on her own wavelength. Conversations with her are usually about Ellen DeGeneres’ hair,¬†Moli√®re, Dr. Phil or Tom Cruise. She likes to talk about things I understand least in this world. So I listen, then I hit a point where I can’t anymore. She really likes to talk, but about the things she wants to talk about. When I try to get off the phone with her, it usually goes like this:

Me: Ok, well I’m ready now. I’d like to get off the phone.

Mom: Mipsy Klaustahaler thinks you’re smart‚Ķ

Me: Mom, I can’t talk anymore; I have things to do and when you start to get like this, my blood boils. I am trying to hang up.

Mom: Your wedding was a happy time…

So she plays her own tape; she always has. It’s not an age thing; it’s a Molly’s Mom Thing. I said to her one day, “I can’t relate to you in these conversations. Every time I talk about something real, you call it ‘maudlin,’ or ‘negative,’ or ‘dramatic’ and so it becomes crazy-making for me. You want to talk about my wedding but not the bright turquoise suit and gigantic hat you wore¬†[click the link for photo]¬†and how your appeals for attention that day hurt me.” My entreaties are ignored. She does not respond to what I say ever. The conversations are circular.

Truth be told, I’m trying to have a meaningful conversation with her, and I feel this urgency — there’s so much to say, I want to work things out with her, but it’s like fighting a tsunami, so I try to let it go. Genetically, she could live for another 12 years. I will likely live those from a mental hospital if this keeps up. So I give in, say a little prayer to St. Francis, and try to be a channel for peace. I need to save my energy for myself and my children, but I’m sacked with this Catholic guilt about not being a good kid. And around we go again. It’s hard.

 . . . . . .

Last week, I posted an 11-year-old NASA photo taken by the Hubble telescope of a light echo¬†of the formerly brightest in the Milky Way shining even brighter and then immediately dying (this is known as a supernova). ‘Light echo’?¬†Did you know there are more than 200 billion stars in our own galaxy? I won’t talk about how many galaxies there are.¬†It was a great relief to me to know that even that star, our system’s brightest, couldn’t keep it up anymore. She hit her maximum output.

We will all die. Ninety? That’s plenty old for me, however, it’s important to maintain what I have.

I twisted my ankle almost two months ago on the steps at IKEA. I thought about suing them for making me choose to use the steps and wear the clogs I wore (I was thinking Swedish an’ all; when I go to REI, I wear a kayak; when I go to Home Depot, I wear a chain saw, doesn’t everyone?) and decide to go to IKEA that day when I could’ve just stayed home. Instead, I leaned on my son, rubbed my ankle, flexed it a bit to make sure it was OK, told my son to close his eyes, I flipped the bird to the security camera, and moved on.

I walked through the rest of IKEA and didn’t find what I was looking for. That, I should sue them for.

If it weren’t for the yoga and my general state of good health, I likely could’ve broken something. It hurt a lot and it’s still achey today, but I can run on it, practice yoga (although it’s weaker) and chase my children up the stairs when they don’t go to bed on time. I suspect I’ll need a hip replacement one day.

I’ve got laugh lines, and I love them. If you have read every single syllable I’ve ever written here, you know that I’ve said the quickest facelift is a smile; I catch myself consciously grinning as I type this. It’s true. Go ahead, try it. I’ll wait.

I know! Right? Just smile all the time, it makes people nervous.

. . . . . .

Saturday night I went to a mini high school reunion at a friend’s house. It was so great to see everyone. We are all “in there” — I recognized everyone and to me we are just wider, wiser, less-haired, crow’s footed, worry-lined versions of ourselves. People lied remarked that I haven’t changed a bit. The lighting helped and there was alcohol served.

The joke of the night? Presbyopia: Our whacked-out eyesight and our short arms. How is it that I went to bed with my 20/20 contact lens -aided vision and all of a sudden the next morning (well, it felt like that) I couldn’t read anything within an arm’s length of my face? So because we all have smartphones or cameras, we’re snapping pics and it was hilarious. We’re all squinting and “Wha-? Who is that? Me?” -ing ourselves and our friends in the photos, moving the image away and in and closing one eye or the other, blaming it on the lighting, “I can’t see it in this light…” (and that’s true, some displays are terribly dark) but the wonderful part of it all is that we’re all doing this together.¬†What I’m waiting for is the Nikon CoolPix Whatever ad of Ashton Kutcher crashing an event and running like an old man, then snapping shots and holding his camera three feet from his face to see what he’s taken and what’ll even be funnier is the gals who will hang on him when he takes the pics. They’ll be REGULAR PEOPLE — in my mind they would be.

So far no one has married someone half their age. A lot of us have bangs now. As I looked around at our assemblage I felt a lot of pride. It was a really nice feeling to have been included in this group and blessed by its company. We were all at our (mostly) natural (save for hair color, contact lenses, maybe even some anti-wrinkle cream here or there) states.

Back to the eyes. Lasik won’t work; presbyopia affects the muscles and the lens. Apparently the muscles and the lens starts to stiffen around age 40 and around age 60 they stay permanently stiff. Sounds like if we could swap out Viagra needs for men around 60 with our presbyopia stiffness we might be on to something…

Of¬†all the things surgery can address: boobs, fat, hair, turning you into Barbie or Ken, it seems that there still is no surgical way to fix the presbyopia. It’s probably easier to get arm-lengthening surgery. I noticed this first when I went out for a run and tried to set my GPS watch and I couldn’t read a damned thing on the screen. Then I couldn’t set my iPod because the font was too small and my arms were too far away, but up close, I couldn’t read a thing. So now I just yell a lot.

I’ve sort of worn my age like a champ, there are parts of myself that I’ve never been thrilled with, but I’ve gotten over that. I am proud of how old I am and I am coming (finally) to terms with being OK with how I got here: crazy, Ripley’s-Believe-it-or-Not -esque childhood, my therapist’s lumpy couch and all. The truth is: it’s up to me to decide how to deal with it all. I’ve chosen to recall, assess, process and integrate my past into my life. This way there’s no denial and there’s no shame. It’s just life and I’m proof it can mostly work out. My therapist credits my great aunt Alshee, God rest her soul, with helping us out as kids.

Being on the other side of the slope doesn’t mean I’m going to kick up my feet and take it easy; it just allows me to keep things in perspective. I can trust my gut and my decisions and be OK with where I am. I don’t have to second-guess myself anymore. I’ve made it through the first half of my life fairly well, I’m sure the second half will be just as fine. The key is to keep the drama at bay. So, the next time my mom calls, I’m gonna let it go to voicemail.

Thank you.