Friday, August 28, 2009

Coming Up for Air

This week I was on vacation from my day job, and I spent untold hours working on various writing projects. Despite what you might think, for the most part, I found that restful and enjoyable.

I set up a new website and linked my new blog and site up to Statcounter as well as Google Analytics. I've discovered that for all of the things I've written on this blog, the most popular page is my recipe for Cabbage Rolls!

I've spent hours upon hours writing and proofing and editing some of my posts. I probably spent a maximum of 15 minutes on the Cabbage Rolls recipe.

Maybe that should tell me something about the value of obsessing over proofing and editing. (It's not going to stop me because I HATE it when I find errors in other peoples' books, and I don't want others to find mistakes in mine..... but I know they will.)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Surprising (and Heartwarming) Moment

This morning, Dear Husband and I went to the beach, which is our normal practice on Saturday. We usually have the place more or less to ourselves early on Saturday, but today, the beach was so packed we had a hard time finding a parking spot. Hurricane Bill kicked up some of the biggest waves I've ever seen on our beaches (first hand, anyway). It looked like the West Coast beaches with the big, rolling waves breaking far off shore, and amazing surfers riding the waves for impossible amounts of time.

We arrived just before high tide; there was essentially no beach. The ocean reached almost to the dunes. At one point, a very big wave came all the way up to the edge of the dunes where we were standing. It swept away a garbage can and a recycling can. The recycling can had a lid. A guy standing next to DH grabbed it and took it back up into the dunes. Before anybody could grab it, the trash can rolled over and spilled its contents. We sort of stood there, not knowing what to do. I was barefoot but had pants on; DH was wearing shoes and socks with shorts. Neither of us wanted to get wet.

The Surfer Dudes were not so inhibited. One guy grabbed the garbage can and several other guys and one young girl waded into the water, picking up cans, bottles and bags of trash. The guy with the trash can waded in holding it out as though he were taking up collection at church. The kids made quick work of the cleanup, and then the Dude dragged the can up into the dunes and set it next to the recycling can.

DH and I stood there beaming. These kids made it clear by their actions (taken without thought or hesitation) they care about the beach where they practice their passion for surfing.

I walked away still not comprehending the attraction for the sport, but with a very different feeling for the tattooed and oddly dressed throngs who practice or follow it.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

For some reason, today I sort of meandered down the road of recalling people who have most inspired me. The first two names that popped into my head were Erma Bombeck and Mary Richards.

My self-image as a kind of literary type would love to have those first two names be Germaine Greer and Lucy Maud Montgomery, who were also authors I loved. [I would be willing to bet this is the first time those two ladies names have appeared in the same sentence and I bet they'd both love it!]

But, my heart remembered Erma Bombeck and Mary Richards, first.

Upon reflection, I have to admit that my heart did a bang-up job of dredging up the two people who I most wanted to be when I was a young woman.

First, I (and most other girls I knew) wanted to be Mary Richards. She was pretty. She had a totally awesomely cool apartment. She was a single, career woman living alone in a big city. She was a writer. She was everything I wanted to be. I don't think I missed one episode of the Mary Tyler Moore Show during its entire run, and I probably watched most of the reruns. A lot of my friends were similarly inspired by that show. She was a free-spirited woman who was not a bra-burning radical. She offered a sort of middle way for women who did not necessarily want to pursue a life of marriage and motherhood, but who also were not particularly radical.

My adulation for Erma Bombeck is a little more difficult to explain. I never had any intention of getting married or having a family (I ultimately did both, but it was not part of the plan). I was going to be Mary Richards, remember? I didn't want to be a mom living in Dayton, Ohio, writing about laundry and cleaning products. The things about Erma Bombeck that lit me up and inspired me were that she was honest and she was funny ... and she was from suburban Dayton, Ohio, which I took to mean you didn't have to be an anorexic, Bryn Mawr educated woman living in New York to be a literary success. (That was important because I was a fat, small town kid from rural Ohio.)

Women in the Midwest in the 1960's were not encouraged to be honest or funny. Bombeck managed to be both a nice lady and honest as well as funny as hell. Not to mention a fabulous writer.

I wanted to be a humor writer, documenting the life of a single career-woman.

I ended up a married, career-woman, who writes stories. I'm still working on the "funny" part.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

'Fessing Up

I have been debating about this, and can argue both "fer it" and "agin it", but I've decided to do it anyway.

Those of you who follow this blog (and I hate to admit how few of you there are) know that I've referred to it, but I've generally kept my fiction writing out of my blog. Lately my fiction writing has taken off (which is one reason I've been ignoring this blog: there are only so many hours in the day even for someone who sleeps as little as I do).

Recently I created a pseudonym under which I plan to publish my stories. I did that partly because my real name doesn't have much of a ring to it, and because I want to reserve it for use in my day job. [My boss has no use for blogging, bloggers, or people who waste time on the Internet. Taking a lesson from Dooce, here.] After creating my alter ego Writer Identity, I set up a blog for my fiction writing, and even self-published my first novel. There are eight more in the pipeline!

I'm coming clean with this here and now, mainly because I'm trying to steer as much traffic to my fiction site as I possibly can, and to let anyone who might care know why I've gone "silent" around here. This blog will remain active for my personal ranting, raving and commenting. I'm going to use my other blog for writing on writing.

Here are the Links:

Fictional Life - Writing samples and writing on the subject of writing (plus a whole lot of bitching and moaning about the process of trying to get published).

Always Faithful
- A love story, on several levels.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Heartwarming Moment

As I was leaving the grocery store this afternoon, I saw an old beat-up car pull into the row in front of me.  A young man got out; he was maybe in his late teens or early twenties, dressed in old NASCAR regalia. He walked around the car, opened the passenger door and a female hand reached out. That's what got my attention. It's been ages since I've seen a young man open a car door for a woman.

He pulled a couple of times but the woman did not emerge. I expected to see a heavily pregnant young woman get out, given the tender effort he was putting into trying to help pull her from the vehicle.

To my surprise, what emerged was not a fertile young thing, but an ancient crone, with an enormous dowager's hump and a twisted spine that looked painful even from a distance. Her hair was a mess from her efforts to get out of the car and she tried to smoothe it down, looking at her reflection in the windows of the car parked next to them. The young man helped her, gently stroking her hair.  It was still a mess, but she smiled up in gratitude and he smiled back with genuine affection.

She turned away from the car, took a moment to steady herself, and reached out for him, like a toddler reaching for Daddy.  He took her hand in his, and together they walked slowly across the parking lot.  She struggled to maintain her balance and forward momentum. He struggled to match her snail-like pace. 

As I drove by them, he looked at me, raised his eyebrows and smiled as if to say, "Whaddya gonna do?"

I smiled back with what I hope he perceived as admiration and respect, maybe even reverence.  

Blessings be upon you, young man.  You made my day! ..... and hers.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Home Improvement

I totally and completely hate home improvement projects!! Once when I was a kid, I volunteered to help my dad paint a railing around our porch. It was awful! I managed to avoid any other similar jobs around the house as long as I lived at home, other than gardening, which I hated, but which my parent made me do for my good and to help the family save money.

When I got married, I knew I hated yard work and gardening, so I told my Dear Husband I had allergies that would preclude me from working in the yard. I haven't worked in the yard in a quarter of a century. (I have no idea if I have physical allergies to yard work; I sure as hell have emotional allergies to it.)

We learned early on that we did not work well together. We approach projects differently. We have different work styles. If we have to collaborate on a project, we usually work separately. He does his part, while I find someplace else to be. Then, I do my part while he goes away.

This weekend we embarked on a floor tiling project. DH has tiled several rooms in our house before. Previously, he did the floors while I was at work. These days, he is very busy at his job and didn't have the luxury of working on the project while I was not home. We chose this week to tile the living room because Daughter Dear is on vacation.

He started today. I can't just sit here and watch him work, so I offered to help, hoping to God he would tell me to get lost. I hate working on home improvement projects (as in HATE IT, HATE IT, HATE IT). As cheap as I am (and I am truly the cheapest person I know), once I decide to do something around the house (which I don't decide to do until the situation is truly and positively a dire emergency), it is with the assumption that I am willing to pay someone (who knows how) to do it. Unfortunately, DH did not see this project in the same way. He did most of the work, but he had me help him move the furniture and carry in the tile. Then he had me down on my knees sponging grout and drying it. I may skip my visit to Curves tomorrow!

We don't know what we're doing and our home projects always end up looking like crap. Granted, in addition to being cheap, I am anything but "particular" about my house, but it bothers even me when things look positively shitty. Right now, our house is a nightmare for even me!

I guess no matter what it looks like when it's done, it'll be better than the totally awful carpet (that I never liked) which the dogs have destroyed.

I just wish I didn't have to help.

God, I know that makes me sound like a terrible person, but I'm a writer and an office worker, not a home decorator.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Dog Blogging

Little dog likes the new 'puter.

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