Sunday, August 3, 2014

Pondering Publishing

I've got two novels and some other works in progress and I don't know where to begin with trying to get any of them published. I could go ahead and self-publish, a subject about which I have some knowledge, having done it twice before. But it doesn't get my book OUT THERE. I obviously will need to understand and deal with marketing anything I actually want to sell.

And I'm sort of torn about the purpose of my writing. Do I really want anyone to read it? There are certain things in them that make me vulnerable as well as affects others I know and care about. So where is that line? Am I just looking for vanity publishing or do I really want to sell my writing?

There is so much information on the web about publishing, either yourself or through someone, that I feel totally overwhelmed. Did I mention I'm collaborating on a children's book with someone, too? We have no idea what we're doing. 

So that's where we are. Overwhelmed and confused. Some places will edit for you and make your book get out there (wherever "there" is), but they cost money. It shouldn't cost that much to self-publish. Are these companies taking advantage of a vulnerable and needy aspiring writer population? Undoubtedly.

So we need to figure out how to get our work into the hands of people who will pay US, not the other way around.

The whole thing feels like an identity crisis, which, in some ways, it is. Who am I as an author and what do I want to send out to the world?

I don't know.

Thursday, July 31, 2014


I'm listening to my kids talk on the porch with their friends.  It's so interesting to hear them telling and re-telling recent events, and getting their take on it. They are especially interesting to hear on who among them they consider popular. How do kids figure this out? They all do. But it's fascinating to see/hear how they talk about each other TO each other. They're so much more honest and up front about things. They were talking about where they ranked, but were very matter of fact about it.

They also talked, or perhaps the better word is, gossiped, about this one little boy who is, unfortunately for his sake, the neighborhood pariah. He has terrible impulse control, anger issues, and poor social skills, all encompassed in a huge mask of bravado to conceal his massive insecurities. Your heart breaks for him.

The thing is, he's come a long way, socially speaking. He doesn't randomly walk into our houses any more, nor scream through the mail slot "IS ANYBODY HOME?" over and over.

He seems like he's growing up, and maturation is always a good thing. But yesterday he hit one of the neighbor boys with a baseball bat. So we're not there yet.

Social stratification starts young. Layers of power and status begin in early youth. It really is amazing.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Growing Up

Summer time and the living is unstructured and easy. Sort of. Lots of screen and complaints about being bored. Eventually the kids get outside and all is well again. I can't have them in camp all summer, that would suck, but these long days of neediness and complaint aren't the most fun. I always do better with structure, and right now there is a serious lack of it. So I am kind of stumbling along behind my kids, picking up after them and trying to get them to eat on some sort of reasonable timeline.

They are growing up and out and do not need much from me a lot of the time. Until they do, and then they really do. I guess I also have to get used to not being needed as much. When they were young, parenting filled my every waking (and often, sleeping) moment.

Now? Not so much.

It is harder to connect with my kids these days, as they literally zoom by me in their rollerblades and I sit with my heart in my mouth for fear of another broken bone.

Parenting is never over. It just keeps evolving. I need to remember that and not get too agitated about it. That's my challenge. I need to grow up, too.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mellow Out

I'm attempting to be a mellower person, inspired by Buddhism and the fact that life is too short to spend it with my unders in a twist about every little thing.

An example: my two kids and two friends are outside on the back patio deck blasting music and playing a drum machine. Sine the friends live next door, and nobody lives next door on the other side at the moment, I doubt that anyone in the neighborhood cares. So why should I? At least they're outside.

I used to get super uptight when there was this much noise, and while it's still not my favorite thing, the kids seem to be enjoying it and it isn't hurting anybody. I just need to take it in and not get involved.

That's another area of self-improvement I'm intent on: not getting involved in my kids' petty disputes with their friends. That smacks of helicopter parenting, and I don't want to do that to them (or myself). So my challenge is being able to listen to them argue, but not step in. Or, for example, when one of my children comes home crying about an injustice, they are now old enough that they should be able to use their words in a conflict situation as opposed to "running to tell".

This is challenging work. It's hard work being mellow.

Saturday, July 5, 2014


I'm about to be child-free for two weeks, which both daunts and thrills me. I can do whatever the fuck I want, but there's still a gaping hole where they kids should be. I'm happy to share them with their grandparents, but two weeks feels long. Last year they kept them three weeks and I nearly lost my mind. This year feels more manageable at two weeks. I actually won't be home when they get home, I'll be on a quickie visit with my sister. But I'll be home the next evening, so it's not so bad.

So I have these lofty goals of organizing my office and the kids' rooms, and all of this and I'm just a bit overwhelmed by it. Guess I need to do things one step at a time and try not to get too overstimulated.

I have various doctor and therapy appointments during the week to give me some structure, which is good. A gal needs something to hang her hat on.

I just uncovered a book given to me by my best friend, "The Idle Parent", at least I think she gave it to me. I have no memory of buying it. I am going to give it a look-see. I could stand to back off a bit from the hovering mode I sometimes get into.

I know she gave me "Free Range Parenting", which is probably along the same lines as "The Idle Parent." So maybe I bought this one as a follow up. 

I have more books than I can possibly read and it's time to start figuring out what goes and what stays. It is so hard for me to give away a book. i find my identity tied to so many of them, that giving a book away is like giving up on my dreams. If I get rid of some of my early childhood books, does that mean I won't work in early childhood? I'm still in early childhood education now, only with more of an arts emphasis. The nuts and bolts books for a full time preschool teacher are the ones I'm grappling with. To keep, sell or give away? I just don't know. It's an incredibly privileged position to be in, I realize that. So I am not complaining. Just musing.

What books are the most meaningful? What books do I feel most essential to me as a teaching artist, which is my identity at the moment?

I don't know. Guess I'll just have to go book by book, bit by bit. See what happens.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Uncouth Youth

So I'm just back from a walk in the woods with my kids that had some unsavory elements, in the form of four middle school-aged kids, three girls and one boy, who were hollering and shouting and just being general low grade obnoxious.

Until they saw us. Then the boy just kept yelling at us, really aggressively, "Sup?!" over and over. We said hello and I stared down one of the girls who was trying to give me the stinkeye. But since my kids didn't say anything and I didn't say much, the boy started shouting, "Can't you talk, bitch?" which, needless to say, was unsettling,

Where does this hatred come from? Sure, they're probably just a bunch of bored tweens looking to stir shit up, but what could they possibly gain from us, such low hanging fruit? We were just generic mother and children minding our own business.

We walked away and unfortunately it was not the way home, so we eventually had to turn back, which we did. We saw a young woman with a dog and asked if we could walk with her, safety in numbers. And when we did, in fact, run into the foursome again, one of the girls admired her dog and the "Sup?!" Boy just kept yelling "Sup?!" but it was easier to ignore.

I do know that my kids now know bitch is a bad word. I feel lucky I didn't swear back at those fucking kids. Because I sure as hell felt like it. I felt like, if they were to come at us in any way, I would have fucking gone off the rails to protect my kids. I've never felt vulnerable in that park we walked and I often run in, until today.

Which I think is just sad.

Saturday, June 28, 2014


It's weird having two blogs, because I have no idea who, if any, are reading both. This one's been dormant for over three years, and my Aspiring Buddhist one has been going a good six months.

I find myself doing two takes on the same topic. Today in my Aspiring Buddhist blog, I wrote about the experience we had last week when my son and I went to get his cast taken off. And the nurse/PA/cast cutter asked if he was named after the prophet from the Bible. We said yes, and then my son quickly chimed in cheerfully, "But we're not Christians. We're secular humanists."

The cast cutting lady wasn't familiar with the term and I felt squirmy because saying you're not Christian in this predominantly Christian country is a little edgy, a little bit radical. It lumps you in with atheists and other perceived haters. It's kind of a bad word, like "liberal". So I tried to fumble an explanation about freedom of religion and doing unto others and letting them believe whatever they want as long as they don't hurt anybody. I didn't even get into my Buddhist leanings. I think that may have blown Mrs. Cast Cutter out of the room.

I love how confident my son is about our family's predelictions in the spiritual world, but I hope he doesn't confront someone who says something cruel and hurtful to him when he lays his heart on his sleeve.  I actually worry about my kids being ostracized due to their lack of religion, in a way.

That's kind of sad and scary. If only we could all just be Buddhists, we'd be fine. I'm just saying.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

For Them

My son just mentioned in passing that he worries more when I worry. And since we both have OCD, this makes not worrying a major challenge. His comment hit home since I am ever doggedly working on my abilities to cope in the life I've been assigned, to fight the chemical demons that make normalcy seem like fantasy. Talk about pressure.

I've got to get my shit together to keep my family's shit together. This is no joke. And not for the faint of heart. 

Do it for the kids seems most apt.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Books, Books and More Books

So I think I'm falling into some bad habits: reading self-help books. I mean, I have shelves of them and how much more improved am I than before I read them all? Why do we need so much advice about how to live? Are we overthinking this life much? Should we constantly question everything will do or will that lead to madness? Have I asked enough of the RIGHT questions, and what are the answers to those questions? Have I irritated you yet with my constant questions?

The happiest and sanest people I know do not read self-help books. My husband is someone I consider very sane and rational, but he'd rather go get a perm than read a self-help book. My sister would rather watch The Wiggles than read a book on self-improvement, and she's mighty sane.

So who is reading all of these books? Neurotic people like me. We hope, with each book, that THIS will be THE ONE, the one that transforms our lives for the better. So we read, and we wait. But without action, we won't get anywhere. If we just sit around staring at our belly buttons not much is going to get done.

The one book I know of that really helped me and continues to inspire me is "This is How" by Augusten Burroughs. It's not one of his famous memoirs, but rather a very brutal, bare bones manual for life. It's fucking genius. So I recommend that to anyone, whether they feel the need to be "helped" or not. It's just good, no bullshit writing with spot on ideas about life.

My friend just loaned me "The Girls at the Kingfisher Club". I could use a break from all the non-fiction I regularly consume.

In the improv studio where I went last spring there is a chalkboard at the entrance and it says: "You are enough." Now that's good advice.

Sunday, June 22, 2014


Just spent 28 hours with my best friend, catching up on each other's lives. It felt like five minutes though it was longer. We take whatever time we can to get together. We were all business with our agenda of talking points. (You think I'm kidding.)

We had great talks and long walks and a fabulous dinner and lots of belated birthday chocolate cake. What more could you ask for?

It's like Winnie the Pooh says, "It's much friendlier with two".

I couldn't agree more.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Chugga Chugga

Today is the longest day of the year. Perfect for doing a 36 hour compressed weekend with my best friend. And the bonus? A train ride.

I love being on the train. It allows one a certain level of privacy and freedom. This is true especially if you are lucky enough to get a pair of seats to yourself. I always spread out and hope people will avoid me when they get on the train and look for a seat mate. Too bad I can't sport a bunch of scary tattoos so nobody will sit with me. I have too friendly a face unless I'm putting on my bad ass face. Or my totally distracted, engrossed face.

I used to get trapped into talking to seatmates, but I'm smarter now. I have headphones on at all times, even if I'm not listening to anything. (Who would know?) I also avoid eye contact with everyone but the conductor, who is usually charming and efficient.

And I've started taking business class. Sometimes it's cheaper than a regular seat! Go figure. Apparently we get free beverages in the cafe car, but I've made it my mission to always pack enough to sustain me the entire five and half hours to get where I'm going without resorting to dubious train food (I'm a bit of a snob about that). It's kind of a point of pride to me to never see the inside of that cafe car. I never know where it is anyway, so why bother?

I do, however, always use the bathroom, sometimes excessively (thimble bladder). Once I walked in on some doofus who hadn't locked the door. Who doesn't lock the door in a public bathroom?!

Other hazards of train travel, are hoisting your back up on the top rack without looking like a complete idiot. And that's silly to worry about, because you don't know any of the people on the train and you'l probably never see them again anyway.

Being on a train is like being in limbo,  purgatory. You're here and not here. It's cool.

And the wifi is awesome.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Interruptible Activities

Okay, so it's day three of Camp Mom and the kids are already bored. Imagine my surprise. I deliberately did not overschedule them for this first week after the end of school. It's important for them to have down time and be a little bored, frankly. Then they will enjoy the other activities that are planned for them. At least that's my hope.

Being in transition is difficult for many people, myself in particular. I don't know where to hang my hat, and I feel all discombobulated. The challenge in being a stay at home parent is that while your children may be growing more independent, they still need you and you mustn't forget that and get too engrossed in anything while they are under your care.

Because there is the inevitable issue, be it a scrape, a meal, an argument, a bruised ego. All of these things tend to require immediate fulfillment, so if you're doing something engrossing (like meditating or exercising) then you will be frustrated at the constant interruptions. So I'm trying to figure out ways to still be doing things as well as being there for my kids.

Things like blogging, which are easily interrupted.

And slowly going through my bins in my office. Little projects I've been putting off for ages. My house has plenty of demands. I just have to prioritize, and my kids always come first. That's key.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Long Day's Journey into Summer

I think I need a little more room to vent my spleen. I have my new blog, The Aspiring Buddhist, which is where I go to make observations on life and interbeing and other personal and emotional stuff.

But I also feel like complaining. So...I'm back, baby!

Why is summer break SO LONG? It's almost three months and, to quote Ayun Halliday about parenting, "it's fucking brutal, mate". My kids may be older and more independent but there is still drama to be had left and right, and I'm still needed, albeit more as a background player and supplier of juice boxes and pretzels. These long, unstructured days are daunting to me. I have some help with some of them, which is great and much appreciated.

But the days loom long and large ahead of me, and it's ONLY THE FIRST DAY.

I need me some stamina.