Monday, February 23, 2015

Comment: Tidying Up

Just got my copy of "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing" by Marie Kendo from the library. I'd been waiting a couple of months for an available copy,

And while I'm about a third through the book, I've already got the bug. Kendo's premise is you should only have things in your life that "spark joy". This means a lot of crap should exit your home. I worked on my clothes today, but modified it a bit. She says to take every article of clothing from every drawer and closet in the entire house and dump it in front of you and pick up each article and ask, "Does this spark joy?" I've addended another:"Do I wear this a lot?" The two aren't mutually exclusive. I have some dumpy sweats that I love but they don't exactly make me feel joyful, they make me feel warm and cozy. I guess that's a form of joy, isn't it? Utilitarian things can bring joy of a sort.

So I didn't do exactly what Kendo suggests, but I did go through all my drawers and closet and will probably make a pass at them again. I took her instructions and didn't listen to music or anything that could distract me. She is at once whimsical and fierce in her determination that anyone who does her system WILL NOT FAIL. There are a lot of bolded sentences in this book. But it's already a treasure. I'll finish reading it in plenty of time to reap the rewards, even if I make adjustments due to my reality. (Kendo appears young and pretty on the back of the book. Put another way, she does not appear to have kids. But I could be wrong.)

I'm hoping that this zeal will translate to big changes in our environment. Kendo promises this to be so. But I figure if I can get another few days like today where I was focused and had time to work on my own, I'll be able to get rid of some serious shit. Stuff that was weighing me down. 

Because looking at all of the costumes that I wear or have worn, upon scrutiny, are helping me shape who I am now, not who I aspired to be two years ago, or five years ago. I see some of my own whimsical clothing going to the donate bag, because they're just too young for me now. I'm almost fucking fifty. I can't wear a Hello Kitty slap bracelet, even ironically.

So this is a psychological experience for me as well as a physical one. I will be interested in seeing how this develops. It signals change, and promise, and hope.

You have to start somewhere.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

No School

We had a snow day today, and another one is to follow tomorrow. We have been inside and on screens for far too long. I'm not winning mother of the year anytime soon, with my lack of social activities for the kids. But we did wrestle and jump on the bed, which was the highlight of the day.

It's just so freaking cold out there. And it's much warmer in here, even though we live in a large, drafty and OLD house.

It's getting harder and harder for the kids to get bored, with all of the screen interaction they can have: games, Skyping, research/homework, blogging. My kids do all of these things, not to mention watch reality cooking shows rather religiously. We're all into "Chopped" and "Cuthroat Kitchen". We are learning about food presentation and we spoof it up in our own kitchen. I would be "chopped" at most meals, for presentation AND content. I just don't enjoy cooking, but I do enjoy watching other people cook.

And that's the news that's fit to print in this cabin fevery time.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Comment: Heavy Lifting Required

So my son's reading curriculum is tied to the social studies unit on the wars of the last century. Thus, there has just been one depressing book after another. "Night" by Elie Wiesel, "The Diary of Ann Frank", "Hiroshima". And now, "The Things They Carried", Tim O'Brien's seminal vietnam war-based novel. (Aside: I went to graduate school with his wife, Meredith, but I never met him so I'm just showing off because his book won all these awards.)

Anyway, my point is, this is some heavy shit. For sixth grade! Total downer. So I am volunteering to read the O'Brien book along with my son, to help him through it. I think the reading really gets to him, and he's already a sensitive kid to begin with. And squeamish. And he tells me the war book he's reading now, whose title eludes me, is "full of swears", which he does NOT like. 

It makes some sense to me that my son says he is depressed. His reading material is not helpful. Also, he is in middle school. A very small middle school with very few students and no close friends. He's lonely. And he's reading about war every day and every night.

We need to lighten things up around home. He does that by playing "Baldur's Gate", a D & D type of video game, and by walking backwards on our treadmill. He also wrestles with his sister and Dad and he and I lip synch to pop music while we clean the kitchen. Gotta have those light moments. 

I really feel for him.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Comment: It's not so bad

I thought I hated Valentine's Day, but it turns out I don't. What I don't like is the mass commercialism of it, and the implication that you must do something ultra romantic, that you're buying into the myth that chocolate and roses equal love.

My most romantic Valentine's Day has most likely already happened. My husband cooked me a four course meal, plus dessert, got down on one knee, and proposed to me on Valentine's Day many years ago. So I don't expect any romantic gestures beyond that. I mean, how do you top that?

Even without the fanfare, I know my husband loves me. His version of romance is generally to do things like wash my car for me or take out the compost because he knows I hate it. This works for me. I remember to get him hot sauce when it runs out and I try to use more spices in my cooking because he likes it.

Right now, he and my kids are baking a cake that they are keeping "secret" from me. They won't allow me in the kitchen (you'll get no argument from me on that). I'm of course playing along and know that whatever they've cooked up will be delicious because it was made with love. 

Forget the diamond earrings and the roses and baubles. A family willing to bake me a surprise chocolate cake is all the love I need. May you all have that much love in your lives.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Comment: Back at it.

It's been nearly four years, but I'm back on Facebook, and it's already affecting me positively and negatively.

On the plus side, I can promote my writing, Dat's Not It You Fool ,available in Kindle on amazon and my husband's business, Level.Works, which is also the homepage.

I've looked for a few friends and just found out one of them moved away! That was a bit disheartening. We weren't best friends, but I would have liked to have said goodbye at least. Ah well. Time's wheel continues to turn.

I've also chatted with my cousin, who is a doll. Some of my friends are doing pretty swanky things, which impresses me and in a small way depresses me, because I don't have a clear career path like most people. Well, not anymore. I think I've never been able to be totally conventional, so why should I expect my work history to be so? Still, people who have had jobs for 20 years in a row blow my mind! It's unfathomable to me. And not too shabby.

Lots of beginnings and reinventions going on, and Spring is coming, albeit with a nasty cold snap right now.

I've also now just spent an hour on Facebook and now it's time to make dinner. Duty calls.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Cognitive Shift

So I've started working with/for my husband and it's interesting. Seeing him as a boss is kind of weird. Our dynamics are different and it's a real gear shift to go from talking about Facebook posts to drying dishes with him and talking about our feelings or the day's events. I want to please him but in a different way. It feels a bit complicated.

Some of the time we spend is together, but most is not. So I am doing work for him, copywriting, that he needs to approve. I'm not used to that, as I have my own writing outlets, this blog included, where I can say whatever I want however I want. It is a new challenge to be writing for a specific audience, especially when your business is so young and most of the control is out of your hands. I've done copywriting before, but not for a spouse or relative.

So it's tricky, the ego mind shift one needs to make in order to go from partner to (unpaid) employee in the blink of an eye. I think that's called code switching, when you play different roles with different people. We all do it all the time. If I were going to go back to grad school for the third time (Will I ever learn?), it would be to study something like that--cultural anthropology, how people change and react in different situations and with different people.

But I don't see school days coming anytime soon. I've got stuff to do, including writing. For my husband's company as well as for myself. Best get on task.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Comment: Hibernation Mode

The mucous is flowing, the wind is a'blowing, it's fucking February once again. The shortest month that feels like the longest. A time I always dread, for fear of an outbreak of seasonal depression. So many of us get really low during the winter. I have a light box (and a panoply of other resources) to help me through. But I just can't wait for Spring. It fills me with hope that it's coming. We're already about a third through the month, so that's progress.

I was walking outside today and everything looks so grey and ugly. It's amazing what a makeover sunshine is, to everything it touches. So here's to sunny days, soon, I hope.

I'm very distracted because I'm editing one of the two novels I want to get published. My husband is doing a start-up and in a way, so am I. There's so much I don't know. The self-publishing route is very exciting to me. And there are other websites I'm going to try.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Comment: It is ready.

Hi Everybody, I just Kindle published a book! It's a selection of some of the more amusing and hopefully entertaining posts from the early years of QCC. I'm awaiting proofs before it becomes a real live book on Amazon. If you have a kindle, here's the link.

Dat's Not It, You Fool

I'm so excited about this! I have two novels I am working on but it is hard to edit in a vacuum. So I will try to explore some of these other websites that purport to help self-publishers such as myself get our books out.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Comment: Cabin Fever

We're all feeling it, at this time of year, and no thanks to Punxsutawney Phil. (I kind of feel bad for the oversized rodent. All this attention and in such unnatural circumstances. Whose idea was this, anyway? Do I need to go search this on the Interweb?)

As you may infer from my previous sentence, I've been watching a lot of "30 Rock", season one. It is one of the only things I have to watch while I ride the exercise bike in the basement. My phone is having issues with Netflix and the screen is just too fucking small to watch shows on. (When I watch "Downton Abbey" on my husband's 17 inch screened lap top, I feel like I'm at the movies.)

So I'm really living with the characters of "30 Rock" and I'm starting to sound like them. Blerg. Liz Lemon is such an awesome character, as are all of the others on the show. There isn't a dud among them. They're unique, quirky, and hilarious hijinks inevitably ensue. Just thinking about the show makes me smile.

Liz is everywoman, albeit with an amazing job, which most women don't have. Most women aren't pulling in six figures. Some of us aren't even pulling in four figures. Some of us aren't pulling in anything except laundry and groceries as we take care of our families. So we're not just like Liz. But we are.

So how does a middle aged semi-housewife such as myself relate to single, childless Liz Lemon? Because she's a dork. And I'm a dork. 

I love the scene where she takes her bra off in the magic special way we ladies know how to to it without ever taking our shirts off. (Can't be done with sports bras, sadly). She's just standing there with her bra in her hand when Floyd comes in and finds the flowers sent to Liz the he meant to send to his girlfriend, Liz Lemmler. 

Liz Lemon gets in awkward situations that many of us can relate to, and this is why she shines high in the pantheon of modern female TV characters. Those monosyllabic women (and men) on the "Law and Order" shows have got nothing on ole Liz Lemon. She's our everywoman. She uses a scented candle as deodorant, and mistakenly uses the men's room to clean up after a night editing scripts and watching a "Designing Women" marathon on Nick at Nite. It's these details that delight.

I could go on, and probably will later, but let's just toast to Liz Lemon. "30 Rock" may be over, but it's such a solid show that repeated watching only enhances the hilarity. 

But I think I'll stick to regular deodorant.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Comment: Hot n' Cold

Ahh, tweendom. It's only just beginning at my house. Moodiness is the feeling du jour, and it goes without saying that there are great highs and deep lows. And that's just at breakfast.

What can I say? I was such an insecure kid, I don't remember much about rebelling or yelling at my mother. I'm pretty sure I never yelled at my mother. Scratch that, I KNOW I never yelled at my mother. I'm not saying I didn't give her trouble. I did. And plenty. But in the rebellion domain, that all happened once I was out of the house. I was in puberty a WHOLE lot later than most gals n' guys. I had a delayed pubescence. (That sounds graphic, doesn't it? It just means I got my period late and didn't get drunk until I went to college.)

The challenge with the tween child is not to over react, because that sends you both down the slippery slope, the dominos all fall down, etc. Be still and calm when the storm comes through. Or as they like to say, lean into it. Accept that there will be sass. And yes, there will be sass. And door slamming. And deception. And low-level scheming. All part and parcel of the gig.

My challenge is to be as chill as possible. How do you warm up for that?

Monday, February 2, 2015

Comment: Oh, the Horror!

Yup, the inevitable happened. I was innocently bagging up my groceries today at Trader Joe's, using my seemingly unlimited stash of reusable bags when I picked one up and was struck by a stench so foul, I can not perfectly describe it. It was like garbage plus body odor plus rotten dead meat. It was my bags. The odor hurled itself out of the bags and into the air and I actually said something to the effect of, "Oh my, these bags smell terrible!" And the cashier was all, "At least you admit it, you should smell some of the bags that come across my counter". I was a little bit mortified, so the humor was useful. 

Stinky grocery bags. A new low. So I came home, unpacked my groceries, and washed my bags, Nobody ever talks about washing your reusable bags, but it's a really good idea and I may just win the Master of the Obvious award for common sense.

I just felt I needed to write about it. Is it a metaphor for life? For my life? Do I need to wash out the stinky bags of my psyche, to clean them and purge them, making room for new wealth? Or am I reading too much into this?