So . . . Here’s What Happened . . .

Yesterday, was my day off. I’d planned to use the gift certificate I received for Mother’s Day to get my nails done and then maybe blog about it because I know how much y’all adore every detail about my nail care routine.

But I also  had to buy a birthday present for Sunny’s friend, dishwashing detergent, pumpernickel bread, a specific birthday gift for my husband, balloons for Jane’s science assignment illustrating static electricity.  I needed to make dinner for a friend who just had surgery (which is why pumpernickel bread is mentioned in the previous sentence) and deliver it.  I then had to pick up the kids from school—because my husband graciously agreed to take them to school that morning—and get them home in time for my husband to take them to their respective music lessons.Dancing Cake

Piece of cake.

I perhaps slept in a little more than I wanted to but I did get on the exercise bike without too much whining.  Showered, dressed, and sufficiently caffeinated, I set off.

The first store had Sunny’s friend’s gift and the detergent,* but no pumpernickel, specific husband gift, or reasonably priced balloons.

The second store had reasonably priced balloons (plus the gift bags and birthday cards I’d forgotten to add to the list), but didn’t carry bread or gifts my husband would appreciate.

I zipped over to my nail appointment, by which I mean I followed at minimal safe distance a series of other drivers who seemed to be unclear about where they were going and how quickly they needed to get there, but were adamant about leaving their turn signals on to save time.  But I did make it with minutes to spare.

Say what you want about the frivolity of manicures, but it’s always lovely to have someone hold your hand for half an hour, add a little color to your life, and then massage pineapple oil into your sore writing muscles.  My nails are now a shade called “Imagination”, which might look beige under artificial light, but sparkles gold in the sunshine.  I like that.

I only wish I’d remembered my gift certificate . . .

The third store had my husband’s birthday present and every kind of bread I could have wished for, as long as I didn’t wish for pumpernickel.

The fourth store had pumpernickel.

I went home, hid some of my shopping,** and started scraping carrots, de-stringing celery, and denuding spuds for a vat of baked potato soup (this one with smoked sausage bits added to the onions—and yes, the cat still considers himself a key ingredient) to feed my friend’s family, plus enough for my family the next night.

Halfway through, my stomach demanded to know what I was going to do about its state of impending implosion, so I made lunch, ate it, and continued making soup.  Once soup had been achieved, I let it cool and called my friend for directions.  Her husband, who is a jwonderful man who fully intends to take on his beloved’s work load but had no idea she did quite this much, answered and gave me detailed directions that depended on landmarks that haven’t existed since well before we moved up here, so I secured the street address to their town house complex and dug out the GPS.

I love my GPS but its suction cup mount and I have a non-aggression pact, which it violated by popping free just as I reached the part of town I knew nothing about.  Figuring that GPSing from one’s lap was worse than texting, I pulled over and got my own back by licking the suction cup and slamming it onto the surface of my windshield, where it stuck . . . upside down.  I pried it free, tried again, and we all went on our way.  I don’t believe I was imagining the disapproval in the GPS’s voice, but I didn’t start it, so I didn’t care.

I delivered the soup, bread, a box of Godiva, and hugs to my medication-goofy friend and her exhausted husband, and went to pick up the kids.  While waiting in the Parental Line, I checked my e-mail and found that Jane’s Humanities teacher had cc’d me on an e-mail that supplied the four assignments Jane had missed that month, all of which were due the following day at 3:30.  To her credit . . . pun woefully unintended . . . she fully acknowledged that she needed to do them and told me she needed my computer.

I agreed, because legitimate excuses for writing avoidance are not to be ignored and I’m not interested in providing her with a scapegoat for her lousy grades, thank you.

Brain FailWhen we got home, my husband had put the potato soup in the fridge, which would have been perfect, except he’d inadvertently unearthed the roast I’d bought, which I’d meant to slow-cook Monday but had instead ended up dropping it into the black hole I have where other people keep their memory centers.  The date label suggested that I either cook it by the next day or lose it in the black hole we keep where other people have freezers.

So instead of spending the kids’ music lesson time doing a post on my busy day, I prepped the roast for crockpotting (it’s a Real Verb, Downith, I swear), and began gently reheating potato soup.

The kids came home, told me they didn’t like potato soup and would prefer Campbell’s, please, and dispersed to deal with their Humanities backlog and top up their RDA of cartoons, respectively, which may well have saved their lives and the state of Illinois the cost of a trial.

So I opened cans and heated things and kissed my husband good-bye . . . I think . . . and ended up burning the bottom of the potato soup, because of course.  But everyone was eventually fed and homeworked (she says) and showered, so I made good use of the dishwashing detergent, and sat down to write a belated post about I don’t even know.

And then my MIL came upstairs to complain that her toilet was bubbling, and the last time it did that, the sewer line outside the house had backed up into her back room.

It did that this time, too.

So that’s why my regular Tuesday post is being posted today and also why there will be no random Thursday post tomorrow.***

Because life is being random enough at the moment.

Time Flies

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*Which was so well-hidden behind a young man examining a bottle of drain cleaner and his full cart that I made three passes down the aisle before I realized he was blocking the shelf I needed.  When I finally stopped and said, “Excuse me,” he smirked and said, “Sorry, I have a girlfriend.”    I gave him Sunny’s best unimpressed look and said, “I’ll forgive you if you move so I can get that green box right there.”  Wait for the pitch before you lob it back, gentlemen.

**Not because my husband doesn’t know exactly what he’s getting, but to prevent the kids from opening the bag if front of him, pulling out the gift and saying, “Mom?  Who is this for?”  Bother birthdays and parenting often depend on plausible deniability.

***That and Sunny’s Girl Scout bridging ceremony Thursday evening.  And I just remembered that I have to iron all her badges on her vest.  And that the ironing board is in the back room of my MIL’s apartment . . .

 

 

 

Ducksign

Slow Duck

The library was closed yesterday, not because the Presidents whose Day it is cared nothing for literacy—they were a bit busy with other things—but because when City Hall is closed, so are we.

The kids were off school but in day camp and my husband had morning classes and afternoon appointments and my MIL was occupied with her own errands, so I had several hours to myself which I’d fully intended to use for writing, or maybe for thinking about writing, or maybe for intending to write but watching the eighth season to Would I Lie To You instead.

Or napping.

But just as I’d sat down and opened up my Odd Duck binder and plugged in my Odd Duck flash drive and opened up a browser window to fire up just one episode of WILTY . . . the screen informed me that I had no Internet access.

It wasn’t the computer—my desktop, tablet and phone all said our home network existed, but something wasn’t producing any of what it’s supposed to produce in order to fulfill its purpose as a source of Internet joy and pleasurably guilt-ridden procrastination.

I went downstairs and hit buttons and turned things on and off and called the provider to listen to a message saying everything was fine on their end, so whatever wasn’t happening was our fault (I’m paraphrasing).

No dice.

Reply HazyI’m one of those writers who is always asking the Universe/Powers that Be/Deity of my Choice/Random Banana Peel Generator/Available Magic Eight Balls for constant signs that I’m not fooling myself with this writing business.

Am I supposed to be a writer? Am I supposed to spend my time plugging away at this particular story? Is this really what I’m meant to be doing when there’s so much more to the world than a keyboard and the inside walls of my own imagination and the television remote has been left unguarded and there are three full cartons—not boxes, cartons—of Girl Scout cookies in the house?

Apparently, today, the sign was clear and the answer a very definite “Yes, you idiot.”Duck!2

So I sighed, sat down, and dove in headfirst.

Four hours later, I had hammered out most of the continuity wrinkles and plot changes and obvious stupidities up to roughly chapter twenty-two and added [NOTES IN BIG, BOLDED BRACKETS] about what scenes and details I’ll need to add to make things make sense, things I need to research to make sure the writers of that half-remembered episode of Law & Order hadn’t fudged their details, and a legal pad of side worries about whether or not I need to get rid of a character or maybe even a subplot.

I also had the shakes, so I stopped for lunch.

Then I dove back in for another hour or two, until I hit a strange place where parts of one chapter and parts of another seemed to mesh well, but not for the book I thought I was writing. The rest did appear to fit the book, but not necessarily with each other on a temporal level.

Or something. Not sure.  It honestly could have been me.

But I’d tipped into the Just Get It Done Now mindset, so I printed both chapters, planning to do some literal cutting and pasting, and also maybe some shredding and directed fireplay, because I was starting to develop mental blocks made of exhaustion and compressed short-term memory loss and when you reach that point, self-righteous shredding and the burning of sage seem perfectly reasonable reactions to plot confusion.

But then the WiFi returned and so did the kids.

I saw that as a sign, too, and knocked off for the day before I did any actual damage.

Probably. I hope.

I’ll have to take a look after work today.

You know, unless the WiFi is working.

House Wifi

 

Priority Pie, with Bonus Balloons

True confession time:

The past few months, I’ve become nearly immobilized by my own expectations.

It’s as if I’ve been standing in the center of a room that’s slowly filling up with small balloons: blue wishes, pink desires, purple promises, yellow fears, orange assumptions, red determination, green guilt.

The pressure isn’t heavy, but it’s there and I’m surrounded, and I can’t move.

Not forward, not back.

But when I realized that I was the one blowing up all these balloons, I also realized that I was the one holding the hatpin.

So, I took last week off to figure things out.

And make pie charts.  Just because.

Why pie chart

 

First, I wrote down a list of things I want to do and have to do and don’t want to do and can’t do and have to do before I can do and do be do be do be do.

And then I wadded it up and threw it away, because I already know that even if I can, somehow, have it all, I’ll never be able to have it all at the same time.

So what are the daily essentials that I need to function?

 

Timepie

There’s some necessary overlap, because my family and friends and writing* can keep me sane, if they so choose, and I can’t spend time with them or write or work if I’m not healthy, and I don’t have health insurance without work . . . so it’s more of a Venn Pie.**

All I have to do is figure out how to balance the slices on a daily basis.

Here’s the plan, so far:

Work:

Professional LibrarianI don’t have much leeway here, except for what I do on breaks, which usually involves a combination of the other parts of the Timepie.

But at least work is on a fixed, steady schedule:  I put in a solid eight hours a day, five days a week, work one night a month and every other Saturday.

So it’s easy to plan around—and three cheers for the aforementioned health insurance and timely mortgage payments.

Moving on.

 Health:

I like the idea of being healthy, I’m just not very good at following through.

I don’t sleep enough, I overwear my disposable contacts until my eyes hurt, all of my favorite activities are  sit-ivities, I’m a wee bit caffeine-addicted and consider the Comfort Food Diet a valid lifestyle choice. . . And while I’m not afraid of doctors, I don’t bother making appointments for myself unless I’m coughing up something disturbing or that nagging pain isn’t going away—or the stick tells me I’m up the duff without a GYN-OB.***

But it’s past time I make the time to make some changes, which includes consulting medical professionals who will help me figure out what changes to make.

Therefore, I’m declaring this the Year of Health, because the Year of Sarah Finally Accumulating Medical Charts in One Place After a Decade of ERs and Drop-In Clinics takes too long to say.

I’ve already started:  last week, I went to the dentist, who inspired me to hurry up and find a regular doctor by showing me a chart of my enamel-less teeth^ and asking me questions about acid reflux, sleep apnea, and tooth-grinding stress.

But scheduled doctor appointments, while occasionally problematic, aren’t as tough to fit in as the daily stuff.

The dietary improvements I’m trying out—I won’t bore us all explaining them—take no more time than my old habits, and neither does exercise, or what passes for it around here, which I’ve already been doing.  Mostly.

SleepHowever, there’s no question that I need more sleep. And to get more sleep . . . I have to sleep more.^^

And that takes time.  Which means I need to finish up the stuff I need/want/have to do in a timelier manner so I can go to bed earlier or get up later.

I mean, I could warp the space time continuum in order to add a few hours between 02:00 and 02:01. But since I’m trying to reduce the amount of caffeine in my system, I’m not going to challenge the Laws of Physics anytime soon.

At least, not without the okay from my doctor. When I get one.

So . . .where can I make room?

Family and Friends:

Nope.  Not budging.  Or if I am, it’ll be towards more, not less.

That I need family and friends time is a given.

But though I’ve been pretty good about keeping up with e-mails and texts and lunches (with friends) and driving and feeding and hugging (the kids), I’ve been shirking a lot of invitations to girls’ nights out (R movies and art shows and nice dinners) and girls’ nights in (G movies and fingerpainting and pizza) lately because there’s so many other things I think I should be doing, so even when I’m out (or in) with them, I’m not really present.

Green BalloonInstead, I’m off somewhere thinking about  all the other stuff I should/would/could have been doing, batting those balloons back and forth—supposing there’s room in my subconscious—and occasionally holding the rough twine tethering a floating ball of maroon resentment, which will turn the color of guilt about five minutes after I escape leave.

My family is the biggest source of those green balloons.^^^

Because as much as I complain, as much as I occasionally threaten to mail them all to my parents in a cardboard box (“Breathing holes are a privilege, kids, not a right.”), or secretly plan to run away from the circus, I kind of love these guys.  A lot.

I may kvetch (and blog) about interruptions and distractions, bad timing and my apparent ability to render all other adults in the house invisible, but at the end of the day—the end of all my days—I’ve do understand that I’ll never regret a single moment I’ve spent with them.°

And that pretty soon, the kids will stop asking for stories or attention or braids or even a Mom-shaped beanbag to lean against while they watch TV.°°  Better get in that quality time where and when I can.

I’ve already started working on this, too—and I found out that I’m not as resentful now that I’ve learned to ask for time back—three hours a week to run away from home.

Look!  That Sanity slice just got bigger!

As for my friends . . .  when I’m with them, I think I’ll let go of all the balloons and just be.

Balloon free

Sanity

This is gonna fluctuate with the ebb and flow and jostling of the other parts of the ‘pie.

But there’s a couple of solid changes I can make that may help—a few adjustments in, shall we say, medication.

We all have things we do, little rituals, little habits, that help us center ourselves.

One of mine is reading.  Always has been, always will be, not giving it up—though “existentially incapable of giving it up” is probably the correct way to put it.

Computer games are another habit of mine.  Specifically, Time Management games—probably because I can have as many do-overs as I want and there are cheats and walkthroughs, interesting storylines set to a snazzy soundtrack, and plentiful rewards and applause for a job well done.

Makes a fine change from reality.

But there’s centering, and there’s avoidance—and there’s ignoring all the other things I would/should/could be doing instead, in favor of yelling, “Five more minutes!  One more level!” ay myself, until my eyes burn, my mouse hand hurts, and I’m restocking grocery shelves or harvesting pumpkins or doling out playdough in my sleep, which began a lot later (or earlier, depending on your POV) than I’d intended.

It’s past time to put some parental controls on my inner child and try a little Real Life® Time Management.

I haven’t decided whether to limit myself to playing on the weekends, or try to earn screen time with wordcount/chapters/pages.

Or use the time to reacquaint myself with one of the hobbies I seem to have traded in for pixels and points.

But I set my alarm for an hour last night, tore myself away from The Beardless Wizard, and had an early bedtime.

Booyah.

Time Flies

So . . . what’s left?

Right.

Writing:

Writing Pie

I like writing fiction and I like blogging my version of reality.

Both of them are worthwhile, both are beneficial, both can be a blast.

But one of my goals is to be a published author. More to the point, I want to be a paid published author.

Which means I have to scale down the time I spend writing posts and boost the time I use on fiction, both the writing of and the querying of.

To this end, I’m going to be dropping one post a week, to start, and I won’t be working on posts until I produce pages.

That also means the timing of publication—which has been holding steady at Noon CST for a while—is going to be more random.

Like today, for example.

And none of them are going to be as crazy long as this one, believe me—you’re getting all of last week’s at once.

Talk about your time savers . . .

Toy Balloons

 

__________________________

*To be honest, I write interesting stuff when my sanity slips.  But I wouldn’t want to live in that headspace full-time, and my family also prefers that I’m here more than there. Maybe; I’m told I can be amusing while on bookbrain.

**Off-topic Inquiry:  Can a Venn Pie be a Real Thing?  Strawberry, Blueberry, and Cherry, for example? Would I need to invent a new pan or just make and freeze seven kinds of pie (yes, I drew a Three-Pie Venn and counted) and carefully reassemble?  Or have I just proven (proved? indy?) that the Sanity Slice is just wishful thinking?

***No, I’m not trying to tell you something. The equipment still works, but the factory is closed.

^No cavities, though.  Weird.

^^This would’ve probably dawned earlier on someone who isn’t as sleep deprived as I am.

^^^Any guilt my friends give me is the motivational kind and much appreciated.  Thank you.

°Even the two-kid-solo-parent clothes shopping trips. Stay tuned for that post; it’s a lulu.

°°But not money; we’ll always have my overdraft.

 

 

Back up for a Second . . .

I’ve kept to my self-inflicted curfew for a week now, and barring that first night, when I missed it by fifteen minutes, I’ve either gone to bed at 10:30 or even before.

The effects of an extra measly half-hour or hour of sleep are interesting.  Showering with my eyes open is a novel experience—I haven’t mistaken anything for the shampoo since last Wednesday.  It’s also easier to put in my contacts for some reason.

Despite my worries that I would be decreasing my already questionable productive writing time, I’ve managed to do some solid work on what appears to have been chosen by my subconscious as my Next Non-Pigeon Drop Project, though it’s early days, yet, so who knows.  I have a sheaf of possibilities—not to mention the Nano novelettes—and it’s proving slightly difficult to step off  the paths that have been worn into my imagination.

And to be honest, I’m a little leery of dropping (pun not intended) the Pigeon mindset—I’m not sure I should let it entirely go until it find a home and edits are finally final.  But I am starting to pry my mental fingers from it, very gently, one by one.

And I’ve stopped carrying around the Big Pink flash drive which has been my constant companion for over a year and contains all my Pigeon drafts, notes, character charts, outlines, synopses, queries, etc., plus a few other things as well.

It’s an odd feeling—weirder than waking up before breakfast.

It feels a bit like forgetting to put my wedding ring on after I make biscuits–though instead of looking at my bare finger and gasping in shock, I slap my front right pocket and my heart hits my large colon with a panicked bang.

I made regular file back-ups—I learned that lesson the hard way, with a couple of heartbreaking refreshers—but there was an emotional investment in having my book with me wherever I went, even if I knew I wouldn’t be anywhere near a computer.  A constant reminder and focus.

But it’s time to step back a bit.  It’s not just that I need time and separation from Pigeon right now so I can send it out into the world without hyperventilating,* it’s that my laptop is having trouble reading Big Pink and I’ve decided it needs a rest from riding around all day in a warm pocket and being dragged out and jammed into strange USB ports and I just realized that I sound like a cyberpimp for a CGIgolo or something, which is certainly not my intention.

Pink ThingIt is also not my intention to lose anything on that flash drive, so after a particularly frustrating five minutes the other night,** I gave Big Pink its own folder on my desktop and whisked it away to the Small Drawer of Retired Flash Drives, where it will share war stories with the former agent known only as “F:”,*** which also has a memorial desktop folder.

My organizational system defies logic, which I like to see as just another layer of security.

Regardless, I appear to be moving on—and on a bit more sleep than usual.  We’ll see how it goes.

Think it’s too soon to adopt another flash drive?

How do you move on from major projects?

________________________________

Don’t Forget!!!

 You have until midnight CST tonight to send me your Chrishanukwanzmadanfestivus Poems for a chance to win the CafePress mug of your dreams.

The rules, regs, and my poor effort are here.

Happy Writing!!

________________________________

*Which doesn’t bode well for the first couple weeks of Jane and Sunny’s college careers.

**During which I may or may not have screamed at my laptop, “What do you mean you can’t detect it?  It’s right here and bright stinkin’ pink!!” and Sunny may or may not have pointed helpfully to my laptop lid and said, “Hold it up to the camera eye, Mommy, right there.”

***So named after its original designation on my first laptop.  I am a simple people.

Random Thursday: Canon Blasts, Einstein’s Office, and the Light at the End of a Very Busy Tunnel

No, I didn’t misspell cannon. You’ll see.

______________________________________

crazy parenting fails - Children Have a Busy Life

Barring one softball game tonight—though it may be rained or flooded out, the way the weather is falling out of the sky this morning—one day camp registration picnic tomorrow, and a church picnic and a graduation party Sunday (for which I still have to pick up an Office Max card), my To Do List From Hell is done, y’all.

I can see June from here!  And it looks relatively peaceful.*

So now, I guess I get to make a list of stuff I want to do, right?

Um, right?

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Liquid Flowers

epic win photos - Liquid Flowers WIN

Jack Long captures calculated splashes with high-speed film.

He has more on Flickr.  Check out the bubbles!

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Firing up Pachelbel’s Canon

Told you I got it right.

If only the Piano Guys could do they same thing for Pomp and Circumstance . . .

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

The Workspace of Genius

See?  I do have something in common with Einstein besides several righteous cowlicks:

funny science news experiments memes - Einstein's Office


Just swap the math on the board for a shopping list and plot points and put a cat in the middle of it all and this is our dining room table my writing space.

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Ask Tomorrow—He Knows

A co-worker and I recently spent a borderline-unreasonable amount of time trying to reconstruct an old Abbott and Costello skit while we were sticking RFID tags in DVD cases.

We didn’t  get it quite right, as neither of us could remember the shortstop’s name.

But later, when another co-worker said, “I don’t know,” in the middle of the workroom, she was interrupted by a chorus of “Third Base!” from all corners—and an eyeroll from the nearest supervisor.

So, so worth it.