Showing posts with label Just Write. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Just Write. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

an olive branch: {brown bread with sorghum butter}

This winter weather and all its polar vortexes (vorti?) have been the great equalizer among inhabitants of New England. I'll explain how and share a recipe for brown bread with you, but first I need to tell you about a recent eureka moment.

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In discovering more about the writing craft, I've been learning types of stock characters. One day recently, I had an epiphany about why I didn't fit with Bostonians. I let myself become a stock character...

A variation on the "Manic Pixie Dream Girl" trope, I'm the manic dixie dream girl {pun gloriously intended}. I'm the southern girl whose only role in the narrative is to cheer up Bostonians. The bubbly, available pal who says cute things like "Y'all" and "Bless her heart." But most importantly, I have no complex issues of my own, and I never ever complain.

This personality description is of course oversimplified; that's the point of a stock character, right? But it does at least partly fit me and my southern roots. Where I come from, the first rule of depression club is we don't talk about depression club. Complaining about the weather, reporting the symptoms of your cold, or whining about your stress level represent a type of self-indulgence that is strictly forbidden in polite southern conversation.

I kept my mouth shut about the weather both due to my upbringing and out of fear that locals would laugh off any dissatisfaction as typical of a wimpy southerner. Oh, how adorable. You just can't hack the New England winter! By attempting to prevent them from labeling me, I ended up pigeonholing myself into one (boring) interminably cheerful side.

But I lucked out this time. This winter has been different. Cold, different. It's one of the coldest seasons we've had in something like fifty years. Like I said beforeeveryone is complaining. It's great! I'm finally able to come out of my shell, to feel like one of the gang. Because, you know what? Sometimes that damn bear eats you, and pretending otherwise doesn't stop it from being so.

Friday, March 21, 2014

the golden oldies

When I was a little girl, my parents and stepmom introduced me to many musical styles, from Blues to Beatles to B-52s. I can barely remember a moment a record player was not seeing action in my parents' homes. Those were happy times.

c. 1984. Ignore the awkward bunny and instead direct your
attention to the records in the corner. So much space taken up!


Friday, February 21, 2014

love is an open door

Music from the movie Frozen is always in my head. The girls want to listen 24/7, and I can't blame their passion. I can still clearly recall the gusto with which I belted out the soundtrack to Footloose. Exhausted was the needle of my record player when I was five and six-years-old.

These songs do make better little girl ballads than Kenny Loggins' catalog. But on the flip side, earworms are a less pleasurable side effect to the album's constant rotation. They randomly and unexpectedly burrow into my thoughts throughout the day. Doing dishes, folding laundry, sitting at my computer, I hum the catchy tunes. Soon enough, I find myself musing about how accurate and poignant the message is behind "Love is an Open Door."

[LOL. I'm sorry, I've never rickrolled you before, and I simply couldn't resist. Here's the real link.]

True, exhorting the enlightening merits of my children's music is downright nutty sentimental of me. But you must already know about my sentimentality. If not, allow me to introduce myself: I am a complete and total sap.

But sometimes being sappy gets the job done! I have been a much more productive writer in the past few months, signing up to contribute essays in several places. I am also helping my dad with a project that is teaching me much about the writing craft.

In that vein, here's a book I recommend: "Several short sentences about writing," by Verlyn Klinkenborg. True to its title, it is a collection of short, powerful sentences about writing. Not so much advice as little snippets of truth, this book is what might happen if you turned Jack Handey on his head so he actually made sense.


My bed: a favorite place to write. Just me, the cat, and the sun.
{and sometimes laundry}
{ok, always laundry}

Earlier this month I submitted an essay for a collection of doula stories. Ever the romantic, I contemplated including John Lennon's quote about love and fear in my composition. You know the one. It goes like this...
"There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life."

So here's my sappy conclusion. When we let love drive, it is an open door. We say yes, even when we are afraid. New opportunities pop up. Some might seem too good to be true; I probably don't need to tell you how those turn out. But all in, life could be a better ride this way.

p.s. Here's Charlie singing Let it Go, another of the Frozen songs:

video

Thursday, January 30, 2014

on writing, adorably

It has become a tradition for me to begin blog posts with an aside, a practice I could also refer to as "My 11th grade English teacher probably hates me." Hi Ms. Clinch! Anyway, this time my aside is somewhat related to what the rest of my post is about, and it starts with you reading stuff on other places on the interwebs. But promise to come back afterward.

Okay, here goes. Firstly, I am turning last year's post about gut health and antibiotics into a three-part series on MindBodyGreen, and the first article is up today. Go check it out! Next read this Onion article about Boston. Finally, watch this youtube video of bad NFL lip reading, which has nothing to do with anything but was so funny I nearly actually fell out of my chair laughing. [Dad, Billy will love it.]

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Oh hi, you're back. I thought of that Onion article when I mulled over the concept of this post because it's kind of how I feel telling people I'm thinking of writing full time, like, as a career. They smile and say, "That's great!," but in my head they are saying, "Awww, how adorable. She thinks she can wriiiiite."

People are probably not actually thinking that at all. Or, maybe a few are, but my anxiety isn't about them; it's just an excuse to keep me from writing. Once I stripped away those lame excuses, I had an epiphany. It's me. I'm the only thing keeping me from writing. This realization is both good and bad because now there's nothing stopping me. Well, nothing except watching that youtube video on repeat. Or feeling bad that I am not always writing now that I've had that epiphany, then gorging on peanut butter and bananas while watching that youtube video on repeat.

But even with all that banana-gorging and youtube gawking, I am somehow managing to write a little every day. I owe a lot of my inspiration to my parents, who are possibly the two most encouraging souls around, and...is this turning into an acceptance speech for a phantom award? I'll wrap it up before I get played off the stage...and to Anne Lamott for writing her very funny, very encouraging book about writing, Bird by Bird.

Something you may not have noticed, unless you're one of my children's grandparents, is that I haven't been writing about or posting Instagram photos of Vivi as much so far in 2014. There are several contributing factors to this trend. But the most essential point is that she is growing into a person with her own thoughts, feelings, and opinions, and I think she deserves to have her privacy back. It's bittersweet to see her become a little lady and be so proud of her but also realize that Vivisms are probably all but gone for good (which means no more tripping on butt cracks). I still write about being a parent, but I think I'll post less about my kindergartner's day-to-day behaviors and more about the postcard-worthy accomplishments.

My BRF when I am reading what I've written...more like CRF (creepy resting face)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

{3/52}: on form and function

3/52: Post swim class warm-up with blankies and vanilla milk.

On the one hand, I wish I had a better portrait for this week. On the other, this iPhone snapshot really does do our week justice. It is gritty, blurry, glassy-eyed, and struggling to find composition. We are freezing cold up here! The high today was something like 10 degF, and we're getting a snowstorm tonight.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

{1/52 & 2/52}: writing intentionally

1/52: Note helpful tongue.

2/52: Note new rug! What do you think?

I wasn't sure at first if I was going to do another year of the 52 project, so I let a few weeks go by to see how I felt. And I missed it! I consider it forced journaling, plus it gives me a great way to keep track of good photos of the girls. Since I didn't post anything the first week of the year, I'm squooshing them both into this post.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

me time

The most unusual and delightfully surprising change has happened to my daily routine since the girls have started school again. I'm going to tell you the following without trying to sound like a braggart. I HAVE FREE TIME. Okay, so I suppose writing in all caps isn't the best way to appear like I'm not bragging. But if you're a mom like me with two young children, and you feel like you'll never have a minute to yourself again, like your brain will never fully work again, take heart. You will get time to yourself. You might even get your brain back. It happened for me, and it will happen for you too.

The surprise isn't that I am getting free time, it's that it totally caught me off guard. Here I am, the mom of two potty-trained individuals who can entertain themselves for literally an hour or more without needing me, and I was somehow unaware that I'd have more time to myself when kindergarten got going. In my defense, my brain wasn't working too well prior to a week ago...

Jumping on the couch, a morning favorite.

A great part of this set-up is that even when Charlie is home with me (she still only has school two mornings a week), she is so easily entertained and quiet that it's like being alone at times. I can set her up with an activity, like an art project or a stack of books, and I get a full thirty minutes of time to think, write, read, or switch laundry. As a result, I'm currently sitting in my dining room at the computer with no mess in sight, and Charlie is dancing nearby to a Raffi song.

Not sure what she's doing here. But she's quiet as a mouse.

Now I just need to decide what to do with my time, other than read my stack of books and laugh until I almost fall out of my chair at the Bloggess. Once I had a few minutes to think about what I might like to do, the answer became obvious. Write! Nate has been so helpful at organizing my thoughts and ideas (turns out there's more to consulting than just prolonging the problem), so I've even developed a framework for what I want to write. It irks me when bloggers--especially Facebookers-- are vague because they hope people will be on the edge of their seats ("I can't tell you about it, but something amazing is about to happen to me!!"), but I honestly still don't know what to tell you yet. When I do, I promise not to be vague.

I remain, Reader, your most humble and faithful aimless digressor,
~J

p.s. For the two of you who are wondering, yes I did in fact get the idea for the "me time" title from Cards Against Humanity. It might just be my favorite card.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

my quest to become a {gulp} storyteller

my girlfriend's boyfriend

This weekend we went to see the comedian Mike Birbiglia perform his show, My Girlfriend's Boyfriend. He is so funny and such a wonderful storyteller. I loved that his act had multiple small story arcs within one larger arc, and so many of the jokes would come back later in the bit. I also appreciate that, when compared with the tragic moments in Sleepwalk with Me, My Girlfriend's Boyfriend is at its heart a love story, full of the missteps and heartache but also pockets of optimism that he delivers with such honesty and self-deprecation. It was fun to see the show in Worcester, close to his hometown; the audience was as rowdy as I expected. [If you haven't yet, you should check out Mike's film version of Sleepwalk with Me on Netflix].

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

the half-open door

The trouble with staying on top of clutter reduction is that occasionally I come across an item I don't feel like getting rid of but know the usefulness has expired. Case in point:

The last few remnants of Pat the Bunny and the sticky, forgotten Hello Bee, Hello Me.

These items are no longer needed. They aren't used. Most days, except for recently when I was tidying, they aren't even though about. But boy, start considering throwing them in the garbage, and bring on the w a t e r w o r k s.

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