Posted by: Amanda | June 22, 2011

Confession of a small-town geek

Geeks are not cool in Cherokee, Alabama, where I grew up. I spent years of my life trying to reinvent myself as someone else–a jock, for instance–to try to fit in this small town. But, it never worked. Neither of them worked–me being a jock or me fitting into the social fabric of Cherokee.

Oh, I never was a total outcast. I had one really close friend and a few other friends and a steady boyfriend all through high school. I was in clubs–even got elected secretary of the literary club once. I played sports. I did most of the things a normal person did until my senior year when I decided to not go to senior prom (junior prom was one of the biggest wastes of money I’d ever seen in my life). In that senior year of high school, I also decided to not play sports at all. For the first time, I started sensing who I might be and who I might become.

When I was young, probably 8 or 9, I spent nearly the entire summer reading every book that the Cherokee Public Library had to offer that my parents considered acceptable for me to read. By the time I was 13, I had read through another nearby library’s shelves. Thank goodness for the Helen Keller Public Library in Tuscumbia, Alabama, which gave me the chance to read more books than the closet-sized library in Cherokee had. I read a series of historical fiction books about young women who left home and went on these great adventures. Granted, a lot of them ended in a Hallmark made-for-TV sugary sweetness that would make most people gag. But it was the journey that transfixed me the most. Wanderlust grabbed me and wouldn’t let go.

Being a bookworm wasn’t my only nerdy attribute. I also had this disease called “poverty.” I didn’t even know until third grade when a girl in my class pointed out the fact that because I was on the free lunch program I was “poor.” Until then, social class hadn’t meant anything. But, I started noticing things: the clothes, the toys/gadgets, the school supplies. My parents, being industrious, made it with what we had. Their story is a fascinating tale of triumph over adversity that I’ll have to write more about one day, but this story is about me being a nerd. When I was 5, I got a Cabbage Patch Kid doll like other girls probably did. I didn’t know that my mom had sewn mine. At the time, Etsy didn’t exist and “homemade” was totally not hip. It just meant you couldn’t afford the mall.

Poverty is not contagious, let me assure anyone who thinks it might be. You can’t “catch” it, but you wouldn’t know that from the way most people act. I’ll never forget the look of disgust that girl in my third-grade class had when she announced my poverty to me. And, she probably doesn’t even remember that day that’s etched into my mind like the engraved name on a Zippo lighter.

By fourth grade, everyone in the town knew I was smart. I had received the HIGH (Highest In Grade Honor) award. Most (maybe all?) years between fourth and twelfth, I won this award. I was asked to deliver a speech at the eighth grade graduation. I was smart. Add another checkmark to the nerd list. Somehow, this poor girl with odd tendencies was making the highest grade in the school.

What kept me from falling through the cracks that most poor kids disappear into? My parents supported me and encouraged me to be more, to do more, to never settle for less than my best (cliche, I know, but it worked). But, there had to be more; after all, don’t many parents encourage their kids? I didn’t become a rocket scientist or a broker on Wall Street, but I did succeed. I became valedictorian of my class–a hard thing for the guidance counselor at the school to take I’m sure. He advised me to forget about a four-year university and pursue community college. I teach at a community college, so please don’t think that I’m saying it’s a poor choice. Community colleges are amazing. But, I had a chance to go to a four-year university on a full scholarship. But, every time I talked to the counselor about college, he made me wonder if I could really do it.

I won’t go into all the details about road blocks (like that same guidance counselor not submitting transcripts on time for me over and over again) because it might sound like whining, and here I am and everything I had to jump through taught me some important character traits: persistence, self control, and dignity.

I was watching TV the other night, a habit I’ve picked up again (thanks, Netflix instant streaming) after many years of no TV. I saw an episode of Ugly Betty where the main character is coming to terms with the fact that she was an outcast at school–she was the girl sitting on the bench waiting on someone to ask her to dance. She wanted to relive junior high so that she could have that chance to dance. Unlike Betty, I’m not wanting to redo the dance; I’m not full of wistfulness. Instead, I’m thankful I have only one regret: that I didn’t own my nerdiness until later in life.

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Posted by: Amanda | April 24, 2011

The Flu

I’ve been on a flu-imposed hiatus. I had the flu in sixth grade, and I don’t remember the details, just that I had a miserable night of high fever and the verdict the next day at the doctor’s office was influenza.

The month of March and most of April have blurred by. About halfway through March, we had a marvelous spring break. Towards the end of that week, I started feeling allergy-type symptoms, and I’m pretty sure I did have some seasonal allergy craziness. Then, Dalton got some awful allergy symptoms. He saw the pediatrician who gave him some allergy meds to try. A couple days later, I was feeling worse, fever, spending most of my days in bed. I rarely ask Paul to take off work, but did this time and he generously sacrificed his precious personal days to tend the sick. Dalton had a few days of fever, so we finally went back to his pediatrician who diagnosed us with the flu–a week after my first fever.

That afternoon, Lily got a fever. We went through a lot of Advil, sherbet, Mello Yello (they have it on tap at a restaurant near my house!), and limeades from Sonic.

I always wondered why everyone acted so scared of the flu. Now, I know. It sucks. Big Time.

The aftermath has looked pretty dreary as I’ve struggled to catch up on work and life errands. It’s taken us nearly a month to ditch the persistent cough and get a normal appetite back. But, I finally feel like I’m getting there. The kids seem great. Somewhere in the middle of all this Lily turned 3 and we celebrated with a rainbow and unicorn themed party (complete with a totally Martha Stewart rainbow cake). We’ve been busy. And, well, it’s Easter.

Happy Easter.

Someone mentioned that it’s already March, and I realized I was one real post behind. But, hey, February is short right.

Here it is. I’m not sure what this is, but it’s what’s been burning in me for the past few weeks.

Dreams of a Tooth and an Old Woman

I sleep fitfully, somewhere between reality and the fantasy world. My body is sticky with sweat, and I toss the quilt aside. It slinks across the black satin sheets, falls to the floor in a heap. Moments, maybe an hour or two, later I rub my neck where the sweat stays. Then, I notice I’m wrapped in the quilt again, enclosed in it like it’s a cocoon. 

I force my eyes shut, but they flicker furiously behind my lids. I’m panicked, but I need to sleep. I close my eyes to dream the same story. This time, I aim to finish.

It starts like before. I’m asleep, but I can feel the pain–a sharp pang in my lower left molar, the second one from the back. The pain grows and grows, and I twist and turn with each pang. I feel myself coming back to reality and squeeze my eyes shut tighter, feeling the rapid movement of my eyeballs.

I wait for a demented dentist to come along to extract the tooth. But there is no demented dentist. There is only the demented tooth–the tooth that torments me night after night.

***

She’s old. Her left hand rests on the side of an old rocking chair. The fuschia nails are bitten and the paint is chipped. But the fuschia is bold against the beige armchair. She’s wearing something older folks might know as a “duster”–a mix between a robe and a gown and maybe an artist’s smock. It’s pale blue with tiny yellow daisies all over it.

Her right elbow is propped on the other arm of the chair; that hand holds a cigarette, poised inches from her lips. It’s an expensive cigarette, not a store-brand special. She gazes towards the window across the room but doesn’t look out–not really. She’s looking back.

**

The sharp pangs of the tooth keep coming, but there’s more. Now, it burns. I hate the tooth so much. I want to reach into my mouth and pull it out, flush it down the toilet like a dead fish. But, I can’t reach it. My mouth is small, and it’s far back. I can’t get a grip on the tooth. My sweaty hair tangles into the quilt. I try to tear the quilt from me, but I can’t find the edges.

Then, I feel the rush and warmth and smoothness of blood as it pours from my mouth, running down the left side of my face. The tooth is gone, ripped from my mouth. The blood is the happiest blood, it refreshes my mind, and I feel like I can live again.

Then, I see it. The tooth is dancing around the room. It has grown a face, legs, and arms. It’s the sinister twin of the cute, tooth buddies on the dental hygiene sheets they give out at the pediatric dentists’ offices and at elementary schools during National Dental Hygiene Week.

The tooth mocks me as he glides through the air on an imaginary zipcord as circus music plays. He is saying that there is no escape. The physical pain becomes mental pain.

**

The woman pulls the cigarette close to her mouth, stopping for just a moment before pulling the filter end inside her lips. She sucks in deeply, pulling the chemicals into her lungs. Then, just as slowly, she exhales the smoke sending a steady puff into the air around her head. Her cat Napoleon jumps from her lap, arching his back before he meows at her, a throaty growl. “Just one more draw,” the woman says, her voice a whisper of gravel. The cat seems satisfied and settles under her chair.

She pulls the cigarette back to her lips, taking in that last inhale of nicotine, exhales again, and stubs the cigarette into the ashtray. She rubs her hand across her thinning, dull hair. As she slips her feet into her slippers, the cat is back, slinking between her ankles. She heads to the kitchen where she pours him some kibble into a dirty red bowl.

She slowly walks back to the sitting room, and the phone rings. For a moment, she wonders if it might be one of the kids. Then, she remembers, they’re gone. Maybe not dead but gone from her life. She sits back in her chair.

There’s a Bible, upside down, on the table beside her. She looks at it. She’s been reading it, little by little, each day for the past 3 years. She’s almost to Jeremiah. The words sometimes blur, and she can only read a few verses, and sometimes she gets lost in the geneaology. She picks up the Bible, and I see it, the name on the cover. It’s mine.

Posted by: Amanda | February 17, 2011

Tonight’s Write

Writing on yellow paper is so cool, I might do it more often.

I meet with a group of writer friends 1-2 times a week; tonight I planned to skip. However, I had my kids clean out their bookshelves earlier this week to get some books to donate to fellow writer Stephanie’s book drive for the Austin Children’s Shelter. And, I had a box of children’s books in the trunk of my car, so I felt I should get those to Stephanie.

But, I forgot my laptop at home, got up late so I didn’t get half done of what I needed to, my writing classes are in high gear and I’ve got papers to grade, and I was just flat-out tired from teaching. But, I hadn’t seen the gals in a while and thought I would just stop in our writing haunt for a cup of java and quick hello and be on my way. (You can see how I had the old angel/devil on my shoulder routine going tonight.)

Immediately after learning I didn’t have my laptop, Whitney says she has paper and hands me a yellow legal pad. Jessie mentions she’s got a pen. So, what else does a writer do except sit down, order coffee (a caramel con panna to be exact), and proceed to discuss how to pleasure a pirate.

Yes, you heard that right. See Jessie had picked up a Harlequin romance brochure listing all the upcoming titles in their vast series, including Billionaire Babies and some Wild West Conquests or something. Before long, we’re talking about horrible ideas for romance novels. Stephanie then recalls the best romance novel title ever: Pleasuring the Pirate. Sure enough, this book does exist and we assume that someone was paid to write it.

By this time, Whitney’s moved one table over to be closer to an outlet for her almost-dead Mac battery, so we’re taking up the entire back row of the cafe. But, the talk of a pirate’s plunderings brings her back over. Amid this raucous discussion, I realize I’m feeling better. My life seems more in control. Partly, I feel this way because writing almost always makes my life feel a little more right. It’s something I’m meant to do. But, I also feel this way because having writer people around me is a good thing. Plus, we’re all brunettes. And smart. And we have Macs. And, well, we’re just pretty darn cool.

And, in case you’re wondering, yes we did get some writing done.

Posted by: Amanda | February 15, 2011

Food for thought: to menu plan or not to menu plan

When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?”

Lily enjoys dinner with her Izze.

 

Unless some miracle happens involving the multiplying of loaves and fish, someone has to decide what and how the family is going to eat around my place. That someone is usually me. Who knew that feeding a family (all that goes into providing food) would be such an ordeal? The planning, the shopping, the budgeting, the prepping, the shopping for milk again, the cooking, the eating, the shopping for milk again, the cleaning, a quick run to HEB for bananas–it never ends.

I read some of the frugalista mom blogs with their menu plans, their coupon craziness, their borderline obsessive shopping techniques, and I decided to try to be more organized. And, I do like having a menu plan. But, my menu plan is more of a rough idea of what we might have rather than a “we will eat this no matter what” mandate. There’s some flexibility in my plans (as usual). For a while, I started feeling militant about food, but lately I’ve started to think about the deeper pull of feeding my family.

As a kid, I spent most nights at home, seated in MY seat for supper. Momma cooked typical southern fare: fried okra, fried chicken, beans and cornbread, grilled hamburgers with fried potatoes, biscuits and sausage with homemade gravy and homemade syrup. It was rare for someone to be missing from the supper table, and when someone was (maybe Daddy worked late or someone was at a friend’s house for the evening) the vibe was a little off. As life got busier for me (I was the oldest), my appearances for supper started to taper. A basketball game, a date, a volleyball game, practice, a bonfire, many things filled that space where dinner happened.

But when I look back, some of the best memories are of my family sitting at the table–eating whatever Momma had cooked and talking about everything. The table itself had gotten so damaged, my dad bought a new top for it. The old chairs and bench are long gone, but I’ve still got the table in my own dining room. I tried once to buy a new one and succeeded in getting my husband to drag our heavy old table to the garage. I’m not sure how long that lasted (a couple weeks, maybe a month), but fairly soon, I had him drag that old table back inside the house and put the new-fangled thing out in the garage. It’s got some dents in the top and some plastered applesauce to the kids’ side that I just can’t seem to scrape completely off. It’s got some paint stains on top. But, it’s a sturdy table, and it belongs with a family.

Lily enjoys her Izze with dinner.

The menu plan? Yeah, it helps create a little more sanity around here. But somehow even when we don’t have a plan, we manage to eat and get fed and spend some time at the supper table.

Posted by: Amanda | February 2, 2011

“Real” Writing No. 1: Samantha

Part of the point of this blog is for me to post some of my “real” writing here and not just soak it in useless ramblings. I’ve included January’s post below even though it’s already February. A little background on this story. Crazy characters get into my head sometimes. This particular character’s name is Samantha. Every time I tried to take a shower for about a month straight, she haunted me to the point that I cried when she tried to tell me her story. (Now, you think I’ve really lost it, right? But, hey, 2011 is all about being real. So this is me being real.) I kept putting her off, but I finally let her tell more of her story. I think parts of her story are still in progress somewhat, but the excerpt posted below seems complete enough to share.

———————

Samantha

The first one happened while I was in the shower. I pumped three squirts of shampoo into my palm and lathered it into my hair, creating a foam wig on top of my head. The water was warm, not too hot, though.

I leaned my head back to rinse. As I squinted my eyes shut, I felt it. An odd cramp in my lower abdomen. It hit hard, but then it went away. Running my fingers through my hair, which had gotten long and unruly, just the way Jack liked it, I kept rinsing. When my hair was clear of avocado-coconut bubbles, I  opened my eyes.

It was the darkness and brightness of the color– all at once–that grabbed my throat. Blood, bright and dark red, swirled in the shower floor. I quickly followed its trail backward, along the curve of my calf, up my leg to my inner thigh. It steadily trickled.

I screamed, but no one heard me. Jack had already left for work. An elementary teacher, I had the summer off. I quickly got out of the shower, the water still running, and grabbed a towel. I tried to wipe the blood from my leg. By the time I ran to my cell phone on my dresser, the blood gushed from inside me, from somewhere deeper inside than I’d ever dreamed existed.

11 weeks, just barely enough to know. I stuck a towel between my legs, fumbling with the numbers, finding the doctor’s emergency number in my contacts list, wondering if I should call Jack first.

**
The second time it happened, one year to the date later, I was at a party, talking with friends around the cocktail table, not drinking a cocktail like the other 14 or so people. Ginger ale for me with a twist of lime. Everyone giggled.

15 weeks. I’d made it past that ugly 13-week mark, the date that teases just outside, taunting you with sunshine–a safety net waiting to catch you to break the fall. My bladder filled quickly. I excused myself. The gals giggled again. Another mark of my 15-week triumph: frequent pitstops.

I sat my ginger ale with a twist of lime on a black-and-white Eiffel Tower coaster on a  side table and went into the restroom. I pulled my panties down, and it was a faintness this time that sliced my heart. Rusty-colored, not more than a smear, but still blood, it stained the crotch of my Victoria’s Secret panties. They were white bikinis with tiny yellow ducks on them. A cute, sexy mama gift from Jack the day after we found out. I sucked in my breath and denied everything. But I knew.
**

The third time it happened, I guess I was sort of expecting it. It’s not that I had lost faith, but I felt as if this were my lot in life. Maybe I had lost faith.

I sat in the waiting area at the women’s clinic, a new one for this time around. Dr. Martinez, a specialist for those like me–high-risk. Gray chairs lined up like infantry. The big clock on the wall next to the door stared at me. I heard my name. Samantha. I stood and walked to the door to the smiling, overweight, strawberry-blonde nurse in Froot Loops scrubs.

Quick vitals from the nurse. Blood pressure fine, pulse fine. Before the doctor would see me, she wanted a preliminary ultrasound. I followed her to the dark room. 8 weeks, she said, looking at my chart. You’ll need to undress from the waist down. I did, feeling the table cold on my bare skin.

As the technician slid the ultrasound wand into me, I knew. The whisper was gone. I first heard it the day I dipped the stick in my pee. It was only a whisper, but I heard it. Two weeks ago, the faintest whisper blew away in the wind, and I felt it leave me. The life that might have been.

I’m sorry, I hear. The wand is frantic, moving harder inside me, side to side, sweeping my insides searching for anything, looking for that whisper. But I know it’s gone. I’d heard it leave.

**
I dream of them sometimes. Sometimes they wear long white dresses. Beautiful, raven-haired girls with Jack’s green eyes. But their skin is thinner than paper. I can see right through them. They hold hands and float through a field of flowers and butterflies. Ghosts.

Sometimes I see their backs, long black hair, tangled with weeds. They turn, and their faces shock me. Their empty eyes, not green,  not really any color, have dark circles under them. The lips are so pale, it’s hard to see them. They don’t smile or frown either. Sadness and loneliness overcomes them. They are holding hands, but they are so alone. Then, sores appear all over their hands, their arms, their faces. The sores ooze a pale blood, thinner than water until they wash away in it.

Other times, they are drowning. The three of them hold hands, wading out into ankle-deep water. I’m sitting on the bank, laughing as they splash. Then, there’s a current, quick and fierce. It grabs them. They struggle, gasping but still holding hands. I jump into the water, but I’m too late. They disappear into the water.

 

Posted by: Amanda | January 26, 2011

Dumping the past

Breaking up is hard to do. Probably we’ve all done it in some way. It often goes something like this:

Jane: I think we should be friends.
Dick: Friends with benefits?

Jane is ready to move on. She doesn’t really want to be friends. She’s just saying that she does to soften the blow a bit, to take the edge off of “I don’t like you,” but we all know that. Probably, even Dick knows that. But, he wants to hang on to the past a little while longer. Even if he can’t have Jane exclusively, he wants to have some parts of her, the friendship and mostly the benefits.

I fell for the friends-with-benefits trap one time. My heart broke as I told a guy the classic, “Let’s still be friends.” His heart thumped, I’m sure, as I became a friend with benefits.

But, it became a tangled mess quickly. Because what I’ve learned about breaking up is that if you don’t do it right the first time, you have to do it again. And perhaps again. And maybe one more time.

There’s been some activity recently among some of my Facebook friends who hail from the same hometown as I. I’m getting lots of messages in my Facebook inbox about restoring this speck of a place on Highway 72 to its “golden years” state. When I lived there, roughly from 1979 until 2000, the place certainly wasn’t in its golden years. My parents grew up there, too, and told some stories of fun times like going to a drive-in theater or having root beer floats at a soda fountain. This place did not have those things when I was there.

Part of a homecoming parade in my old hometown.

Let me offer a few disclaimers before I launch into a slightly provocative discussion. First, do I have happy memories of my hometown? Yes, definitely. Second, do I want this town to disappear and never be seen again? No. Third, are there really great, awesome, fun people in this town? Yes. Her name is Lauren. Just kidding. There are many good, honest people in this town that I love.

What I feel about lingering too long in the past is kind of like lingering too long in a friends-with-benefits state. It doesn’t help anyone get over the bad and on with the good. If you try to take something that happened in a different time with different people and recreate it, you can quickly get a very deflated vibe. It’s also like hanging on to something that doesn’t exist anymore, a time and place that will never be again.

We can learn from the past. For instance, if Dick was never on time and that really bothered Jane, she should look for more punctual pals. But, if she always loved the way Dick made a big deal about her birthday, she should notice whether a new guy does or does not take notice. The same can go with trying to revive a town. If a soda fountain worked in 1972, would it work in 2010? What’s something kind of like a soda shop that might work today? If the town had issues with keeping litter off the street in the past, it could be time to form some stronger clean-up committees.

But, to try to constantly remember everything about the history of a place, to dwell on it, will create a feeling of loss and hopelessness because no one can get it back. And visitors will sense that desperation and recoil. And what people love most about the past are not the places but the people they had then, the people they loved. And, we can’t get those people back. What’s more important: the best milkshake ever or one more meal with the great grandmother who cooked everything you loved (and everything everyone else in the family loved) every time you came over to her warm house?

Should this town be great? Of course! Should people dedicate time to making it a better place to live? Yes, I think they should. But, I worry that too much focus on the past will only leave this place there, in the past.

Posted by: Amanda | January 25, 2011

Falling in love with Dr. Seuss

“Say!
In the dark?
Here in the dark!
Would you, could you, in the dark?”

–Dr. Seuss

It’s a good thing I didn’t like Dr. Seuss when I was a kid. Now that I’m a parent, I’m reading all the books (over and over again) to my kids. Dalton, my 6-year old son, is completely head-over-heels for anything Seuss. And my 2-year old Lily begs for the books, too. And, I have fallen for the crazed worlds, made-up words, tongue twisters, and surprise endings that Seuss stories guarantee. I think I always thought he was just silly but now I realize that he was an amazingly talented man with lots of weird characters and stories in his head. And, he was able to get them out on paper. Genius word play. Genius artwork. I’m smitten.

A day in our life usually involves watching the PBS show Cat in the Hat (based on Seuss characters). We read at least one Seuss book a day. (Dalton who is learning to read has memorized many of the books thanks to audiobooks, so sometimes–thankfully–he reads the books or at least certain pages to us. And I sit back and smile and catch my breath for the next tongue twister.) I see Dalton’s imagination growing and growing as he reads Dr. Seuss. He realizes it’s OK to make up crazy things that don’t exist. He’s even invented a new Star Wars Jedi. Details on that later, perhaps.

Seuss has even crept into our meal plan. Dalton doesn’t like ham, so it’s usually a green eggs and waffles or green eggs and biscuits or just green eggs. He doesn’t know that there’s spinach in the eggs. I think he honestly, truly, completely believes the eggs come out of the chicken green. While making our grocery list, I asked if  he wanted anything in particular store. He said, “Get some green eggs. We only have the regular kind. I checked.”

Dalton digs the green eggs.

“I do so like
green eggs and ham!
Thank you!
Thank you,
Sam-I-am.”

–Dr. Seuss

Posted by: Amanda | January 24, 2011

Movement

Sunrise from above

I have a lot of blogs out there. A few years ago, I created this one, martianqueen.wordpress.com, as a place where I could write whatever I wanted to write. Other blogs I had created to share family news and photos or to lament about the trials of a working woman. This blog, though, lingered here and I posted to it occasionally. I’ve since deleted (or at least archived) all the old posts on this blog. Most were rude or vulgar or both.

When I started thinking about my writing life for 2011, I considered whether to blog or not. And, I decided to open this blog again, to even make the link public. I felt myself moving to the original theme of this blog (“writing for myself”). I’ve been a writer all my life and made money here and there as a skill/craft writer (journalism, tech writing, etc), but I have a passion to tell stories about people. Some of these people I know. (One day I’m going to finally write about that crazy uncle of mine who . . .) Some of these I don’t know except in my imagination. (Samantha talks to me at least once a month, and I can’t concentrate unless I let her have her time.)

Sometimes when I sit down to write these stories, my mind races. It’s different than writer’s block. I call it the writer’s noise. There’s so much noise in my head from life that I can’t focus on the story I need to tell. (So, my uncle hilarious story and Samantha’s tragic tale have been left out.)

I read some of Julia Cameron’s work. She’s a big believer in morning pages, a technique where you write, longhand, 4 straight pages of text–whatever is on your mind whether it’s a string of curse words or rambling. The trick is you do this first thing in the morning before you do anything else. I tried this for a while, and it’s definitely a great way to get some junk of my head and clear the way to tell stories. But, I have this issue with anything that I have to do daily at the same time. I’m not a routine gal. I don’t even shower at the same time every day (though I do manage to shower daily). Some days I have coffee at 4:30 a.m.; other days I have coffee at 4:30 p.m. But, you get the point.

Accepting my issues and thinking about the power of Cameron’s technique, I decided to come back to this blog. When I have some free time to write, I’m using it as a launching pad, a place to write about whatever’s crowding my mind (and any writing is good practice for the craft). And, I’ve always enjoyed photography, so I plan to post some pictures with most of my posts. But, I also want to put some of my “real” writing on here, so I’ve decided to post at least one more polished work on here each month this year–whether it’s an essay, a short story, an excerpt from my longer fiction works, or a scene from a screenplay.

I’m trying to move my writing in a more honest and raw direction, and I’m going to continue abusing the blogworld to propel myself.

Posted by: Amanda | January 18, 2011

What will I join today?

I have a condition. After years of suffering from this condition, I have decided to name it Joiner’s Syndrome. Everything that comes along, I want to join: clubs, groups, websites, programs . . . It usually happens something like this:

A friend: “Hey, did you hear about thisreallycoolsitethatilovethatyoushoudllovetoo.com? It’s awesome and free.”

Me: “Oh, wow. That sounds really amazing. I’m going to join.”

And, then, I join. Moments, hours, days, maybe even a week go by, and I no longer remember the username or password or the email I used to sign up. Sometimes, I’ll spend a half hour trying to recover my log in. Sometimes I’ll join a second time.

The problem with Joiner’s Syndrome is that it rarely occurs with Actually Do It Syndrome or with Committed to the Core Syndrome or even Finish It Already Syndrome.

Something I finished: the Danskin in 2005.

Over the years, I’ve started many things: writing works, craft projects, organization efforts, dietary plans–you name it, I’ve probably started it. But the endings elude me. Or, maybe instead of the endings eluding me, I’m actually running away from the endings. Instead of making resolutions, I decided that 2011 is going to be about finishing things. So far this year, I’ve made myself finish one big project (such as redoing the master bedroom in my home) before switching to another (reorganizing the kitchen pantry) in the same general life area.

In the past, I’ve found some kind of ill comfort in leaving behind bushels of half-started work. Now, I’m embracing the art of the ending. I want to find a new peace there.

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