Monday, June 23, 2014

Writing Break

I started to write to today's prompt, and found it getting just too darn depressing. Between circumstances and stuff and things, I never got anywhere close to my childhood career aspirations. I don't have it in me today to share another disappointment.

~~~

Gratitude:
~fresh cherries
~watching plants flourish
~working with an excellent team at the day-job
~lovely, comfortable work clothes

~~~

Tomorrow's Prompt: Nia? Bellydance? What's the big deal?

7-1-14 Edited to add: I never did write to this prompt - I'm sure I'll write about it some other time :)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Missing my mom

Prompt: What is one moment from your life that you would like to relive if you had the chance? Would you change anything?

I went to a residential magnet school for my Junior and Senior years of high school. Periodically, all the students were sent home for extended weekends with their families. If I had the chance, I would totally relive my very first extended weekend home. As I recall, I spent much of that weekend desperately wanting to go back to school. If I could, I would encourage younger-me to really pay attention to my family, especially my mom. That weekend was both a first and a last - it was my first weekend home from a school I loved, and it was the last time I spent time with my mom. She died later that fall.

Mom's death rearranged the possible paths for my life; I really can't say who I would be today if she had lived longer. I would like to think we would be friends were she still alive. I know without a doubt that she would love me, regardless of whether she understood or even liked the woman I grew into. Even if she totally disapproved of my decisions, she would still love me, and try to build a positive relationship. To my mind, that's what it means to love a child.

~~~

Gratitude List:
~Waking up feeling rested
~getting every last bit out of the peanut butter jar without getting any on my hands
~Using a wrist blood pressure monitor at home
~playing some Planescape: Torment
~slightly cooler evening walkies

~~~

Tomorrow's prompt
: When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up? How has that aspiration changed over the years?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Dreams pushed aside

Prompt: Are there any dreams that you've had that have been pushed aside for some reason? Would you like to focus on them and achieve them now?
My dream of being a mom sort of is and sort of isn't pushed aside. I don't have my own children, but I do live with a child - I materially and emotionally support my nephew and his mama. While it has been pointed out to me that I have no legal rights not responsibilities for my nephew, family means a whole lot more than the legal obligations. I know I'm a positive influence in me nephew's life. It doesn't always take a lot of planning - just being there, being present for him means a lot. Everyone needs to be recognized, to have their experience validated and their voice heard, but it can be hard to ask for that, espeically when you're a 12 year old boy. Even if we're not talking about anything huge and earth-shattering, my nephew knows that I'll hear him, and that I love him just as he is. I think that means a lot to him

This isn't the parenting experience I ever expected. Kiddo's mama and I don't always get along well - that makes things challenging. I work hard during the day, and I don't always feel supported at home. Yes, I could leave - but my nephew is only going to get one childhood. I am determined to do what I can to give him a foundation for growing up happy, healthy, and strong.

So, I'm not a mom. But I am delighted to be an aunt :)

~~~

Gratitude:
~I wrote a haiku last night
Sun-warmed pavement 
Radiates heat...
Cool night air

~Looking up geeky origami with Kiddo
~spontaneous Kiddo hugs
~navel oranges

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Little Writing is Better Than None

Gratitude:
~being treated to lunch at work
~using the public library
~laughing with my nephew (the goober called my mobile phone from the house phone while we were both at home, trying to convince me his father was on the line. It was the worst impersonation! We about laughed ourselves sick)
~doing today's USA today crossword puzzle in less than 12 minutes
~Words with Friends with awesome friends

~~~

I picked a prompt at random today: Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert? How does this effect your life?

Hahahahahaha! Have we met? I am such a massive extrovert :) People are endlessly fascinating to me. I don't stay entirely well if I don't spend at least some time with other people. Being an extrovert is part of why I do well at my job - I supervise a small medical billing call center. So, I talk to people about talking to people :)

~~~

This whole "get to the end of the day and still not know what to write about" thing sucks. Tomorrow I'll use this prompt: Are there any dreams that you've had that have been pushed aside for some reason? Would you like to focus on them and achieve them now?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

12 somethings

I make up a list prompt for yesterday, but didn't finish it until today:
1 - 12 things about me

~I have 1 living parent. Mom died in 1988
~I remember 2 of the states I've lived in. I was born in Maryland, and lived in Florida for a little while. We moved to California when I was three, so I only remember California and North Carolina.
~I have 3 siblings, all younger. One brother (my nephew's dad) lives in WV, my sister lives near the southern coast of NC, and the younger of my two brothers lives on his boat.
~4 is my favorite number and always has been. Sixteen is awesome, too, because it's 4 squared. I have no idea why this is the case, but there it is.
~Today's gratitude list has 5 items
I have 6 distinct accounts at four banks: checking and savings at one, credit union deposit account and joint household account at another, car loan, and mortgage.
~I've lived in 7 cities in NC: Havelock, Durham, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Greensboro, Reidsville, and Raleigh
~There are 8 regular doors in my townhouse: front, back, three bedrooms, three bathrooms
~I have been with my employer for 9 years.
~I've lived in Raleigh for almost 10 years
~I supervise 11 people at my day job
~My dear, sweet, wonderful newphew is 12 years old. He can be a handful, but that's okay - 12 is a difficult age. I intend to enjoy his childhood while I can, be there for him however much he needs through the teen years, and look forward to the friendship of the man he grows up to be.

Gratitude List
~two new employees getting off to a good start at the day job
~watching a surprisingly good TF2/Mulan mashup video with Kiddo - we both cried at the end
~chat conversations with smart, thoughtful friends
~central AC
~comfortable, professional clothes

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Crankypants: I has them

I need to write today. I haven't really written since Saturday. Last night's book review helped, but didn't really slake the thirst for words. Unfortunately, I cannot find a topic or prompt that really works for me today. Some prompts seem really lame, some far too emotional for my emotionally depleted state, and others make me feel stupid for not having a good idea of how to respond.

Today has been a rough day - not a bad day, just very taxing, which is probably most of my problem. Hence, I have put my butt in the chair, and am typing away with no freaking idea what I'm going to write about.

Ya know what? I saw a suggestion of an A - Z list somewhere recently. Gratitude lists are excellent things. So I'll write an A - Z list of things for which I am grateful :)

Apricots, fresh, dried, canned, they're always delightful. They're especially delicious when you swim to the side of the pool in your childhood backyard, and pick them from the branches growing over the pool.

Bananas, an excellent and tasty source of potassium, and available inexpensively all year.

bellydance Class, which I am so glad I've returned to! Love, love, love it.

My Doggie, Diana, who is a delightful old lady of a dog. She's at least 16 years old, and still totally adorable.

Enthusiasm, which I am finding again as I add things to this list :)

Friends and family

Games! Role-playing, story games, card and board games, puzzle games, pen-and-paper games, electronic/video games, love it all

Hair, especially long hair, mine and others'

being Italian on my mother's side

having a Job is do well that gives me a good living.

Keyboard shortcuts - save me so much time!

Living with my nephew!

Message systems that let me stay in touch with loved ones far away

Nia! Dance, Martial arts and healing arts inspired movement experience - love this so much!

Oranges, especially navel oranges, also full of potassium, totally delicious, and make things smell good

Dr. Pepper

Questions that lead to discussion and research and even more questions.

Reading

Swimming

Touch typing - I can type much faster than I can write longhand.

USA Today's online crossword puzzle

Voices. One of the joys of my job is hearing so many different voices on the phone. This is likely why Walt Whitman's poem Vocalism is one of my favorites.

Writing! and Walkies :)

my 3XL men's swim trunks - so much more comfortable than most women's bathing suit bottoms

You reading this :)

Zippers - wildly convenient closure, and relatively easy to install

Aaahhh... much better :)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Review: The Inferno of Dante


The Inferno of Dante
The Inferno of Dante by Dante Alighieri

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



This is my first exposure to Dante's writing. I was looking for poetry by a different author when I came across this translation. When I saw the narrator, I decided it was time to read/hear some Dante :)

Dante sure thought a lot of himself! Good grief, even when he's singing the praises of some denizen of limbo, he's doing so in the context of being the vehicle of their remembrance among the living. You've probably heard the idiom, "damning with faint praise." Over and over, Dante praises himself with faint condemnation. No, Dante, it's not actually all that terrible that you trembled with fear while faced with the horrors of the pit.

I want to read an annotated translation of The Inferno. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure he was mocking and calling out some of his contemporaries, as well as commenting on figures from the past.

Most of the work came from describing and talking to the denizens of the various neighborhood of perdition, but he didn't stint on describing the environs. He readily sketched the horrific backdrops to his interactions, giving just enough detail to be clear, but leaving space for the imagination to fill in the unmentioned horrors. This is not at all bedtime listening.

I seemed to sense some negative commentary on Church doctrine, but I'm not sure if that was in the text, or if that came from my 20th/21st century perspective. For instance, he lamented the number of people, even great and good people, condemned to Limbo simply because they lived before the establishment of Christianity. To my ear, that's a reason to question the church - but to Dante it may have been just another thing that was and didn't need to be questioned.



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Friday, June 6, 2014

Charity

Prompt: If you had the chance to donate a large sum of money to your favorite charity, which one would you choose? Why?

I would be torn between Heifer International and the local food bank. Both organizations feed the hungry. Until that need is met, no other support is particularly relevant. I like to support local endeavors in general. I strongly feel there is something very wrong when, right here in Raleigh, NC, the capital of the state and part of an affluent metropolitan area, people routinely go hungry. I support the food bank when I can.

Heifer International has the advantage of being a self-perpectuating process of support. Each family helped gets an animal or animals that will provide support to them over time, and that support will increase as the animal breeds. Eventually, that family will donate an animal or animals to another family. Each gift keeps on giving.

On a sillier note, Heifer International lets you "give" someone an animal they admire without having to figure out how to house a cow in a studio apartment :) Have a friend who collects cute pictures of pigs? Donate a pig in her name! A family gets fed, and your friend isn't stuck with yet another knick-knack to dust.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Longhand

I wrote in longhand today. I may transcribe it at some point, but that doesn't feel pressing. Hopefully this photo makes up for not sharing what I wrote: 


At some point I will set a story in/around this tree. 

Ten quallities

PromptList 10 qualities that you possess that you are grateful for. 

In no particular order...
1. seeking out the positive.  
     Stuff is going to happen.  Once the milk is spilt, I might as well be grateful for the newly cleaned floor.  

2. Mindful, conscious honesty
     Life is easier for all involved when I'm as honest as I can be with myself and others.  I'm not honest out of fear of getting caught, or some irrational moral dictate.  I've thought long and and hard on the topic, and the evidence piles up on the side of honesty being, factually, the best policy.  

3. I do my best to be kind
     Nothing is gained by spreading my foul mood if I'm in one.  As a matter of face, there is much to be gained from putting on a positive demeanor for other people - it may very well lift my cranky mood.  
     On the other hand, I may very well do some good by spreading around kindness.  

4. Enthusiasm!

5. Easily Amused
These last two are not the same, but related.  Being enthusiastically amused can be a whole lot of fun :)

6. Try to give the benefit of the doubt
     On a purely selfish level, I am happier thinking that people do things from some kind of positive motive, even if I don't know what it is.  The vast majority of the time I simply won't know why something happens, so why not choose to believe the more pleasant option?

     In those cases when I do know the why of things, more often than not there is some positive or entirely neutral motivation.  Very rarely is it actually the case that someone doesn't care about doing their job well - there's something going on that's preventing the job from being excellent.  The person might have misunderstood instructions, or have been mis-directed, or just have had a really rotten day.  It's also possible that I've made a mistake. I feel  right stupid if I'd jumped someone's case just to find out I was wrong  

     Even if the person who screwed up is totally in the wrong, I don't gain anything by approaching him negatively.  In my experience, approaching someone about a mistake with a "let's see what's going on here" attitude is much more effective than trying to prove someone wrong.  If you don't trigger defensiveness, it's easier for all involved to move forward.  

     In the end, it's another case of the kind option doesn't cost anything, and can garner more pleasantness and happiness.  

7. I generally sleep well
     Most of my immediate family suffers from insomnia.  Somehow, I have dodged that genetic bullet - for which I am continuously grateful.  Sleep deprivation sucks.  

8. Intelligent

9. Creative

10. I am an excellent reader
     If I have an innate talent, it's reading.  I learned to read when I was 4, and have been eating up books ever since.  I read fluently and with excellent comprehension.  Frankly, a good case could be made that I'm not all that intelligent, just very well read :)  It probably helped a lot that both of my parents were readers, and we always had books in the house growing up.  We went to the library regularly - I'm still stunned that there are families who don't.  I go to two local library branches regularly (one near work and one near home) and use the awesome download library.  I've given some thought to getting into reviewing books professionally - getting paid to do something I totally do already would rock!

~~~

That was a blast!  I may track down some more list prompts :)  How about you?  What are you excellent qualities?

Gratitide 20131227

♦ Love, love, love positive feedback on things I've baked!
♦ Dude! People are actually looking at my blog! Totally. Cool. :)
♦ There is a whole website just for NC strawberry farmers! www.ncstrawberry.com
♦ Friday!
♦ remembering to eat enough of all the food groups
♦ dried apricots
♦ planning to celebrate something every month in 2014
♦ including the birth of Elvis in January!
♦ ibuprofen
♦ Hot tea on a cold day



Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Passon

Prompt: About what are you passionate?

Among many other things, I passionately love to dance!  I've loved dance since I was a tiny little girl in ballet class.  When my family moved too far from the dance studio, I cried and cried that I had to stop taking classes.  Of course, his didn't stop me from dancing :)

I didn't take any dance classes again until college, but I danced for fun all through the intervening years.  These days I take a bellydance class, and will resume going to Nia (www.nianow.com) in a couple weeks.  Frankly, if finances and schedules allowed, I'd take one or two more classes weekly, and take workshops :)  Dance is wonderful, even more so in company with other dancers. There are some drop-in movement classes in town - hopefully I'll get to try out hooping, Pilates, or some such soon :)

Review: The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two


The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two
The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two by Catherynne M. Valente

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



This book was So! Good! I'm at least a little bit in love with all of the characters beautifully written characters. This book feeds my soul - I will absolutely re-read this, and probably love it even more each time I visit Fairyland. Ms. Valente's was just right to bring even more life and depth to this amazing work.



View all my reviews

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Moments from my day

This afternoon, Gail Simone* posed an excellent promt/question on Twitter.



Too which I responded:



Now that I'm home, sitting down to write, I don't feel up to writing on it. It's not that there's anything embarrassing about why/how I relate to Wonder Woman and Bruce Banner. It's more than I feel quite emotionally fragile right now; I don't quite feel strong enough to write anything about my inner life. Into the idea file this prompt goes (no, really - I keep a file on my Google drive to collect writing ideas). Instead you get some moments from today :)

~~~

After dinner I found out that my nephew's new glasses broke. No, he didn't do anything to them, part of the hinge just came apart. I examined the pieces. As far as I could tell, that bit needed to be glued back into the other bit, and they would be right as rain. (Spoiler! I was right.) Turns out I couldn't take the hinge apart - the end of the screw if flared, so it can adjust, but not be removed. All in all, this is for the best in kids' glasses - the screw can't fall out, nor can an over-eager taker-aparter lose the screws for his eyeglasses. I did a bit of research online, like you do, but didn't find anything I hadn't already figured out about this problem. I did find some great ideas for fixing entirely different types of damaged eyeglasses. Given how much glasses cost, I consider today's research to be time well spent.

I gathered the glasses, superglue, and put some newspaper over the table just in case. Thats when I found that the superglue had dried out. D'oh! This is why I buy it in small tubes :) One trip to the Family Dollar later, and I was good to go. I even remembered to pick up the AAA batteries for my blood pressure cuff :) I glued that bit to the other bit, held it in place for 30 seconds per the package directions, and the glasses were good as new. The hinge is probably weaker than it was new, but there's still an unopened tube of Crazy Glue, even if the one I opened dries out.

On reflection, Kiddo probably could have done this repair himself. Then again, I don't think I want him to have Crazy Glue. He already dreams up a frightening amount of mischief. Granted, he doesn't carry out most of it, although I will never forget the noodle incident**. Regardless, his glasses are now repaired, without being glued to my fingers. May chemistry and physics allow the repair to last!

~~~

As I pulled into my parking space at home after work, I noticed just one deep pink rose on the bushes in front of our townhouse. I got distracted while walking in, so didn't stop by to give it a sniff until I got home from buying glue. Just as I bent over to my put nose over the bloom, I notice a squirrel clinging to the side of a tree right in front of me. We looked each other over as I inhaled rain-washed, sweet rosiness. Squirrels tail fur seemed a bit sparse, and remarkably orange compared to the rest of the critter's fur. As soon as I moved, squirrel scurried around and up the tree. I tried to compose a haiku from the images of the rain-drenched rose and the ginger-tailed squirrel, but couldn't quite pull it together. It wasn't a particularly wabi/sabi moment, nor did I have any particular emotions inspired. I was there, I noticed/experienced what was there, that's all. Maybe something will come to be later :) Got something! Not sure if it's good or not, but it now exists.
smell rain-drenched rose...
ginger-tail squirrel sees
we both go home

~~~


*Nota Bene: Gail Simone is not only smart and funny on Twitter, she writes great comics :)

**No, really! It's not a Calvin and Hobbes reference! As of this week, he has his very own Noodle Incident. Some fool told him the way to test pasta for doneness is to throw it at the wall. If it sticks, it's done. Aside from that being a terrible idea to give a child (unless offering eternal wall-cleaning services at the same time), it's just not true***. Pasta soft enough to stick to a wall is over-done. You taste pasta to make sure it's al dente. Kiddo, in his infinite silliness, decided to see if the pasta would stick to the ceiling. He failed to catch it in his mouth when it fell back down, which is probably for the best. You have to look very closely to see the smudges on the ceiling. Yes, plural - of course he kept throwing it back up there.

***Does it show that I'm Italian on my mother's side? I will eat overdone pasta, but only because it's a crying shame to waste good pasta.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Writing challenge for June!

Only a day late to decide on this month's writing challenge - for me, that's pretty darn good!

This month, as the title announces, I will write some kind of narrative non-fiction every day. Narrative non-fiction feels so much more official than "random bits of memoir" or journal-writing :) I feel the urge to write about things I've experienced more directly than writing poetry or realistic fiction would allow. This challenge lets me use the many journal prompts available in books and websites, which is a big plus for me. Even if I can't think of what to write, at least one of the 80 gajillion prompts out there is likely to spark an idea. I may not post everything I write, especially if I write something long hand, or that involves other people. Not everyone wants to be immortalized on the internet :)

Today's prompts (one for today and one to make up for yesterday) are from a free e-book I was given when I subscribed to the newsletter on this website. While her work has been really useful to some folks, it isn't quite my cup of tea, although I quite like her prompts.

Describe a typical day.
On a typical day I wake up later than I prefer, get ready for work, dash out the door, work hard, come home, skip meditating (just this afternoon! I'll definitely do it tomorrow!), have dinner, walk the doggie, and spend time with my family. Family time can be as intense as my day-job. Around 8 or so nephew and his mama go upstairs for the night. After they turn in I can focus on what I want to do, although I'm generally too tired to do much. Frankly, I'm only writing tonight to meet the challenge I've set for myself :) Typically I go to sleep just a bit later than would be ideal for when I need to be up to get to work. I function best when I have plenty of time to process the day/recharge emotionally, and get enough sleep. I seem to only manage one or the other on any given day, which is quite a bother.

What do you love about your life right now?
I love that I get to be a part of my nephew's childhood. Kiddo, his mama, and I share a home, so I get to spend time with him almost every day. Even when we're not interacting, I get to watch him grow, physically and emotionally. He's 12, and very, VERY excited about getting taller than his mama and me, which isn't very far in the future. I remind myself all the time to enjoy spending time with him while I can. I don't know that many teenagers really want their aunt around :) I look forward to knowing the person he'll grow up to to be. I hope I'll get to be friends when him, too.