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Two. Thousand. Words.

Every once in a while the universe sends me a message. Nothing big like where did the dinosaurs go or why are we so fascinated with the Kardashians, but just a gentle nudge to set me on a path. Things happen or don’t happen, and I’m left to sort out what that means (or doesn’t) and draw a few conclusions from it. Often I wake up with a snippet of a dream, like the time I dreamed about my former boss and asked him if he regretted anything he did in the course of his cancer treatment. (He didn’t, because “it bought me more time.”) The universe apparently thought I needed to know that. And I guess I did, because it changed the way I felt about the unfairness of his too-early death. (I still think it’s unfair, for the record. But he got to wring out more time, so it goes into the Win column.)

This morning, I was rudely dragged from sleep by my alarm (sidebar: I do not like waking up in the dark. I miss summer.) with one thought on repeat: two thousand words.

In case you’re wondering, two thousand words is a lot. Well, it is for me, because I’m not one of those prolific writers. You know the ones, the ones who can just do a stream-of-consciousness thing and write down all the words in their head and then come back and straighten it out later. Unfortunately I am too anal for that. If a narrative starts to go off the rails I stop, backtrack, and correct it, editing as I go. I’ve done it at least nine times so far in this post.

One of the bits of feedback I got from my many writers’ workshops in college was that I needed to “let go” with my words, just let them all out and let the story go wherever it wanted. I never really understood that back then, but I understand it now – not that understanding it would make any difference in the way I write. I wish I could do that, “let go” of all the words and let them spill out on paper like a letter from a madman. I wish I could learn to stop editing as I go. Would it make me a better writer?

But the universe apparently wants me to spill ink in the amount of two thousand words a day.

I’ve been thinking for a while about how to carve out some time for writing, such as getting up earlier and spending a little time with my laptop. I haven’t done it yet. I value my sleep. I also know that the somnambulate state could likely be fertile ground. Would it engender two thousand words’ worth?

Dreams are a funny thing. Most of mine disappear the moment I wake up. Only a precious few stay with me. Sometimes it’s only the refrain, as this morning: two thousand words.

Here are 496 of them.

– Mox

As we approach the Labor Day holiday weekend, I find myself feeling at odds with a number of things:

1. the fact that my birthday is coming up

2. dog days

3. bugs

4. my to-do list

5. my should-do list

By the time we reach this point in our calendar year, I have just about had it with all of the above. I’ve long since noticed that the morning light has moved past watery and into bleakness at my 5:30 alarm. The birds have stopped their morning chorus. It’s fairly silent pre-6am. I suppose I could embrace all of that and develop a routine in which I sit down to write for thirty minutes, but you know and I know that’s not going to happen. See also: not a morning person.

While I don’t necessarily hold a grudge about having yet another birthday, I don’t particularly feel inordinate joy about it. I don’t have a burning desire for a big party, but I also don’t want the wah-wah of no fuss made, either. Which is to say, I don’t really WANT a big pile of gifts, but I would enjoy a little bit of planning on someone else’s part to celebrate my birthday. Asking me “what do you want for your birthday?” and then “what do you want to do for your birthday?” both bear the hallmarks of consideration, but also are just a big coverup for the fact that NO ONE has thought about it. Believe me, I’ve thought about it. It’s all I’ve thought about for a month now. If I have to plan my own birthday celebration, then what’s the point?

I’m also starting to see people my age in the obituary column these days. Sobering.

Can we talk about the heat? August is traditionally a hot month, yes, and this one has been no exception. But I’ve had it with having to keep all the blinds pulled in the house just to keep the house cool and keep the a/c from running all the time. I miss seeing daylight. I’m tired of being in a cave.

Let’s also talk about mosquitoes and spiders and ants. Three of my least favorite bugs. The humidity, paired with popup thundershowers, has brought all of these critters out with a vengeance. In fact, we had to have a window frame replaced in our bathroom because moisture had gotten into it and rotted it away, and boy, was it loaded with ants. I am so freaking sick of ants. I am also enormously tired of walking into spider webs. This is the time of year that spider webs seem to be floating through the air. Nothing will turn you into a ninja like walking into a spider web, face first. If we could just get the spiders to eat all the ants and capture all the mosquitoes in their webs, I could live with that.

I have a to-do list that continues to grow exponentially, and I am only doing the musts on it. Which is to say, when we need cat food and toilet paper, I go to the store. Priorities.

My should-do lists contains items like “weed the flowerbeds” and “trim the shrubs” and “sweep the porch.” The fact that I am not doing any of these things makes our house look abandoned. Not to mention that my husband has fallen behind on mowing the grass, so yeah, it looks seedy around here.

I reach this point every year, and I recognize it, and frankly, it seems to arrive earlier and earlier each year. I drink too many cokes, too much wine, I eat too many junk food items, I sleep poorly. It’s slashing the other three tires because the first one is flat. It’s only a matter of time before I meet this mood coming and going.

In short: I am done. Please wake me up when spring arrives again.

 

 

– Mox

One of the problems with being a sub-par blogger is that it takes a few minutes to access that part of your memory that stores your login information for your blog.

Oops. Lots of stuff crowding out the logins these days. Thank God for my password manager.

I suppose, if anyone has any interest, I should give you the briefest of brief rundowns on life here in Moxland.

Spawn has entered eighth grade. Eighth grade, people! This kid is nearly as tall as me, with a foot a full shoe size bigger than mine. Safe to say I’ll be called Shorty here before too long. This is the last year for us at our K-8 grade school, and then it’s off to the fraught world of private Catholic high school. I don’t know whether to be excited or afraid.

I continue to work, part-time, writing for a tech company. Most writers will tell you that they enjoy what they do, and I will tell you the same thing… except for the writing part. The reading and the research, the brainstorming, the outlining, the meetings with your creative team – all of that, I love. The actual process of putting words down in noun-verb order… yeah. Painful. Some days it’s like pulling teeth. And yet I will tell you without reservation that I LOVE IT.

My parents continue to get old and older. They need me more than I am comfortable with admitting. It seems incredibly ass-backwards to be the care giver instead of the care receiver. Right now my responsibilities include carting one or the other of them to some doctor’s appointment, surgery, or outpatient procedure. And I have also become the chief gardener at their house, since physically they are limited to the tasks they can still perform. I think I’ve planted more perennials and roses and tomato plants at their house than have at mine.

Moxland zoo count stands at six cats, one dog, one gerbil, one turtle, and four fish. We have adopted a policy of attrition for the cats.

I seem to spend a lot of time in the car, going hither and yon. People tell me that this sort of thing is pretty typical for persons in my position.

All in all, I am in a place that is neither happy nor miserable. Which is to say pretty normal.

However, the main reason I blew the dust off this blog is to put this tidbit of information out there for those of you who may stumble across this blog. Grammarly, a software company  that produces grammar-checking software (which I use for my job) has taken up the cause of literacy, and as such has set up a pretty sweet deal for those bloggers out there who would join in the good fight. I say “sweet deal” like there’s some remuneration involved, but alas, no. No money will cross your palm. Money, however, will cross the palms of the good folks who operate these literacy programs:

Fostering greater literacy is the “sweet deal” I’m talking about – think about it: greater literacy means more people to read blogs. Wouldn’t you enjoy more people reading your blog?

If you want to know a bit more about this program, go here to see what it’s all about.

 

– Mox

 

 

Not dead yet.

Funny how a for-fun blog will get shuttled to the wayside in favor of a paying gig.

Just wanted to reassure all and sundry that I am still on this side of the grass.

– Mox

Looking forward.

So I have come to a decision as of recently, one that won’t be put into action for *at least* ten years, probably more like 20.

Of course this decision hinges on a number of factors, the major ones being Spawn graduating from college and beginning a life separate from my husband and myself, and my parents no longer needing me.  And me retaining some semblance of health.  But I have a dream.

This dream is known as Retirement and while I am not anxious to be on the downward slope toward Eternity, retirement will be (I hope) a welcome state of being.

My husband assures me we will be able to retire, and I have my doubts about that, but for the sake of this dream I have allowed myself to reach this decision.

I have decided that I will become an artist in my retirement years.

I’m not even sure I will be a serious artist.  My current vision involves living a Bohemian lifestyle, throwing a lot of brightly colored paint around, and cutting my hair super short and coloring it some crazy color.

See also:  Mid-life crisis.

Those who know me know that I am more a Talbots kind of gal, raised with manners and sensible shoes, without an alternative bone in my body.   I have a sense of decorum, I can set a table properly for a dinner party, and I write thank you notes.  I live in a small town in the Upper South, where no one wears white shoes after Labor Day, and my politics are reserved for the voting booth.  In short, I am what is known as A Good Girl.

Once I get Spawn raised to Adulthood and I do not need to explain myself to my mother – the gloves are off.

I can hardly wait to become the person who will inspire eye-rolling in the adult version of Spawn.  Lord knows I am inspiring eye-rolling in the pre-teen version, and it’s not near as much fun as I anticipate the later version will be.  It’s entirely possible a suggestion will be made that I have my marbles checked.  I won’t care then, and I don’t care now.

All I know is, it’s good to have a goal.

 

– Mox

Pernicious.

Well.

Sometimes the answers are quite simple, aren’t they?

So, after my last post, where I simultaneously feared for and got excited about my ebbing sanity, I did manage to get something written.  It’s not complete, not by a long shot.  And my deep blue funk really had nothing to do with it. I just had a few rather beautiful turns of phrase rattling around in my head while I stood in the shower one night, and I made a point of writing them down.

So there’s that.  I don’t know where it’s going, but at least it’s out of my head and in a file on my laptop.

I recently came to the conclusion that I’m never going to get any writing done unless I actually sit down and do it, whether I feel inspired or not.  Back in my salad days I could count on the muse to show up pretty regularly, but my salad days were all about me and I had so few responsibilities.  So I’ve made something of a semi-commitment to finding the time, even if it’s just half an hour, to writing something.  Of course the commitment is classified as “semi” because I have good intentions but also a whale of a schedule.  Baby steps, folks.

Still, I haven’t been able to shake my apathy. I’ve been feeling very much a drudge these days, what with the constant errand-running and schedule-juggling and general household-managing.  I’m tired, folks.

I had my annual physical checkup this week and — in addition to getting an arm-numbing Tetanus/Pertussis booster shot — I got the first of a series of B12 shots.  After having B12 numbers on the low side for a number of years, I am now depleted.  This is known as Pernicious Anemia.

I do not recommend Googling any medical condition.  But I did.  I found a majority of the symptoms that have plagued me all summer, the ones I chalked up to burning the candle at both ends and possibly the beginnings of a larger problem (read: heart) as well as some pretty dire consequences for not taking care of the problem.  If Dr. Google’s aim is to scare the beejeezus out of people, he’s doing a great job.

Oddly enough, once I had the problem identified and a course of action plotted, I allowed myself to finally – after five months – give in to it.  To admit I was tired and apathetic and dragging and allow myself to sit still and wallow in my tiredness.  I didn’t feel the need to push through it any longer.

My doctor tells me that after four weeks of B12 shots I should feel markedly better.  And I’ll have to keep taking these shots from now until Kingdom Come.  Fortunately with age and maturity I have made peace with the practice of needles going into my tender skin, though I would prefer it in my (ahem) fleshy hip rather than my bony arm.

2013 has just not been my year.

 

– Mox

Picking a scab.

My Grandmother, my mom’s mom, was a large woman.  And a short woman, which contributed to her largeness.  She had all kinds of theories about why she was so large, including the one about being made to eat everything on her plate at every meal.  Which makes sense when you consider that she was a young girl when the Depression hit, and every morsel of food counted.  And I sort of buy into that theory, because what you do as a child has a tendency to stick with you as an adult.  You eat everything you can because that’s what you’ve always done.

My mother, who is fortunate enough to at least have some height on her frame, is a large woman, too.  The reasons my mother is heavy are fairly easy to pinpoint – genetics, poor food choices, lack of exercise.  And she eats when she’s dealing with her emotions.  Good day?  Let’s get ice cream!  Frustrated?  Have some cobbler.

I recognize this tendency in myself, too.  While my mother never rewarded me with food (for I am not a dog), I was witness to the kitchen capers that came about as her way to deal.  I try really hard to not repeat this because she’s fat, and she’s unhappy that she’s fat, and so she eats because she’s unhappy.  I don’t want that future for myself.  Adding to the complexity of this tendency is that I really like wine.  I’ve been known to have a conversation with myself about how early is too early for a glass of wine.  Alcohol at 9am isn’t a good idea, even though a lot of the world’s best literature was conceived in a bottle.  It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.  It doesn’t end well, is what I’m saying.

I have a theory about it, of course.  It’s like picking a scab – you know better than to do it, that it’s just going to prolong the healing process, and maybe leave a scar to boot – but you do it anyway because at least it’s something to do.

We don’t do a great job of sitting quietly with our emotions.  Our emotions scare us, particularly the ones that are on the darker end of the scale.  And our emotions are reactions to things that are going on in our lives, and a lot of that stuff we’ve got no control over.  So we eat, or we sleep, or we drink, or we shop, or we do any of a number of things that have become our medication of choice.

They say that recognition of a problem is half the battle.  I’m not so sure.  I think it may be a battle in and of itself.

 

– Mox

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