ONE. As Haiti is devastated by another earthquake, I think back to a blog post from 2010 in which I wrote:
Haiti has always struggled mightily
to survive on her own terms.
She’s strong, I know.
I just wish the universe would quit testing her.
And here the Haitian people are again, facing more death, destruction, and heartbreak.
TWO. As the Taliban moves closer to regaining control in Afghanistan, I think back to those days of feeling completely enraged/overwhelmed/defeated by how easily Bush/Cheney & Co fear-mongered the U.S. into invading and occupying Afghanistan. I distinctly remember sitting on my patio, drinking a beer, and laughing/crying as I read David Rees’s GET YOUR WAR ON.**
The one good constant in all this is that my patio table remains the same
The clip-art strips were and continue to be profane, hysterical, and spot-on in the framing of how we lost our collective minds after September 11, 2001. (**Lather. Rinse. Repeat. for the invasion/occupation of Iraq, covered in GET YOUR WAR ON II)
THREE. Once again, I’m feeling enraged, overwhelmed, and defeated. There’s so much good we could be doing for one another on a massive scale and yet, people continue to think the military is the answer to every issue, despite all evidence to the contrary.
FOUR. So here I am (again) turning to nature to soothe my soul.
August 14, 2021
We woke in the middle of the night to the smell of wildfire smoke. Zippy shut off the swamp cooler and closed all windows. It’s only June and wildfire season has begun.
Since early May, I’ve run every other day and that routine has been crucial for my mental health. I haven’t yet missed a running day and when I got up this morning, I felt so many emotions about the climate crisis and the lack of political will to do anything about it. My despair mounted and, more than ever, I needed to run. The good news is we have a 20+ year-old treadmill (that’s gone through multiple running belts over the years) and I ran on that for 25 minutes. I pounded out the miles, my mind clearing as sweat slicked my skin.
This afternoon I made the mistake of going on Twitter where I came across this tweet:
And I began to spin some more, the anxiety and rage building. So, did I hop on the treadmill again? Nope. This time I began rereading one of my very favorite books:
I highly recommend any book by Cynthia Kadohata, but especially THE THING ABOUT LUCK which is funny and tender and makes my heart sing. *happy sigh*
I have to keep reminding myself that electoral politics is not going to save us. We the people must rise up as one and stand together against the rich and powerful. In the meanwhile, I’m focusing on mutual aid in my community in addition to lots and lots of running and reading.
This day’s been hard, but I’m still standing.
“Not much goes on in the mind of a squirrel.
Huge portions of what is loosely termed “the squirrel brain” are given over to one thought: food.
The average squirrel cogitation goes something like this: I wonder what there is to eat.”
I gave myself the day off and spent it in bed reading adult fiction (Tana French’s THE WITCH ELM). Self-care without guilt. Write my 1,000 words? Only if it felt right. I wasn’t going to butt heads with myself and turn it into a negative situation.
Photo by Hans Lindgren from Pexels
I’m happy to say I’m now in the head-space to crank out my daily word count. Thank you to these adorable goats for their role in helping me get there. And now I’m off to write . . .
Emma. September 14, 2020
Here’s my happy doggo to perk up anyone in need of perking (not to be confused with twerking, although, if twerking makes you feel better, by all means do that!) The photographic quality is low and Emma’s smile is slightly blurred, but the emotions shine through.
As Charles M. Schulz famously wrote, happiness is a warm puppy.
I spent the day in bed reading a Nero Wolfe/Archie Goodwin detective novel. A wise choice for my physical and mental health, I think. Why? The wildfires continue to rage in Colorado and when I checked my phone at one point today, the weather alert said “91 degrees. Smoky.”
So, it’s no shock that when I dipped into Pixabay just now in search of an image that resonated, I landed on this:
Tonight I shall dream of rain.
I started the quarantine with only about eight checked-out library books that I read *sob* and then held onto for months until my library system started accepting returns again. While I did download a few ebooks this spring, I don’t enjoy that format, and instead concentrated on my bookshelves. The bad news is, I’ve already read most of what I have at home. The good news? I don’t mind rereading books.
This past week or so, I’ve reread three Raymond Chandler novels featuring Philip Marlowe (The Big Sleep; The High Window; The Lady in the Lake) and two Rex Stout novels featuring Nero Wolfe (Might As Well Be Dead; Death of a Doxy).
Witty private detectives + murder = self-care.
Justice is not a natural part of the lifecycle of the United States,
nor is it a product of evolution;
it is always the outcome of struggle.
Chattanooga, United States. June 1, 2020 Photo by Kelly Lacy from Pexels
Spotted this rabbit in Nebraska. The attitude feels a bit different than Colorado bunnies. Anyone else picking up on a General Woundwort vibe?
Grand Island, NE. June 2, 2020.
(Full disclosure: During my time in Nebraska, I saw very few people wearing masks and sensed hostility toward me and my mask-wearing ways. Which is to say, this bunny was probably chill and a total Bigwig, and I’m just projecting.)
I chose to spend much of the day in bed, reading an adult novel (thriller/suspense) that came highly recommended. It made me grumpy for various writing-related reasons (mainly characterization), but I kept reading because I’d already invested so much time in it (I know, I know) but also because I was curious how it would wrap up.
Right after finishing that unsatisfactory book, I got an email with a Subject line that was one of my account passwords. That was disconcerting to see. The email was a threat to blackmail me with video of me pleasuring myself to a porn video unless I bought BitCoin from this Alex fellow. I wasn’t worried about the video, because, well, there isn’t one. I was, however, worried, because the blackmailer had correctly identified one of my passwords. So I then had to spend a whole bunch of time changing passwords on various accounts. I admit to feeling a bit stabby at that point.
And that’s pretty much it for this Saturday.
April 27, 2020.
November 15, 2017
“If we had a keen vision of all that is ordinary in human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow or the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which is the other side of silence.” ~ George Eliot, Middlemarch
I just finished drafting the bulk of my work-for-hire project and am feeling a bit like Emma looks: noodly-tired and in need of a nap. But mostly, I’m thrilled to have reached this point in the project! Definitely something to be thankful for on this Thursday.
Here’s hoping you’ve also experienced some good stuff today!
We die. That may be the meaning of life.
But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.
~ Toni Morrison
She fearlessly wielded language, never backing down from truth. I’m grateful she graced the planet for 88 years, creating books that will keep her fierce genius alive forever.
Rest in power.
Bockman Campground, State Forest State Park. June 12, 2019.
Nothing in the world is quite as adorably lovely as a robin when he shows off – and they are nearly always doing it.
Late this afternoon I finished reading John Carlin’s Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation (later re-released as Invictus) and then took a walk around the neighborhood with Zippy and Emma. As we walked past the home with the enormous pickup truck parked in front, the enormous truck with a TRUMP / PENCE sticker in the window, I fought my daily urge to throw a brick through that window.
And then I remembered the magic Nelson Mandela wrought in South Africa. After being unjustly locked away in prison for twenty-seven years, Mandela’s heart and mind were still open wide. He paved the way for blacks and whites to reconcile their anger and their guilt so they could become one. One Team, One Country. He helped blacks and whites unite around the Springbok rugby team as it went on to win the World Cup in 1995. Over and over, Mandela’s instincts and generosity of spirit helped everyone, black and white, become their better selves. It’s an extraordinary story and book, and I highly recommend reading it.
It’s hard to admit that within minutes of finishing Playing the Enemy, I wanted to inflict my red-hot anger on the person who keeps that sticker on his truck. Instead, I’d like to keep in mind what Desmond Tutu’s friend said about the day South Africa united around the Springbok victory: “The great thing about everything good that has happened is that it can happen again.”
Time to cultivate my better self.
Here are two books I read and greatly enjoyed this week:
Sheila Turnage’s THREE TIMES LUCKY is a fun romp filled with twists and turns. Cece Bell’s EL DEAFO is a funny and heartfelt graphic novel about the author’s elementary school years wearing the hearing aid that gave her superpowers.
I highly recommend these gems published in 2012 and 2014. (Yes, I’m woefully behind in my reading. You know what they say: so many books, so little time.)
As the mother of two I cannot wrap my head around the responsibility of parenting twelve babies.
It probably helps that her ducklings are fuzzy and exceedingly cute.
Today as I do research for the work-for-hire book assignment I’ve accepted, I’m trying to keep this quote in mind:
Regret of neglected opportunity is the worst hell that a living soul can inhabit.
~ Rafael Sabatini
I hope ol’ Rafael was right, because I’m currently experiencing some hefty regret over taking this assignment. There’s a slight comfort in thinking the alternative may have resulted in an even worse hell.
Today I’m grateful for Mary Oliver who created accessible poems that were simultaneously simple and profound. Here’s one of my favorites from American Primitive.
Like large dark
butterflies they sweep over
the glades looking
to eat it,
to make it vanish,
to make of it the miracle:
resurrection. No one
knows how many
they are who daily
minister so to the grassy
miles, no one
counts how many bodies
and descend to, demonstrating
each time the earth’s
appetite, the unending
waterfalls of change.
wants to ponder it,
how it will be
to feel the blood cool,
the blaze of our own bodies
we watch them
wheeling and drifting, we
honor them and we
however wise the doctrine,
however magnificent the cycles,
however ultimately sweet
the huddle of death to fuel
those powerful wings.
Image from Pixabay.com
Rest in beauty, Mary.
Worked much of today revising a young adult manuscript. There’s still lots to be done, but I made progress and am beginning to believe I’ll meet my self-imposed deadline.
“Animals don’t behave like men,’ he said. ‘If they have to fight, they fight; and if they have to kill, they kill. But they don’t sit down and set their wits to work to devise ways of spoiling other creatures’ lives and hurting them. They have dignity and animality.” ~
For the past twelve days I read a whole bunch (The Hazel Wood; The Secret Life of Anna Blanc; Storyworthy; The Truth About Twinkie Pie; Boys and Girls Together; The Infinite Pieces of Us;), did some de-cluttering, scrapbooked photos, watched college basketball and Netflix, exercised, and did ZERO writing.
The no-writing started out easy because I was pretty worn out from my NaNoWriMo draft and in serious need of a break from that kind of thinking. Then I began to notice an increase in grumpy feelings and overall anxiety, and realized it was probably writing withdrawal. But I still wasn’t ready to get back to it. I had a gut feeling I’d view any new writing as crap and any older project as crap, and sure enough, I read 20 pages of a YA I’d set aside in June and thought “This is irredeemable garbage.” So I went back to reading other people’s words and cleaning out drawers.
Last night I realized I was ready to write again. Somehow, I knew it was safe to go back to the pages and I’m pleased to report I was absolutely correct. I just finished reading the entirety of the aforementioned YA. I took copious notes and am excited about the project that is NOT irredeemable garbage. It’s a manuscript in need of revision and I just happen to love me some revision.
Back in the saddle again, baby.
So I’ve decided to do NaNo (National Novel Writing Month) this year and am spending my time before November 1st figuring out characters and outline. It’s intimidating to think about 50k words in 30 days and I’m fully aware my success depends on the very best road map I can create.
I had a cold shock the other day with the realization that my outline was a series of “and then” scenes (one event following another, without an increase in tension). As written, my outline was worthless. I’m not gonna have the luxury of taking breaks to noodle on how to increase conflict in the NaNo draft. I must have built-in conflict before I begin which means I need to link my scenes with “but” and “therefore.” Note: there are many links out there regarding Trey Parker’s explanation regarding “but, therefore”).
Last night I couldn’t sleep and spent hours in the dark thinking about my protagonist and what he’ll be up against in my new book. Tons of ideas bounced around my head (none of which I wrote down) and then I remembered what I’d read in Damn Fine Story (written by Chuck Wendig, profane and big-hearted gift to the writing world). To paraphrase: it doesn’t work to cram a plot onto a character; the characters drive the story.
This morning I reread Damn Fine Story’s chapter two: “Soylent Story: It’s Made Out of People.” And guess what? I’m feeling much better about my upcoming NaNo experience.
Thank you, Chuck!
I’ve used the writing software Scrivener in the past, but haven’t touched it in quite a while which means I’ve forgotten how to navigate it. I was never a pro user and only utilized a small percentage of its capabilities, but even those basic skills have vanished in the mists. So today I’m using Scrivener for Dummies by Gwen Hernandez to reacquaint myself with the program. (I find the Scrivener manual to be more of a rabbit hole of confusion than a help). This Dummies book isn’t perfect, but I am finding my way and making progress outlining my work-in-progress.
Proof I’m hard at work!
My favorite aspect of Scrivener is the corkboard because I do so much better when I can take in the whole of something. Plus, I can label and color code my index cards! Despite the learning curve that’s always involved when Tracy Meets Software, I’m pretty sure I’m having more fun than Bartelby the Scrivener ever experienced.