Friday, February 26, 2010

TGIF

We got our cats this kitty tent that they're in the process of destroying. We continually prop the tent upright, but they just knock it back down again. Simon, above, enjoys sitting in it in this fashion.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Prepping to bare all

I've been editing my blog. There are a few years worth of entries to edit and believe me, it needs it. Some entries I'm seeing are just plain stupid. Like, who the hell cares what I nicknamed the contestants on the TV show The Bachelor?

I've deleted some entries because they're boring and some because they're inappropriate (that's me!!). Like entries about my job or certain ones about my family. Stuff that would probably get me into trouble, in case anyone cared to read what I wrote in March of 2007 or whatever.

Some entries just need a little tweaking, just as any written material can benefit from editing, although there were certainly moments during my journalism career when I would turn in what I thought was a pristine story and an editor would want to make changes to it and I would be like, What the fuck, man?! Why don't they see the genius in this piece?

Because, obviously, my writing is flawless.

Some of the blog entries are pretty good. Not perfect, but decently written and written with genuine emotion, which is when I think most good writing happens. Some of these entries took me by surprise because I forgot I'd written them and they sneaked up on me, like ninjas. The one about my husband's grandmother passing away caught me off guard and left me in tears. I'm not looking forward to getting to the post about my own grandmother passing away, which I'm not linking to because I don't want to find it just yet.

Some of my writing has been self indulgent, but this journey is nothing if not self indulgent. I've left those entries up as a reminder to myself that not everyone is as entertained by what goes on in my brain as I am.

The reason I'm editing is because I'm getting ready to tell almost everyone I know about my blog. That includes my family and some friends who previously were not aware of the blog. When I'm done editing, I'm just going to tell everyone and put it out there and let it do what it does. It might dismay some people. A number of people in my family are religious and likely will not appreciate my religious/political/world views, not to mention that I swear like a sailor.

And I've considered replacing the swear words with darns and gees and gollies, but if I did that, it wouldn't sound like me, and the unfortunate truth of the matter is that I have a potty mouth.

So I'm a little nervous about going completely public with this blog, but I feel that it's a necessary step on this journey. I'm a writer. This is what I've been writing for all this time, such as it is. Take it or leave it -- it's me.


*PS: I've just read the entry about my grandmother, and as suspected, that was so fucking hard to read again. But I'm glad I did, because it was like reading a message from her that I'm doing the right thing.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Saddling up

Last night my husband suggested that I not be a housewife at all, and simply be a writer. The house will get cleaned the way it always has: Hardly ever. But at least something will be written.

So on this cold, rainy day, I put on a fancy pair of earrings that I don't normally wear and wrapped my grandmother's shawl around myself. I lit up my office and turned on some music. I settled onto the floor with a large whiteboard and began brainstorming. I tacked notes onto a cork board.

So far what I've learned is that outlining for a novel is not a fast and easy process. If characters are to be fully developed, I imagine I should develop them and know them before I write about them.

Midway through the day, my cowboy boots arrived. I ordered them yesterday (free overnight shipping!) because I've always wanted a pair of cowboy boots and now that I'm an eccentric writer, I can wear whatever the hell I want! For the record, the boots I got are considered "booties" because they don't go all the way up the leg. I love them, still.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Day 1 = Jacked

Today I was excited. I got up at 7 a.m. and started the coffee pot and turned on the news. I made breakfast for me and B. He left for work, and I sat on the couch to make a list of things I wanted to accomplish today.

And then I got sucked into an evil vortex of housework.

After all, I was feeling ambitious! Why not do all the laundry and clean the bathroom in the master bedroom (the shower was in detestable shape) and do the grocery shopping and pick up prescriptions, and, oh yeah, a couple things for the office so I can accomplish what I actually set out to do, which is write.

The problem with this plan was that, aside from this blog post, I neglected my writing today. I'm still trying to figure out what my schedule is going to look like; when I'm going to do housewife stuff and when I'm going to write.

One good thing about today is that I learned not to allow chores and errands to distract me. I also learned that if I need to leave the house for any reason, I should do it before 2 p.m. Otherwise the city becomes a clusterjam of elderly people and high school students. I also learned that housewifey stuff is hard and tiring. I could seriously focus all of my energy on being a housewife all day, every day, and my work would never be done. These women who are housewives and mothers at the same time are simply miracle workers, I tell you.

What I did do today was purchase a white board, dry erase markers, and a cork board. I plan to start outlining tomorrow. I'd start today but I need to leave the house soon for a yoga class (ah, the life of a lady of leisure...) and then I'm making dinner (Me! Dinner! And it's not Taco Bell!).

I'll get my groove back tomorrow...

Friday, February 19, 2010

What did I just do?

Today was insane. The last day at any job I've ever had is always that way, because my Momma raised me right and my dad always said DON'T DO SHIT HALFWAY, although to be honest, he probably didn't say "shit." So I stayed all day and made sure everything was left in pristine order.

To my surprise, a bunch of people wanted to have lunch with me today. So we did. We went to Chili's and I felt the way I did on my wedding or at my bridal shower, where six people are talking to you at once and you're smiling and trying to pay attention to all of them. They gave me a thoughtful gift of a book with some of their photos in it and heartfelt notes, wishing me well on my journey.

I loaded the last of my things into my car this afternoon and was driving home on autopilot, as usual, until I jolted back to reality. Remember this drive home. It's the last time you have to do this. I arrived home and greeted my cats and thought This feels the same as any other evening, but it's not because this is the beginning of something new and Oh My God what have I done?

Have I gone off the deep end? I am going to write a book? Me? Lazy Susan? Last-Minute Lucille? Johnny Come Lately? I could have kept my cushy job and maybe soon we could have moved into one of those really swanky neighborhoods where nobody's car gets broken into at night and you don't have to send your kids to private schools because the public schools are just that good.

But NO, I had to go and follow through on my Clean Slate, Jazz Handy 2010 resolutions, turning my life around, all that great shit, yadda yadda. That's all great when you hear it. Doing it? Well, I'm either crazy or I have enormous balls.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A culmination

Tomorrow is the last day at my job, and then it is on to better things: away from commutes, office politics, cubicles, emails, eight hours a day, five days a week, 49 weeks a year (I was up to three weeks of vacation) of sitting at a desk in a building, where thousands of other people also sit at desks and periodically walk to the bathrooms and take elevators up and down and stand outside with cigarettes in their hands.

I have tidied my desk. I have created a spreadsheet explaining my ongoing projects. I have trained my replacement. I have compiled file folders of information that would be enough to assist a trained chimp through the next necessary steps of my job.

No one in the history of this company's existence has ever left on such good terms, with such tidy notes and easily understood explanations and instructions. Of this I am sure.

I came home yesterday with a large box of My Things -- photos, a calendar, a jacket, some paperwork -- and B somewhat jokingly says "So you're really doing this? You're really quitting?"

And every second of every day is filled with that question. I remember periodically throughout the day I am quitting my job to become a writer and my heart skips and I panic for a millisecond and then a warmth floods my chest and I smile.

Everyone I work with is being so kind that it almost makes me regret quitting -- almost. What touches me most is the people who get it. One woman said, I wish I had something like that, that I was that passionate about. And one woman said she regrets abandoning her dream of being a telenovela star in Mexico (laugh, but you just have to know her - she could have done it), and several others have said, Good for you, and I am pretty sure most of them meant it.

And a fair number of people think I've lost my marbles or are jealous.

Regardless, tomorrow is my last day at that job. Soon, the true test of my motivation will begin.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mouth power

"Be impeccable with your word." - The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (a Toltec Wisdom book) by Don Miguel Ruiz.

My parents have always said words have power. Even if you don't mean it, saying something negative can have power over you and affect outcomes. I've always believed this to be true, too. When I think negatively, like when I doubt my ability to succeed in writing, I try not to completely voice those concerns. I believe it creates a metaphorical boulder I have to carry around with me, making it that much harder to succeed on an already difficult journey.

I have not read The Four Agreements. I was, instead, reading an interview of an actor I have a mild obsession with -- Jeff Bridges -- and he used that quote.

Be impeccable with your word.

"What that means is that words are very powerful - not only the words that you say to other people, but the words that you say to yourself. Those are the most important. They're almost like spells," Bridges says in the February 18, 2010 issue of Rolling Stone.

I found the timing of my reading of this interview fortuitous.

So I shall, instead, cast happy spells on myself. I will succeed; I will find my new venture refreshing and wonderful; I will slip into it like a worn glove; I will find peace and comfort in it; my spirit will be renewed.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The 'Eraser Head' in my head

Hang around my place long enough, and chances are that my husband will make you watch "Eraser Head."

He's got a thing for weird movies, a la "Secretary" and "Mullholland Drive," the latter of which shares the dubious distinction with "Eraser Head" of having the same writer/director, David Lynch, whose bare buttocks deserve twenty-six Singapore-style cane lashes.

Because those movies SUCK. "Eraser Head" in particular makes me feel physically ill. It's disgusting and confusing. "Mulholland Drive" makes no fucking sense, either. "No hay banda"? How about "no hay plot"?

So I'm obviously a filmophile. *sarcasm!*

Somehow I am supposed to segue this weird movie topic into my weird dreams from last night. People always say that the last thing anyone wants to hear about is someone else's weird ass dream, but I beg to differ. I love to hear about other people's dreams.

So I've been having this recurring nightmare. Last night was the first time it was vivid enough that I could remember it well enough to describe it later on. But be forewarned: The description is something like a David Lynch movie -- completely fucked up.

So in my nightmare, I am standing on the edge of a lake. There are rocks along the shore. Someone is standing to my right, but I can't see them.

Two large, circular wooden platforms sit on the water's surface. Someone is sitting on the platform on my left. Sometimes I am the person on the platform, sometimes I am both the person on the platform and the person on the shore simultaneously.

Standing on the shore, I pick up a rock and slip it into the water, knowing this will make the platforms turn. The platform on the left turns counterclockwise. The platform on the right turns clockwise. The person sitting on the platform turns with it.

The platform on the right is partially obscured in a mist/fog. Something is appearing on the platform. It is apparent that whatever is on the right platform will meet up with the person/me on the left platform eventually, as each platform turns. They will cross paths at exactly the same moment.

Sometimes I see the object from the shore, sometimes I see it from the left platform. It is a dead person. It is sitting up, blue with lack of oxygen, eyes wide open, and something about it is so frightening to me, even though it does nothing but sit there, that I try to scream but my throat is frozen and choked. My whole body is frozen.

I slip another rock in the water. The wheels keep turning, and so on.

Last night, I recognized one of the bodies. It's someone I know, someone I'm related to, someone living. That's the first time that's happened in this dream.

I don't lend any significance to the living dying in my dreams because it happens all the time, and, to date, I have not portended the future, at least not the near future. Eventually we'll all croak, and me having a dream about someone dying and then worrying that they will die is like me worrying that the sun will shine. It will probably happen, eventually.

So anyway, I have no idea what it means. If I am everyone in the dream (some believe you "play" every character in your dreams) then I am the observer, the participant and the ... dead. And the unseen mystery person. It probably means I am worried about this next step in my life -- this quitting of my job to try writing. I'm in transition, hence the wheels are turning. I'm playing different parts, deciding who I want to be. I'm worried about a relative with a health problem.

Today I have four days until the last day at my job. I believe reality has not sunk in. I want to be a writer but who just up and quits their job to become a writer when there is no basis for their belief in their future success? Crazy people, I guess. I'm as mad as hell and I'm not gonna take this anymore? Yes, something like that.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Gird your loins and break out the feather duster

One side of the office I sit in for eight hours a day, five days a week is floor-to-ceiling windows, facing the street. The blinds are beige and all tilted at the same angle. Someone comes late at night to clean them. Someone else comes twice a year and washes the insides of the windows, then the outsides.

Dozens of beige, chest-high cubicles are laid out around the office like Tetris shapes. Someone comes by once a week and dusts the desks. My photos and calendars are askew on Wednesday mornings. Someone vacuums the carpet every night. Three times a day, someone cleans the restrooms, wiping down the granite countertops and washing the mirrors of hand-washing splatters. Someone empties the garbage and refills the towel dispensers and cleans the toilets.

Every night, someone cleans the kitchen floor and runs the dishwasher. Someone wipes down the counters and cleans the coffee pots. Each week, we rotate for kitchen duty, and someone always loads the dishwasher and refills the fridge with soda or re-stocks the granola bars and bags of chips. Every week, a janitor cleans out the refrigerators and the microwaves and someone else stocks the first aid cabinet.

Every week someone clicks a few buttons on her computer and a Costco deliveryman shows up with supplies of paper plates and plastic forks and cans of soda and bags of coffee and snacks. Someone comes through once a week and carefully dusts the plants and waters them. When a light bulb goes out, a man in a blue collared shirt shows up with a ladder and a new light bulb.

The order and sterility and beige-ness of this place is so different from my home, with its corner dustbunnies and pile of laundry on the family room floor waiting to be washed. The blinds in the kitchen need cleaning and the windows need a good wash. Cat litter migrates from the two cat boxes, onto the kitchen and bathroom floors. Hair from my morning blow-drying sessions lay on the tiles. Empty glasses and soda cans appear on all available flat surfaces.

The bathrooms need a good scrub and the shower needs a lot of attention. Laundry needs to be washed, dried, and hung up. Garbage cans are full of tissue and need emptying. The linens need to be changed and dust is building up throughout our home. Dishes are never, ever quite done, and the coffee maker needs a deep clean.

I'm making mental notes of these things, realizing while I'm no Suzy Homemaker, I'm also about to become Suzy-Who-Stays-Home-And-Writes-While-Her-Self-Sacrificing-Husband-Keeps-Working.

My excuses for not cleaning are about to become moot, and I'm realizing I am about to become my own janitor, my own window washer, my own secret magic elf who cleans the microwave when no one else is around.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

From Sloth to Triathlete

I've been so focused on accomplishing the huge goal of quitting my job this year, that my other huge goal of getting fit and healthy has been getting neglected.

Maybe it goes beyond neglect. Maybe I've abused this goal. I've been drinking a lot of alcohol, partially in celebration and partially to take the edge off my fear of failure. I've been eating a lot, too, for the same reasons. I've been using stress as an excuse to eat and neglect my health, which is really nothing new for me.

If it were possible to do the opposite of exercise (something beyond simply lying on the couch with the remote in one hand and a chocolate chip cookie in the other), I've been doing that, too. Yoga and my P90X workout are my red-headed step-children, crying in the corner.

So when I received an e-mail from a fit friend who's preparing to run a 10K as part of the Mermaid Run in mid-April, I took it as a sign and promptly registered for the 5K version. Mind you, I can't run to the refrigerator without getting winded, so this will take some doing. But I found a training program online that promises to get me from the couch to running a 5K in two months.

Which is the exact amount of time between now and the Mermaid Run.

So starting Thursday, I begin my new training program designed to transform me from a couch potato to a 5K champ.

WHO'S WITH ME?

(P.S. It's a female-only run. Register here.)

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Short Timer's Disease

I've got a serious case of senioritis. I rolled in about an hour late this morning, suffering from a wicked hangover, thanks to a little overindulgence in mai tais last night during the "LOST" premiere. I've got that hot-neck nausea thing going on - retch!

AND WHY IS EVERYONE TALKING SO LOUD IN HERE? Shit.

EXCEDRIN, WHY DO YOU HATE ME?

WHY IS PAYMENT FOR A GOOD TIME SUCH MISERY?

This is why I could never truly be an alcoholic. I don't have the tolerance.

This is going to have to suffice as my Wednesday post.

Blergh.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

A Pregnant Pause

On Friday, I looked at the calendar and realized more than a month had passed and I hadn't had a period. I had not entered the Red Tent. Aunt Flo declined to visit.

I did the math. My last period started on Christmas Day (because that is how my period always is -- if there is a holiday or a vacation, it's practically guaranteed to show up). I'm normally an every-28-days kind of gal, and since Friday was January 29, that put me at eight days late.

And I am never, ever that late. Which led me to one conclusion: I must be pregnant.

The day wore on. As minutes ticked by, my conviction only became stronger. It was too perfect. I was quitting my job and I happened to be pregnant at the same time? It just worked out too well. I could spend the next nine months nesting and writing my book.

After work I went straight to a drug store and bought a pregnancy test. I took it home and peed on it. I waited two minutes. One blue line showed in the window, indicating that I was decidedly not pregnant.

I showed Hubs. He expressed intense relief. I threw the stick away and felt a minor pang of regret. I mean, it's no shock not to be pregnant. I am on the pill and am in no way attempting to become pregnant at the moment, but it was still a small disappointment, while at the same time being a major relief.

The next day (Saturday, of course! *&%$!!!) I started my period.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Quitting Day

Well, I've done it now!

I've quit my job, and there's no turning back.

I handed in my notice to my boss this morning, after a fitful night of sleep (or lack thereof). I felt nauseated doing it, and I think my boss was in complete shock. She must think I am simultaneously cruel for further hobbling her already crippled team and insane for pursuing this dream of mine.

Word spread quickly around the office, and I was getting a lot of confused, cocked-head looks from people who are wishing me well but have this look in their eye that says I am just about the craziest bitch they've ever met.

They might be right! But you know, even if this whole thing doesn't work out, I have to try.

I felt guilty enough that I agreed to three weeks' notice, even though I'd gone in resolved to stick with only two. It's all right. It's another week of pay. Another week to plan my new life.

Over the weekend, I visited my grandfather for his 90th birthday. He lives a few hours away. Hubs was sick with a bad cold and because my grandparents are so frail, he couldn't come for fear they would get what he has, and then some.

But while I was gone, he did the most wonderful thing. He called it a "small" surprise, but it was huge. He cleaned out our office, which is where I plan to write. We'd been calling it one of our "hoarding rooms" because it looked like a couple of hoarders had piled their trash in there and shut the door so they could ignore it. He did something with all of it. I'm not sure what. It's some kind of magic. I can walk on the floor. Things are filed away. It's clear so that I can focus.

He's some kind of miracle, this guy. I am pretty sure I don't deserve him. But I lucked into this thing and I'm not letting him get rid of me.