Friday, March 18, 2011

True to Form

As an almost-part-time writer, I can say with all confidence that I absolutely hate everything that I write. I have been contemplating erasing all posts that are post-2007, in fairness to readers. I really hate to inflict bad writing on you.

I just spoke with my most-wonderful cousin yesterday, who is also a published author (www.dianarubino.com). She admonished me for editing my work in this way, and said something truly fascinating: apparently, I am supposed to let my right brain take over my writing.

I was thinking about this (along with the other 18,000 things that tromp through my brain on a minute-to-minute basis) and wondered what that would be like. My right brain is a bit of a partier. That's the side that gets everyone in trouble at 2am. I'm not sure it's a good idea to let - I'll call her "Lucy" - have the controls. My left brain ("Linus", just to be consistent) usually is the one driving the car, making sure we're not about to go into an embankment.

But I can feel Lucy just salivating at a chance to do a little dance on my written work. Linus is very concerned. I suppose I am of two minds on this topic. (No, don't laugh at that.)

Right now, I think I'm probably going to stay true to form, which for me is procrastination. I'm wondering if that's my SuperEgo ("Charlie Brown"??) stalling until I figure out how to let Lucy do her thing without damaging my somewhat respectable reputation.

Maybe it's time to find Snoopy in this whole scenario. He'll know what to do.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Priests and Nuns...

Of course, I'm still awake. It's only 12:20am, and my writer's group ended several hours ago. But I find that I am still obsessed with writing, and so I inflict my blog upon you!

My newest writing will most probably center on nuns and a pastor, and possibly a few priests. Here's the thing about nuns: I can't think of a movie that's gotten any sort of attention that doesn't cast nuns in a humorous light. Sister Act. Sister Act II. Blues Brothers. (Ok, she was actually scary, but it was a comedy. There's Sound of Music too, but they never do answer that eternal question: How DO you solve a problem like Maria?)

Alright, cheap shots aside, and ignoring that impossible soprano who sings Climb Ev'ry Mountain, we really don't have a lot to work with where nuns are concerned. I'd like to write something that's very character-driven, and doesn't rely so heavily on what people usually think of, when they think of nuns. Actually, I know a few people who happen to be nuns, and they also happen to be pretty funny. (Hey, what are the odds that a nun would be a stand-up comic? No, probably not.)

It's got to be a grueling job. Kids, charity, no sex. All that praying. I think it'll be set in my hometown (if you don't know where that is, it'll just have to be a surprise) and I think I'll add the pastor and a few priests into the mix, just because...how fun would THAT be? No, really.

Warning: Non Sequitur.

When I was a kid, my friend Brian and I attended a very official Catholic service at our high school. Every once in a while they decided they needed to stop praying for us and just have a no-holds-barred mass. Or maybe it was a holy day or something. That's not relevant. What is relevant is that, when the entire high school attends a mass, damn near the entire rectory and convent needs to attend, and apparently they need to scrape up every blessed communion host they can find.

After communion we were sitting there, first row of the balcony, front and center, when we noticed a deacon sneaking out the side door with the extra hosts. Immediately, it begged the question: Where was he going with those extra hosts? Was there an after-mass party he was saving them for? Did they make them into tiny pizzas and invite the nuns? Maybe there was dancing? We didn't know.

Being seventeen though, we absolutely had no control of ourselves. Watching the deacon sneak the extra hosts and wine out to the Catholic Bacchanal was too much for our teenaged brains to bear.

There's a sort of, I don't know, "snorfing" sound that happens when you are laughing in a place in which you are not supposed to be laughing. It's what a joke sounds like when it is suffocating. You know, more than a stifled sneeze, less than...Tourette Syndrome? You get the idea.

Pastor Valentino walked down the aisle at the end of the mass. He very pointedly stared at me and Brian as he exited, as we were red-faced and gasping hilariously, trying very hard to not be idiots. Again, being seventeen, really not possible.

So. More stories about nuns and priests are forthcoming, though the rest of them will probably not be true. Sorry? You're Welcome? You decide.

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Friday, January 28, 2011

The Day I Moved North

I moved to the Pittsburgh area 14 years ago from Raleigh, North Carolina, on January 23rd, 1997. I remember thinking at first how nifty it was that there was actual snow. And then a few days later, how very persistent that snow seemed to be about constantly falling.

This winter of 2010-2011 has proved to be a trying one for me, in that the snow has been more of a character in a horror movie than an actual weather event. It. Won't. Go. Away. So, in dealing with that, I went with email-horror-genre, below.

For people concerned about me after having read this, it's not a true story. (I think some of you were puzzled about this, because I usually write about stuff that's happened. I am not, in fact, about to eat the neighbor pets.)

It was written while completely, utterly and entirely sick of the snow. Please don't call my mom. I'm fine; I'd rather be in San Diego, but I'm fine. Thanks.

Jan 23

I can't believe it! I haven't seen snow in such a long time. The big, fat flakes today were such a nice welcome to the area. I wonder if it'll snow enough to make snow angels? I haven't done that in years! I wonder if I have snow boots. Or a shovel.

Jan 24
I looked out the window this morning to see a winter wonderland! The trees were all coated with shiny, fluffy white snow. So pretty. I wanted to go out and look at it, but it's a little cold. I think I'll just enjoy it from the living room, with some tea.

Jan 25
I tried to open the door to put the garbage out and guess what? I couldn't! Actually, it turns out that if I really lean into it, I can open it enough to squeeze out. Funny, I've heard of being snowed-in, but I thought that only happened in Alaska or something.

Jan 26
I tried to use my shovel today. Snow is heavy, and apparently the shovel used to be used as a torture device. I'm going to be in traction for a week, but at least I can get out of my driveway now. I'm glad I work from home, but I need to get out for a little bit.

Later, Jan 26
I'm not sure who designed my driveway to go uphill, but maybe someone should have told them that we live in Pennsylvania. It took me 20 minutes to get out of my driveway it was so icy. I only got out because the friction of spinning my tires for 20 minutes melted the ice. Once I got out, I drove behind a damn salt truck. I think my car needs a new paint job. I got to the grocery store finally and all the bread and milk was gone. Bastards.

Jan 27
Seriously? More snow? I turned on the news and the weatherman looked like he was going to kill the sports guy with a thermometer, and the anchorwoman seemed to have lost interest in life. Turns out a water main broke downtown because of the cold, and cars are actually frozen to the road.

Jan 28
Five day forecast: accumulation up to 20 inches. I've dislocated a disk from shoveling, I haven't eaten in days because the grocery store has been ransacked, and the plow keeps piling a mountain of snow at the foot of my driveway. The only way to leave my house is on foot. Kill me now.

Jan 29
I've organized some neighbors and we're going house-to-house to see if anyone's dead so we can steal their bread and milk. We are starting to eye-up our pets for meat. The weatherman on channel 2 was killed during an uprising at the station. They got it all on film though, which they have been showing in a loop, since most of the staff been arrested.

Jan 31
I have jammed as many of my possessions into my car as possible. I'm planning to push my car over the back yard, jump in, slide down the long hill through the neighbor's yard and onto the highway. With luck, I can make Virginia in a few hours and avoid the oncoming ice storm. If I don't make it, tell my parents I love them.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What's News to Me

So, I watched the State of the Union last night. The big story leading up to the speech was, of course, how Republicans and Democrats were sitting together. While this would have been a fine story unto itself, people bridging differences and putting ideology aside to join in civil debate...that wasn't the story.

The story, as we heard on CBS at least, was about who could sit with whom, about how the better-looking legislators were 'claimed' first, and how people were calling it 'Congressional Speed Dating,' and that some congresspeople were upset because their 'date' had been stolen.

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I'm from Pittsburgh and of course the Steelers have just won the AFC Championship, and a trip to the Super Bowl. Of course, I was thrilled but at the same time, I was absolutely dreading the two weeks leading up to February 6th. During that time, the news featured a story about a family of Green Bay fans living in Pittsburgh. Let me repeat that. On the news, a show whose only job was to keep me informed about important developments, was a story about a family of football fans who rooted for the other team.

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You know, I wouldn't consider myself a purist in most things, and I'm willing to give people some latitude for the sake of creativity. But I honestly believe that news ought to be actually newsworthy.

If you really don't have anything to say to me...let me go! I'm busy; I can use the extra time. It's like an annoying guy who calls you all the time that you just can't get off the phone. He just keeps talking and you're thinking, "I could be starting dinner..."

I would love it if the news would wrap up around 5:20pm if they really were done. Maybe an annoucement in the middle of the program, something like "That concludes any stories of substance. Everything from here on out will be completely inconsequetial to your life or the lives of anyone you could possibly know, so feel free to do the laundry."

I don't know who makes the decision that we don't need to do any in-depth stories about the state of the world, and we have time stick in the story about local Cheeseheads. Is it a guy who watches too much Style Channel? Is it someone who has read viewer analytics within viewer analytics, so that it's some sort of fractal view of itself, and the only possible outcome is something so complex that it becomes idiotic? Perhaps it's an MBA graduate?

I don't know. Please, if you are reading this, and you have some sort of editorial control of any newscast, I now implore you to make your news newsworthy. Save us from new recipes for artichokes and interesting ways to use a wire hanger. When revolutions are happening all over the globe, I do not need to know what to do with extra twist-ties. You are killing my brain, and I beg you to stop.

This has been a public service announcement. Thank you.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Is this an epiphany?

(Warning: serious thoughts ahead. You may want to remove all children and shallow people from the room.)

Well, it's 2am, so here's a poll for people to read when they get up. I will be too tired to read your comments, but I'll get to them later in the day, I'm sure.

Are you operating out of fear?

Just a question. Now think honestly about it, forget the macho bravado and the I-am-strong-I-am-woman crap. Are you, right now, scared?

If on any level you answer yes...why? What are you scared of? Lack of resources? Lack of love? Lack of any sort of security? Does it help to operate out of fear? Does it motivate you in a way that you would otherwise not be motivated? Or is there a better way to motivate yourself? Are your fears real this minute? What if you operated out of hope, or curiosity, or self-improvement? Would you have different goals? Would you have better goals?

Is the simple act of being fearful keeping you from actually achieving that which would remove the thing you are afraid of?

One last thing. Is anyone motivated out of anger? If you are, are you able to change it into something positive, and even at that, are you still exhausted by holding onto the anger that motivates you? It's not a question of whether anger can ever be good, but can it ever be really good for you?

It's just a couple of questions. I'm not sure it's an epiphany, but it might be. Thanks for letting me ask. You can comment below, or just answer quietly to yourself. That's what I'm doing.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

I have no idea what the hell is going on

Today, I have troubleshot (really? past-tense of troubleshoot?) a reporting system, made soup, played in a tent, ate really too much candy, and celebrity-stalked. And now I am writing in my blog for the first time in...wait, let me check...yes, three years.

If you note a certain lack of focus in my writing now, it is because "lack of focus" is my default state. I'm actually thinking of trademarking it.

I had several topics for this post, by the way, all of which I have forgotten except for the infuriating exercise of folding a playhut (www.playhut.com).

So, for anyone who has followed my blog in the past (and I now refer to only myself), I will catch you up. My kid is growing like the national debt. She's decided to NOT use the potty, a firm stance that we are attempting to "parent" out of her (a process that requires - almost too much - patience). I can't tell you exactly when my life started revolving around my child's poop, only that it happened long ago, and there really doesn't seem to be any sort of course change visible on the horizon.

I am busier, as an old saying went, than a one-armed paper-hanger. I'm not sure if people still make money doing that, but I would think that a one-armed paper-hanger would probably not be in very high demand. I could say I'm busier than my client's application server, but now I've put most of you to sleep. Let's just say I don't have a lot of free time. I'm (trying to) do marketing for the Women's Small Business Association (www.wsba.ws) and running the Laurel Highlands Vegetarian Society (www.lhveg.org) and I'm starting a business coupon magazine called Business Perks (www.businessperks.net) and I've still got my consulting because I have to pay for all the crap I buy, like diapers.

Scott's busy too, but he can get his own blog! He doesn't like it when I talk about him behind his back anyway, and I don't like to make him upset, because he is my sweetie, and he helps with dishes and laundry, and he's devastatingly handsome, so I just try to get along nicely with him.

At any rate, I'd love to update this blog more often. Maybe I'll keep talking about preschool poop. Who knows? If you have any topics that you feel someone should talk about, feel free to suggest. I love to talk about stuff that I have no expertise in whatsoever. I feel like it gives an "everyman" perspective where it's really not needed.

Thanks for checking in!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Burned Out

Well, for all of you out there in TV Land...Yes, it's been a while since I've posted. Indeed, the only reason I post now is to tell the three of you that read this blog that I am still alive. Just barely.

If you have ever had a five-month-old child, then you know a few things:
1. Your time is not your own
2. You have no say over anything
3. If you clean it up, it will be messy within the next hour

If you have ever tried to work while raising a five-month-old child, then you know work is a silly, silly undertaking. I have been on conference calls with a child's hand in my mouth. I have typed emails with my sleeping child on my lap. I have tried to concentrate on complicated data organization while trying to play with different-sized colored plastic bowls.

If you have attempted to also cook meals while doing all of this, well then you're me. And probably a good deal of other people.

Here are a few things I will say about motherhood, in no particular order:
1. A six-week maternity leave is just funny. It really needs to be more like 6 months.
2. You are done sleeping through the night.
3. No one cares how busy you are.
4. You seem to like numbered lists (!).

Because of #2, above, I am burned out. I should be working right now, in fact. But instead I am here, typing this. I feel that, if I have to look at another report, another request, another piece of data, my eyes will simply fall from their sockets.

I think what I need is a long bath, but I can't be sure. I'm afraid that I will have a long bath, and when I am done I will still be burned out. So I put this off. Actually, I am like one of my favorite quotes from West Wing:

"I believe you are more in need of a weekend in Atlantic City than any man I've ever known."

OK. Baby's awake! Got to go!