Discipline — You Won’t Find it Here.

Discipline.  I suck at it.

I know I need to set aside time to write, and not just here in the blog.  I really need to make some progress on the children’s book I’m trying to write.  And by ‘trying,’ I mean that I have the resources and I have the material, but I just don’t have that crucial First Step.  You know the one, right — the single step that starts the journey of a thousand miles? Yeah, that.  I’m still at the gate.

I’m all start and no finish.  All show and no go.  All worry and no decision.

I have that ‘excuse thing’ down: I’m tired; I just don’t feel like writing; no time; too noisy to concentrate; don’t have any ideas; have too many other things going on; blah, blah, blah.  You know the routine.  I’ll confess that I procrastinate — later.  But for now, I am just putting it out there.  If there’s one thing I shoulda/woulda/coulda change(d), it’s my self-starter.  I think it’s gone out.

Really, that’s the main reason I joined RCC; I need to be nagged and prodded and kicked and encouraged and cajoled and bribed and dared.  My self-motivation at work is great, but once I get home, it somehow eludes me.  Anyone else have that problem?

I can sit down after dinner and write a post or two, but all the little edits and rewordings and such piss away my evening, and that’s as far as I get.  On weekends I feel guilty sitting at the computer, especially when it’s nice out.  Of course, the guilt doesn’t stop me from hanging out on Facebook to play Scrabble, or reading the news from several sources, or browsing through any of a number of sites…I just don’t channel my energy in the right direction.

So I don’t expect this motivation paralysis to be easily cured, but I’m hoping it will improve.  I seem to do better for a bit, and then slack back off.  When I read the posts from the other RCC members and get all enthusiastic about my own progress, that lasts, oh, about long enough for me to open up a blank document.  And then, zilch.  I still use my notebook to write my ideas in, but I haven’t had many entries lately.  Another thing for my ‘to do’ list, I guess.

Well, enough whining.  I have work to do.  Wish me luck!  TTFN!

 

photo credit: Grotuk

 

Luck

Gloom, despair and agony on me,

Deep, dark depression, excessive misery,

If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all,

Gloom, despair, and agony on me.

– From the TV show “Hee-Haw”

Bad Luck

I’ve always been one of those people who walk around in a bad luck bubble.  If something was going to happen, it would happen to me.  In fact, that’s my motto.

If there was a food fight in the cafeteria at school, I was always caught in the crossfire.  When it’s finally my turn at the ATM, the “CLOSED” sign comes on.  When I get to the doctor’s office, they can’t find me on their schedule.  I once found the top of my hosts’ Tupperware salt shaker in my forkful of potato salad.  True story.

Restaurants are especially fun.  Either they’re out of what I order, or I get extra onions when I order none.  One time the server brought my food, and just as she reached to place it in front of me, she stumbled and my food ended up on the floor.  Or how about the time when my extended family was out to dinner and for whatever reason, my order was never put in at the kitchen?  First the staff tried to tell me it would be out ‘in a minute,’ but after the second or third round, they finally asked me what I had ordered because they had lost it.  Of course, everyone else at the table had eaten and their dishes had been cleared off the table.  The server brought me a dessert for my trouble.  I just had him box it up with my meal, because there was no time to eat it.

What about when I wanted to treat my parents on their anniversary at the restaurant of their choice?  The staff spilled my mother’s dinner in her lap, gave my father food that was too tough to chew, and made it a miserable time.  My mother said, ‘Remind me not to go out to dinner with you.’ With a wink and a grin.

Oh and there’s the family’s perennial favorite, the story that may be your only chance to say “mouth” and “bird poop” in the same sentence.  But that’s not even the worst.  And by ‘worst,’ I mean ‘strangest,’ because bad luck is so frequent with me that something has to be unusual to stand out.

Many years ago, I went to a croquet party where the guests dressed in white and brought champagne to deposit in a sink filled with ice.  The croquet tournament would start later.  It was a lovely day, and I was having a terrific time.  My friend, the hostess, came over to the sink and chose a fresh bottle to open.  She stood and chatted with me while she tore off the foil and removed the wire cage from the cork.  And then, as she had done countless times before, she began twisting and pushing the cork from the bottle.  At that point, the wet bottle slipped from her hands and landed with a clunk on the concrete, leaving her with the cork.

I didn’t know what hit me.  I felt as if I’d been punched in the face, hard.  I reeled back, gasping for air with a face full of bubbles.  I was choking on the foam in my mouth and nose, and my eyes burned from it.  She picked up the bottle as soon as she dropped it, but by then, it was nearly empty – the rest of it was on me.  It soaked my hair and clothing, leaving me a sticky, stinky, gasping mess.  I wasn’t even sure if my contact lenses were still intact.  (They were.)

The incident attracted everyone’s attention, and laughter was replaced by concern as people found out what had happened.  The party stopped.  Soon I was surrounded and being led to a chair.  The rest of the afternoon is a blur.  My head pounded for days afterward.

Did you know that the pressure in a champagne bottle is between 4 and 6 atmospheres (about 60-90 psi)?  I’d just gone a round with a real slugger!  In the old days of hand-blown bottles, explosions were commonplace.

A similar thing happened a few years later, only the bottle didn’t drop; the person opening it wasn’t holding it in a safe direction and I got champagne-faced again.  I still get a flash of memory when I drink champagne; it is embedded in my olfactory system.  But these days, I politely excuse myself to the next room when corks are being pulled.

(photo credit Anahi Temporelli)

Dreamer of Dreams

http://www.flickr.com/photos/pagedooley/8150585334/

We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers
And sitting by desolate streams;—
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

From Ode, by Arthur O’Shaughnessy  1874

I have always liked that line, ‘We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.’ You might recognize it from 1971’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, spoken by Gene Wilder in the ‘lickable wallpaper’ scene.  (“The snozzberries taste like snozzberries!”)

I don’t know if anyone knows or remembers anything else Mr. O’Shaughnessy wrote, but that one line is forever.

Speaking of dreams – my baby blog has been received well in its first month.  I am proud to say that only a few of my subscribers are related to me!  Thank you to my subscribers and my casual readers.  It has long been my dream to write something — a story, a song, a book — and have it published.  I’ve heard, “When will I see your name in print?” over the years, but as much as I have wanted that, I’ve never been brave enough to take the first steps on that journey.  Yes, I have published poetry in my college literary journal, and yes, I have written a few songs.  But I always felt those were flukes, accidental successes I could not replicate. I hope I was wrong.

Now that I have a blog, I feel like the Tin Man oiling up those rusty joints.  They’re squeaking, but they’re moving.  Nobody can do this for me.

I am the music maker.  I am the dreamer of dreams.

(photo credit kevin dooley)

The Further Adventures of Bo, the Epileptic Chihuahua

When we last left Bo, he was home from the animal hospital with new medication and a Cone of Silence.  He still didn’t focus very well, and his equilibrium was off, but his seizures had stopped.  His eyes were improving, too.  He was in transition with his meds, and seemed to be doing very well in that arena.

Number One Son noticed that Bo had a lumpy area on his back that felt scaly.  He examined it and thought maybe a bath would help.  Bo was pretty stinky from rolling around in his own bodily fluids, and he needed that bath in a bad way.  Number Young Son agreed to bathe him.  When he brought the Bobo to me, wrapped in a towel, he told me that he couldn’t clean off that one spot on his back that was hard and felt like a scab.  Because Bo hadn’t wanted to be held in those few chaotic days, I hadn’t noticed what he was talking about.  When I looked, I saw a rough area of skin near his neck where his hair was coming out.  The skin looked patchy and dry.

The next day, Number One Son pulled out the loosest hair to clear it away, leaving a large bald patch. I called the vet and got an appointment for the following day.  Poor old Bo.  So again, off to the vet, where it was pronounced a staph infection, of all things.  Apparently, staph is opportunistic, and when Bo’s resistance was down, it jumped.  So now Bo has to be bathed and medicated twice daily in that area, and it’s getting better.

However, the good news is that he’s pretty much back to his old self.  He wags his tail and barks when he’s hungry, and he’s been approaching us for attention.  He doesn’t seem so ‘far away’ in his eyes or his manner now.  I think this new seizure medication regimen will be very good for him.

Bo's bald spot.
Bo’s bald spot.

Let’s hope he can lie low and stay healthy for awhile now.

 

Life Isn’t Fair – a Reminder

I happen to be a ‘woman of a certain age,’ which is to say I have passed my childbearing years and should now be reveling in the freedom to be myself.  It is also shorthand for menopause, that time of a woman’s life when everything you knew about living female is turned on its head.  Oh, there are the fun things, like reliving the acne of your youth and growing a beard for the first time, but there are also the not-so-fun things like thinning, dry hair and skin that has taken on an alien quality.

One of my favorite things is that my internal thermostat is now broken.  It is 70 degrees in the house and my fingers are blue.  I find myself washing dishes to thaw out my hands…and if you know me, you know how extreme that is.  Nearly every night finds me hollering out to my family, “Is it cold in here?” and immediately, the answer: “No, it’s just you.”  I change into my pajamas early in the evening so I have an excuse to wear my thick robe.  I will ask for a cup of hot tea so I can hold it in my frozen stumps, and sometimes, I’ll hold the dog in my lap just for his heat.  There have been times that I have provided the entertainment for the evening by wearing my tasseled, knit ski hat to complete my ensemble.  The rest of the household is male.  They walk around the house in shorts and, sometimes, shirtless.  In winter.  Year-round, actually.

Another feature of the departure of my youth is mental and emotional turmoil.  Chaos, really.  I haven’t always been as scatterbrained as I seem to be now.  I’d lose my nose if it wasn’t attached to my face.  And mood swings?  Well, let’s just say they leave us all a bit dizzy.  I thought I was going crazy, and that may still be true, but the symptoms I laid out for my doctor didn’t seem to faze him.  He was smiling and patient and handed me a box of tissues while I bawled for no good reason.

My childhood memories were of Mother in her forties, looking striking with her dark brunette hair set off by a shock of grey at her forehead, just like Indira Gandhi. She was a little ditzy sometimes, a little quick to anger sometimes, and exasperated with me quite often.  It wasn’t until years later that I decided that some of what made my mother so quirky and entertaining may have been her foray into ‘a certain age.’  I see my mother when I look in the mirror, and I am SO glad I don’t have a pesky little kid underfoot.

It is times like these that I remember my mother’s mantra: Life Isn’t Fair.  While the males in my house are chuckling about my haywire thermostat and adolescent skin, I’m wondering what they have that is equivalent.  As I age and gravity does its thing, my husband seems to have stopped aging.  Of course, he makes sure to mention that to me when he gets the chance.  But menopause, the great equalizer of women everywhere, has no counterpart with men.  “That’s not fair!” I cry.

Now I get it, Ma.  Now I get it.

Bon Voyage!

I don’t always have an easy time falling asleep.  Many times I toss and turn or lie on my back looking at the ceiling.  I try the ‘relax from your toes to your head’ method; I try blanking my mind; I try thinking of a pleasant memory; but more often than not, those things don’t bring sleep.

An interesting phenomenon happened the other night as I lay there wishing for sleep.  My mind’s eye began traveling with astounding speed through an interesting landscape.  It reminded me of the movie Inner Space, where a miniaturized Dennis Quaid travels through Martin Short’s body.  In those few twilight moments, I felt miniaturized.  It was as if I were a tiny speck, zooming at warp speed through places seen best via microscope.  Large shapes loomed over me as I passed, and it was only then that I could tell that these were hair shafts. Shadows revealed themselves as freckles, and ridges became wrinkles.

But it was not merely a landscape of the human body; I saw myself zoom into web-frosted corners where an enormous spider crouched; I was buried in the terrifying clutter of a kitchen drawer.  Anywhere my mind reached, there followed my vision in miniature.  More than once my eyelids snapped open in surprise when I found myself in another unlikely spot.  When I closed them again, the spree continued. The terrain changed so quickly that it all became a blur, and so much flashed by that I was disoriented.

All of this happened in a very short time span; just the few minutes in between awake and asleep.  But when it was over, I felt the need to rest, and I quickly fell asleep.

These minuscule journeys have happened a few times since that first instance, and I’m always glad when they arrive.  I have tried to coax my mind into it, but it doesn’t happen like that.  I can’t think it into being.  I’ve also noticed that it only happens when I lie on my left side, for whatever reason.

I’m sure there is a perfectly boring explanation to it all, but I don’t need an explanation.  It’s an adventure in miniature, and I love it.

I’m going places.

Passages 3/27/02

Indifferent, counting slain illusions
Remember when you played the game?
The years gaze back above the razor
Older, wiser, honor, blame.

Naked truths and fallen heroes
Conscious shift from then to now
Playing from the hand they dealt you
Mindful what your thoughts allow.

At times, the commonplace is foreign
And the foreign, commonplace
Faintly glint the knowing moments
Drawing dark across your face.

Early in the quiet mornings
Doubtful little whispers creep
Though daydreams promise simple pleasures,
Restless minds make fitful sleep.

Paid your dues and paid respect
Tipped your hat and moved along
Perspective changes everything —
Love and war and right and wrong.

Where pale and hollow words fall short,
One silent look the thought conveys
A small but tender reassurance
Affection, borne in little ways.

Fill the void with flights of fancy
Think a lot, but when you’re through
Keep in mind that what you’ve given
In the end, returns to you.

*Wrote this for a friend.  It was subsequently made into a song by another friend, a musician, and published on one of his CDs.

The Write Stuff

It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.
Erma Bombeck

 
So as it turns out, part of having a blog is actually writing posts — a pretty big part, actually.  I knew I would run into that wall eventually.  I decided to brainstorm some topics, and what I came up with first was, well, writing posts.  Clever, huh?  Yeah, that’s me.

For many years, I kept a nightstand notebook to record my dreams upon awakening so I wouldn’t forget.  I got to the point where I would wake slightly, keep my eyes shut, and write.  I didn’t have to jot down exactly what the dream was; a few key words would bring it right back to me later. The trick was actually being able to decipher what I had written when I finally opened my eyes.  I kept those pages in a journal, and I still go back to them on occasion to revisit some of my more interesting dreams.

I put a notebook and pen next to the bed.  That should help.  So far, I have used exactly one page of that notebook.

A friend of mine, who is a songwriter/musician and published author, used to tell me that writing was like a muscle – you have to keep working it.  And when famous authors are asked by hopefuls how to be a successful novelist, they famously say, ‘Write.’  They also say, ‘You’re only as good as your last piece.’  I will be posting some of my old stuff to remind and motivate myself.  If I am only as good as my last, it’s time for some new stuff. I know I will likely embarrass myself with some of my posts, so I apologize in advance for that. 

There is some comfort in holding a pen again.  Mentally, it feels good — I need this.  I’m nervous and rusty, but I’ll get better.  I promise.

Thanks for listening.

2/23/2007 part 2

When we turn and gaze behind, we’re never sure what we might find
Opportunities we’ve missed, regrets too numerous to list.
So turn around and look ahead — sometimes, the past is better dead.
The wise man learns from his mistakes to help decide the path he takes.

We live, we love, we laugh, we cry — we wave as the parade goes by
and pretty soon, we realize our life has passed before our eyes.
The sun will rise, the sun will set — it hasn’t reached its ending yet
and once our earthly time is gone, eternity goes on and on.