My DSSP: Line 8

Fa la la la la, grades are due.

At that point, I wasn’t sure where my allegiances lie, and it seemed better to be unsure with a friend than unsure without one.

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My DSSP: Line 7

All told, I took a week off from work to recover from the incident.

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My DSP: Line 6

I’m not sure if I’m mad at myself for concocting this project all together, or just not waiting to start until after the quarter finished.

There was a small stretch of time that I really enjoyed being a food critic.

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My DSSP: Line 5

I know it’s past midnight, but let’s pretend it’s still the 5th, k?

“Subtle, Callie, I’m sure nobody saw that and thought they were watching a sitcom.”

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My DSSP: Line 4

Some days you’re just not feeling it. Which is why it’s good to have a plan in place that you stick to, like sitting down for just 15 minutes to try to put something on the page. From today’s “not-feeling-it” session:

How hypercritical can one person be of oneself before one just implodes? Or explodes? Or otherwise bursts into pieces?

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My DSSP: Line 3

I just want to mention that all writing contained in this blog is copyrighted material.

I also wanted to note that just because a line appears here in the project does not mean it will appear in the finished product. You’ve all seen trailers where the funniest bit isn’t even in the movie. Faulkner’s advice is best (and hardest to follow:) “Kill your darlings.”

Here’s my line for day 3:

I have momentarily stopped thinking about Sam, but I feel like I myself might shuffle off this mortal coil, so instead I shuffle off to bed.

 

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My December Short Story Project

For the past four years, I have written a short blog post every day in December, chronicling songs that I like and the reasons I like them. A few days ago, I had to decide whether I wanted to do that again. At the end of the project last year, I felt exhausted with it, so I thought I might not do it again. But I also created a spreadsheet to keep track of all the songs I had covered (so I didn’t repeat anything), which made me want to do it again, just to utilize the spreadsheet.

Sorry, spreadsheet. Maybe next year. In the meantime, I took the advice of my husband to use the time I otherwise would’ve spent to work on a different project. I fiddle with this short story from time to time, trying to get at least 5,000 words out of it and a beginning, middle and end. For practice. Ultimately I want to end up with something good, but since fiction is not my strong suit, that may be too much to ask at the moment.

My plan for the project is this: I’m going to write for at least 15 minutes a day. (I find the logistics of all of this problematic – 15 minutes might be enough time to get one into a thought, but then one wouldn’t want to abandon it post haste. But I may not be able to devote more time.) To keep myself honest, I’ll post one line each day. I’ll try to make it a line I wrote that day, but as I’ve already got a chunk of the story written, I’m not promising that I won’t delve into the history. That may be lucrative for me anyway.

At least, that was the plan. As you may notice, it is December 2nd. Almost December 3rd. After I came home last night, I turned on the TV and forgot all about it. Forgot it was even December. So I guess I’ll post two lines today and try to carry on. Who’s going to notice, anyway?

By the way, I don’t have a title for this story yet. I find that titles either come to me very early or dead last, so I guess this time, it’s last. If I finish the story this year, and if I’m not too horribly embarrassed by my work (two very big ifs), I’ll consider publishing it in its entirety here. Eh, don’t get your hopes up though.

Here are my two lines for December 1st and December 2nd. Hope you like them.

By the time our newspaper landed on your doorstep – and it probably didn’t because you cancelled your subscription years ago – our most current story was yesterday’s trending hashtag.

 

Once a salesman for home security tried to convince me he was saving lives. My guess is that he didn’t think of himself as a murderer when things went horribly awry.

 

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My Phone and My Books

I always write lots of blog posts in December. I like looking-back and summing-up, especially when I think how beneficial it will be in the future, to jog my presently deteriorating memory. I thought before December rolled around I’d have a nice, picture-filled update of our bathroom remodel. I wanted to show dramatic befores and afters, but as we’re still middling with it, things have been rather quiet on the blog front.

For reasons that will probably seem obvious to any American, no matter how you voted, I disconnected from news and decided to make more time for reading. I wanted to read old things or new things, just so long as I wasn’t reading news things. Also, just as a general, apropos-of-nothing-else fact, I like myself better when I read books, instead of squinting at my phone. The phone that chimes at me every time I enter Target, pushing me to use discounts for products I don’t even want. The phone that knows when I’m at Jack in the Box and threatens to post a picture of it, as if trying to shame me into making better choices. The phone that, when tossed on to the passenger seat of my car by itself, causes the seatbelt warning light to go off, a feat no other inanimate object has accomplished – not my purse or my backpack or bags of ill-advised, overpriced purchases. The phones are so close to sentient beings that the cars want to protect them in the event of a crash. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

When I read on my phone, I feel sucked into a black abyss, possibly never to return if I can’t remember to look up. When I read books, I engage with them. We have little conversations. I pause to contemplate, if necessary, and I keep track of the best bits. So with nothing better to do or say, I decided to share a few of the best bits of what I’ve come across in the past couple of weeks/books.

The first quote is from a collection of essays by F. Scott Fitzgerald, called, “A Short Autobiography.”

Only one thing can I be sure of about the world in which he will live – it will not be as cheerful a world as the world into which I was born. Never had faith in the destiny of man reached such a height as during the nineties – seldom has it ebbed so low as it has now. When we see around us a great decay in ideals of conduct there is some fundamental cause behind it. It is impossible to be vicious in a vacuum. Something serious (which only professional evangelists, cheap novelists, and corrupt politicians profess to understand) is the matter with the world. It will be a strong heart that can fight its way upstream in these troubled waters and not be, like my generation, a bit cynical, a bit weary, and a bit sad.

-F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Wait Till You Have Children of Your Own!” Excerpt from Woman’s Home Companion, July 1924

 

When the prefrontal cortex is overwhelmed, a person can no longer make sense of the situation. Correlation is confused with causation, and people make theories out of coincidences.

from “How We Decide,” by Jonah Lehrer

 

The brain always learns the same way, accumulating wisdom through error. There are no shortcuts to this time consuming process; becoming an expert just takes time and practice.

from “How We Decide,” by Jonah Lehrer

 

I fell in love with London while I was at school there and have never fallen out. I love their being as bound up in their history as they are, preserving their buildings instead of razing them to the ground to make way for another big beige building with lots of windows to throw yourself screaming from. I love its accents, its exchange rates, its idiosyncratic friendly behavior, its museums, its parks you need keys for, and its colas without ice. If I can forgive a place for not making ice a priority as part of their lifestyle, that’s true love.

from “The Princess Diarist” by Carrie Fisher

 

She: One of us is boring.
He: Why do you say that?
She: Because…well, we’re just sitting here, not talking.
He: What’s wrong with that?
She: Well, I don’t know. Probably nothing – it’s just that we don’t need each other for it.
He: For what?
She: Being quiet.

from “The Princess Diarist” by Carrie Fisher

 

 

 

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My (Non) Weather Event

The Northwest and the Puget Sound region in particular are famous for seeing a flake of snow and immediately clearing shelves in grocery stores and hunkering down in our houses, bracing for the worst. But, since we live in the Northwest, nothing particularly remarkable happens. Usually.

A few days ago, we started hearing rumblings of a windstorm that would rival the region’s 1962 Columbus Day storm, where wind gusts upwards of 80 miles an hour downed trees and power lines, and caused memorable chaos. My initial thought was, oh thank God, we’re finally going to have something to talk about besides the election. Though I don’t usually do this, I turned on the news last night to get the latest weather update. The storm, itself remnants of Typhoon Songda, was no longer going to rival ’62’s Big Blow, but it could reach the level of 2006’s Hanukkah Eve storm. I for one did not realize that storm had a name, but do remember it. We were out of power in our apartment complex for a few days, and I permanently marked our brand new kitchen table with purple candle wax.

This year’s “wind-pocalypse” was set to hit us in the late afternoon or early evening hours today, so I went to the store this morning and bought a big flashlight and an LED lantern. I was, so help me, “preparing,” just as the news suggested I do. Now, this might not seem like much. “Big deal, you bought a flashlight,” you might be saying. But I don’t believe in preparing for Pacific Northwest weather, because our local media has a tendency to blow things out of proportion. I already have flashlights. I already have candles. And surprisingly enough, my faucets are not electric, so I can get water from them even when the power is out. But that’s how bored I was. I watched too much news coverage, and I ran to the store like a lemming.

And then, come 5 o’clock, a few leaves descended from the trees, making their way peacefully to the soggy ground. Storm of the century.

storm-meme

There have been a few memorable weather events in the northwest, but none that I ever prepared for, and I’m still here. The most memorable was 2012’s ice storm. That one actually changed our landscape, when the tine of a three-tined tree broke off, leaving us with a two-tined tree. It was also memorable because our daughter was only four-months old, and we were struggling to keep her warm and heat bottles of formula under hot tap water. And nobody predicted that storm; no one even knew to be prepared.

The Ice-Storm

The Ice-Storm

Sonja's First --pocalypse.

Sonja’s First –pocalypse.

Then there was that time a few years ago (sorry can’t remember and can’t find it online) when it snowed and it took Shaun 10 hours to get home from Redmond. That was pretty memorable. Especially for him.

And last spring we lost power for a day when a tree fell on a power line on our street. That was memorable for being the second time that year we lost power, and one of only a handful of times we’ve lost power.

Today was unremarkable and insufferably boring, but I’ll always have the flashlights to remind me not to take the forecast too seriously.

Totally prepared and completely underwhelmed

Totally prepared and completely underwhelmed

 

 

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My Five-Year-Old Well-Child

I’ve spent the past year taking Sonja for quarterly height and weight checks, at the request of her doctor, to keep an eye on her steady but slow growth. When the doctor first suggested this, I asked what on earth could possibly be wrong or be done to correct it. He said, if I recall correctly, something about potential developmental issues, of which Sonja has never had any.

So it was a surprise to me when Sonja and I left her well-child check and I realized not a single thing had been said about her height or her weight. I guess we’re done caring about that now. Personally, once I realized that I didn’t actually have to wait for Sonja to grow out of her clothing to buy her new clothing – that I, as an adult with income could just buy her new clothes if I felt like it – I let it go. As I have reiterated time and time again, there is literally nothing I can do to make her conform to American growth standards. I want to note that while it is a struggle for me to find pants that fit Sonja – jeans are pretty much out of the question – she had a pair of hand-me-down shorts that came from France and she outgrew them. In the waist. She has size 12 month shorts that she hasn’t outgrown the waist.* Perhaps she is just the victim of American sizing.

The doc agreed with me that she is ready to start school, but here’s yet another situation I can do nothing about. Since she’s such a picky eater, I’ve decided to use Sonja’s pre-kindergarten gap year to get her more comfortable with lunchbox foods. We’re working on ham sandwiches.

And that’s about all she wrote for the checkup. She’s 39 inches and just shy of 30 pounds. She did not need vaccines this time, but I made her get a flu shot, which she was not happy about. She seemed to have a really good time telling everyone that she DID NOT like getting a flu shot, though.

She also went to the dentist this week. She kept asking me, “Mom, when can I go to the dentist?” I think she sees it as little more than a ride in a chair and a prize at the end. She doesn’t like the flavor of the polish and I don’t blame her. The dentist says her arch looks great as do her teeth. No indications of decay. He praised me for doing well with brushing at home, but, due to a general lack of supervision, I think it’s a combination of good genetics (solely and completely on Dad’s side) and the fact she doesn’t drink soda or juice and doesn’t like candy all that much. Except for chocolate. Some apples don’t fall far from the tree.

When Sonja was a baby, I used to think I wouldn’t make it the two or three months between scheduled doctor visits. I had so many questions. Now, the scheduled visits are a year apart, which is remarkable not because I think it’s too long but because it feels so short. It feels like two or three months between visits. I take her to the dentist twice a year and that feels like we’re there every week. Time is hurtling along, so I’ll see everybody again in a couple of months for the six-year write up.

*I have no idea what size the European shorts were. They could have been 12 months.

 

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