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Refenging my shui

This morning I continued my book purging begun the day before. My main goal was not exactly to get rid of books, but rather to keep the ones that I really want and to arrange them in a way more suitable to my needs. My writing books used to be covered up, and are now more prominently displayed on a shelf in my bedroom. The books that I like to read at night are now reachable from where I lie in bed. I’ve let go a few books that I have already read or have little interest in or can easily get on Kindle. The books I have kept are now casually stretched out on bookshelves instead of gasping for breath, sometimes at the bottom of a pile pushed behind other books.

I’m hoping that some good feng shui will increase my writing productivity. So far, though, this organizing stuff has been cutting into my blogging and story-writing time. I might be able to finish a story by Saturday, but I might have to extend the deadline.

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Well, fooey.

I took a precious half hour of morning time blogging, in part justifying my non-blogging of yesterday with the “time is an illusion” excuse. Then I thought I clicked on the “Publish” button, not even bothering to click “Save Draft”. Then I wandered around the web a bit, looking at a few articles about time, and when I came back to Word Fertilizer, my post was not there!

Disappointing. Lesson learned. Moving on.

(“Save draft”.)

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Busy days are happening as we take advantage of my Mom’s presence by scheduling appointments for our younger kid (Jo) that Doug and I otherwise would not both be able to go to. Jo’s still recovering from whatever knocked her down Sunday, so when we got home Monday (yesterday), Johanna went straight to bed and slept. This morning she told me that she slept from 2pm to 11pm, when she woke up and changed into pajamas, then she fell asleep again. Now it’s 6am, and I’ve been trying to cajole her into wakefulness for about an hour now. We have another appointment this morning, and we need to leave at 6:30 to get there in time.

Short story update: I finally have something, though I’m not super happy with it. But I’m not super happy with much these days anyway – part of my winter condition. And the point of writing a story every week is to get practice. So that has been accomplished, just in time to get started on another week’s story. You’ll find “last week’s” product in the “Story” Section of this site under Week One Story.

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Slow start

Part of this is due to procrastination and not just “not having time”, but I have not finalized my short story, and I’m nodding off egregiously at the early hour of 8pm. I want to go to sleep and start over in the morning. Maybe I can even work on the story while in the car tomorrow going to and from an appointment for Johanna. But right now I want to put my yawning self to bed and check out for the evening. I hope that eventually I’ll get a system going, and be used to the routine of having a story done every Sameday of the week.

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I need to decide how I am going to implement my goal of writing one short story or poem every week. I suppose I could add “song” to that list, and then I would have accomplished my goal already. But my original goal was to write a short story every week, and I added “or poem” as a sort of way out, an easier substitute for story writing in case I don’t get one written on a certain week. I’m clearly trying to get out of the work I want to do.

So here’s the deal. My goals are to blog every day, and to write a new story every week. Songs and poems will be bonus material. The story will have no minimum number of words, but it needs to have a full story to it. (This may lead to a future blog entry about what makes a story.)

When during the week will the story be due for posting? I’m going to say Saturday, since it is now Friday night, and I have not started writing a story, and I’m very tired and need to wake up at 5am tomorrow so I can wake up a kiddo and get her to the carpool meetup spot for robotics.

Good night!


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I love me some short stories

I’ve been loving the “Bedtime Stories” anthology. So far I’ve read:

The Thing in the Forest by A.S. Byatt

Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Troll Bridge by Neil Gaiman

The Poacher by Ursula K. Leguin

The Sailor-Boy’s Tale by Isak Dinesen

The Bottle Imp by Robert Louis Stevenson

The Industrious Tailor by William Maxwell

The Dragon by Vladimir Nabokov

And I’m in the middle of Night by Guy de Maupassant.

I would like to write something insightful here about each story, but given the late hour (I’m tired) and how quickly I’ve been reading them, all I can come up with right now is “They’re great!” Not a very penetrating comment.

I seem to be greedily consuming these stories like chocolate. Maybe I need to slow it down a little, savor the subtle flavors, letting them melt on my tongue slowly and deliciously. Maybe I eat so much at once that it doesn’t really digest properly, devouring stories with a tummy-rubbing “Yummy!” while other, more cultured folk are still chewing the flavorful first few sentences.

I think my reading became faster when I had kids, and especially during the time I was writing my thesis. I became fairly good at plowing through research papers efficiently, gleaning what I needed. But in that case I knew specifically what I was looking for. With these short stories, I’m trying to learn what makes a good story, but I’m not sure I know how to look for that. I suppose some of it is learned unconsciously, but I would like to be conscious of the knowledge, also.

Mentioning my thesis brings to mind how my Mom came out to take care of my toddler and baby daughters during my final push to get done. I couldn’t have completed it without her.

Tomorrow my Mom will once again come to the rescue! She’ll stay at my mom-in-law’s house, in my now college-age daughter’s room, and she’ll help care for MOL during this very busy month. We have 4 birthdays to celebrate in January. We also will go to 4 longer-than-two-hour health appointments for Johanna. AND it’s build season in FIRST robotics. That means Johanna’s robotics team, the Hi-tekkers, beginning this Saturday, will meet every day except Sunday for the next 6 weeks, 4 to 8 hours each day. Plus I have Baha’i meetings to go to. And blog/story-writing goals. So I’m grateful that my Mom will be here to help. Yay Mom!


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Staying Alive

I wrote a song today.

New songs don’t come to me often, but when they do, they demand my mental attention, and require that I sing them out loud multiple times, trying out different lyrics and tunes as needed.  They are usually silly or sarcastic and sometimes fall into the category of children’s songs. Serious songs don’t seem to be my thing. I’m kind of a really amateur, female, non-accordian-or-any-other-instrument-playing Weird Al Yankovich. (No insult to Mr. Yankovich intended.)

Today’s song is to the tune of “Staying Alive”, by the Bee Gees. I’ve been tweaking the lyrics all day, trying to set the right tone and not offend anybody. I don’t know if it has the same impact just reading the lyrics – I have to wiggle some syllables around to make it work. For that reason and others, I would rather reveal the song through singing, but I lack the technological and musical know-how to get that to happen satisfactorily before this day is over, and if I procrastinate, I fear it will not get done.

So, in the spirit of sharing my writing through daily blogging, hear it is.


Staying Alive – a re-imagining by Sydney Hanson Mandt

Well, you can tell by the way I use my walker

That I’m old. I like to talk

All about my aches and pains.

And the food I eat is all pureed.


It’s alright. It’s okay if you don’t hear the things I say.

‘Cause i don’t care if you understand,

And I’ll just say them all again.


If I had my druthers, I’d live with my other kid.

Staying alive, staying alive.

See my hands are shakin’. I wish I could eat bacon.

I’m stayin’ alive, barely alive.


Ah, ah, ah, ah

Stayin’ alive. Stayin’ alive.

Ah, ah, ah, ah

Stayin’ aliiiiiiiiiiive.

Oh I’m old!


Is that my paper over there?

Is that the robe I like to wear?

Slippers are my daily shoes.

High/low temps my favorite news.


It’s alright. It’s okay if you don’t hear the things I say.

‘Cause I don’t care if you understand,

And I’ll just say them all again.


If I had my druthers, I’d live with my other kid.

Stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive.

See my hands are shakin’. I wish I could eat bacon,

I’m staying alive, barely alive.


I go on Facebook.

Go outside to smoke.

And then I take a nap.


I don’t like bedtime.

Tolerate mealtime.

And bathroom time is crap.


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New Books

Yesterday my hubby took me out for Thai food for my birthday. Before that, we went to the Half-Price Books just a couple stores down from the restaurant. There he bought me some blank journals and several anthologies of short stories. The book I’m reading first is called Bedtime Stories, which features “great writers of the past two centuries” exploring what others might call “magical realism”, though the blurb doesn’t use that term.

I would like to tell myself I need to read at least one short story every day, but I hesitate, given my experiences with setting unrealistic goals. It doesn’t seem like a big task to undertake, but added up with all the little goals that fill my day, many of them listed only diffusely in a shadow of my mind, I could be overwhelmed . Recently I gave myself the reasonable tasks of exercising and praying every morning. But Christmas preparations disrupted my routine (which I’d stuck with for maybe a week and a half), and that was enough to kick in the all-or-nothing part of my brain that tells me I blew it, and I might as well sleep in.

So I need to rally myself back into beneficial routines. I need exercise. I need my morning prayer. And I need to read short stories if I am going to write them. Maybe I don’t need to make specific reading goals, since that’s something I enjoy doing to the point of ignoring other responsibilities. Many of my self-appointed half-hour reading times have resulted in binge-reading for hours. “Just one more paragraph”, “I’ll just read until the next chapter”, and eventually, “Well, I’m almost done with the book anyway” are frequent justifications I use to ignore the clock.

Speaking of clocks, it’s 10:30pm, and I need to go to bed. Especially if I’m going to wake up early to exercise and pray. And/or read.

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Birthday Blog Post

This is the first day of the new year, both mine and the Gregorian calendar’s. I also share my birthday with many immigrants to the U.S. who have this birth date chosen for them in lieu of the unknown actual day. On behalf of us all I’d like to point out that the days are getting longer, despite the continued cold, and that vegetation and animal life that has paused or slowed its growth is stirring once again. I count myself in both the vegetable and animal categories.

I love that I have two New Year’s days to commemorate. My non-Gregorian, non-birthday New Year is Naw Ruz, celebrated on March 21 by Baha’is and countries influenced by the ancient religion of Zoroastrianism. This New Year marks the increasing momentum toward summer and the sprouting up of new possibilities,

It helps me to know that my personal, birthday anniversary of self-beginning is the VERY beginning, and a slow start is to be expected. I am an infant blogger, still learning the technology and fairly new to what makes a website/blog enjoyable, readable, informative, etc. and whether or not those are things I strive toward.

Here are the things I do want my blog (plus) to be:

  1. Writing practice: through writing a blog entry every day and writing a poem or short story every week.
  2. Sharing practice. I rarely share what I write, and what is the point of writing something if not to share it somehow?
  3. Practice receiving feedback. It’s not always easy to take (speaking for myself), but it’s a writing-related skill as much as the actual writing and sharing of writing are.

Thus the adventure begins! May 2016 bring wonderful things to us all!