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January 2009

25 random things about me:

Friday, January 30th, 2009

This was suggested as an exercise on an online Baha’i Writer’s Group I am part of (or more accurately, that I lurk on). I decided to give it a go:

25 random things about me:
1. Sometimes as I write, I still edit myself to the point of inhibition or even standstill, but I’m getting better at letting myself write something, anything, and letting the first draft be crappy.
2. I’m 40 years old.
3. I have gray hairs sneaking into my curly locks. I suspect they will be harder to see once summer sunshine bleaches me more blond. But my eventual “going gray” looks to be inevitable.
4. I have a lot of wrinkles in my face.
5. I am not obsessed with my age!
6. I love my children, who are amazingly and wonderfully different from each other, but who get along very well (and love each other, too).
7. I am a writer. I wish I had known that about myself earlier, but better late than never. And who knows – maybe it’s better this way. Either way, it’s what it is.
8. My older daughter is a teenager. I hope she will be a strong and confident one.
9. My younger daughter has a talent for developing stories. I hope I can guide her to use her talents well.
10. I’ve become tired of Seattle weather and long for a warmer, sunnier climate.
11. I’ve never been to Hawai’i.
12. I’ve never been to Disneyland.
13. I would rather go to the slums of Mumbai and have meaningful interactions with the people there than go to either Hawai’i or Disneyland. At least that’s what I tell myself.
14. For awhile in my 20’s, I carried all of my possessions with me in a duffel bag, and I could sleep on a hard, uncarpeted floor in my sleeping bag. Almost two decades later, I require a mattress, a special pillow for my neck, a pillow for under my legs, sometimes a special pillow for my lower back (if I’m not sleeping on my usual memory foam mattress). Also, my skin moisturizers, hair products and vitamins and pills would take up a lot of duffel bag room. I’ve become distressingly high maintenance.
15. I am not obsessed with my age!
16. I am a good sleeper. When I’m tired, I can almost always turn off my mind and get myself to sleep – any time, night or day. Maybe it’s more a sign of relatively easy life circumstances rather than skill. Or maybe I’m perpetually tired.
17. I have the best sister in the world.
18. And I have a Mexican sister, too. Not a biological sister, but in spirit. We cook together at the Kenney Retirement home. She was born in June, like my biological sister, and I was born in January, like her biological sister.
19. I have a little brother, born from different parents than my own, and I think he’s wonderful. I’m so happy that he’s married now.
20. I have a tendency to want all of my single adult friends/acquaintances to be married, but I have no idea how to exert influence in that direction.
21. I have an uncanny ability to make a room messy. Despite all previous intentions toward the opposite.
22. I always thought of myself as blond, until I married into a family where “blond” means “practically white-haired”. Persians and Mexicans still think I’m blond, though.
23. I wonder how much I will accomplish in my life. Now that I’ve achieved some sort of clarity of purpose (write something, dammit!), my body’s energy is slowing down. I worry that I’ve wasted my younger, more energetic years in dispersed focus and low self-esteem. Will I get everything done that I’m supposed to before I die?
24. I am not obsessed with my age!
25. I love being alive. For the most part, it’s pretty great.

Springtime stovetop

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

I’ve been working on a new novel. I’ve had seeds of this novel idea in my brain for probably over a year, but it must have become spring in my brain, because the ideas have been sprouting and growing all over the place for the last couple of days. I’ve been getting to know the characters, I have a solid title in mind, scenes have been unfolding and coming into focus, and conflicts, romances, and other relationships are developing. It’s very exciting! One weird thing is that alcoholism, single motherhood, and divorce are some of the situations these characters go through – all things I’ve had very little experience with, and none of it direct. But I know these people. They are loosely based on people I admire, love, and am just plain curious about, and I look forward to seeing how they deal with their challenges.

I guess I’m finally detaching from my “first novel”, aimed at a young adult audience. I’ll keep looking for an agent for it, and I’ll be meeting soon with a writer to help me edit and improve it, but besides that, it has officially moved to the back burner. Which means this new novel is on the front burner. Which means I’m mixing my metaphors. Is my brain a garden moving out of winter, or a kitchen appliance? Hmmm….


Monday, January 26th, 2009

The things I want to write about at the moment have nothing to do with Monday, other than that’s what day it is. I am thinking about who I am and who I used to think it would be cool to be. I still think it would be cool to be someone who can put an outfit together and look great. But I am a person who does that only on occasion. Mostly I just wear clothes. I’d also like to be able to “do” my hair and feel confident that it looks nice. But I spritz, spray, curl or straighten, and still – it’s just hair. One thing that HAS changed about me is how I feel about my lack of fashion sense or ability to manipulate my coif. It doesn’t bother me so much. I like me. I can go out having forgotten to put on makeup and not freak out when I remember. I can laugh at myself if I look funny and find adverse reactions to said funny-looking-ness interesting rather than defeating.

So, it’s time for me to drink after-dinner tea with my husband and then go to an art acknowledgement ceremony thingy (Reflections Program) for Andrea. Not much time for neurosis discussion right now.

Hoping you are well, dear reader. (Probably me, my sister and husband, at this point.)


Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

I like the word “molar”. It makes me think of those tiny blind creatures that live under lawns and pop out little dirt holes once in awhile. I’ve had a molar week. I’ve been underground, hidden – not through depression isolation, but through focus below rather than above, where most people would see me. I’ve been busy with family and Baha’i stuff, and also very home-oriented – the place is unusually clean. I hope I will be better able to move forward with my writing now that I don’t have to wonder where important things are all the time. There’s a baseline clean that I hope will help me concentrate.

And then there’s the reason I thought of “molar” in the first place – I have an appointment to assess my wisdom teeth, whose days in my mouth are numbered. I’ve had chronic issues with jaw pain, swollen lymph nodes, swollen gums. So not only is the clutter in my house being cleared, but so is the clutter in my mouth. With newfound clarity, I hope great things will emerge, both from my house and my mouth. (Okay, that was a strange attempt at profundity.)


Friday, January 16th, 2009

This morning after dropping off Johanna at school, I drove to Eagle Landing Park, one of my favorite places to go when I’m feeling out of sorts. Or when I need exercise. Or when I’m happy. I just like that place. It’s basically a forest with a trail that leads down to the Puget Sound. It’s a great place to be alone yet surrounded by living creatures such as trees, bushes, mystery sneaky animals that make rustling noises in the brush, or birds, practicing their songs for spring.

When I got to the park, I was feeling particularly unfocussed, tired, and sad/guilty about not working on my novel this week, so I sat in the car thinking about that until I remembered that I had a book of Baha’i writings in the glove compartment. I got out the book, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, closed my eyes, breathed deeply, and opened to a random page. There I read the following:

“O My Name! Utterance must needs possess penetrating power. For if bereft of this quality it would fail to exert influence. And this penetrating influence dependeth on the spirit being pure and the heart stainless. Likewise it needeth moderation, without which the hearer would be unable to bear it, rather he would manifest opposition from the very outset. And moderation will be obtained by blending utterance with the tokens of divine wisdom which are recorded in the sacred Books and Tablets. Thus when the essence of one’s utterance is endowed with these two requisites it will prove highly effective and will be the prime factor in transforming the souls of men.”

I took this quote as a timely gift. Perhaps I would have felt that way about any of the words I might have turned to in that book. But this quote felt especially applicable to me. “Utterance” in the form of writing is my goal, the gift I have been given and have been trying to perfect. So here I received an explanation of what I want in my writing, what is needed to get it, and what it accomplishes. In summary:

What utterance (which I apply to writing) must have: penetrating power so that it may exert influence

Prerequisites to utterance having penetrating power: 1. a pure spirit and a stainless heart, 2. moderation (blending utterance with wisdom from the sacred writings)

What utterance will be when endowed with these two requisites: 1. highly effective, 2. the prime factor in transforming the souls of men.

This brought tears to my eyes and a thank you to my lips. That is exactly what I want to accomplish with my writing – the transformation of souls. That has the potential to sound megalomaniacal, but I mean it in the most vague of ways and with the utmost certainty that I am inadequate to the task. And yet, what other reason is there to write? Of course it would be nice to be paid for my efforts. But what’s the point if it doesn’t sing to somebody’s soul of something transformative: love or knowledge or some sort of needed example? I’m not saying that I could ever become (or even want to become) the center point of a revolution. I don’t have that in me. (And from the Baha’i point of view, that’s already underway.) But I want to BE the revolution, to express ME so certainly and strongly, yet gently, lovingly, and with moderation, that people change a little for the better. That’s all I could hope for, really. The best and most lasting change happens a little bit at a time, and that’s what I want to be an agent of: tiny bits of inspiration toward personal choices that change a person for the better.

And that leads to a sentence a few paragraphs down from the one quoted above: “Whoso quickeneth a soul hath verily quickened all mankind.”

I have a lot of work to do. But it’s a little easier to do when I know why I’m doing it.

What to blog?

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

I’m trying to figure out what I will write about in my blog entries. There’s the cliche advice: “Write what you know.” But there’s also a more updated version I read somewhere: “Write what you’d like to know more about.”

Some of the things I am familiar with but would like to know more about are: the Baha’i Faith, writing, Jungian therapy, depression – well, those are the biggies right now.

I just found out recently that I have amazingly low iron levels. So what I thought was the same old seasonal affective disorder making me take extra naps may have been more related to iron levels than to serotonin levels. No wonder I thought I felt pretty happy for being depressed.

I would write more now, but the pull to go lie down on the couch is becoming overwhelming. And if I give in to that urge, then I’m bound to fall asleep. If I fall asleep, I usually stay asleep for about a REM cycle (an hour and a half). And that would greatly interfere with my family duties: grocery shopping, dish-doing, clothes-washing, temperature-taking (Johanna is home sick), picking up Andrea from school and taking her to her play performance. And then there’s this young-adult novel I’ve written and need to get out into the world. It’s the main focus of my therapy right now – getting off my writerly butt so I can do the work to get my book published.

About therapy – I wonder how people will react to the fact that I see a therapist. I’ve had many different reactions, most of them non-verbal or some form of surprised “…oh…” People seem to think therapy is some sort of negative mark on one’s character – or maybe they just think they are supposed to think that. The reactions, verbal or non, usually indicate that being in therapy is a source of shame. But I love therapy! I have an excellent therapist, and I value his insight and enjoy his company. I’m tired of acting like this therapeutic relationship is a secret. Like any relationship, I don’t share all the details of it with others, but I won’t hide the fact that it’s there. It’s a good thing!

I am reminded of a friend of mine who used to go to a massage therapist every Friday. After a long, tense week of desk work and dealing with people, she would start the weekend by working out all that tension and starting fresh. That’s sort of how I look at therapy. I don’t go every week, but when I do go, I enjoy it and feel postitively adjusted afterwords.

Another comparison would be going to a doctor. Most people, at least in our culture, are not ashamed to tell someone they are going to the doctor to get checked out for physical symptoms they are having. Daily life is beset with germs, and folks understand that sometimes it helps to have some intervention to help bring balance back to the body’s system, to heal up from the negative physical influences of stress, etc.. So why is there such a stigma about the mental “germs” that get to us and the need to get cleansed of those?

Well, I better go tackle the day. Have a good one!

My daughter is a teenager! (Almost)

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

Tomorrow night at 11:57pm marks the anniversary of the birth of my older daughter and her official transition into being what our culture calls a “teenager”. It doesn’t automatically change who she is, of course, but it’s interesting to think of her as slowly moving out of the child zone and into the realm of maturity. It’s definitely a process, and one she’s been going through for awhile, but also one she’s been hesitant to embrace. When I mentioned her upcoming change of “title” a few weeks ago, she said, with a desparate look and actual tears in her eyes, “I don’t want to be a teenager!” I hope I haven’t inadvertantly shown some prejudice against teenagers or something. Because I like teenagers! As a whole, I think they are very interesting people. But I didn’t especially like being one myself, so maybe that’s what she’s picked up on. Darn her exceptional observation skills!

So Doug has been trying to introduce Andrea to some kick-ass, confident, female teenage role models to help guide her. Tonight it was Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Also, he has printed out a list of facts for Andrea to study every day. Now, on her desk, there is a piece of paper that reads, “3 Facts: 1. I am Good. 2. The World is Good. 3. My Future is Bright.” He got these facts from a book called The Happiness Hypothesis. I love my silly, wonderful husband. And my daughter, too. I hope her teenage years are more happy and fulfilling than mine were.


Sunday, January 4th, 2009

I’m awake earlier than my body wants me to be. But in half an hour or so I will be on my way to the Seattle Baha’i Center to participate in a “youth animator” training. For those who aren’t familiar with Ruhi Books, it’s a class/workshop that guides children who are in the 11 to 14-year-old range in learning about the Baha’i Faith and participating in thought-provoking, Baha’i-related activities. I’ve participated in Ruhi classes for younger children, but I’m curious as to what exactly this training will entail, since the “pre-youth” age is one in which independent thinking is becoming stronger. We have some kids in this age group (including my almost-13-year-old daughter) who could use some focus for their energy. So bring it on! I’ll sacrifice a little bit of sleep for that!


Saturday, January 3rd, 2009

My husband and I just watched Idiocracy, a movie with Luke Wilson and Maya Rudolph. Now it’s past midnight, just barely into the third day of the new year (when does it stop being “new”?), and my husband asks me if I’m going to blog. I say no. He says why not and that I need to practice. So not only is it late and I’m tired and slightly technophobic about this whole blogging business, but I’ve just watched a movie about extremely dumb people. And I feel dumb. My sister and I have discussed how we both we absorb movie characters. My first memory of doing this was after watching Pretty Woman at the just-off-campus theater in Bozeman Montana and discovering as my sis and I walked back to our apartment that we both felt like Julia Roberts’ character. It was like experiencing life through a Julia Roberts filter, walking with a little more attitude, laughing with more of a hair toss, thinking about things in a Julia-ish way. Maybe it’s a sign that I would be easy to brainwash. But right now, my “feeling dumb” experience probably stems more from needing sleep.

Question: How did the Idiocracy folks get permission to write in Starbucks as a place to receive male pleasure (with an “extra foamy” option)? (And isn’t there already a TV show called “OW! My balls!”?)

I feel compelled to end this entry with “Love, Sydney.” Which reminds me of a character in Idiocracy – a tall, heavy man, who officially greets every single person entering the gigantic Costco store where he works with the monotone phrase, “Welcome to Costco. I love you.”

Welcome to my blog. I love you. G’night.

Happy New Blog!

Thursday, January 1st, 2009

It’s New Year’s Day, it’s my birthday, and it’s new blog day for me! Thank goodness I have a techno-husband who can teach me how to navigate this website/blog stuff. I’m still on the steep part of the learning curve, so I’ll be moving into this slowly, but I’m here! A baby member of the blog-o-sphere! Woo hoo!