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March 2009

Job thoughts

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

I’m ready to quit my job. Sort of.

I only work two days a week, but those two days seem to dicombobulate my schedule and sap me of energy and rob me of time to the point where I have to ask myself if I or my family need my earned money more than my time. I realize that I’m recovering from a sinus infection, and it’s been a busy week, and I’m in a “bad mood”, so I didn’t take myself too seriously when I came home from work Monday afternoon and told Doug that I wanted to quit my job. But he turned away from his Mom’s computer, where he works from home a few days a week, and he listened to me complain about how my head hurt and my body ached and how I was tired but wouldn’t be able to take a nap, etc., and he said, “Okay.” He said he’s been seeing how work has negatively affected me for four years now (even though it’s been good for me in some ways, too), and that maybe we’re in a place where we can afford for me to quit.

That threw me for a loop. I wasn’t prepared to actually look at the idea seriously. During “these difficult economic times”, who in their right mind would abandon an opportunity to earn money? Especially with two children to support, hardly any savings, and a myriad of things to pay for? Including an upcoming trip to Israel?

Then again, Doug and I surmised that if I didn’t work those 16 hours a week, I would have more time to garden, write novels, help with Baha’i projects, and assist Doug’s Mom with some of the things that have become difficult for her to do on her own, things I don’t do now because I don’t seem to have the time. Also, I might have more time and energy to devote to budgeting, using coupons, paying bills on time, recycling and composting more, eating out less, etc. – all things that would save money for the family.

And who knows? Maybe with more time and saved energy, I would be better able to write a novel that actually gets published, so I could earn money for the family that way.

This is something I will have to pray about, think about, and look for answers to. There are so many permutations and aspects of the “no job” option that I haven’t mentioned here. But it’s not easy to think while I have a headache. Plus I need to go do housework, make dinner, and get ready for some of Doug’s family coming over to celebrate my younger daughter’s birthday. There’s always something to take up my time. What will I choose to take up my time in the future?

I’m a mentor!

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

I’m a mentor! Really! It’s my official title! There’s paperwork to prove it! My friend L.B is a high school student whose senior project is to write a novel. Since I had written a novel, she asked me to be her mentor, something every senior-project-doing student needs in her school.

So today was our first official meeting. We went to a Starbucks near her home, and in between sips of a vanilla bean frapaccino, she told me all about her characters, her process, her plot, her challenges and accomplishments, and she even showed me some of her visual research for the characters. I was very impressed, not only with her novel progress, but also with her attitude and maturity. Even though she will likely not finish her novel before the end of the school year, she realizes that it was unrealistic to think that she would in the first place. When I was a high school student (admittedly a pretty neurotic one), that would have felt like failure to me. But she knows that she’s learned a lot about writing a novel just by doing it. The process is probably more important that the final product, though she’ll persevere to get the final product done, eventually, too.

Another thing that impresses me about L.B. is that she knows who she is. She told me about how she has conversations with her characters while she’s walking to school. And she knows this doesn’t make her crazy. It took me decades to figure that out about myself. I was pretty sure, most of the time, that I wasn’t technically crazy, but I didn’t really get that I was creating stories, figuring out the way people interact with each other, actually doing something worthwhile with my imagination. My problem was that I would imagine scenarios mostly about real people – like cute boys who would suddenly realize how desirable I was. I would also replay conversations in my mind over and over to make them go better, making “friends” say something more kind, a teacher say and do something much more instructionally effective, and of course I would make myself more on-the-spot clever.

I used to try to get myself to stop “fantasizing” about people and just deal with reality. But I’m pretty sure that was and always will be one of my main ways of dealing with reality. These days, though, I focus on fictional characters, because those scenarios are MUCH more realistic than ones in which real people are involved. AND I realize that this is a helpful skill for writing, and in fact may have been one of the signs all along that writing was something I needed to do.

Anyway, I was so happy to see L.B. knowing herself so well, learning more about herself, and moving forward in a direction that it took me so long to admit I wanted to take, too. She said she might not be a writer in the future, because she also has her heart set on working with animals. But I told her, “You are a writer. You’ll always be a writer. That won’t go away.”

Go L.B.!

One small step

Friday, March 20th, 2009

It seems like a strange victory to have just barely gotten something done, and to have done it in what I consider possibly the most mediocre way possible. But it was a victory. And mediocre, in my world, sometimes means that instead of sweating and worrying and getting my stomach tied up in knots, I just did something without all that. Anyway, here’s what happened.

A month or so ago I signed up for a writer’s conference that will be held in May, and for an extra $35 I had them throw in the “manuscript critique”. I found out later that it’s actually more of a “first five page of your manuscript” critique, but I figured that was better than no professional feedback at all. And then my negative thoughts kicked in, the first sign of which was procrastination – “The deadline’s a month away – plenty of time!” The second sign was feeling out & out lousy about what I’d written, thinking that I couldn’t possibly send in the first five pages until I had revamped them, preferably through the help of a professional. (Strange logic, I realize now. Must get professional feedback before I get professional feedback – I know, I know.) And then it moved full circle, all the way back to procrastination.

Until today -the date that the manuscript pages had to be received at a particular post office box in Enumclaw. I live about an hour away from Enumclaw, so I originally decided, with the encouragement of my husband (without whom I probably would have abandoned the project altogether) to have a courier take the manuscript down there. That was $40, but Doug said go for it. However, courier companies won’t deliver to Post Offices.

So I became the courier. After my therapy appointment, I drove down, sunshine and rain trading off with each other all the way there. When I got to the post office, with the help of Mapquest, it was sunshine’s turn, and in I went. I asked the nice folks behind the counter if my 9″ x 12″ envelope would definitely get into the P.O. box today, and they said definitely. And even though “the lady” who picks up the mail from that box had already come by, she had said she would come again before the end of the day.

“And don’t worry! You’re not the only one! Another person drove here from Bellevue today to meet the deadline, and we received 9 overnight packages this morning!”

So it’s done. And in May, an actual professional agent or writer will critique my work. Bring it on! I can take it!

I should be napping

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

Today has been one of those crazy examples of feeling good and bad at the same time. My sinuses are causing my head to hurt, my mouth to feel perpetually dry (since I can’t breathe very well through my nose), and my energy to diminish into an almost-dizzy state of “gotta sit down”. But I was happy, too. My sister, Eva (co-cook at the Kenney), must be given a lot of the credit for that. At one point she made me laugh so hard I almost fell on the floor. When I told my boss I wanted to leave 15 minutes early because I didn’t feel well, I felt weird, because to an outside view, it probably looked like I felt fine.

It reminds me of depression. Sometimes when I’m in mostly-fine physical health, and to outward semblances have nothing to complain about (I’m sheltered, well-fed, loved by millions (an estimate)), I can be in the clunkiest, heaviest of mindsets. My body might be fit and able to dance or pick weeds or whatever I might ask it to do, but something comes in between the asking and the doing.

Today it is my mind, or will, or just plain old soul that is doing well, pushing my headaching body beyond what it might otherwise not be able to handle. But, like a good body owner, I need to take care of myself before whatever is in my sinuses abscesses into my brain. A doctor appointment would be nice, but my doctor’s all booked up this week, so I’ll have to call them tomorrow morning to see if they have any cancelled times I can squeeze into. In the meantime, I better take a nap.


Sunday, March 15th, 2009

I have been a slug all day. Except I don’t think slugs have noses, and they probably don’t get sinus infections, which is what I believe I have. I didn’t change out of my pajamas today, and I occupied the couch for most of the day, sleeping, reading, and blowing my nose when I could. Most of the gunk in there is unmovable, though, a now glacial component of my head. When I did leave the couch today, it was to brew and drink tea, boil water and breathe its steam under a towel, swallow pills, eat, go to the bathroom. Nothing productive. My main accomplishment was to take a nap on the opposite side of the couch from which I usually do, so that the OTHER side of my head was clogged solid, freeing the right side of my nose to allow a tiny passage of air that makes a lovely “shnlurrrdt” sound when I breathe in forcefully.

It’s a sad state to be in where breathing becomes my main focus. Yes, it could be meditation, but in this case it’s just annoying. I think of all the other things I could be doing. And maybe I could even force myself to do them. But I don’t want to. I’m tired of functioning at sub optimum. So I refuse to function at all. Pessimism has invaded my brain along with the sinus gunk. If I let it get out of hand, I even start to think that God doesn’t love me anymore, and that maybe I don’t deserve God’s love. Hopefully all I need to get out of this funk is a few prayers, a day of work (it’s hard for me to call in sick when I only work two days a week), and some antibiotics, which I hope my doctor can prescribe for me tomorrow. Unless I’m miraculously better, free of yellowish head puss and negative attitude, before I can get a doctor’s appointment.

Tough Stuff Unpublished

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

I have just deleted one of my previous entries. It was one of my most truthful and possibly well-written blog entries, but I decided to take it off for the sake of people who would find the publishing of said truth difficult and hurtful. So it’s gone. I don’t like the fact that the absence of that entrance leaves a hole that might leave too much imagination room. But somebody died. It’s a difficult thing to talk about, especially under the circumstances. So I’ll try again later and just stick the original entry in my personal journal. It’s probably better this way.


Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

Finding the time to blog is proving to be difficult, and involves a question I need to answer; namely, is this a come-as-I-am blog, or am I going to make sure I put on my metaphorical makeup and have better-than-average not-so-metaphorical brain chemistry before putting my thoughts on virtual paper? I’ve definitely been a blah blogger of late. I’ve been thrown by the death of a 12-year-old friend of my daughter, attacked by viruses that ravage my sinus passages and make my head hurt, and I’ve been overwhelmed by simple things that seem difficult or impossible to accomplish, in part because of their extreme numerosity, and in part because of the way I seem to function in late winter/early spring. I am the self-appointed poster child for SAD – see me there with the saggy eyes and the mouth poised to say angry words at my children who are having fun instead of doing their chores?

Is that the way I want to present myself to the world (or to the few people who read one’s blog)? No. But if that’s the way I am and it’s proving difficult to change, should I crawl off silent into a cyber corner so that no one sees me or is subjected to me? I suppose it’s not a bad idea, if that’s what I need to heal. But I think isolation can work against the healing process in some cases. And probably in this one.

So here I am, feeling neither clever nor wise nor worthy of space on a server, but typing in letters and sentences anyway. And I feel a little better. And writing probably shouldn’t be a one-size-only experience. It’s got to be a real experience to be worth doing.

It reminds me of a friend who wanted to lose weight. I suggested that she might want to try bellydancing. And she said, seriously, not even noticing the irony in her words, that she would want to lose weight before joining a bellydancing class. Really! I tried to explain that women of all body types enjoy bellydance, but the conversation faltered – she was embarrassed about her body and didn’t want to take it out in public where people could plainly see it in action – despite the positive changes it may have had on her body (and self-esteem!).

I understood how she felt, though. At times I am embarrassed about my self. This person I’ve come to be and know is a strange mix of smart and stupid, happy and depressed, encouraged and apathetic. I would rather present a more consistent picture of humanity to the world. But since when has humanity been consistent? What I’d like to be and what I am sometimes don’t coincide. I’ll just have to deal with that.

Good morning

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

It is approximately 4:15am, and I need to be out the door in 10 or 15 minutes so I can get to work by 5am. Yesterday was the first day of Fast, and even though I allowed myself water, an apple, and a few raw almonds to try to stave off a burgeoning headache, by the time I got off work, I was in terrible pain, not only from a headache, but with aches all over my body. When Doug came home and saw my by-then incapacitated state, he said, “I thought you weren’t going to fast.” But I didn’t fast. I ate, albeit not much. I tell myself that the first day is the worst, as I “detox” from sugar and what might be viewed as an addiction to a constant state of being fed.

Then again, it could be that my body doesn’t really tolerate fasting anymore. It has never been a breeze for me. I thought my difficulty and incapacitation was fairly normal. But Doug’s end of the first day of Fast was very different from mine. He was happy, moreso than usual for the time of day. He even shot some baskets throughout the day and accomplished several big chores, in addition to working from home. After I came home from work, I could barely move.

So another day. I ask God that I can have some part in the blessing of the Fast, even though I may not be able to technically participate.