The Writing Routine

For the entire month of November, I was able to follow a strict writing routine.  Of course, I then went AWOL from the craft due to spending 30 days in the book bubble.  Then, the holidays.  Then, the stomach issues.  Now, I’m back, I’m here, I’m ready, but it isn’t.  It being the muse.

I have several ideas, mind you.  I have lots I could be working on, but nothing I want to work on.  Nothing is kicking me in the head, which is a prerequisite for me to get any real work done, aside from my blog, so here I am.  My blog is encouraging me to write about this, to write about anything, to just write, damnit, and something will come…or so they say.  I have a journal that I keep, and I have done some free typing there, but nothing is coming from it.  No characters pestering me to tell their story.

Lies, it’s all lies.  I have characters in my head all the time, they just aren’t giving up the ghost right now.  I have two characters waiting for their sweeping love story to be actualized.  I have a gang of ten imaginary folk waiting to overthrow a corrupt government.  I’ve got a little girl who wants out of the foster care system.  I’ve got a teddy bear with two or three more tales to tell.  But no one wants to come out and play.

So, I turn to poetry, which is my first love, and I started editing my stuff that I sent out this month because it feels a little flat in some spots.  I prepped my submissions for February.  I pecked out a sad little poem about the agony of forgiveness.  Then, the well was dry.

So back to the blogging board.  I figured I could get a jump on my posts, and store some up for sick days, but then the topics I thought of earlier evaporated.  I should have written them down right away, but I only manage to do that when I have a really good idea: not when it’s important pieces of information. 

Anyway, my writing routine was wonderful.  I would make my coffee and grab my phone and take the long commute to my office: three whole rooms away.  Then I would settle in, check Twitter and Facebook, and open my Word file.  And it was off to the races. 

Now I find myself staring at that little blinking cursor with fury.  It taunts me.

I’m going to go on Pinterest now and make character boards.  It’s literally the only thing I can think of to be creative today.  Then I’m going to hang out with the kiddos who don’t have school today, and maybe finally take down my Christmas tree.  All the while, hoping that the muse will strike.

Tummy Trouble

My regular reader is aware of my battle with my stomach, but a newcomer may not be, so here’s a short recap: about four years ago I was diagnosed with gastroparesis, a stomach disorder that prevents proper digestion.  It was described to me as such: every person has a blender in their stomach, and my blender had rusty blades.  As time went on, rusty blades turned into no blades.  It made for uncomfortable situations, like not being able to eat when hungry or feeling nauseous and bloated in the mornings, and it made for terrible situations, like landing in the ER because I was vomiting blood and had stabbing abdominal pains.  I was on a variety of medications for years, all of which proved useless.  Then they started doing regular dilation of my pyloric sphincter (the muscle that controls food leaving the stomach.)  This provided a month or two of temporary relief, and then it was back to the ER.  They are thinking I might have something called pyloric stenosis, which is a disease that is common in baby boys, not 36-year-old women. 

That brings us up to now.  Yesterday, I had my regular procedure with the added benefit of Botox injections to my pyloric muscles.  This is supposed to cause the muscles to relax and smoothen so as to transport food easier.  I read up a little on it, and results vary.  Some studies say it’s beneficial, some say they found no results.  All agree it can’t hurt to try, and I am in that frame of thought right now.  I’ve been living with this for years and any opportunity for relief is one I am willing to take. 

If this doesn’t work and I end up back in the hospital, then I will be talking to my doctor about surgical options out of town.  She mentioned some doctors in Cleveland that may be able to help.  I don’t want it to come to that, but I’m not going to go though the rest of my life like I have the past four years.  It has been terrible.  I haven’t been able to hold a steady job.  It has wreaked havoc on my depression.  The medical bills are out of control. 

But I’ll be damned if I let any of that get me down while I am trying to heal and improve my health.  I intend to do whatever I can to beat this ridiculous pain-in-the-ass disease and get back to the life it has stolen from me.  Today, I am hopeful.  I’m not hungry yet, but I’m drinking coffee again, which was a huge turn-off just a few days ago.  I am sitting in my office with the sun streaming though the window and I am content in knowing that there is a possibility, however small, that I might be well.

The Waiting Game

Once upon a time, I was in theater.  You name it, I did it: writing, directing, acting, stage managing, various crew positions…I was a Jill of all trades.  I learned an immense amount of skills in my ten years walking the boards, and while I don’t do it anymore, I don’t regret a second. 

My favorite thing, besides writing, is acting.  I loved acting.  I had the ability to slip into a character with incredible ease, and often thought I must be doing something wrong when I saw my fellow thespians struggle to do what came naturally to me.  My only problem was line memorization.  I usually got it by opening night but I would have a script in my hand right up until then, terrified that I would flub a line.  I was often comforted by the fact that as a stage manager I knew that audiences rarely pick up on dropped lines if you’ve got the chemistry to cover it.  Chemistry, I always had.

Anyway, one time I got it into my head that I should try to make a career of this, and I applied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City.  I was all set to go, had my pieces memorized perfectly, and disaster struck.  My friend Rick, who was to take me to my audition, couldn’t drive me because his mother was wary of the situation.  This led to a massive three-hour panic attack where I screamed and sobbed to my father, while Rick tried to persuade his mother.  Eventually, we were on the road, but this was a time before my correct medications so that panic attack stuck around all day.  We got to the hotel and settled in, and I went to sleep, finally calm and dreaming of my audition.

The next day, I opened my eyes to see Rick lacing his sneakers and humming a Green Day song.  There was a pain in my throat and chest.  I was shivering, but my head was on fire, and in a fair amount of pain as well.  I stumbled to the shower, forced myself to get dressed and ready, and then we were on the way to the train station.  I felt like death.  I felt like I could collapse at any moment.  Rick felt like a kid at Disney World because it was his first time in the Big Apple.  His merriment was nauseating. 

First, we went to Jamba Juice, where I had never been, and I discovered a menu item called “The Flu Buster.”  I almost cried from joy and ordered a large, which I drank so fast I got a brain freeze.  I don’t know what they put in that thing but it gave me a high for maybe two hours, just long enough to get to my audition and do my monologues and get out of there. 

The rest of the day was spent walking around looking for an arcade because for some reason Rick thought it would be cool to play Dance Dance Revolution in NYC.  Then, finally, blessedly, we headed back to the hotel.  I slept like a baby.  When I awoke in the morning, I was well.

Cut to about a week and a half later.

I am sitting in my living room watching TV when I hear the mailbox open and close.  I run to it.  I have run to it every day for a week.  There in my hands is the letter I have been waiting for.  And it is thin.

I’ve already been through college acceptances, so I know what that means.  I sigh, I open it, I read its caustic form-letter tone, and I go back in the house, dejected.  In about a week, I am my old self.  In about a week, I get a call about a stage-managing position.  In about a week, it doesn’t matter.  Because I am really good at rejection.  What I suck at is the waiting period.

That week and a half was the longest of my life.  Until now.

A few days ago, I got an email from a publisher.  They asked me to send along my manuscript.  They said it typically takes three weeks for them to make a decision.  Now, usually when I send out a submission, I log it and forget about it until I receive word back.  Just like I did when I sent a query to the publisher that I most want for my chapbook.  I didn’t even know if they published chapbooks, I was just inquiring, and mentioned my chapbook, and he asked to read it.  I was flabbergasted.  Half of me thought that this was the miracle I’d been waiting for.  The other half was like kid, it’s just an audition.

My theater background really helps me with my writing life.  I handle rejection better because of it.  I understand the process of selection.  I know the behind-the-scenes struggles of putting a project together.  Still, it’s the wait that gets you.  In this case I am going with the “no news is good news” philosophy right now.  I mean, if he read it and hated it I would have already been rejected.  And if I get rejected, that’s fine, on to the next adventure.  But the waiting?

That’ll kill you.

Feminism is Not a Bad Word

I received a reminder this morning that Buffalo’s Women’s March is on Sunday.  I felt like a bad feminist for a moment when I thought “Oh, that is entirely dependent on the weather.”  I went one year and it was great; we even took the kids, who had a weirdly good time.  The thing is, it’s in January, and this is Buffalo, and the weather rules our days this time of year.  So, I doubt I will be making my way downtown on Sunday.  It is much more likely my sister, mother and I will go to the movies that day and see Little Women, which is, in its own way, solidarity. 

One time, after we went to the march with the kids, someone asked why I did things “like that.”  I assumed this person was referring to my beliefs in feminism and social justice, and the fact that I had no problem making my voice heard about such things.  Mark thought perhaps said individual was commenting on us taking the kids along.  “You know that 50% of your children will grow up to be women, right?” I said, getting a little heated at the wrong target.  He threw his hands up and reminded me that taking the kids was his idea in the first place.  It was.  I was just going to go with my sister, but he wanted to come and we had the kiddos and so…it was inevitable.  In the end we all had a good time and the only slightly awkward moment was L asking me what a design was on a poster: it was a uterus.  I told him it was the part of the body women had for keeping a baby safe to grow.  He said “cool” and then ran over to explain it to M.

Anyway, I remember how furious I was after.  This person so enraged me, and I was even madder at myself for letting that happen.  But you see…this wasn’t one of my old foes.  This wasn’t an old white man who pines for the fifties.  This wasn’t some incel creep with a vendetta against his high school girlfriend.  This wasn’t even just a slightly ignorant young dude who needed to learn how the system works.

THIS WAS A WOMAN MY AGE.

That’s what got me.  That’s what sent me over the edge.  See, I’ve had plenty of years of experience explaining feminism to dudes….let’s take Mark for example.  Took Mark many a year to realize he actually was a feminist, and even longer to say it.  Because men are taught that “feminism” (which, by the way, means equality of the sexes and literally nothing else) is a bad word.  And apparently, some women pick that up along the way as well.

How, I will never understand. 

I mean…do you like making 78 cents on the dollar?  Do you think you don’t deserve the right to vote?  Or hold property?  Or have your own bank card?  Or testify in your own defense?  Or go to college?  Hell, read any book you want? Or wear pants???

FEMINISM GOT YOU PANTS.

There is not a woman alive who has not benefitted from feminism, so when they question it, I get a little annoyed.  Men benefit too, but I’m legit not talking about you guys today.  I’ll save that one for another post, likely when some old guy with too many opinions on my uterus slides into my DMs.  Today is for the ladies, specifically the ones that “don’t need” feminism.  They are so unaware of the things we still battle…domestic violence, sex trafficking, abuse in any form.  Most women know the 1 in 4 statistic.  1 in 4 women is sexually abused or assaulted.  I have two daughters.  That’s a 50% chance.  And you think I’m not going on the goddamn defense?!

I don’t usually think of the person that riled me up at all, so when she pops into my head like this it’s kind of maddening.  However, I look for a silver lining and I find it: she keeps the fire stoked in me, so that I wake up each day ready to strike down the patriarchy she so desperately feels she needs.  I don’t know what has led her to her own belief system but I know what has led me to mine, and it is an undeniable truth that I am no less than my husband, father, brother, son…and neither is she.

Tales from a Sofa

Blog, my brain whispers.
Back off, my body demands.

I’m on my couch typing on my phone which I hate but right now the thought of jumping on the computer is unbearable. The idea of leaving my warm sherpa blanket and peanut butter banana smoothie is ridiculous. I would rather give my thumbs a workout on my phone than sit in a drafty room in a chair that smells vaguely like teenage boy.
I spent most of yesterday in the hospital again, lying on a couch in a waiting room and praying that the vomiting would just stop. I tend to sound something between ice in a blender and a velociraptor when I am ill, so that’s gotta be fun for anyone in earshot. The ER was very crowded, so I’m sure a lot of people hated me yesterday.
Today I am spent. M has a bug so he is here, but I refuse to be in the same room with him because if I catch it, that’s another trip to the ER. Mark took off to take care of us, which is much appreciated.
I didnt blog on Thursday and this here is hardly anything, but at least I got something out in my stupor. In 9 days I am having a procedure that will hopefully make things a lot better, and right now I’ve just got to hold on until then.
Naptime now, I think.

Damnit.

It’s Thursday afternoon and I haven’t blogged, so naturally what that means is that I am lying in bed after a morning at the hospital.

I’m cold and shaking and puking and in pain. Real fun way to spend the day.

Anyways, I will back when my stomach decides to give up this battle.

Deep Clean

Today the well is dry.

It is January, my least favorite month.  I have no topics to write about because I am exhausted from the whole holiday rigamarole.  It ended last night when we celebrated Sharon’s birthday and exchanged Christmas gifts with her and Kevin.  I ended up with a splitting headache, so when I got home, I went to bed instead of brainstorming blog ideas like I usually do on Sunday nights. 

M is with us this week, which is always nice.  Other than that, there isn’t much going on except me deep cleaning the apartment.  I started with the office, which is a treat because I always end up finding things that I forgot about.  This time around I found a picture a friend of mine took for a college photography class.  I framed it and hung it on my living room wall.  I moved on to cleaning the dining room, but I haven’t taken down the Christmas tree yet, which is the next order of business.

We had the kids this weekend.  I mentioned offhand that I needed to clean the bathroom on Saturday.  An hour later, E calls me to the back of the house and shows me that she did it for me, “So you don’t have as much to do tomorrow.”  When I say she cleaned the bathroom, she cleaned the bathroom.  She even put up a new shower curtain that I didn’t know I owned.  I gave her a pass on her usual chore of picking up the living and dining rooms because she busted her butt in the bathroom.  L helped with the laundry, managing to get five loads done.  M was on garbage patrol, running bags out to the cans for me whenever I needed it.  K didn’t do much, but she did work well with E to clean their room, which is impressive as they are usually bickering when left alone too long.  The boys even cleaned their bedroom, more or less, which I really appreciate.  Of course, I am going to go in there and vacuum and clean under beds still, but they got the ball rolling.

So, you see, there’s nothing very interesting going on right now.  I literally am writing about cleaning, probably my least favorite thing in the world.  But, I am very grateful to my kiddos for helping out.  I don’t even have to ask anymore.  They each know they have a responsibility to the household when they come over, and they fulfil that.  I just hope they do the same at their mother’s.

So, I write about cleaning because the well is dry.  I haven’t written anything besides blogs in weeks, and nothing substantial, not even a poem, for almost a month.  I am chalking it up to the outpouring of words that NaNoWriMo brought me; I went hard for a month and now I need a break.  I am hoping the muse will return soon.  In the meantime, I will clean my apartment and praise my kiddos and wait for inspiration to strike.