Still on Fire

Remember in years past when we would say things like “well, that was a crappy year, can’t wait to see it go?” 

How quaint.

This year stated out rough.  I became very sick in late January, which killed early February.  Then, in March, my grandpa died and five days later, the world locked down. 

Bright spot in May, when my collection came out, but darkness, too, as I wasn’t able to have a proper release of any sort.  Bright spot during summer, when Dad’s tests came back negative and he could happily say he was cancer-free.  Bright spot in September, when it appeared cases were going down in our area.  But, darkness again in November when Erie County slid into an orange zone and life became confining again. 

Overall, for everyone, a crap year.

I am focusing on the good today, though.  Like that book I dropped.  Or my healthy Dad.  Or the fact cases are going down again, and we have a vaccine now. 

So, it wasn’t all garbage, at least to me. 

This year, I am making a singular resolution.  Don’t eat any phonebooks.  No, seriously, I intend to read more.  I have fallen off reading so hard because of my eye troubles, and I need to get my butt back on that train.  I intend to keep a list of all the books I read this year, to hold myself accountable.  I’m almost certain it will be dismal.  One year I read 100 books.  Now I can barely get though two.  Damn these eyes.

But there have been great improvements in them this year, so I am hoping that pushes me to pursue reading even more than before.  I have a few King’s just languishing on my shelf, desperate to be finished. I asked my cousin Sarah to toss me a few books she was done with.  And I am intent on consuming as much poetry as possible (particularly from local and indie authors, so if you know any good ones, hit me up.)  The first book I intend to read is Courtney Changes the Game, the first in the new line of American Girl Doll books. 

I’m trying to ease myself in.

Anyway, tonight is New Year’s Eve.  Hubs and I don’t do much for the holiday.  One year we went to the ball drop and it was crazy and expensive and we swore that was going straight on the Murtagh list (a list of shit we’re too old for.)  Now out NYE consists of pizza and booze and a televised ball drop.  So, our plans did not change this year amidst a pandemic.  Except maybe the pizza will take longer to arrive.

Tonight, I am thankful for my family’s health and my own successes.  I am thankful for a hardworking and loving husband and four beautiful and clever step-kids.  I am thankful for a sister turned friend and a friend turned sister.  I am thankful for my grandmother, who is still kicking after her hardest year.

And I am proud, of everyone.

I wrote in the beginning about how to me, the world has always been on fire.  Then I wrote a poem about that observation.  Then I won a contest with that poem.  Then it was published in the Buffalo News.  It has become my motto of the year: the world has always been on fire.  I wrote about how my “healthy” people were experiencing moments of a depression and anxiety, while I was dancing among the flames that I have grown used to.  I am so proud of those people…people unfamiliar with mental health problems, who are experiencing this painful time but pushing though.  You are so strong.  I am so proud. 

And those of us dancing in the fire as usual?  Well, I’m always proud that we don’t just let ourselves burn. 

Anyway, Happy New Year to you and yours.

Sure was a crappy year.  Can’t wait to see it go.


New Year, Same Me

You know what I think is a generally stupid idea?  New Year’s Eve.  And yet, I look forward to it every holiday season.

When I was young, it was fun.  We had snacks and stayed up late and mom and dad always made a party of it.  Then sometime in my late teens, it became garbage.  I remember going to parties out on Grand Island where I would get hammer-drunk and have no way home the next day.  I recant that: one year Jaime and I stole Steve’s car and drove home.  I honestly don’t recall if she had a license.  Let’s say she did.  (She was at least sober-I myself barely remember the car ride home.)  If I wasn’t on Grand Island, I was downtown watching the country’s second largest ball drop (Buffalo fun fact!) and freezing my ass off while sipping on a 15$ rum and coke. 

One year I went to my aunt Mary’s party which was close to home and all my friends came with so it was perfect.  That’s one year of celebrating out of, like, 20. 

I gave up on NYE halfway though my relationship with Mark, after we did the ball drop one year and decided it was going on the Murtaugh list.  We were certainly getting too old for that shit.  Now we spend it with pizza and booze on our couch and it has been delightful.  This year we threw Kevin into the mix, and spent the evening playing Soul Caliber and watching YouTube videos.  We watched the side by side of the ball drops (Buffalo and NYC) and then Mark kissed me and ran outside to bang pots and pans with Kevin.  (Side story: Kev and I grew up in a neighborhood called Riverside where people did this at midnight followed by a rendition of Auld Lange Syne at the top of their lungs.  We don’t know if it’s related to the neighborhood specifically or if our parents are just weirdos, but I do distinctly remember other people participating in this when I was young.  Is it a cultural thing?  A geographical thing?  Someone enlighten us.) 

1am found me in bed, sleeping soundly.  It was, overall, a good night.

The next day we rearranged the furniture on a whim.  Hubs decided we needed to change things up a little, so we switched the living and dining rooms and I have to say I like it.  Now we are going to do a deep clean of the apartment, because I noticed honest-to-god cobwebs yesterday.  I will admit that I am not the world’s greatest housekeeper-I am a creative, and I think that has something to do with it.  Everything has it’s place, but like…I don’t dust unless I have to.  I just don’t notice it.  And then when I do, I feel like a slob.  But it’s not sloppiness, it’s just me focusing on other things.  My mother tried to instill the whole cleaning thing in me as a kid and it never took.  If something is downright dirty, I will handle it.  If something is out of place, I will right it.  But that’s the extent of my housekeeping-daily management.  Deep clean is Mark’s department, and we are going hard the next few days. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about 2020.  My first thought is that this is what I always believed to be “the future” when I was a kid, so where is my flying car?  My second thought is that 20 years ago it was 2000 and I was just turning 17 and Jesus, that feels like yesterday.  My third thought is that I need a real resolution this year.

I usually don’t do resolutions, except my old standby: don’t eat any phone books.  It’s perfect, because you know you’re going to follow though.  And if you don’t, you have bigger issuers than just breaking a resolution.  But this year I am making one:  I am going to read more.  I haven’t read a lot these past five years or so because of my retinopathy.  I finally have a clear field of vision now, however, and want to get back to expanding my library.  I intend to keep track of everything I read, and to look at the experience as a learning one-something to help me better my own craft.  You can’t write if you don’t read and my current rate of maybe two books a year (and likely both Stephen King’s) is dismal.  Of course, I had my reasons, but now there’s no excuse.  I will be starting the year with my main man of course, and just started reading The Institute, which my father got me for Christmas.  Next up is some middle grade books-I can knock those guys out in a day or two, and they will help me with my new tale that I am working on.  Time to revisit Judy Blume, and find out what the kids are reading these days. 

So, in closing, this is my new year: cleaning, reading, and trying to keep my butt out of the ER, of course.  Those are my manageable goals.  Of course, me with my big imagination, I have other goals in mind, too.  Writing goals.

I wonder where I will be a year from now.  Will I be done with my WIP?  Will I have found a publisher?  Or maybe one for my chapbook?  Will I have a complete children’s book to market, with illustrations and everything?  Will I continue to have my poetry published?  Will my new idea fully form itself in my head so I can do NaNo again next year?  So many questions.  Only time will tell.

Happy New Year!


This year, I am improving upon last years resolutions.  Yes, I will continue to battle with both my bad health and my love for cigarettes, two old foes I hope to vanquish in the coming months.  What I intend to push myself on, however, is my writing.  I have made great strides in the past year to battle my anxiety by putting my words out into the world and I am determined to keep that up.  I’m also determined to finish the first draft of my novel, which lies dormant in my computer just waiting for me to open it up and start pecking away.

I started working on it sometime around the fall of 2016, and have been chipping away at a big idea ever since.  I finished my general outline and about five chapters.  Now, though, I am stuck, and I resolve to get myself out of this quicksand before it swallows me up.  I have considered joining a few writers groups, but to be honest I don’t have that thing I used to have, when I walked into a club or activity at seventeen and immediately fell into pace with whatever was going on.  Now I am a ball of anxiety, nervous just to have to identify another person, let alone have a conversation with them.  And about my writing!  Unheard of.  I like a trusted voice, someone who knows me and can tell me what they think with out me getting all squirrely.  (My usual go-to for this has two kids and lives in Kentucky though, so it’s a big ask to send chapters.) Of course, a singular voice is not really conducive to writing, as you are writing for other people to read. All people, not those you know personally.  Which is why I thought joining a group like this was a good idea.  I can’t get up the nerve, though.  That’s disappointing.

So, one more resolution to make.  Get out there more.  Talk to other human beings about things that are important to you.  Try to recapture a little of that spark you had when you were young, and still recognized how to make new friends.

But most of all, and most important always, write more.  Write more poetry.  Write your novel.  Write another short story.  Update your blog more frequently.  Just write.  Write, write, write…

Year in Review

At the start of the year, I made some resolutions. I can say once again that I have made it through another year without eating a phone book. I did get in slightly better shape, having quit smoking (for the most part; the holidays were hard) and I lost a few pounds, but that was mostly due to my inability to eat at times and had far less to do with me actually getting to the gym. I did reach my writing resolution, however. I have certainly written more, and I have gotten some of that writing out into the world. This year was mostly hard, given my health and things like losing our automobile, but I have perservered through my writing. I have kept this blog for nearly a year. I have had my poems and a short story published. I have finished the outline for my novel. I have started assembling a small book of poetry. It has been, for my words, a good year.

Yet, I don’t have much to say tonight. I am grateful to not be spending the new year in the hospital, as I have in the past. I am happy to sit on my sofa with my husband and do tequila shots and watch Netflix and laugh about how this year has kicked our butts, and next year probably will, too. Or maybe not. Maybe we can keep on reaching for the hope a new year brings us.

At least, I’ll keep trying.

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Photo by john paul tyrone fernandez on

No Phone Books in 2018

I don’t go in for resolutions.  For several years, I pledged each New Years to not eat any phone books, which was an inside joke amongst my friends, though I can’t remember where it started.  This was the perfect resolution, however.  I have never eaten a phone book, nor do I plan to, especially with the advent of smartphones which has made the actual physical phone book obsolete.  I know this because my neighbor and I have left ours on the front porch for several months, watching them disappear under the snow.   I have, of course, been able to avoid going downstairs and picking one up for a midday snack.  This makes me feel empowered, like I accomplished something.  Which is all people really want to get out of a new years resolution anyway.

However, this year, I am making three resolutions, against my better judgement.  They aren’t so much resolutions, though, as they are rules for not dying.  For instance, I intend to quit smoking.  I intend to get in better shape.  I intend to write more.

Now, I am always full of good intentions, but they don’t always come to fruition.  I am burdened with a serotonin imbalance, and the medication that goes with such things.  These two influences often make getting to the gym impossible, having a cigarette necessary, and writing so much as a poem unbearable.  I have decided, however, and with the help of some medication adjustments, to rail against the voice in my head telling me to shut up and sit on the couch.  I have spent the past two years begin incredibly sick, and I am done.  I have decided that the only thing that ever kept me together was writing, and so, I return to my old friend, the blog, to pound out the thoughts, feelings, and experiences that have been trapped inside a lonely and frightened mind for too long.  Remember when you wrote plays, self?  Remember the 17 OTHER blogs?  Remember your 500+ poems, or that short story anthology, or that half a novel that sits stagnant in a document folder somewhere waiting to be dusted off and rewritten?  You had such plans, Me.  And here you are, letting your stupid malfunctioning brain get the better of you again?  Oh, hell no.

So I’m going to write about not smoking, and getting in shape, and being sick, and being depressed….and my husband, and my step-kids, and my friends, and my family, and all the funny and wonderful and ridiculous nonsense that I see and hear on a regular basis.  Maybe quitting smoking will be hard, maybe getting in shape will take time, but writing is something I can do now.  Writing is going to get me through the hard parts, as it always has in the past.

At the very least, one year from now, I can look back and think “Well, at least I didn’t eat any phone books.”


PS-If interested, my past blog posts can be found HERE.