A big issue my boyfriend and I have struggled with is the decision on whether to have children or not.
27 Oct 2013 8 Comments
15 May 2012 Leave a Comment
From my favorite Seattle blogger!
Also, I am taking a little blogging break to deal with new med side-effects (tremors, dizziness, and pealing gums so far) and KITTENS (Momma and litter from the shelter to foster)
12 May 2012 4 Comments
in Goals, Health Stuff, Writing Tags: anxiety, bipolar, children, clients, connection, conversion, creative nonfiction, creativity, education, engagement, essays, Facebook, freelancing, health care, kitchen-sink, kittens, local business, mental health, multitasking, my cat, Neil Gaiman, panic, psychosis, stress management, support, teaching, workshop, writing
The word multitasking originated in 1966, referring exclusively to computers and their computations. Automation of tasks to make the human life that much easier. But in 1998, the word started being applied to humans. On the surface, it might sound like a good thing: do more in less time with less effort.
But really, as a modern concept I think it sucks.
Because we got the do more part, and maybe even the less time part, but the effort feels like it has tripled.
And with my recent run of near-crippling anxiety attacks, I lack the math skills to compute my effort to do even simple tasks. Say good-bye to my days of multitasking.
I don’t want to work full-time, volunteer full-time, and part-time, and be a graduate student, and be creative on deadline, both personally and professionally, all while pretending I’m not desperately lonely and need a social life that does not include an agenda.
My day yesterday was perfect: I woke up naturally around 11am, cuddled with the kitties, met a friend for lunch, played with kittens at The Book Center (10 are ready for adoption), went to Southern States to look at flowers, played with my cats at home, did some light house work, talked to my sister on the phone, and wrote this blog.
No stress, no panic attacks, minimal hallucinations (I’ve started actually keeping track of that, too).
But also no work, no grading, no deadlines, no bullshit.
Which brings me to my point–dun, Dun, DUN–what the heck am I doing talking about all this in a public forum?
First of all, thanks to everyone who posted comments on Part I.
I’ve mulled this over for a while, and I realized this blog has had a bit of a multiple personality disorder (not a current diagnosis of mine). Or rather, I’ve tried to multitask. Maybe it is because I’m lazy. Or confused. I’m confused often. But I blame that on being born in the Year of the Monkey.
The way I see it, I have three reasons for writing a blog:
First–Personal: I am going through a major life shift wherein I am trying to truly deal with my health, all facets of it, in a more mature, responsible way rather than simply running away when it gets too scary or uncomfortable.
To do this effectively, I need to write about it. But I have a difficult time holding myself to personal deadlines (just look at the state of my website, some of those pages have been “Under Construction” for three years). I need to write everyday. That is how I cope best because I am a writer.
I also need personal connection and resources to support myself during this shift. My closest friends live literally hours (if not several time zones) away. And I’m crap at calling (phone anxiety, though my besties are kind enough to call me). Besides, the type of support I need is too much for a single person, or trio of persons, to deal with. And while some of my dearest friends have a pretty good understanding of some of my issues, I really need to connect with people who can say “been there, swallowed that.”
Hence a personal blog is a major priority for me now.
Second–Creative: If you look back at some of my first posts, this blog was intended to be a creative outlet. While I have always written poetry, I originally planned to study creative non-fiction, particularly the personal memoir essay.
This makes sense as an author for me now as well because most of my poetry is pulled, at least is a small way, from events in my life or experience. Even the themes in my fiction can be linked to personal obsessions, which is true for all writers. So writing about things that are superficially personal would be a way to build a platform for my work, laying the foundation for a book later on.
While this has some appeal, I am far too overwhelmed to do this consistently. The energy that goes into churning out a 1,000 word essay of literary quality every week, let alone every day which is my current timetable, is astronomical for me. I am a slow writer and an even slower composer. I feel for now, this option is an impossibility.
Third–Professional: Finally, there is the professional blog. This is where statistics come into play.
The standard advice is to pick a niche you are passionate about (or can at least fake a healthy interest in) and then you blog regularly about it in hope that eventually you get enough hits to attract the interest of advertisers.
Alternately, you can create a following surrounding your small business service to attract customers, with the idea that you give enough advice/service/copy away for free to attract attention and a warm fuzzy feeling (engagement) until some of those hits turn into paying clients (conversion). This is also where most writers get the advice to be writers writing about writing in the hopes of getting writing jobs.
When I think about this, I alternate between feelings of resistance and panic.
I don’t want to!
Not only does that sound deadly dull, I also have to admit that I can’t force myself to read those types of blogs (even when they are written by writers I like with the possible exception go Neil Gaiman). And if I have zero interest in reading them, should I really be adding to the glut? I mean, not all of them are totally spammy. But most of them are hardly original.
And how am I expected to blog about freelance writing in an original way? I guess my post about teaching the kids’ workshop comes close, but realistically, I’m not going to pick up new freelance clients that way.
Most of my freelance writing jobs fall into one of two categories: marketing or manuscript. Those people are looking for people with solid reputations for quality and efficiency, which means they ask around. They don’t troll blogs.
So the roll of this blog is….Personal.
And if that costs me some freelance clients, so be it. I mean, if they turned down a freelancer in a wheelchair, we’d all think they were assholes, right? So let’s treat mental health issues the same way.
Yes, I have health problems, but I am still a damn good writer.
And very modest, too.
11 May 2012 1 Comment
in Health Stuff, Readings, Teaching, Workshops, Writing Tags: bipolar, children, creativity, education, mental health, read, reading, sister, substance abuse, teaching, Tri-State Community School for the Arts, workshop, writing
When I was little, I remember making my sister play school with me. I’m pretty sure she hated it, but I was always pretty good at convincing her to do things my way.
Like that time I convinced her to give me all of her dimes since they were smaller, and therefore obviously less desirable, than my pennies in exchange.
I would have her write things and do simple math problems that she could understand. When that got boring, I started teaching her algebra. She was about 5 years old. She actually caught on fast.
I remember my mother being worried that I was confusing her, but as I have discovered throughout life, kids tend to deal with challenges better than we expect. As long as we phrase things simply for them and spark their interest.
I was honored to be invited to participate in Arts in the Schools Week this past week. Monday through Thursday, I visited South Penn Elementary School to teach an hour-long writing workshop with the theme of Japanese fairytales.
Though I am ridiculously tired, I am very pleased with the way the classes went. On top of that, I was actually paid to be there! Which is obviously a very good thing.
I began the session with a quick introduction and an interactive overview of Japanese culture. Then I read two versions of stories about the Chin Chin Kobakama while the kids followed along. The story selection seemed to be a hit since it is so different.
Then I explained to them how I start writing.
I usually start with a “what if” question or a “I wonder how that would/does work” thought and go from there, making things up on paper. I gave them one example from my short-story-that-needs-to-be-a-novel, The Murcep People, and also how the sea became salty. I gave them some ideas based off the story I read, like changing the point of view, then let them loose.
One interesting thing about South Penn is that it is built in the 1970s style of open classrooms with few interior walls. I was in one of the few multi-purpose rooms that was actually enclosed. I’m not exactly sure how I feel about open classrooms. I loved how the “library” was at the center of the entire second floor, so books were extremely present.
I also made sure to plug my free workshops offered through Tri-State Community School for the Arts. Some of the kids said they were interested in coming, and I promised to send the reading instructor more information.
One little boy, who carries his notebooks full of stories around with him everywhere, wanted to know more about getting his stories published. So I made up a quick handout for him Wednesday night, and he met with me for a special conference Thursday morning.
I also followed up with children on Wednesday morning since time seemed to fly away. We could easily have taken another half hour. The reading specialist even mentioned the possibility of having me come back to do more workshops!
Another little boy was so enthusiastic about Japan, that I was a little intimidated. He is apparently very bright. He rattled off names and facts I didn’t have a clue about, like exactly how Japanese houses were the first ones for be earthquake-proof. His story was fantastic.
My first thought with both of those little boys, the writer and the savant, was one of concern. Because I know how much their lives are probably gonna suck. And I also know how closely creativity and genius fly to crazy and substance abuse.
I had an overwhelming urge to protect them somehow.
I saw bits and pieces of me, and it made me sad. I really hope they turn up at one of my workshops, so I can check in with them.
09 May 2012 2 Comments
in Art, Readings, Teaching, Workshops Tags: Arts in the Schools Week, children, cockatoe, cockatoo, creativity, drawing, education, fairy tales, Japan, Japanese fairytales, Public School, read, reading, South Penn Elementary School, teaching, workshop, writing
I am far too tired to write a whole post tonight (I always write the “night” before and schedule the drop for the next day, currently at 9am), but I didn’t want to miss a day…
So I will share this picture and story instead. Monday through Thursday this week I am teaching an hour-long session at South Penn Elementary School for Arts in the Schools Week on Japanese fairytales. I am really honored to be invited (and paid!). It is also a big ego boost to see my headshot in the lobby proclaiming me as the guest author!
Today, when it came time for the writing prompt (which I will talk about in a later post, I’m sure), one boy decided to start with a picture and then write a story. He drew a very nice bird head, and said he wanted to write a fairy tale about how the cockatoo got its head plumage. But he was stumped on the spelling of cockatoo, whether it needed two Os at the end or an E. He asked me, and lousy speller that I am, I wasn’t too sure. He was going to go for the E, but we agreed that would be cocka-toe, a very funny creature indeed.
Jokes ensued, about being a smelly bird and how it would hope around lamenting the boy’s bad spelling…so he drew this:
And that is why I really love working with child writers! The ability to jump over mental, self-imposed hurdles is much greater, in general. I could easily have stayed another hour with these kids. I really hope the school invites me back!
30 Apr 2012 Leave a Comment
This week I have a sleep study scheduled. I am supposed to be tracking my sleeping patterns for the entire week, so I can give a clear and detailed report to the technician…I lost the paper form.
It’s not like it would have been very clear anyway. Saturday I woke up at 11am to finish up a freelance job. Then that evening I had to work at the theatre for the Queen City Independent Film Festival.
Nine people showed. I was pretty happy though because this is the first film festival I have ever built from the ground up. Out of the 10 total submissions, 5 US states were represented, plus the District of Columbia and Palestine. It went international the first year!
I have agreed to produce the festival next year, too. It’s kinda my baby, and I want to see it be taken care of and grow. I’m gonna add 2 prizes for next year though: Best Documentary and Best Appalachian Film.
At the end of the 3 hour program, Ms. Kay, Miss James, and I sat around unwinding using a fair amount of vodka (I think I am becoming a connoisseur). By the time I got home and into bed, it was at least 3am. I woke at 8:30am to take M’ James back to her car, and then napped from 10:30am until 1pm.
Then it was up and back to the theatre for the second showing. Seven people showed. Still, the festival is more about the filmmakers, and it’s not like the person from Palestine could just drop by for the weekend. I am hoping that as the reputation of the festival grows and solidifies, more people will be willing to travel here…and that will in turn stimulate the withering historic downtown area.
Townies just don’t support the town on the whole, which is a crying shame. I know it’s corny, but I really do feel that if you live someplace, you have a duty to make that place better. And shopping locally is a big part of that.
Sunday night, I didn’t go to bed until 4:30am. I don’t know why the hell I was up so late. Well I did get myself wound up sending out congratulation emails to winners. That was a lot of fun. Vicarious excitement, I suppose.
I also folded all my laundry, too for some reason. I got into a little flurry of throwing out clothes I hated and made me feel gross. That was fun, too.
Today I woke at 4pm. My day wasn’t really wasted. I did mop the kitchen, take out trash, water my plants. The neighbors with the parcel of kids were having a birthday party, and 10 little girls made their way to my porch to visit. I’m like the coolest person they know (a whole ‘nother story–I call them my Little Guests). It is a tremendous ego boost.
So who knows when I’ll go to bed tonight…
I know the people at the sleep center are going to fuss about irregular sleep patterns leading to sleep difficulties. But really, my life is in no shape for a regular sleep pattern. Hell, I like sleeping better during the day anyway.
Maybe if that damn little bird living in my throat chakra would stop flapping and flailing so violently, I might be more inclined to sleep at night. But it is just getting its feathers in a fluff by then, so I’m not going to worry about my sleep patterns.
Maybe I’ll steal a pillow from the sleep center?