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Posts tagged ‘obstacles’

Kelly: Disappointments and Moving Forward

Those Brave Girls…I tell ya, sometimes they really hit the nail on the head. Remember my Surrendering My Superpowers post? Where I told you I was applying for a full-time faculty position? I was a finalist for that faculty position, and I was really hopeful; I felt really good about my chances. Well, I had my final interview with our campus president on Tuesday. This morning, I learned that I was not her choice. Disappointed? Most certainly. Grateful that I still have a job I enjoy anyway? Definitely. When I got back to my office after meeting with the dean this morning, just trying to wrap my head around the fact that I would still be sitting at the same desk when Fall term starts, I tried to come out of the fog by absentmindedly checking my email. And here was my Daily Truth from the Brave Girls Club:

Dear Fantastic Girl,

Just when you think you have things figured out, even in ONE part of your life….life throws you a curveball.

This is a place where you have a wonderful opportunity…many wonderful opportunities, actually. You get to decide right here, right now…what you will do next. You get to test those amazing skills you’ve been learning about concerning the power of your choice.

You have several choices ahead of you when unexpected things happen. Read more

Cathy: New favorite thing

Please forgive me if my sentences make no sense today. I had a cahrazy weekend, which included Honey’s birthday, on which I barely saw him. It was a good weekend, a celebratory weekend, but I have been having a cold coming on for a few days, and I think it hit me full force today, when I can finally rest, while catching up and critiquing two manuscripts for tomorrow’s writing group, that is. How’s that for a run-on?

Oh, and for some unknown reason, Captain Comic has decided that somewhere between 3 am and 4:30 am is primo wakeup and run back and forth with lights on and doors slamming time.

Anyway, in time for the December challenge, one of my old writing friends from my Boston days turned me on to a new writing tool. It works like Julie Cameron’s Morning Pages from The Artist’s Way, but it’s online. It’s typed. It’s private, and you can let your mind wander for 750 words, the equivalent of three pages. And you don’t have to find that notebook or pen. I think most of us are sitting in front of a screen these days anyway, right? And it gives me a community of people who are also writing, whether or not I make any more of a connection beyond just knowing they are out there somewhere doing the same thing:

I am a horrible typist. It takes me about 20 minutes per day to meet the 750, averaging about 35-40 words a minute. all typos are left in place. I try not to go back and correct. I don’t think about what I’m writing, I just let the garbage fall out of my brain through my fingers tips and up onto the screen.

Usually about three quarters of the way in, I hit my stride and there’s at least a phrase if not an idea that I like or that I can work with in something else, later.

Here’s the thing:

When the boys were younger, and I was single and working three part-time jobs to support them, when I woke up in the morning, I put the baby gate across the kitchen doorway of our little condo, got the coffee started, and while it brewed, I started my morning pages with pen and notebook amidst the dulcet tones of Captain Comic hanging on the opposite side of the gate, rattling it and screaming for my attention, Mr. Cynic momming me, and the themes of Blues Clues or Bob the Builder running from the tv in the background. After a few months, they got that I was not going to give them the time of day during “Mommy’s morning pages.”

And that’s when I started writing my almost finished editing this draft manuscript — later in the day, somewhere between job number one and the first school bus arrival, I had 30 minutes in which I wrote the first thirty or so pages of this book. But I was only productive on that if I had been productive earlier by getting through the mess of my daily concerns to hit the subconscious, where the better writing sprung from, like an underground spring of fresh water. First I had to clear away the mud.

So why have I not been writing or editing what I really want to be working on lately?

I think the key is in these morning pages. I think it’s in getting the garbage out of my head. It only takes me 20 minutes, so why not? Here I am, doing it online. And this site has some interesting tools to help you see what mood you’re writing in, for instance. Or what words you repeat, or what senses you are using, and how dominantly you write in one over another. It also has a healthy dose of competition that fuels some of us to write. For me it’s much needed accountability. I highly recommend it:

C’mon….you know you want to.


Kelly: What Shall You Do?

This little scrap of spelling list has been floating around the house for months. I find it here and there, and for some reason, I’ve just never thrown it away. Today I was thinking about everything that I have on my plate on right now, and when I came home, I saw this on the floor in the bedroom. Shall.

Sometimes things get so crazy that we lose track of all the things we said we shall do. The kids get sick (Olivia). You get sick (me). The cat goes on the lam again (Tink). You become over-committed, oftentimes because of things you cannot control (me, work). You stay sick because you’re over-committed (me, still). You follow through on obligations you make because you committed that you shall do them (me, participating in the Halifax Arts Festival even though I was still sick). You work one very demanding full-time job, one part-time job and try to manage a creative business, for a reason (you, um, I, want the part-time job to become the full-time job so you can have more time with your family and more time for creativity). So you keep going.  What shall you do to pull all this together?

Today, I shall try to remember that all things will fall into place where they shall, in their due time, as the Man above plans. And I shall be thankful that I got to get away for a brief 24 hours to reunite with my sorority sisters Saturday (45 of us), antibiotics and cough drops in hand (and a few beers to help battle the germs). And I shall decide that those custom orders can wait just a little while longer, and that will be okay. And I shall decide that I’ll get to my blog when I get to my blog, which obviously hasn’t been very often lately. And I shall sit on the couch and cuddle with my girls while watching Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy and then lie in the bed and snuggle with DH while watching Antiques Roadshow. And I shall try not to worry about all those things I’ve been losing track of. And I shall decide that everything will be just fine. What shall you do today?

[cross-posted from Artful Happiness…pictures from the reunion there :-)]

Cathy: oh writing, let me count the ways…

…you can frustrate me:

1. my new printer won’t communicate with my computer, so I can’t print out the edits I did at writing group to read and redline a bit more by pages in hand.

2. you come to me in fits and starts while occupying half my concentration all the time.

…you make me do cartwheels, figuratively speaking, of course:

1. I love a new idea, it makes my heart race and my arms want to write or type in that very moment to the exclusion of all else. I get that tingly feeling like a teen falling in love.

2. I love rewriting, reworking, getting it right.

3. (Please let there be a 3 so the positive side can win today.) That netherworld feeling of one foot here, in the house with the kids and the laundry, and one foot there, in my imagination with my character and his family and friends and dog. This week has been hovering around 100 degrees outside and in my manuscript, it’s Thanksgiving in New England — bare trees, the beginnings of snow, nose reddening winds.

Ah, thank you writing, for the cool, cool breeze!

[Crossposted from musings in mayhem]

Cathy: Results!

Remember this list?

I spent the previous two days at writing camp with my writing group. Two whole days dedicated to writing. Yesterday I had a different meeting in the morning, but then I headed straight to  my writing camp’s day two, and thought I was going to have trouble, but amazingly got right to it! I seriously surprised myself by what I accomplished in the last 48 hours!

The List now looks like this:

DONE~continue to edit Joe out/Mike into Thanksgiving and Observatory scenes

DONE~write observatory scene using A. H.’s notes

Fixed~pay attention to name changes for T. B. and T. N.

working on~characterize supporting characters more through action and physical description

working on~make ‘thought bubbles’ action scenes or move them to more fitting scene

working on~edit down cooking relevance

mostly finished, maybe a bit more at the end~more on comets

I also edited it a bit more in making sentences and paragraphs more succinct in the first 50 or so pages.

I need to edit the observatory scene now, but at least it’s on paper – er, computer screen. I think my next stage is to print and edit again by hand. I read very differently on paper than on screen, and can see needed changes so much better.

I obviously need to be in a different environment than my office with my home distractions to be able to concentrate on my manuscript edits.

The other five women I sat in quiet with for the past two days expressed the same thing. Here’s the funny part: I thought it was because of my kids, etc, but only half of us have children at home, and of varying ages. I am the only one with a toddler or a special-needs child, of course, I have one of each. Two are grandmothers who live with their retired spouses, who are both very good at busying themselves. And one is home while her husband still goes to the office.

We’re all at a stage of editing a large work we’re committed to. All of our projects are middle reader or young adult novels. Yesterday we planned that the rest of our usual twice a month meetings for the summer will be devoted to writing, no critique.

This way, when autumn comes around, we will all have work to critique. How’s that for commitment? I couldn’t do this without them. I am so grateful to my writing group and to the time we commit to working together.

[crossposted from musings in mayhem]

Cathy: Road Blocks

I went to bed last night and woke up this morning with every intention to write today.

I feel groggy and have a huge headache because we had big thunderstorm in the wee hours.

Toots is running around per usual.

The kitchen is a mess and I skipped laundry yesterday, so there’s more to do today.

Grandma, who is usually out of the house by 9am, is playing Farmville next to me, so I hear whinnies and moos and clucks along with Toots’s Sesame Street theme from the other side of the wall.

I opened both the new piece and the manuscript to work on, unsure which direction I felt gung-ho about earlier.

Then the highway that runs behind my house that has been torn up and repaved four times in the past six months is illogically being torn up again on this thunderstorm threatening Friday before Memorial Day weekend, when we all know, they won’t be back until at least Tuesday to begin to deal with the mess, and the trucks’ constant motors and grinding are hell on my headache.

Calgon, take me away!!!!

[Crossposted from musings in mayhem.]

Cathy: Breakthrough, lists

Some people are born list makers and some definitively are not. I fall somewhere in between.

I like to make a list then buck it; or avoid making a list, thinking I can keep this, that and everything else in my head.

The truth of the matter is there are some instances in which making a bonafide list is truly necessary.

Otherwise I go into the grocery store for lemons, milk, asparagus, dill, and artichokes, and I come out with ice cream, cookies, potato chips, and baking soda. Then we have no vegetable side dish for dinner.

In the case of working on my manuscript, I found, I had a good editing list “in my head,” but I wasn’t doing the editing. It became daunting knowing I had to look for, and keep in mind this variety of “to dos” as I read through the manuscript. So what I actually ended up doing was nitpick editing the first 20-30 pages over and over again, getting hung up on a comma or a sentence, or a preposition. Then let two weeks go by, until I hit my writing group again and could sit there for three hours and look at the same 20-30 pages over again.

So, when I was at writing group yesterday, this suddenly dawned on me. I mean, it wasn’t really a new concept. I had been vaguely aware that I was preventing myself from doing the real work that needed doing for a while, but I saw an honest to goodness bluebird out the window, which set me dreaming about the edges of things, because they live in edge forests by open fields. The next thing I knew, I realized, I had been on the edge of my manuscript for months now.

So, yes, I KNEW what I needed to do, and it was plenty the more I mulled it, so I decided to write it down.

First I wrote down the chapter headings, made a list of all the chapters, like a table of contents without the page numbers. While I was doing that, it occurred to me that I could combine a couple of these short chapters into one in a few places, which would simplify a lot, really.

Then I made a list at the bottom of that which looks like this:

Working on:

~continue to edit Joe out/Mike into Thanksgiving and Observatory scenes

~write observatory scene using A.H.’s notes

~pay attention to name changes for T.B. and T.N.

~characterize supporting characters more through action and physical description

~make ‘thought bubbles’ action scenes or move them to more fitting scene

~edit down cooking relevance

~more on comets

While it still covers a lot of tasks, some quite involved, to see them written down is so much less confungulating (hybrid of confusing and confounding and frustrating my non-writer Honey came up with, which I love!) than when I was trying to keep them in my mind.

This way I can separate out the tasks and work on them, one at a time, and maybe fix a few of those name changes along the way.

What a concept! And to think I used to counsel my tutorial students to do exactly the same thing in organizing their much shorter papers.

Crossposted from musings in mayhem

Cathy: Denver retreat

Friday night, I arrived with Honey in Denver, CO. Gor-ge-ous sunset on the drive from the airport. Sorry, I did not bring a camera for this trip. I was going to write, after all, not fool around taking pictures! But I did curse myself up and down for lack of camera when it came to that sunset.

We helped my husband’s cousin set up his speaking engagement/seminar, and ate a late dinner of hotel bar food. the Grand Hyatt 1876 Lounge had a three-sauce sampler for fried zucchini and portabello mushrooms that was a bit greasy, but the middle sauce for dipping was a tomato jam I could have eaten on anything for eternity and never missed another flavor. I ate it on Honey’s sweet potato fries that came with his pork sliders. I couldn’t get enough of that tomato jam.

Food rhapsody over for the moment, I turn to the purpose for leaving my children on Mother’s Day weekend: to write!!!

My manuscript is, after all, my other child. They do vie for attention constantly.

Saturday morning, my dear Honey trotted off to do his tech support function for his cousin, while I stayed in the hotel room under the auspices of writing. I proceeded to drive myself completely berserk, agonizing over getting past the block I had regarding what I knew I needed to do to the manuscript. I’d been having this block for months and was blaming my lack of time alone for it. So I got the time alone, and still went bonkers.

I finally said, I must walk! I am in a new city. I have never set foot in Denver proper. I must find the nearest green space to find some solace in my frustrated writer’s soul.

I rode the elevator down to concierge and she pointed me toward the capitol and its park. Then she looked dejected as she recalled, “But there is a huge Cinco de Mayo Festival going on there, so you won’t see much of the green.”

I replied, “No problem, I love to people watch.” Along the walk, I met an adorable nine-week-old brindle coated sweet little pit bull puppy. And the young man on the other end of the leash, who had a big smile, proud to show off his new little girl. It’s been a long time since my “Boston days” between tall buildings, seeing the slant of light and shadow play down the walls and windows. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Then I hit the busy amusement park set up of Cinco de Mayo, on the eighth of May. Lots of good sights and sounds and distractions and rhythms, and some construction of the park, and children on rides, and walking and Spanish and dancing, and a lot of Dos Equis displays.

I didn’t stay long, and the capitol building in Denver is a gold domed beaut, like my beloved Boston capitol building, so that was nice for my suburban aching heart to see. Then I turned back to the hotel and to face the open document on the laptop.

More agonizing. I called a friend, who asked me to send it to her, to which I promptly said NO! Then backtracked that I was sitting there staring at seven critiques already. She kindly said, “Oh, no, you don’t need me to look at it. You need to know that what you know you have to do to your manuscript is good because it will make it better!”

I said, “Aha! That was the missing piece! Editing will make it better!”

And so I began to edit. It wasn’t easy, but I did it. I still struggled, was still largely attached to what I had already written, but I moved stuff around, rewrote the beginning.

Loads more to the weekend, but as far as the writing, that’s what I did. I agonized, I moved something around, I agonized, I moved stuff around. I agonized, I deleted a few lines here and there. And I agonized some more. I made it to page 5 out of 120. And I was disappointed enormously with my new first line.

I thought, “If I picked this book up off the shelf, and read that opening line? I’d put it back.”

And then, the day after my arrival home, my writing group met to write on Tuesday. All of a sudden, I was able to work much more effectively in the company of my writing group all sitting quietly with their laptops and notebooks, doing largely the same thing I was doing: editing what we already had.

But if I had not gone to Denver; had not driven myself crazy until I chiseled away a crack in the writer’s block, I would have been of no use to myself or my manuscript on Tuesday.

And, like Edith Ann says, “That’s the Truth, thpblbubblepppbubth!”

[Cross-posted from my personal blog.]

Kirsty: Taking the Lazy Road

I am lazy.

“What’s that?’, I hear you cry, ‘you spend months patiently tying knots in string, sticking pins through fabric or drawing every day for a year, how can you possibly call yourself lazy?’

Ah, but it’s a very specific kind of laziness and over the years — as I have come to understand it — I have adjusted my art practice to accommodate it.

I know myself and if I worked with the sort of materials that needed a specialist working environment like a forge or a foundry, I wouldn’t get much art made. If I undertook huge expensive projects that involved lots of paperwork, funding bids and meetings with planners and architects, I would never get any art made.

Heck, even if my studio was in another building, I would struggle. When I graduated, I hired a studio space on the other side of town because I thought that’s what you were meant to do. I kept it for a couple of months before recognising that I was working extra hours to pay for it but was hardly ever there and even when I was, I found it an uninviting place to work.

Eventually I realised that when I’d been a student, I used to make most of my work at home and then take it into college when it was finished. I tended to use my studio in college as an experimental installation space or somewhere to think, rather than somewhere to physically make work. I’m sure this is partly because I’d grown accustomed to fitting my art around parenting when my son was young. Having evolved as an artist whilst making work in the evenings on the kitchen table, a separate studio space felt like a barren and alien environment to me.

So now my studio is on the top floor of my house. Yet even that is not close enough and I tend to make my art in my study, my bedroom, my living room, my garden, on the dining room table and only occasionally in my studio.

I do enjoy the quiet and contemplative space of my studio, especially when I need to think, draw or make more mess than usual. But I also need my art to be part of my daily life; something I can pick up and put down as easily as the morning paper or my cup of tea. So art, for me, is largely a domestic affair and you’ll often find me making my more repetitive pieces in front of the TV or while listening to a podcast on my computer.

In addition, the sort of materials I use in my art — small, unregarded things like matches, pins, sequins or envelopes — are easily available, safe to use and relatively cheap. This is a deliberate choice on my behalf. Partly because I’m very interested in everyday objects that are so commonplace that they become effectively invisible but also because I am passionate about ‘owning the means of production’. I hate to be dependent on other people before I can even start to make my art.

I’ve never done well if I have to go through multiple steps to get something done and so wherever possible, my practice is organised to minimise that. For example, when I graduated I took out a loan so that I could upgrade my computer equipment and digital camera because I wanted access to the technology I’d used at college without having to go off to a library or rent out office premises.

My materials are a continuation of that desire for independence. I don’t need to work a day job to buy the sort of materials I use. Nor do I need to scrabble around for grants or sponsorship or jump through anyone else’s hoops before my work can come into being. I’ve learnt from experience that projects that do need access to specialist knowledge or equipment or more funding than I can provide myself are the ones that invariably end up on on the backburner.

Again, I’m sure my formative years of trying to combine art with parenting also informed my preference for cheap, readily available materials. Although I always bought the best I could afford, I was on a low income and got used to making do with what I had. And I found that I actually preferred it because it was easier to be loose and experimental with thousands of cheap, everyday things than with very rare or precious materials.

Some artists need the heroic struggle; it motivates and inspires them and forms a vital part of their practice. Others find that getting out of the house and into a separate studio space makes them more focused and dedicated. Yet others relish the challenge of working in very expensive materials.

But for me that stuff just gets in the way.

I need the path of least resistance because I find making good, meaningful art quite difficult enough without adding extra obstacles. I am perfectly capable of putting mental road blocks in the way of my own art practice and I realised early on that it would be disastrous if I added further restrictions such as the need for funding, planning permission, specialist studio requirements or expensive materials. So I have consciously set up my practice so that the only thing standing in the way of my art is myself — and believe me, that’s usually more than enough!

It’s vital as an artist to recognise your strengths and weakness and to play to both of them. Don’t make it any harder than it needs to be.

[Reposted from Kirsty’s website. Image (Rubber Bands 02) courtesy Kirsty Hall under a Creative Commons license.]

Cathy: Seek and ye shall find

Crossposted from my personal blog

For this post, I was drawing blanks. Each thought I had shot forth from my brain like I was out clay pigeon shooting, and having terrible aim. I yelled, “Pull!” and fired, and two things would sail quickly through the air away from me, and somewhat toward each other, arch, miss completely, and drop dead to the ground. The clay pigeons fell with a thud and a puff of dust. The bullets lay listless in the dirt. There was nothing left to salvage. Figuratively speaking, of course.

Not that I have ever been clay pigeon shooting. But I have watched it on tv. That’s right. That’s about as exciting as it gets around here. I like watching Dog Shows, too. Although, I have fired a gun and target shot at antique colored glass pharmaceutical bottles in the woods in Vermont. Oh to be 14 and that stupid again. I should have kept them, they were very pretty, and sold them on ebay. But there was no ebay back then, or the internet. It was the dark ages, between Lynyrd Skynard and the B-52s, at a vinyl speed of 38rpms.

So, because it’s a half day of school, for the rest of the week — more on that later – -a Certain Someone kept wandering over and asking if he could use the computer now to… (this is where I tune him out because it’s something long and involved and involves giant monsters, most likely, or funny cats, and he’s told me the particulars or something like them so many times I feel like my face is melting off when he starts again, especially when I am trying to focus on something else, like say, my own imagination and what I want to write from it because, really, this is all about me you know). So I asked him, “What should I blog about today?”

“Write a blog about how I was inspired by the nicknames you gave [Mr. Cynic] and me on Musings in Mayhem and how I’m making a video mini-series called ‘The Adventures of Mr. Cynic and Captain Comic’ to post on youtube,” responded Capt. Comic.

Only problem with this is he has not actually started filming because Mr. Cynic wants absolutely nothing to do with this. His friends might see. This is causing great consternation and Wars of Words that are particularly virulent around when I’m making dinner and everyone’s hungry and tired from a long day of school, toddlering, taekwando or bass lessons, etc. There is much door slamming and stair stomping and MOOOO-oooooming involved, too.

Someday, the boy will be a filmic genius, I’m sure, but his brother will not be starring in the films as the villian. That will have to remain true to life and in the house. My house. Probably in a couple of hours. Yep. I’m pretty certain of that.

So, on three days in a row of half-days: can I just say that this is not how I wanted or expected to spend the remainder of my ‘free time’ *cough, sputter* before I go in for surgery on Monday.

If it rains, I’m a goner for sure.

[Editor’s note: Cathy’s surgery is today. Please send her your hugs and healing thoughts!]

Cathy: No Nanowrimo win here

crossposted from musings in mayhem

I am happy to have taken part in NaNoWriMo this year for the first time. It put me into a good lead on a companion book to my first novel, and now both need some serious editing. I lost my momentum between lots of doctor appointments for my whole family, getting quite ill myself and caring for sick kids, then my back went out as we leaned toward Thanksgiving, and I got hung up in word count rather than having fun enjoying writing well.

That last part was what killed the project for me. Not the whole project, I am happy to continue work on this particular piece, but I want to go about it in the way that is familiar to me. I am an editing nightmare to some, but I’ll tell you, that is what I really enjoy about writing as I write, the scribbles and rewording, the back-typing and rewording, the considering of the scene from an entirely different angle, etc. It’s what I enjoy about the middle of breadmaking, too: the kneading, the punching it into form.

I have just a few days left to try to make it to 50,000 words. I am at 19,201 and have my family home, no one at work, no one at school or at senior exercise programs until the thirtieth. I don’t think reaching 50,000 is my personal goal anymore. A children’s novel is typically about 30,000 and I don’t want to just write crap for filler for a contest that has lost meaning for me in it’s final goal. I’ve also lost my thread plotwise and feel like I’m wasting precious word count time doing what I actually love about writing and my process in it. That is indicative that it’s time for me to move on and refocus without the contest looming.

For now, for me, this year 19,201 is a fantastic stopping point. Now I can sink my teeth back into the edits of the first novel and then run right into edits on the second I started because of Nano.

Does this then make me a loser if I am not a Nano winner? Certainly not. I have 19,201 words written that I didn’t have before I started NaNoWriMo. That’s a big win in my book. I’ve never written 19,000 words toward one thing in three weeks time in my whole life, nevermind with a houseful of sickies and also school days off throughout the month.

I may not have hit 50,000, but I did a lot more than I would have if I hadn’t tried.

Brittany: Standing in Place

For three nights in a row, I have woken up between 1 and 2 am, and haven’t been able to go back to sleep. This usually starts happening in the fall when I go into “planning the next project” mode and I usually use these nocturnal awakenings to write whatever it is that is threatening to burst forth. But this time, my project in the works doesn’t seem that close by. Or pressing. This time, when I wake up, my mind is a complete and total blank.

My one consuming thought (though, ironically, it isn’t consuming enough) is “I have to get this weight off.”

My weight has not changed in over a year. And you can’t call it baby weight when your baby is no longer a baby. I am despondent. I went on Atkins and lost 16 lbs before my brother-in-law’s wedding, started cheating here and there and slowly gained a few lbs back, and then my mother came to visit and I packed on 10 lbs in just over a week (Hello Cortisol!). Now the fat sits like a flabby innertube right around my middle, preventing me from looking good in anything I wear.

And I want to lose weight. Very much. But I also want to eat. I’ve talked about my issues with food on here and on my personal blog before. I am definitely an emotional eater and this summer, while blissful in many ways, has also been highly stressful and frustrating. I just don’t seem to be getting anywhere. My creative life is at a standstill. All my big goals and aspirations are at a standstill. But my flab, is, unfortunately not at a standstill. I can feel it jiggling slightly as I type this.

Tom is trying to be helpful when he repeats the well-worn dieting mantra: work out more, eat less. But it makes me want to bash his head in a little. I don’t want to eat less. I already eat far less than I want to. I almost never get to indulge in truly naughty foods. I don’t bake. We never have dessert. Plus, I’m limited to budget cuisine that appeals to Mr. Picky and the Rug Rats. And I’m a steak with a blue cheese cream sauce/salad/artichoke hearts in mayonnaise/rich chocolate mousse kind of girl.

And I don’t want to work out more. I already wake up at the crack of dawn, carry two children hither and yon all day, and am frequently used as a jungle gym for their entertainment. That’s besides the fact that I’m not a hamster and I don’t find it particularly fun or gratifying to run in place for an hour at a time, at the gym, surrounded by skinny mothers, who have rock hard abs despite giving birth to five children.

I know some of you on here (Miranda, for example) are runners. There’s a part of me that longs to be out there with you, feeling the wind in my hair, and the road beneath my feet. But I was not built for high impact/endurance sports, and with every stride, I feel my arches and my pelvis screaming “STOP! STOP! FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! STOP!” And I do.

But I went to the gym twice this week anyway, and on Wednesday I discovered the elliptical machine. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but it didn’t make me feel happy either.

When I start down a path in the process of a creative undertaking, I can quickly assess, right off the bat, if I’m on the right track or not. With exercise, I just don’t know. I know I’m burning calories and improving my cardiovascular fitness. But I just don’t feel like I’m going anywhere. Literally and figuratively. And considering the fact that I’m feeling so stuck creatively, I feel like I spend my days slogging through a never-ending quagmire of minutiae.

I am sick of the tedium of grocery shopping and buying the same groceries week after week after week. I’m sick of preparing meals every day. Of changing diapers every day. Of dressing and undressing children every day. Picking up the same toys. Of filling and re-filling sippies. Repeating the same requests. Getting the same responses.

I had a vague feeling that my life had become Prufrockian, and went back and read T.S. Eliot’s poem again, and sure enough, my subconscious was on to something. Especially this part:

For I have known them all already, known them all —
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all —
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?

I know I sound very melancholy, but it’s hard to convey tone online. I’ve come to accept that I’m just not going to get to do what I want to be doing right now. To paraphrase Kelly and her latest blog, now is the time for standing in place, and the future is for moving forward.

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