A to Z Reflections: Part I // I’m Writing It the Long Way

Yes, that’s right, this is part one of my Blogging A to Z Challenge¬†“Reflections” posts.

See, I’m not actually finished with the challenge yet, but instead of quitting after the race is over, I’m just going to go on running even as the other participants head home. I still have just over half the alphabet to go but I thought I’d at least share my thoughts so far, and, being sure I will have further thoughts after I cross the finish line, I’ll write “Part II” on the theme itself in a few weeks.

And still, even after all that, I’m want to take the challenge a step further, and with extensive editing, some additional creative writing, and a little art, I’d like make something real out of all that work, something I can hold in my hands. Something you can hold in yours too, and I’ll share my thoughts on that in “Part III.”

So far all I can share is my thoughts on the process. Writing, all kinds of writing, are a daily lesson not just in the craft itself, but in reflection, introspection, observation, and self-awareness. Writing teaches you how you feel about a lot of things and writing every day, or trying to write every day teaches you a lot about yourself too.

I’ve known for a long time that the kind of writing I naturally gravitate toward is a very slow kind of writing. I’ve known this, but I’ve worked hard to try to change it. I’ve read a ton of advice and tried a ton of strategies to “get ahead of myself” and even on good days when I spend every free second I have on words, I still can only get through a half a post at most.

My writing process is made up mostly of reading, gathering facts, ideas, and inspiration. I also enjoy brainstorming and drafting by hand. I like for writing to feel more like an assignment, a task, a very serious endeavor. I’m not sure that will ever change but I know that if I want to it, I have to start by trusting the process first. Maybe I have to just go with it for a while and write the way that feels right to me?

I also realized I’m still not a very good writer, but it’s okay! I wouldn’t expect to be a very good writer yet. I work a full-time job, and I don’t read nearly as much as I should. What I mean to say is, I’m not a good writer because I lack the capacity to be a good writer. I’m not a good writer because I don’t do the things I need to do to be a good writer one day.

I’m aware that I am long-winded and repetitive. I want to learn to either keep my word count but say what I want more clearly, so that I might say more, or, if I have less to say, learn to say it in fewer words and save us all the time. I’m sure I make a ton of grammar and spelling mistakes, many I catch only after hitting “publish.” Maybe my readers would be willing to read my posts with a more critical eye and share my mistakes with me?

Finally, I learned that blogging is hard to prioritize for a writer like me, a writer who has only barely begun to solidify their relationship with the craft. I have very little to show for all of my effort except what I have here on this little unknown and, I feel, unimportant corner of the World Wide Web. It’s hard to feel important when you can see the looks people give you when you talk to them about what you do.

Of course, I know it is only me projecting my own insecurities into the minds of others. In my mind, people only understand one way of writing. I expect that they are disappointed not to hear I am on my way to publishing a book, or a poetry collection, or that I have many articles in popular magazines. I’m sure they want to hear that I’ve written something they have read or something they might want to read someday, or now if I happen to have a draft to share?

I often think blogging isn’t real writing, this challenge reminded me that it most certainly is if I believe it is. If it’s important to me, it is important. My opinion is the only option that matters on the subject, well, and the opinion of my readers of course.

Which brings me to the last thing this challenge taught me this year, I am not very good at engagement.

If there was anything I felt disappointed in myself for or wish I could have done better, it would be commenting and sharing. I’m trying not to beat myself up too much over it. I did the challenge for me. My writing is for me first, always, and with being so sick lately and with work getting in the way, I had to protect my writing time by making cuts to other areas.

I did read every comment posted here, and I replied to many. I still plan to reply to the rest. I’m finding the time to comment on other blogs too. I know engagement is critical here and I know that I give up a lot by not making it a priority. There is still time to make those connections since the master list will be up for some time longer.¬†I will do better.

There are other bloggers I follow and admire who don’t even allow comments on their blogs and instead move to social media to engage their readers. I like that idea considering places like Twitter and Instagram are places I spend most of my time, but I’m sure no one likes little old me enough to open another tab and type their thoughts into yet another text box.

As for the challenge itself, I have very little to complain about. The hosts do a great job of keeping the participants motivated and on track. I only wish the lists provided for each letter stayed open a little longer so that other bloggers like me who fall behind can still share our work with the others. I still plan to participate every year that I can at the very least come up with a theme and a subject for all 26 posts.

I hope you all will continue to follow along while I make my way, slowly but surely, to the finish line. I love my theme, and I have no plans to give up before I’ve written every post I promised myself I would.

Thank you all for your support so far, for every kind or encouraging word. Congrats to everyone who signed up for the challenge, whether you wrote all 26 posts or none, I’m proud of you for at least trying and I want you to know that is enough.

See you soon for the rest of the alphabet!

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a virtual cup of coffee.

Written for the¬†A to Z Blogging Challenge¬†Reflections link-up. Check out my theme ‚ÄúBleak Realities of Human Existence,‚ÄĚ and my posts for the 2018 challenge so far, and, please, follow along for the rest! Even though I failed to finish on time, I am determined not to fail to finish at all.¬†

Photo by Tim Wright on Unsplash

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If We Were Having Coffee // Getting Back to Old Habits

Hello dear readers! Happy Sunday, welcome, and thank you for stopping by for a bit of caffeine and catching up. I’m up late this morning. That’s not exactly true, I was up early, but I found myself back in bed three times before I considered trying a cup of coffee. Now, after a quick cup of cold brew and a little sunshine and fresh air coming through the open windows and I have the laundry started, the dishwasher loaded, some writing going, and I’m ready to sit down with you.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I didn’t want to talk about ulcerative colitis this week. I’m sure you are tired of hearing about how much pain I am in or how my medication isn’t working, or how afraid I am of what might happen in the future. I didn’t want to tell you that this week was worse than the last, but at least I’m one week closer to the start of my new medication.

I didn’t want to tell you any of that but May is Inflammatory Bowel Disease Awareness month, and I feel the need to overshare through it. This week I’m dealing with people doing that weird thing where you being sick everyday irritates them.

Last week I got frustrated when a co-worker told me I looked sick asked if I had a cold or something contagious in any way. I explained, for the hundredth¬†time at least, that I am not. She asked what was wrong then. I answered that I had ulcerative colitis. I glossed over the TMI symptoms and just told her I was prone to fatigue and joint pain, she only shrugged her shoulders and told me she’d never heard of it. I could tell she didn’t care to either. She advised me to go to the doctor. I left it at that rather than get into all the doctor’s visits, test, and medications and am already going through.

This isn’t a new experience. Every day someone asks me how I am doing and I can tell that they just want to hear that I am better. They want to hear that there are easy answers. I understand that chronic illness can be hard for people to understand but if there is anything I can make you aware of this month, it’s that for some people pain is an everyday reality, and there are no easy cures. We may never get better, and we certainly will never get used to it, and that is okay. Let that be okay.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that my biggest challenge has been changing my diet to foods that are easier on the guts, but significantly less satisfying. I’m living off of bone broth, fish, boiled eggs, and smoothies. I’m drinking peppermint tea, “golden milk”, and Gatorade to stay hydrated and keep my electrolytes up. If I get a craving for something sweet, I can have Jell-O. That’s it. No hot wings, no pizza, no burgers. I didn’t even get to enjoy any tacos or margaritas this Cinco de Mayo. Ugh!

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’m still plugging away at my A to Z posts. I’d planned to post a lot more than just the one I did this week, but work interfered unexpectedly. That break I had been hoping for ended almost before it started.

I’m also struggling to write during the hours I set aside for it at home. I’ve known for a long time that I write better when I am at work, when I am not supposed to be writing, when I don’t really have the time, but I’m struggling to replicate that kind of panic at home.

It’s helped to put my headphones in, to rid myself of the silence and either put on music to change my mood, or podcasts to give me that background chatter I’d find in the office. Coffee helps and getting up for a minute here and there to quickly take care of to-do items, as I would at work when my boss or coworkers need something. I can’t sit on the couch, and I can’t have the TV on. I have to “get ready” for writing like I am getting ready for work. I have to get dressed, eat breakfast, brush my teeth, and go there emotionally.

Of course, I didn’t figure any of this out until yesterday. When I did though I got the first newsletter I’d sent in months out and got a ton on brainstorming in. I’m hoping thinking of writing as work will keep my ass in the chair much more consistently going forward.

This week I am setting goals for myself. I am going to write four posts, including an A to Z reflection, and my “M,” “N,” and “O” posts, plus get another newsletter out. They are a part of the next project I have in mind, and I can’t move forward until they are done. I’m trying to keep in mind this advice I read from Austin Kleon last week:

First draft motto

A post shared by Austin Kleon (@austinkleon) on

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’m looking forward to the coming week. I don’t have a ton of work scheduled yet, and I’m planning to get back into some old habits I’ve let fall in the past month. I am going to start reading again and journaling. The time I had previously devoted to those tasks became nap time, and while the rest is great, I miss my books.

I’ve also got my magazine and newspaper piles organized, and I’ll be posting some more blackout and a few attempts at cut-up poetry on Instagram. I’ve missed moving other people’s words around. If I get ambitious, I may include some¬†collage¬†art too.

This weather report for the next 7 days looks absolutely gorgeous, and I might reward myself with some time outside. One hour, half for reading, half for writing about my day. It’s a small thing, but right now I need all the small joys I can find.

I may try some walking too. The evenings are warm enough for a trip around the neighborhood with the dog. I know she’ll love that.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that is about all I can pull out of my little boring life to share with you this week. Nothing much is new, but there have been a few things to think about. Not every week can be about action, some have to be about rest and reflection too.

I hope you had a productive week and I hope your weekend was relaxing. If not, then I hope the next will be better than the last.

Until next time.

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a cup of  virtual coffee.

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

If We Were Having Coffee // Enough is Enough

Hello dear readers. Welcome, happy Sunday, and thank you for stopping by for a bit of caffeine and catching up. The weather report promises a gorgeous day, so if you don’t mind I’m opening all the blinds letting as much light and fresh air in as I can.

Spring is in full swing here in Denver, CO and that means our weather has become unpredictable and unstable. It may snow tomorrow for all we know so I’m soaking it up while I can.

I’m up early today because it is my week to do the grocery shopping. Anyone who knows me knows I hate grocery shopping. The crowds and the confusing layout send my anxiety through the roof, not to mention having to drive there in the first place, but now that I have gained a bit of confidence, I thought I’d try giving my girlfriend a break every other weekend. So, she’ll be doing the laundry and enjoying a little time to herself, for herself. She certainly deserves it!

Trade the drama in your life for coffee and see how quickly life improves.

‚ÄĒ @mutinyinfocafe

//

If we were having coffee, I would start by saying I am so proud of everyone who made it out to the marches yesterday, especially the teens and children many of whom who are among the ‚Äú187,000 who have been exposed to gun violence at school since Columbine‚ÄĚ. I couldn’t make it out to the march myself, but my thoughts were with those I know and care about who have been affected by tragedies closer to home.

I watched the live steam from DC and was moved by Samantha Fuentes, a Stoneman Douglas student who was shot in the leg, and who, partway through her speech, threw up, finished her speech, then sang happy birthday to her friend who died in the shooting. I was also moved by Emma Gonzales, whose speech lasted exactly the number of minutes and seconds of the Stoneman Douglas massacre. And finally, there was Naomi Walder, an 11-year-old black girl who took it upon herself to include for the voices of countless people of color living in our cities fearing for their lives every day due to gun violence.

I hear rumors of another walk out in the works for April 20th. I hope the rumors are true. I was attending school in the same district as Columbine High School on that day in 1999 when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold opened fire, and my heart has broken as I have watched the same happen time and time again.

We forget that the effects of a school shooting ripple far past the school and students affected on that day. Back then we became a little more aware that it could happen to us, but we still didn’t believe it would. Now every student, in every grade, and in every school across the country worries they will be next.

//

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this past week I took a break from The Odyssey and from Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals to read Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer and I am so glad I did. I finished it in just three days and I am desperate for the second and third installments of the series.

The best part about reading Annihilation was having a friend who was reading it too and was willing to nerd out over the book with me.

We shared our favorite parts and the parts that frustrated us the most too. We shared theories of meaning and metaphors and speculated on what the future might hold for the biologist and Area X. My friend printed me a map highlighting landmarks and a picture of the lighthouse that inspired the one in the story. It was exciting to delve so thoroughly into a story, it’s world, and it’s characters, and I am seriously considering asking him if he’d like to start a book club even if it was just the two of us as members.

//

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that so many little things happened this week that meant big things to me but to tell you all about them in detail would take all day. So, here’s a quick list:

  • My youngest sister, who attends an amazing alternative school got to go on a field trip to see Hamilton this week! and I had to practice not being bitter about my own experiences in school and just be happy for her. She loved it, she wishes I had been there with her, and she assures me the ticket price is well worth it.
  • I invited a coworker and his wife to join our once a month couple’s dinner (we are up to 4 couples now), and it was a great success. I was awkward as usual, but everyone seemed to have a great time anyway.
  • My boss guilt tripped me into making a crock pot meal for our annual “buck a bowl” fundraiser at work. I hated every minute of it, but it turns out my salsa verde chicken was among one of the favorites! Everyone loved it, and I promised to make it again next year.
  • The countdown to my birthday has begun! Less than a month now to design a new tattoo, get tickets to the museum (and maybe a movie too), and plan the many and varied nights of celebration with my girlfriend, my friends, my family, and my in-laws. My birthday is kind of a big deal, at least to me, and I make sure everyone knows and participates.

//

If we were having coffee I would tell you that tomorrow marks the first day of my Spring Break and, of course, I’ll be working through it. Well not entirely. I am taking a day or two to get a jump on the A to Z Challenge. I don’t have much time left and I haven’t written one post yet! But I do have my letters and my topics all planned out so, that’s a start, I guess.

I’m going to take an extra day off of work tomorrow and use just about every free minute I have to work on these posts. I’m easily distracted so I have deleted apps like Facebook and Twitter from my iPad (where I do most of my typing) and disabled notifications on my cellphone lock screen for all apps on my phone. Apps I’m particularly prone to checking constantly have had their notification disabled entirely.

If you’ve been following along these past few months, you know writing has been hard for me lately, and I think I’ve figured out why. I need to be alone more. Whenever it is time for me to write it seems like people are around asking me to make a choice, hang out with them or write, and I feel bad when I choose writing. This weekend I cleaned up a little in my “creativity room,” a place I had begun dumping ideas but never spending any time in to actualize any of those ideas. I cleaned up my desk, sat down to write this post and realized that I have been in desperate need of solitude.

Not solitude as in physical space although physically this may be what it looks like. I am talking about solitude for of mind. I’m (re)learning that space, silence, and room to “spread my mind out in” are crucial not just to forming thoughts but critical also to getting said thoughts down on paper.

//

If we were having coffee I would tell you that it’s time for me to wake the rest of the house up, make a nice big breakfast, and start getting ready to brave the Sunday crowds at the grocery store. I’m also cooking something new for dinner tonight, crispy slow cooker carnitas!, that needs to be prepped and started very soon.

Thank you again for stopping by. I hope your week was productive and joyful, and if it wasn’t, I wish you less stress and more time to take care of yourself in the coming week.

Until next time.

//

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a cup of coffee.

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Sylvia Plath and Catching Up to Shakespeare

‚ÄúI‚Äôm chock-full of ideas for new poems. I can‚Äôt wait to get time to write them down. I can‚Äôt let Shakespeare get too far ahead of me, you know.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄĒ Sylvia Plath

They say every writer who wants to improve their craft has to be a reader first. While I haven’t always followed the advice to a tee‚ÄĒI haven’t always been a writer, or a reader, or both at once‚ÄĒI have found that when I have, reading only makes me feel more worthless, impotent, and my efforts futile. And now these feelings seem to have come to a head, and I have come to my wit’s end, now that I have had my first taste of Shakespeare.

Growing up my teachers tried to get me to appreciate his rich wordplay, lively relatable characters, and imaginative plots, but I struggled with the language and never got very far or very much out of Macbeth or Romeo and Juliet. I gave him another try this month with Twelfth Night, and now I know I should never have tried to be a writer at all.

This isn’t the first time I’ve felt this way. I try to read and learn from many of the greats, but each one only highlighted my ignorance more and more. I’ll never have even¬†half the talent of these authors. I will never write anything so moving, and I will never be known or remembered, so I should just give up, and sometimes I do.

Still, no matter how discouraged I get I still love writing and can’t seem to quit her entirely. So, I’m here again, lost and exhausted of my own faults but looking to try something new.

I’m far from being chock full of ideas though. I once was, and I hope to be again someday, but self-doubt is a hell of a drug, and I don’t know how to kick the nasty habit. Even when the words come slow, they still come, just never the ones I want. Never the ones I had always wanted to write. I gave up on all my dreams because I know I can never tell the story the way it appears to my mind’s eye and I can never teach the people what I know is right in my heart.

Where have all my ideas and ambitions gone? I have a feeling they are still there floating in the shadow of my self-consciousness. I suppose courage is what will get them back into the light. I suppose when you believe you can do things, or at least when you don’t know that the things you might do could be ugly, or stupid, or that you might one day lose interest or fail to finish things, there is no end to what you might do. But, it’s nearly impossible to unsee what is now painfully obvious.

And even if I was all wrong about my own ability and it was all just a matter of learning, of cracking the code and finding my voice and a good muse, I’m still far too far behind to ever catch up. I’m too old to learn new tricks. I’m too old to race the young, the strong, the flexible but maybe I’m looking at the race all wrong.

They say that practice makes perfect, but my practice rarely results in progress, let alone perfection. I’ve read that in order to get better you have to fail more and fail better, and that sounds a little more up my alley. That is how I can catch up to Plath, and Woolf, and Austen, and maybe even Shakespeare himself one day. I will embrace my fear and run by failure instead. I know I have enough failure in me to fuel a lifetime of work and more. I will stop trying to be as good as everyone else and fail the very best that I can instead.

And once you have set your heart on spectacular failure suddenly the ideas come by the dozen, and the words flow free as rivers. If I’m going to fail anyway, I can at least make it look good. If I am going to fail anyway, I might as well express myself, and tell the absolute truth. If I am going to fail anyway I might as well fail every single day and make it big, and bold, and bright! If I am going to fail anyway, I might as well make it my own and share every catastrophe with you.

I might as well be a proud failure considering failing is better than never trying at all and if I am so sure I’ll never be successful I should work to collect the same weight in flops and defeats, yes?

So, I have a new mission it seems, to fail more and better than anyone else. To earn even the possibility of my name among those greats by a paying in rejections, criticisms, and loss.

I’ll need a list, notebooks long with no two items the same, of ways I want to fail is what I want to work on now. I want each line to be a bigger and more impressive way to fail than then the last, and I have to start with them straight away!

It won’t be a hard task I’m sure. There are infinite ways to write failures out of short stories, essays, poems, hell, there are whole books I feel floating around inside my head I can fail at too. No, Shakespeare won’t get too far ahead of me now, nor Plath, nor Woolf, nor Austen or any of the rest.

I have them in my sights now as none of them could dream to fail like me!

***

U1889231Sylvia Plath was an American poet, novelist, and short story writer.

Known primarily for her poetry, Plath also wrote a semi-autobiographical novel,¬†The Bell Jar, under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. The book’s protagonist, Esther Greenwood, is a bright, ambitious student at Smith College who begins to experience a mental breakdown while interning for a fashion magazine in New York. The plot parallels Plath’s experience interning at¬†Mademoiselle¬†magazine and subsequent mental breakdown and suicide attempt.

Along with Anne Sexton, Plath is credited with advancing the genre of confessional poetry initiated by Robert Lowell and W.D. Snodgrass. Despite her remarkable artistic, academic, and social success at Smith, Plath suffered from severe depression and underwent a period of psychiatric hospitalization. She graduated from Smith with highest honors in 1955 and went on to Newnham College, Cambridge, in England, on a Fulbright fellowship. Here she met and married the English poet Ted Hughes in 1956. For the following two years she was an instructor in English at Smith College.

In 1960, shortly after Plath and Hughes returned to England from America, her first collection of poems appeared as The Colossus. She also gave birth to a daughter, Frieda Rebecca. Hughes’ and Plath’s son, Nicholas Farrar, was born in 1962.

Plath took her own life on the morning of February 11, 1963. Leaving out bread and milk, she completely sealed the rooms between herself and her sleeping children with “wet towels and cloths.” Plath then placed her head in the oven while the gas was turned on.

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a cup of coffee.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

 

If We Were Having Coffee // When I’m Ready, You’ll Have My Story Too

Hello dear readers! Thank you for stopping by for a bit of coffee and catching up this afternoon. I had hoped to meet with you earlier, I had everything ready I swear, but then the clouds and the cold began to roll in and with them an intense drowsiness that my will was no match against. It carried me to bed and weighed me down until I gave up resisting and finally rested.

I slept most of the afternoon away and woke with a start just moments ago remembering it was Sunday, and I had wanted to chat with you badly. I straight away made a double shot of caffeine in the form of espresso, and I beg you to be patient because I know my mouth will awaken far faster than my thoughts.

‚ÄúOn Sundays my coffee is recreational. As opposed to weekdays when it‚Äôs medicinal.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄĒ Unknown

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’ve been very busy with my day job lately. Being a school bus assistant doesn’t usually take so much time away from my writing projects, but I’m also a trainer when I am not on my route, and we’ve been dealing with a shortage of employees. That means we’re hiring new people like crazy which means I am working many more hours than I normally do and I¬†am a lot more exhausted than I normally am too.

I don’t know when this will end, and to be honest with you I’ve been tempted to make some tough decisions and make big changes to my schedule, and my¬†paycheck. I am a trainer for the extra hours and the flexibility¬†but the pressure has been on, and it’s no longer feeling so flexible. I would have more time to write, but less money to bring home unless I can learn to turn words into money, but I’m still not so sure I am good enough, smart enough, or brave enough to do it yet.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that as much as I hate to be pulled away from my screens, it was nice to do things In Real Life for a change. I have been overwhelmed by everything that is happening in the news. It’s bad enough that our President continues to be an embarrassment but the slew of sexual harassment allegations coming out, while not surprising, has been depressing and to be honest, awful triggering.

I have my own stories to tell, and one day I will, but as much as I want to listen and uplift these women, I can’t help feeling a bit weak and lonely holding my own back. Their strength is admirable, but it only highlights what I lack and reminds me that I am still a¬†victim and not yet a survivor.

Not only that, but¬†my mind can’t process fast enough for me to say anything worth posting in enough time to be relevant. It’s hard to keep up, so I’ve stayed away.¬†I keep my mouth shut and jealously watch other writers be smarter than me and carry on conversations I can never join in on. Still, the word must be spread, so I’ve instead opted to at least share¬†the posts and tweets of others smarter and more articulate.

I’m biding my time, waiting and working out how to say what it is I need to say so badly. When I’m ready, you’ll have my story and all my thoughts too.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I was not selected to participate in the Bitch Media 2018 Fellowship for Writers. I knew I wouldn’t be, but part¬†of me still hoped, the way you know your odds in the lottery, but you still buy tickets when the jackpot gets high. You know you can’t win, but you still plan that big house and the fancy cars you will finally get to own when you do.

It was nice of them to send rejection letters along with the four that went out to the obviously talented winners, but no matter how sweetly they let you down, wishing you the best and encouraging you to try again next year, it still stings.

But don’t tell me you are sorry and don’t feel pressured to say anything encouraging out of pity. I really am okay. I’m more than okay! I’m actually so proud of myself for even trying. I have never done anything like this before, and I know that not only did I give my very best, but that my very best will be even better next year.

I’m glad it’s over though. I sweated for a month and a half waiting to hear either way, and it was tough to think about anything else. I had a hard time feeling inspired and motivated to take on new projects in the meantime but now that it’s over and I can work on something of my own. As soon as things calm down at work that is.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’ve been trying harder to talk to people face to face. I’m allowing myself to be distracted by conversation and losing time laughing. I’m getting used to embarrassing myself sometimes in exchange for having people to talk to and to do things with on Friday nights. It’s been strange to open up, and I am reminded that there was a time when little social butterfly Lisa did exist. She’s still here. She likes people, and she needs time to shine too.

Speaking of a social life, I am sure I’ve mentioned them before, but we’ve been having a blast lately hanging out with a couple of couples we’ve recently grown very close with. Being around two other couple, both so alike and so different from us‚ÄĒone couple is straight, and the other is two gay men‚ÄĒhas been like therapy for us. It’s nice to know you are normal, and that other people love as much as you, fight as much as you, and have no idea what they are doing just as much as you, and that still, it can work and be beautiful too.

We’ve been rotating once a month dinners and brunches, or any other outings that catch our eyes. Last week was brunch, and in a few weeks, we’re thinking about visiting a comedy club, or a burlesque show, or just bar hopping downtown after dinner.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’m actually kind of excited about Thanksgiving this year. I learned long ago that the story we were taught in school about the Native Americans sharing their crops with the settlers isn’t the whole story, it’s not even half. The story of the Native Americans is one of cruelty and thievery, and we should take time to reflect on that.

Thanksgiving‚ÄĒand Columbus Day‚ÄĒare days I normally choose to mark with reflection and by spreading awareness about the brutal history of this country. I’m¬†certainly going to spend time doing that this year too, but I am working on relaxing into the idea of rebranding the day as also being a time to¬†giving thanks for what I have and celebrate have earned throughout the year.

I’ll be with my family this year and I know we’ll have a blast and I do have so much to be grateful for. It’ll be a good holiday this year.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I had better get going. It’s dark outside already, pleasant smells are wafting from the kitchen, and my lovely lady has placed a glass of deep red wine in front of me, so I know dinner is on the way.

It’s been so nice to catch up, and I promise to be more prepared for our coffee date next week. These winter afternoons turn dark way too quickly for me to start so late anymore.

I hope you had a wonderful week and I hope your holiday plans this week go off without any stress or disastrous mishaps. I hope your friends and family are all there to celebrate with you and that you have much worth celebrating with them.

Until next time.

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a cup of coffee. Thanks again!

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli

Featured photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

If We Were Having Coffee // Halloween Isn’t Over Yet

Hello dear readers! Thank you so much for stopping by today for a bit of cold brew and conversation. I’m up and moving about with the blinds thrown open and the sun streaming in but I feel far from awake. The stupid time change is enough to throw your¬†circadian rhythm off, but I also stupidly decided to stay up late last night for no reason at all besides I hate giving up so much of my life to sleep.

I’m no good after late nights anymore.¬†No matter how late I let myself sleep in the next morning, I still feel groggy through to the next evening. I’m less myself and certainly less productive. The early bird gets the worm, sure, but only if she’s had enough rest to keep her eyes open and her thoughts coherent, right? Coffee helps, but I’ll still need you to be patient with me today too.

‚ÄúThere are two kinds of people. Coffee people and sad people.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄĒ @deathwishcoffee

***

If we were having coffee, I would need a minute to recall what all has happened since we last sat done. It’s been a little while, hasn’t it? I don’t think we’ve chatted since at least before Halloween. I don’t usually take such long breaks from these dates, and I don’t have a good reason for it this time except I’ve been feeling down. Not sad exactly, but like I’m empty. I have no ideas, no energy, no interest. I feel thin, transparent, fragile? None of these words describe it quite right.

My girlfriend calls it depressed, but it’s hard for me to use that word. I think I’ve only been lazy, and selfish, and weak, but I’m trying not to feel that way, and I’m trying not to apologize for resting or removing myself as I need to. I only wish I was better at expressing how I feel instead of just sort of fading out of people’s lives with no explanation.

The good news is that I had a sort of revelation recently and I’ve come to accept that while it’s not my fault I am feeling this way, it is up to me to start doing something about it. I haven’t been out of the house much, except for work. I haven’t been exercising. My eating habits have gotten bad again. I’m focusing on other people’s successes and my contrasting failure. I’m struggling to want to do things I love, like writing, drawing, and reading, and falling too easily into doing things I know don’t make me feel good, like playing games on my phone, wasting time on social media, and sleeping.

No wonder I am depressed. But I’m going to make more of an effort to get out and feel the sun and go to places where there are other people. I’m going to eat more fruit, drink more water, and say a few nice things to myself and to the people around me. I’m going to go for walks in the evening and try to get in a quick 15-minutes work out in the morning when I wake up. Those are my goals anyway, it won’t happen overnight. I need to get help too, but that’s a bigger ball of anxiety than I can get over at the moment.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that Halloween wasn’t all I had hoped it would be. We dressed up as Coraline and Wybie from the 2009 film¬†Coraline. I wish we’d¬†had more time to prepare because I didn’t get to make his mask and no one really knew what I was supposed to be. We did have fun at our friend’s party, but a very inconveniently timed migraine meant we had to call it a night earlier than we’d hoped.

Still, the rest of Halloween was great, and I’m even planning to have one last night of spooky celebration this Tuesday when my favorite movie theater, Alamo Drafthouse, is showing my favorite horror film,¬†The Shining. Around here Halloween isn’t over until we’ve watched it and getting a chance to see it on the big screen (and get an awesome t-shirt too) is beyond exciting.

Once we’ve gotten that out of the way, it’ll be time for the customary watching of the transitional holiday film The¬†Nightmare Before Christmas. Then and only then will I be able to fully accept that Halloween is over, and the god-awful holiday season of stress has begun.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that even though it has been hard some days, I have been doing my best to read more. I tell myself that if my brain is so out of it that I can’t write, and if my self-doubt is so intense that I can’t draw, then I need to be reading.

I got through The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides, a beautiful and effortless read and¬†Twelfth Night¬†by William Shakespeare, a strenuous yet rewarding read. I thought it was time for a little nonfiction again and picked up A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf, an interesting and rather incendiary read so far. I have Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman to read next, but after that, I’m not so sure.

A few days ago I did come across a list of 135 Free Philosophy Books and another list of 800 Free eBooks¬†that would be plenty to keep me busy for a while. I’ve never been very good at reading from a screen, but if there are free books to be had, I’m willing to put in the effort and learn.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that on the writing side of things, it really hasn’t been so bad. I’m writing, I’m just not posting, and to be honest with you, I don’t have much of a problem with that.

I have a few things written for the upcoming week, and I feel a little freer to work on things that are important, not just urgent. I never wanted to only be a blogger. The goal has always been to be an author, but it’s hard when you feel like people now expect things of you, and you now expect things of yourself, and you can’t switch gears as easily as you’d like.

I love this space, but I need space in my life for other kinds of work too. I need to stop worrying about content, posting times, follower counts, and engagement, and about how I’m failing at all of those things.

I need to write with pen and paper and spend a lot more time getting bored so I can think. What I’m trying to tell you is that things might get a little inconsistent around here but don’t worry, I won’t abandon you without saying something. I won’t drop off the face of the internet the way I have seen so many other bloggers do. I haven’t posted in a while be patient, I’m coming back, I promise.

***

If we were having coffee, I would say that it was about that time that I get going on this housework. The time change still has my mind and body feeling all out of whack. It feels later than it is and I’m panicking even though I shouldn’t so I’d better get going anyway. No harm it getting it all done early I suppose.

I hope you’ve been well these last few weeks since we’ve talked, and I hope we can all get through the coming months with a little more cheer and grace than we’ve been expressing toward one another as of late. Let me know what you’ve been up to lately in the comments, I’ll be around today, and I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time.

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a cup of coffee.

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up, now hosted over at Eclectic Alli!

Featured photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

 

If We Were Having Coffee // Time to Get Spooky!

Hello dear readers. Thanks¬†for stopping by for a bit of coffee and conversation. I’m feeling anxious today.¬†The caffeine isn’t helping. Actually, the caffeine might be the cause.

I’ve been drinking cold brew coffee for months but since the mornings are growing colder and colder, and I need something warm and strong to start the day again. Drip coffee tastes like bitter water now, so I’ve dusted off my espresso machine and moved to drinking a couple of warm, velvety shots instead. I’m still figuring out the right ratio of coffee grounds to water and I may have overdone it.

“Coffee for two
The sweetest and most bitter
Bold in taste
Warm in conversation
Lovely in embrace
Coffee for me
Coffee for you‚ÄĚ

‚ÄĒ NB // Coffee For Two

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’m feeling much better this Sunday than¬†I was¬†the last. The world still feels like it’s ending nearly every day, but I made sure to take breaks from social media and to limit my intake of the news to once or twice a day. Some of the shit still found its way in.

Between Harvey Weinstein’s predation coming to light, the short-sighted call to boycott Twitter in response to Rose McGowan being suspended, the fires in California, and Trump sabotaging what little health care we can get in this country I still found plenty of reasons to be depressed and anxious, but less so than the week before.¬†It was good to unplug for a while.

Not that I have been any more productive instead. I found new ways to waste time, and new ways to be disappointed in myself.¬†It wasn’t a good writing week at all. I had such hope after starting a list of specific topics to write about here and after deciding on the theme for an upcoming personal writing project I thought it would be easy-peasy from here. Nope, the hardest part is still keeping my ass in the chair and just doing the damn writing.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that there is hope though. I’ve started reading Things Are What You Make of Them by Adam J. Kurtz, and I’m feeling a little less afraid of writing. Or, I feel a little less alone in my fear and my failure. It always helps to know you aren’t struggling alone. It helps to know it isn’t all you, being creative and putting yourself out there are just hard things to do, but you can do it if you just don’t give up.

I’m also reading The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides. I started it last Thursday, and I’m already halfway done. It’s such a dream to read! I’ve seen the movie about a million time but it’s such a unique story told from such an intriguing perspective that it still draws me in and excites me.

***

If we were having coffee, I would wish you a belated happy Friday the 13th! Being a fan of all things horror, I’m always excited¬†when the 13th falls on a Friday of any month, but having it happen in October is an especially spooky treat. To mark the occasion my sister, and my girlfriend and I went out to take advantage of some Friday the 13th tattoo and piercing specials. My sister got her nostril pierced. My girlfriend got a lucky white rabbit tattoo, and I got this cute little fly that reminded me of the film¬†The Fly, the 1986 version specifically, thank you very much.

This is my second Friday the 13th tattoo, and I’m already looking to getting another next Friday, which just happens to be my birthday!

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the highlight of my week, besides the tattoo, was last night when we met up with some friends for a couple’s night out.

We started at a small pizza place downtown for dinner and drinks. It was a new place, and I was pleasantly surprised. The calzones we ordered were enormous and delicious, and the menu featured an extensive list of microbrews and cocktails. Afterward, we went to a huge haunted house to get spooky! After that, we went for even more drinks!

It’s been too long since we were last out with friends, I didn’t realize how much I had missed it. Especially these friends, two other couples who understand what it means to be with someone for years. I enjoy watching them interact with each other. Like everything else, it helps to know you are normal.

We're the cutest ūüėćūüėô

A post shared by Lisa Blair (@zenandpi) on

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that it’s getting late and I have to get going. There’s more writing to do, posts to draft and notes to type up plus laundry to do, dinner to get in the oven, and the cocktails that need to be made before The Duece comes on.

I hope you had a wonderful week. I hope you found time to take care of you this weekend. I hope it’s beginning to feel like Halloween and you are enjoying the spooky vibes too.

Until next time

The world's shrinking.

A post shared by Lisa Blair (@zenandpi) on

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a cup of coffee.

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up, now hosted over at Eclectic Alli!

Featured photo is by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash