Monday, April 29, 2013

Ahh... Monday Again

It looks like I finally have some of the space that I have been longing for. How fun, how delightful, to have a space just for me and my words. I've been in such a good, good mood lately that I can't help but see this as a bonus of writing freedom.

With the turn of the year from spring towards summer, I feel invigorated and hopeful. Things in my life have been going really, really well - the hassles of school will continue to fade away as the year draws to a close, my daughters and I seem to have negotiated a peaceful co-existence where we enjoy each other's company. My husband and I have peace as well as fun and passion. So much so, that I don't really talk about my relationship very much these days except to mention to my friends that we are just fine, same as always, when they pause in the middle of discussing their own issues to ask.

Work is good and steady and there's no stressful fundraiser looming on the end of month horizon. That's a  big change from the last decade! I'm even starting to feel that if I listed out my dream writing projects, I might actually make time to get into them, and make some headway over the long vacation!

And I'm feeling just really healthy and attractive, enjoying being in this skin and who I am, even if I'm not perfect and there are areas I would definitely like to improve. It just seems like improvements will only make things better! :)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Just... To Be Accurate

I texted a friend yesterday and said we must get together this week -- it has been too long!

The only time slot we had in common was yesterday evening. So even though I've still got a full docket of writing, sunset found me at a table for two on the patio, watching the almost-full moon rise in the distance.

What I didn't know when I invited my friend is that she has been having trouble with her boyfriend again this week after a long period of calm. We really haven't had much time to catch up lately since we both work so much.

As she filled me in on all the latest twists and turns, at one point, she went back to one of her fears.
"You know I'm getting older," she said. "I just don't want to wind up alone, without anybody. After all, my birthday's coming fast and I'm about to hit my 47th year."

"Actually," I said, "it's 48th."


"You're turning 47, right? That makes THIS your 47th year. Your next birthday starts your 48th. You know, just to be accurate..." My voice trailed off as I realized perhaps this wasn't the most helpful observation on my part.

But she had already buried her face in her hands. "Oh, great," she said. "48th, then. I am starting my 48th year..."

We burst into delighted peals of the bitter, black laughter of aging female friends.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Working and ADHD

Well, I'm at my office again. Got one proposal done. Working on the next. Solved a technical problem I had accessing the next application on the website. Blah blah. Business as usual for a Tuesday.

I like my office. It is the outdoor patio of a café. There's a big wooden table, which sometimes I share with others, but today I have it blissfully to myself. At about four feet by eight feet, it's a great work desk. I'm under a tan canvas awning that creates the illusion of a square room around me. But outside the four pillars there is an expanse of sky and tree, with the blue and the birds. Bugs buzz by and the breeze moves the flowers and strawberries. A group of older people share coffee and chat at another table, providing the illusion of co-workers.

To take a break between my bursts of concentration on my grants, I like to doodle around on the internet. Today, I was researching the best jobs for those with ADHD. Unsurprisingly, lots of us either choose high-intensity jobs (doctor, firefighter, teacher) or become entrepreneurs. We do best with a high interest environment and some flexibility in our days. We don't like sameness in the physical environment or repetitive tasks. We do like clear deadlines and expectations to help provide structure. So I guess I'm in a good place for me.

Monday, April 22, 2013


An Odd Juxtaposition of Charm and Menace.

The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books this weekend was a revelation. Not so much the event itself -- I have seen books by the table and authors by the panel many times before in the festival's 18 year run-- as the route taken to and from the day.

With traffic almost at a standstill as we tried to merge onto the 10 freeway, I decided to chance it with a city street route. Even plodding along through the byways and stopping at each intersection seemed more interesting than just idling on the freeway. And boy was it fascinating!

The area south of the 10 and east of the 110 offered us an education. I felt almost like a visitor in a different country, so different were the industrial buildings and tiny squat, stucco apartments from my own town. We drove past graying, fading warehouses; we drove past a huge Farmer John complex painted in a disturbingly cheery palette of blues and greens, hokey countryside scenes featuring fat pigs by the dozen, and showing hillbilly farmers in an odd juxtaposition of charm and menace.

The obvious poverty of the area shocked and appalled me. Even though I know that neighborhoods like this exist, still, driving past in the comfort of my car, and comparing my own home to the tiny, yardless ones all about me, made me very aware of the inequity of our economic system.

And yet, everywhere, human ingenuity and perseverance was on display. The people in the poor areas were every bit as busy living their daily lives as people anywhere else in the world. We passed an area with lots of foot traffic, grandmothers and uncles and whole families headed out to the Metro station or along the sidewalks. Sprouting up like mushrooms were tiny stalls selling whatever someone might buy. One entrepreneur had turned a shed into a small drugstore, with tables filled with deodorant and shampoo, diapers and household goods. Some sellers operated out of push carts; others had dragged a TV tray or two out of the house. Candy, flowers, hair ornaments, clothes -- anything you could think of was on sale in the small space between the road and the thick iron fences that held postage-stamp front yards away from the street.

For a block or so, each neighborhood had a certain flavor, a certain tone or feeling. Then just yards along the boulevard, that would subtly change. As the car moved along, the income level would go up or down. The ethnicity of the people by the homes would shift. And that juxtaposition, that dialing in of a neighborhood station only to fade into static and then become a different radio spot entirely continued every time we turned onto a new Los Angeles street.

Before the day was over, we had driven through some of the poorest areas of California all the way to the tony, wide-avenued, manicured-median wealth of Beverly Hills. I noticed that the drivers were much nicer near USC than they were in their rich streets in their rich cars. We ate at a sidewalk café and heard more than 20 irate honks within less than an hour, plus witnessed five near misses. In a hurry, and acting as if the world should yield to them, the BMW's and Mercedes swerved and swooped, squealing tires and yelling with their hands or horns. Back in the dusty, grim, iron fenced world, old and ragged cars had made their way slowly and deliberately along, careful not to cause an accident that no one could afford to deal with.

In every area, we visited we found the same thing in different ways. An odd juxtaposition of Charm and Menace.

Wha ha ha ha ha...

Okay. Okay.

I get the point.

(Life is just like that.)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Mind the Gap

I keep thinking that I will write all the great story and book ideas floating around in my mind when I get some time. You know, when life slows down a bit. When I have a glorious chunk of space.

So, yeah, right. Are you thinking the same thing I am?

That's never going to happen, is it? Life is never going to slow down. I am rarely going to find a luscious two or three (or more) hour block of "free" time in the middle of my days. So I'm never going to write all that stuff.

As long as I keep waiting.

So now, I'm doing what successful writers often do. I am writing in the tiny chunks of time around all the other tasks. In the ten or fifteen minute windows of waiting or transition. In the gaps of all the busy.

Just like they suggest in the London Underground, I will need to "Mind the Gap!"

By looking for those spaces and filling them with words that are fun for me, I can make my life better, and get more writing done as well!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Lovely Day

The day is stunningly lovely. After four or five days of deep gray overcast and mist, today the sun is bright as diamonds in the sky. A cold, dry wind has swept in from the desert, taking away all the wisps of moisture and scrubbing the sky clean-blue. With the chill and the blow, it feels like November. As I go about my errands, I feel like I should be Christmas shopping.

My brain is happy because I have found a very nice new café to work at. And it's even close to my errands of the day, cutting down on my useless parking and transit time and leaving my some open space to play a bit with these words.

I hope you get everything you want out of this day. I hope all of my friends - and those yet to be friends - get happiness, security, achievement, and love - everything they could wish for.


Here's what I love about writing -- there's this amazing quality of connection that comes through in the act of writing or reading words. Read someone's words, and you hear part of their voice; you sense their breath, and part of what they are becomes part of what you are.

In writing, the illusion that we are all separated weakens and the feeling of understanding one another springs forward. I know that I love it when I read something with which I am in perfect sympathy, something that makes me say YES, nodding along as the writer captures a moment, an experience or a feeling I've had also.

I particularly like employing the second person in my writing -- there's this warm, personal quality that comes through in the words "you" and "your", a direct address that acknowledges the presence of the other, who is also a part of my own self. And the "you" applies to anyone; any reader who chooses to read my words becomes the "you" of my address. I love that!

You know what I mean? :)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Another Good Idea

So when my daughter asked me to go late to her first period today, I surprised her by just saying yes easily, and not giving her a big lecture/hassle about being two minutes late.

With all the sad news of the day, I didn't mind the chance to spend a bit more time with her, and to make her feel treasured.

We spent the extra time working on her history project. She has to become a Civil War soldier and write journal entries and letters about the major battles. It was interesting -- we had to do quite a bit of research just to create a realistic identity. Although the teacher wants all the students to be male soldiers, my daughter has decided to be a female, masquerading as male. alleges that there were at least 400 documented cases of just-such female soldiers in the war. Apparently the pay was about triple what a poor girl could make as a maid or laundress, some of the few jobs available.

I am so intrigued by these Civil War-era details that I'm wondering if I could write them up into a simple children's book. It makes me angry when the stories of real and diverse people become lost under a broad but incorrect narrative.

Limited Response

I don't know what to say or think about the tragedy in Boston. Such sadness and loss just leaves me pretty much speechless. So sad for those affected, and protective of those I know and love, which I think is a natural, instinctive reaction.

I do know this --  I do not believe that the world is becoming a worse place. I think that the world is pretty much as it has always been, that we have always had aggression within the human experience as well as senseless violence and tragic loss. In fact, I generally am of the opinion, that the world, as a whole, is getting better. We are safer and better off now than at any point throughout our history. Sadly, that overall picture isn't very helpful to individuals suffering through pain and devastation. I think all we can do is try to help however we can, even if it is mainly through prayer and loving intention.

It is painful when our illusion of security and permanence is ripped away, especially so needlessly and unexpectedly. For a long while, I've had a metaphor that I use in my own life to remind me not to take the day-to-day for granted. Because none of us will last forever. We are all just rabbits, going about our business. But somewhere, up there in the sky, is a hawk. And you never know when it will fall on you. In the meantime, be sure to enjoy the sunshine, the sweet grass, and the other bunnies.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Learning about Literacy

The schedule is out for the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books 2013, happening 10 days from now at USC. I found some panels I want to attend and authors I'd like to meet, or hear speak again.

From the list of attending authors (here) there are great links to each author's website. Here's my new goal: From now until the festival, I want to click through to each and every author's site and browse their work and background. I know a lot of them, but some are completely new. Maybe I'll find out something I didn't know, or maybe I'll discover some new voices to follow.

I already found out that Francesca Lia Block offers online writing workshops. Cool.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Keeping Up with the Family Journal

For most of the years of my offsprings' childhoods, I have kept running "family journals" that depict high points, challenges, and the stuff of daily life that often gets forgotten if not recorded. I don't write everything; I only try to document the days most likely to become memories, and also the chance comments or interests or new skills that we wouldn't remember accurately. These journals have been immensely useful. Often when we discuss some past event or activity, we will look back to the journal and find out exactly the date or details. For example, we know every Halloween costume and every birthday party theme, as well as when the girls learned to bike, throw, skate, whistle, and so on.

In theory, these are family journals, and anyone is welcome to write or draw in them. We also paste cool stuff in, almost like a scrapbook. But in reality, I am the keeper of the journal and I am the only one who writes in them regularly.

Add a lot of times, sadly, I don't even do that.

So then I wind up just listing down the memories, and recording them later. And sometimes I even get behind on that. That's where I am now. The last entry I made in our current Family Journal is dated November 17, 2012. We were on vacation in Arroyo Grande. This week, I finally sat down, and with the aid of my calendar and finance notebook, reconstructed the events of the last five months. Now I just need to write the entries over the next few weeks.

Here's one thing I realized. Since January, we have been very busy. Lots has happened, from wedding to birthdays to a friend's cancer scare. In March, we were even more busy. It was just nonstop from day to day. No wonder it feels like time is going so fast.

No wonder I feel so tired sometimes! A lot is going on!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

I Have the Power To Manifest Anything I Want in My Life

I've noticed that Life is naturally made up of highs and dips. You go through some good times; then you go through some tough times. If you hold on, it always changes around.

Right now is  a bit tough with my teen. But just a bit. Of all the problems she could have, having trouble waking up early and getting going is not the worst. It's mostly just growing pains for her, adjusting to her continually changing self.

I just finished doing a lot of work on tight deadlines. Today, I looked around and realized that, with the start of a new month, my work list is almost empty right now. And nothing's on deadline. It feels weird. Sort of too easy and spacious. I know that I should enjoy the lull because soon enough work will come in to fill my time back up.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Wow - Good Work

I was just going over some statistics for a client. As part of our work plan for this year, I analyzed 2012. We actually submitted less proposals than I would have estimated. HOWEVER, it turns out that 33% of what we submitted was actually funded. That's even higher than I thought!

We actually brought in half of all funds that we asked for. So this year, we're going to increase our grant activity ten-fold. Our goal is to generate ten times as many funds as we ever have. But we also have a solid plan with 100 funders to approach. I think we can hit our goal. Especially since they have a great new program in development that I think funders will really like.

And, added bonus, that means it's entirely reasonable for me to work ten times the amount of hours for them, AND to bill for ten times the income myself this year. Yay. It's a win all around!! :)

I'm just giving myself a virtual pat on the back here. I had actually considered this client as a hard-to-fund prospect because of the narrow nature of their mission. I'm shocked to see a 33% success rate in black-and-white! I guess that means I'm doing pretty well at writing for them!: )

Bought a Book for This Line

I have the power to manifest
anything I want in my life!

April Starts

Hello again!

Wow, it was really a fabulous vacation! Just having those two weeks where the pace and tempo of everything changed was exactly the break my family needed. Without a lot of external pressures, we were able to relax and have fun together. Turns out that both girls are wonderful people, and that we all like each other a lot. Our baseline setting is to be pretty amiable.

That's nice to know for when the stress starts to ratchet up again.

For spring, I'm more focused on keeping the stressors in perspective and keeping a warm, positive feeling in our family.

We didn't even do anything terribly exciting. Most of the time, we just hung around the house, or saw friends. But it was fabulous. Just the feeling of sleeping in and being contented was soooo nice.

I got tons of work done too. Turns out that the schedule that worked great for me was to sleep in till mid-morning then do whatever during the day. Then in the evenings, I'd sit in the family room with my family watching TV, and I would do my research or typing for three to five hours, staying up until around midnight. Even though I was a bit tired, I was relaxed because it was evening.

Now though I can't do that any more. To get up by 6:30 am for school, I have to be in bed by 9:00 or so, and I have to make sure the homework gets done in the evening hours. Oh well.

Only two short months, and then summer vacation starts!!