Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Writing Prompt: You Are in the Backyard

I'm in the backyard at Ma Ma's house
letting thin spikes of Bermuda grass tickle my toes
as the scent of musty, soaked earth floats under my nose.
while the metal swing creaks on its rust-spotted frame
making the summer air brush through my long, brown mane
as I watch lightning bugs dance in the muggy haze
and weave in and out of the tree branch maze.
I'm giddy and careless and fighting sleep
and blissfully unaware of this memory I'll keep.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Road Trip '97 (Grab a Snack; It's Another Long One)

As Katrina hurled herself toward New Orleans this weekend, I couldn't help but reminisce about my trip there with a bunch of friends in April 1997. I find it so hard to believe that it was eight years ago, and me a mere 25 years old. It cost us $80 per person for the whole trip for lodging and transportation. Although for me, the trip was much more expensive. Our ringleader, Donna, got our reservations at a hostel and rented a 15-passenger van. On a Wednesday night, 12 of us - consisting of 11 consenting adults, nine of whom were coworkers, and 1 underage daughter - piled into that van and left at around 9 pm for the big easy. We arrived in the Big Easy a little over ten hours later, found our youth hostel and checked in.

It looked a lot better inside the rooms than this picture showed. After all, we were barely there, and after the first night, I didn't go back. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

After putting our bags down, we were off to find food and then we wandered around the Garden District for a couple of hours, where I found that my sandals were a very poor choice for walking. Yeah, yeah, shut up. We found Anne Rice's house, but I'm not posting that picture in case she's all Barbara Streisand about stuff and end up suing me for invasion of her privacy. There was a limo in front of the house with a personalized license plate, and my Rice-fan friends totally freaked out and started taking pictures of every single angle of the front and back yard. One of the guys made friends with her dog. Once the celebrity stalking was over, we wandered around some more, and I took a bunch of pictures of nifty looking houses like this one:

Then we went back to our rooms to get ready for our first night on Bourbon Street. Ah, the debauchery. Seven of us once again wandered around for a while and then came upon these hot dog vendors who were giving out 2-for-1 drink coupons good at two different bars - one was The Funky Pirate and the other was Tropical Isle (or Island, I forget the name, but the drinks were unforgettable.). Each one of us got two coupons, but the policy was one coupon per person per bar, so we took turns going in, getting drinks and bringing one to whomever was splitting the cost. That was when we were introduced to The Hand Grenade, aka New Orleans' strongest drink. Oh. My. God.

We were wasted, blitzed, smashed, stumbling ass drunk. We ended up sitting (a couple of us laying) on a street corner across from one of the Bourbon Street hot dog vendors. Bums came up to us to see if we were okay. Well, one of them came up to swindle one of us out of five bucks. You know, the I-Can-Tell-You-Where-You-Got-Your-Shoes Scam.

Finally, we made our way back to the trolley stop by holding hands and sometimes walking single-file, other times as if we were playing Red Rover. I think it was 2:00 am or in that vicinity. The trolley car was virtually empty, and our buddy Chris took a seat at the front of the car. Danny warned Kelly that Chris was going to get sick. Kelly doubted it, but when the trolley came to a stop, Chris's feet never touched a step. He literally leaped out and took off running. We kept up with him for a few paces, but really it was a good thing that we fell behind. Still, we were close enough that we could see him turn his head and puke in midstride. The next morning, as Chris recounted his upchuck truck from trolley to hostel, we found that he had thrown up on the steps of a synagogue. And no, thankfully, I don't have a picture of that.

But Chris was back up the next morning going out to eat breakfast with us and ordering crawfish gumbo. Now that, my friends, is a breakfast of champions.

The next day, five of us went to the riverboat casino, the aquarium and the IMAX theater. The casino visit was where I took these photos:

Notice the stylish black, leather vest on the gentleman on the left. At the time he was obviously single. Now, thankfully he has a loving wife to correct his fashion sense and keep him from being teased for years after wearing an outfit that showed his complete lack of style.

Then came the fateful second night. We were back on Bourbon Street again, and the one of the hot dog vendors recognized us. Out of thousands of people who drink their way up and down this avenue, who pack themselves during Mardi Gras and who dance around during the jazz festival, this hot dog vendor remembered us and asked if we had made our way back to our hotel okay the previous night.

We all got our obligatory Hand Grenade, but we were in the mood for something different. We also had to pee, but all the places required you to be a paying customer to use the facilities. We picked this oyster bar decked out in wood from floor to ceiling and for our required patronage, two friends and I split a shot of goldschlager.

As some of you may know my first experience with goldschlager was bad enough, and I wasn't even drinking it. So I should have known better than to down the third of that shot, and I really should have stopped before I halved another shot with another friend. But I didn't. And I paid for it.

We decided to call it a night earlier that second night and started making our way to the trolley stop. I wanted to catch a cab, but they were having none of that. As we crossed the last street to the stop, I could tell that the traffic we were walking in front of was about to get the green light, so I tried to pick up the pace to make it to the curb. My right ankle began to give out, and when I tried to catch myself with my left leg, that ankle twisted underneath me, and I sat right down on it.

I knew. Oh god, did I know that I had broken my ankle. I didn't even have to see Chris look at my ankle and say, "That fucker's broke." Someone called an ambulance. I was transported to the hospital. They took x-rays. They operated. And I stayed in the hospital until Sunday afternoon, when my buddies came to pick me up on our way out of town.

Don't you just love Kathleen with her gloved hand there in that photo? They passed my x-rays around the van as we drove back to South Carolina and marveled at the plate and six screws that now held my ankle together. Then I became the only one of us who came back from New Orleans having been screwed six times.

Surprisingly enough, I still want to go back some day. My mother still thinks it isn't a good idea, but I've assured her that it would definitely be different this time. I'll take a cab everywhere.

So anyway, that was my trip, which I still remember fondly, even though I have a couple of scars. I hope the scars left in New Orleans are able to heal as well. My thoughts are with you all.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Writing Prompt: Write About the Careless Days

Okay, here's a rough draft. I thought about just putting it out there, but I always feel the need to intro my poems by saying they're a rough draft. I guess I feel a little more self-conscious about my poetry, so I think that people will go easier on their critiques if they know I plan to keep working on a poem. Anyway, here it goes.

There were the careless days of childhood -
when our teachers led us, single-file, to bathroom breaks, to lunchtime and to recess,
when we were too young to watch violence,
when we knew nothing of death,
when computers were at school
and phones attached to the wall.

Then came the careless days of adolescence -
when we had to find our own way around school,
when we thought we had to figure out who we are and what we wanted to do
when we didn't pay the bills,
when we didn't buy the groceries,
when we didn't worry about our health.

Then came the careless days of being single -
when the bills came along,
when we worried about our jobs,
when we tried to figure out what we wanted to accomplish
and whom we wanted to go home with.
But we were responsible for only ourselves,
and we were on our own,
dancing 'til dawn, shooting pool, downing shots.

Then came the careless days of marriage -
when we were married to men, to mortgages, to careers, to diets,
when we worried about our health, our parents' health, our jobs, our bills
when we tried to figure out what we wanted to do with the rest of our lives,
But we could take a trip on the spur of the moment,
and our homes were quiet,
and we didn't have to watch our language.

Now are the days of parenthood -
when we fear for our children's safety,
when we worry about their health,
when our world revolves around them,
when we wonder who'll they'll want to be,
when we pray and hope and work and pay and laugh and cry
and do it all so that their innocent, smiling faces
will know the careless days we once knew.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

But the Good News Is...

I've crossed the 2,000 visitor mark! Cool!

If I Just Poke It with a Stick, Will It Start Working Again?

Today was my day as the human test subject. Actually it was just two tests, but I didn't leave the center until one-freaking-thirty this afternoon. Combine that with the fact that I was not allowed to eat after midnight the night before, and you have one cranky, sleepy 33-year-old woman.

The short version: Apparently, my gall bladder has lost its will to live.

The long version: I show up at the diagnostics center at 8:15 and fill out all the paperwork and blah, blah, blah. They didn't come get me until well after nine o'clock, so I had to suffer through at least 15 minutes, possibly 30, of the Dr. Phil show on the TV in the lobby. I did have a book to read, but that man's voice and demeanor or downright annoying.

I follow a female technician into a curtained room and proceed to lie down on the chair and lift my shirt for the ultrasound. I wondered about that gel stuff they put on you. I was hoping it wasn't cold, but I wasn't expecting it to be borderline scalding hot! The woman moves the wand over my abdomen, occasionally taking pictures of my liver, pancreas, gall bladder, kidneys and spleen. I ask her if she sees anything abnormal, or if I'll have to wait to get all the info from the doctor. She informs me that everything looks normal and that she doesn't see any gall stones. Inside I breath a sigh of relief - just one more test to go and I assumed I'd be going to a gastroenterologist for more tests.

A little before ten, Chip came and got me for my gall bladder ejection fraction (infraction? Oh, it's something like that.). He tells me that this test will take an hour and a half total. So much for getting back to work well before lunch. My stomach was already starting to gnaw on itself. Chip puts an IV stint in my arm and shoots me up with some sort of radioactive stuff. "You shouldn't feel any different," he says. Sure but will I grow a second head? Will it turn my poo green?

I have to sit in the lobby for 30 minutes for the nuclear reaction to happen. Luckily, Dr. Phil is off and Ellen is on. Well, this is definitely bearable. In fact, I leave the book sitting beside me, and enjoy the show. Then Chip comes back for me, and I follow him into his x-ray room. I have to lay down on a table that's as wide as a gymnast's balance beam - and almost that high off the floor. Yeah, you want my fat ass where? Luckily, the table does hold me up, and I get a pillow for my head and one to put under my knees to keep my back from hurting.

Chip tells me that he'll be taking four pictures, one every 15 minutes, during which time I'll just be laying on this slab. He asks if I want a blanket, but I decline. After all, I was wearing a pretty thick three-quarter sleeve shirt with a camisole underneath; however, I was wearing capri pants and sandals. After 20 minutes, I was freezing, so Chip brought me a blanket when he came for the 30-minute picture.

At that time he paused and said he needed to explain something that was going on because we were "going to have a monkey wrench thrown into our day." I panicked for a second. Did I have a tumor? Was that second head was starting to grow? Then Chip explained that my gall bladder wasn't showing up on the camera. In a normal scenario, the gall bladder shows up at least by the second picture and definitely by the third. He planned on taking the fourth picture in 15 minutes, but that if the gall bladder still didn't show itself, I'd have to wait another hour and have another picture taken. Then if it still wasn't visible, I'd have to wait yet another hour for a final picture.

My stomach began growling in protest. "So, if you can't see anything, that means I have a gall bladder problem?" I ask. Chip confirmed my suspicion and also added that he thought I'd be there with him for a while. Lovely. Sure enough, it didn't cooperate 15 minutes later, so he let me get up off the balance beam and sit down in an actual chair in the room. I read my book while he sat at his desk in the opposite corner and did paperwork.

You remember being sick in school and being sent to the nurse's office to wait for your mom or dad to pick you up? That's the flashback I had. I remembered lying on the cot in third grade trying to talk to the Nurse of the Week while she reads the want ads in the newspaper.

After an hour, he took another picture - and still no gall bladder. Then I had to sit just outside the x-ray room while another girl had tests done. At this point it was after noon, and my stomach was screaming. Another technician came and knocked on the door to Chip's x-ray room. "We're going to Taco Bell for lunch," she said. "You want anything?"

Oh. My. God. No she didn't.

"Yeah," Chip said. "Get me one of those gorditas."

Okay someone needs to leave because if I'm hungry enough for my mouth to water at the mention of Taco Bell, someone could lose a limb.

Finally, she does leave, and a little while later, I go in for my final picture. But my gall bladder wouldn't say cheese. "So this means they'll have to remove my gall bladder?" I asked. He nodded.

So, folks, that was the extent of my day. I don't suppose poking my gall bladder with a stick would make it start working again, huh?

I didn't think so.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Wish Me Luck.. But I Don't Know for What

First off, the good news: My cousin had her baby last Thursday, and he's absolutely adorable. He was 6 pounds, 11 ounces, but only 17 inches long! I swear his little ear is no bigger than a nickel.

The other news: Tomorrow morning I have to go for an abdominal ultrasound, and no, it's not because I'm pregnant. It's to solve these pesky stomach pains that keep creeping up, although I've been pain-free since last Wednesday. (*knocks on wood*)

If the ultrasound looks normal, then they'll stick an IV in me and pump me full of radiation to make my gall bladder glow in the dark. Ok, maybe not really, but it's something to that effect.

If that comes back normal, it's off to Plan C. Send Carla to a gastroenterologist for a consultation and a session where a light/camera/thingy is shoved up my nose and down my throat. If that doesn't work I guess they'll have to go up the other end. Lovely.

Of course, if the problem is my gall bladder. I get scheduled for an outpatient surgery where they dig around in my belly and pull my gall bladder out through my belly button... or something like that.

So let's see - what should I hope for? How about for the pain to just magically disappear? Could I get a break like that?

I didn't think so.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

If You Love Someone, Set Them Free...

So my husband informed me this morning that he was going to have to leave me...

for Jenny McCarthy.

You see, with the Playboy model, and star of multiple TV series cancelled within the first few episodes, returning to singledom, he said he just couldn't stand by and let her slip away - especially after refraining from persuing Nicole Kidman once she left the Scientologist Freak formerly known as Tom Cruise.

So after composing myself from the hysterics (which could have been construed as laughter), I told him to go ahead and "hit that." After all, who am I to stand in the way of a love that's surely meant to be.

And now... if you'll excuse me, I've got to buy a plane ticket for LA so I can track down Michael Vartan.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

5 Songs I'm Loving...This Week

Haven't done a lot of posting this week... Sorry about that. I've been dealing with migraines and, once again, stomach pains. Maybe I could just carve my stomach out with a spoon. Sometimes I think it might hurt less. Anyway, here are my top 5 for this week:

1) "Wake Me Up When September Ends," Green Day - I liked this song from the moment I heard it on the American Idiot album, and I saw the video for the first time over the weekend and got chill bumps. This song is going to be huge.

2) "Tonight," Sara Evans - Yeah, you'll get whiplash going from punk to country, but I've always liked her voice. It's not as good as Martina McBride, but there's something more heartbreaking in it that makes her suited to country songs. My husband just likes her videos!

3) "Flying High," Jem - I haven't bought her entire album, Finally Woken, but I probably should. I've bought four songs off of it and loved them all. This one is a nice, acoustic piece about the emotions and temptations of a budding relationship.

4) "Face Down," Katie Todd Band - This is one of the free downloads from iTunes this week, so check it out. For an easy comparison, she's a cross between U2 and Coldplay - only she's a chick. It's a good song, and I've bought a couple others from her album.

5) "Remedy," Seether - My husband will be most pleased with this selection. He loves this song, and I find myself nodding my head to it as well. It has an awesome, driving guitar lick in it, and it's finally catching on around the rock stations here in Greenville.

Monday, August 15, 2005

"Family Guy" Quote of the Week

Stewie to a prostitute: "Tell me, is there any tread left on the tires or is it like throwing a hot dog wiener down the hallway?"

Seth McFarlane is such the man.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Biological Clock Buzzing at Baby Shower

You know what's not good for my biological clock? Going to a baby shower. I attended one today for my younger cousin, who's having her third child. She has two girls who are 6 and 4, and the baby on the way is a boy. The girls are a trip and a half, which they get from their mother. Example: My cousin is looking forward to the C-section scheduled for the 24th because she'll be able to wear makeup and she'll look decent for all the pictures after the birth. "Why do you think I got my hair highlighted?" Too funny.

We were also discussing the whole pain killer thing during labor. I know myself well enough to know that when I do birth those babies, I will have some sort of sweet concoction to kill the pain. I don't even try to kid myself by saying that I want to try it naturally. One of my friends from college waited to find out the sex of both of her babies until the birth, citing that she heard and agreed with a theory that the mystery would give more incentive during labor. Here's my incentive: Get this freakin' thing out of me! What kind of new age bullshit is that? Was that thought out by a man? That just screams of male chauvinist mentality.

My brother's girlfriend, my mom and I were also talking about the whole breast feeding thing. My brother's girlfriend was unclear on the benefits of breast feeding compared to formula. "For one thing," I said, "it's cheaper." It's something that I also want to when I have babies, provided that it works out okay - because sometimes the boobs or the baby just don't cooperate. Of course, while breast feeding does keep you from buying formula, I never realized that breast pumps were so expensive until a friend of mine had her baby in December of 2003. I was telling my mom today that pumps could run as high as $200. She had no idea either. I lamented about having to eventually shell out that money. What's wrong with just giving a good squeeze? It works for cows, right?

But at the shower, we all oooohed and awwwwwed over the cutest little outfits and blankets, and it just makes me that much more anxious to get pregnant. So, my hand is now hurting from hitting that snooze alarm on the baby ticker.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Does This Make Me a Blog Addict?

So, I started a new blog here. I did so to create a separate space to post final drafts of poems and short stories. They'll be works that I don't plan on submitting for publication, because I've read that posting work on blogs is a technical publication. Therefore, I wouldn't be able to offer "first rights" on writings I submit to journals and magazines, and some find that aspect important.

I might start off with some older stories that I've done; that way I can say that I've actually put something up for people to read. :-) Anyway, I'll announce here when I've posted stuff there so all three - or maybe five of you - can go check it out.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

5 Songs I'm Loving... This Week

As you can tell from farther down the sidebar, I bought quite a few songs from iTunes recently. Consequently, several of those songs have made into this week's top five.

1) "Sing Me Sweet," Matt Nathanson: Okay, you MUST go to iTunes or your favorite music supplier and BUY THIS ALBUM. It's very good! Every song on the CD is excellent, but this is the song I was listening to today over and over again.

2) "Streetcorner Symphony," Rob Thomas: This is another album you must check out. The jam songs, like this one, really rock.

3) "Who We Are," Hope Partlow: This was a free download from iTunes a few weeks ago. I listened to the snippet, and I wasn't sure I would like it; it seemed very pop-ish. But, hey, it was free. As it turns out, the song is pretty good, and her voice at times sounds like Olivia Newton-John.

4) "Bad Day," Daniel Powter: This was free download last week on iTunes. It has great piano work and reminds me a little of "Drops of Jupiter" by Train. I listened to the rest of his album, but I wasn't as enthused about it as I was this song. That's what so cool about iTunes - you can buy one song at a time.

5) "The Wheel," Roseanne Cash: We're going back a little on this one - back to the early '90s. Roseanne is like her dad; she doesn't conform to country's standards, but her songs are timeless. I liked this song when it first came out, and whenever I heard it I thought, I've got to get that album. But I just always forgot about it. One night I was watching TV, and I heard a much different version of this song on a car commercial (which, by the way, Roseanne, did you need money that badly?). So, I got on (you guessed it) iTunes and bought it. Favorite line: The truth moves through us even as we sleep.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Remembering Band Practice

I live in the same town where I graduated high school. I didn't plan my life that way, but I'm not ashamed of it either, just so you know.

So Friday while my husband and I were off from work, we drove by my alma mater, which actually happens quite a bit since I live ten minutes away. Luckily, I don't detest my high school years. I wouldn't want to live through them again, but I can say I was pleased with them overall. As I looked out the window, I noticed some kids sitting on the pavement outside one of the side doors. I knew that Greenville County schools hadn't started yet, so I wondered what was going on. Then I saw other groups of teenagers across the front lawn holding brass or woodwind instruments, and I realized that I had seen a band practice session.

For two-thirds of my high school years, I was in the band as a member of the colorguard, meaning I twirled flags. Those summer practices always excited me, even though they were brutal. There was this unknown element of what we worked on - the thrill of what the show would look like on the football field at night with lights bouncing off sequined uniforms, chrome-trimmed drums and golden brass instruments; the anticipation of cheers and whistles; and the hope of winning trophies to line the shelves in the band room.

I'm sure at least some of those kids were feeling the same things right at that moment as we drove by. I smiled, knowing the year they had ahead of them, and I wished them all the luck in the world.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Writing Prompt: "I Was Listening to Something I Heard Before"

I find it amazing how music can transport us into another time. I was watching VH1 Classic one night (God, I'm so old) and a video for this cheesy '80s love song appeared - one that I absolutely LOVED as a teenager, one that I listened to over and over again, one of hundreds that I applied to my situation with the boy I crushed on for five years, off and on, of course.

Even hearing it almost 20 years later (once again - God, I'm getting old), I sat on the couch and almost smelled the scent in my bedroom during that time - which probably consisted of Love's Baby Soft or one of the brand-name knockoffs ("If You Like Giorgio, You'll Love..."). Those same emotions swam back within reach - the longing for someone right under my nose whom I talked to every day but never realized (or wouldn't realize or didn't care about) my feelings, the tears of frustration and the fear of never being romantically involved with him (which, by the way, is what happened and somehow the world didn't end), the elation after a day when we flirted or shared what I thought was a MOMENT.

The rush of all those feelings coming back to me was unbelievable. Some would say that they would never want to have that happen, but I welcome that nostalgia with open arms because it provides the fuel for my creative fire.

P.S. - I reserve the right to withhold the name of the song on the grounds that I will receive numerous comments ridiculing me for my taste in music (*cough* from husband *cough*).

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Write About a Summer Night

I've always loved summer nights. Even though the sun goes down so late. I love the sounds that float into the air once the sunlight fades - the crickets, the tree frogs and all the other critters in the woods. I remember as a child riding in the back seat of my parents' car as we made our way back from my grandparents' house in Pickens County mountains. The windows were usually down, and with the cool mountain air brushing through my hair and those chirping sounds I fell asleep before we crossed the Greenville County line.

I also remember the sounds inside our home on summer nights. We rarely watched TV during the summer, since reruns were the only shows on and we didn't get cable until I was in college. Even though my room was on the other end of the house from the den, I could always come out of my room and tell when the TV was off. The silence was different. Perhaps the lack of static electricity from the screen allowed the silence to become even stronger.

Also during these months, my dad played his guitar more frequently. .He has this beautiful Martin D21 acoustic - worth a pretty penny these days - and it has an incredible sound. I believe my mother's father was the one who taught him how to play. His repertoire isn't that broad, but I can hear his pick and strum style of "Wildwood Flower" or "Wabash Cannonball" anywhere. Hearing those songs made me feel more relaxed, perhaps even safe. I suppose those nights are what draws me to acoustic songs - the simplicity and the solitude.

Many times he continued playing after we went to bed, but never for much longer. I can still hear the click of the latches on the guitar case and the echoing of the strings inside as he place the case back in the closet, and I remember feeling disappointed, wishing he had played long enough for me to fall asleep.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Writing Prompt: Write About a Tool

Two images popped in my head when I saw this topic. I remembered an ex-boyfriend who named his "member" after a tool. He once referred to it as Stanley, saying it was a power tool that could go all night. I wish I could make up stuff as ridiculous as this. He was exaggerating, by the way.

I don't get the whole naming the penis thing. I mean, I realize that it has a mind of its own. In fact, sometimes it's the only mind some men have, but I just don't understand the personalization.

Of course, some women have their stupid tool references as well - maybe just not about their vaginas. Case in point, I used to go with a group of friends and coworkers to a poetry slam at a now closed coffee house downtown. The thing about poetry slams is that many times, the performance of the poem is as important as the poem itself. That's one of the reasons I never competed; I've never considered myself an actress.

This one woman, however, who competed weekly clearly thought of herself as a diva. She came into the coffee house with an entourage. The slam had three rounds, and for that final round, this woman almost always recited the same poem about her Ryobi drill, always performing the last line with her arm in the air, mimicking the motion of holding a drill above her head and pulling the trigger. Now the whole female empowerment theme of the poem was cool, and the poem wasn't a bad one, but it felt as if she was cheating to constantly use the same poem to win the competition. By the time we stopped attending the poetry slams, we could recite the poem along with her.

A couple of friends have mentioned seeing her around town, and occasionally, I'll thumb through one of the local entertainment rags and see her picture or her name in an article about the poetry slams that are held at another coffee house. We all still wonder if she still recites "that damn Ryobi poem."

And I still wonder if that ex-boyfriend still refers to his penis as Stanley. Perhaps his wife has corrected him by now.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Writing Prompt: Write About a Conversation

I went to lunch with my parents the other Sunday, and after lamenting about my work situation, we began discussing what other people were doing. I mentioned that a friend's daughter is coming to work at our office for a while, but she's debating on going to grad school to get her master's in library science.

"That's what you should have done, Carla" my dad said. "Been a librarian."

"But that wasn't what I wanted to do," I said.

"Well, you know, sometimes we have to do things we don't want to do."

Sitting in the back seat of their Camry, I felt like a teenager again. Of course, there are other times when I feel like that - usually it happens when I look to see what I've accomplished and I think that I have no career despite being 33 and a college graduate.

I know my dad wasn't trying to be critical. He grew up in a different time, a different place and a different economy. In his world, you did what you had to do to get by. Doing what you wanted to make a living was a luxury that couldn't be afforded. Still, what he said is sticking with me.

I know I'm doing what I want when I'm at home - writing. I get a lot more done when I'm off for that one week out of the month. If I could ever build up my home businesses, I could leave my day job and write every day at home. (For those of you who wonder, I can't mention my businesses on this site because of consultant guidelines, but feel free to e-mail me. I'll be happy to tell you all about them! :-) )

I don't know. I guess that's the gist of this rant. That and the fact that I'm not getting any younger and I don't want to plug text onto a template for the rest of my life. How do you silence the inner naysayer in your head? Is there some sort of anvil that will knock it unconscious? If so, could someone tell me about it?

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

5 Songs I'm Loving... This Week

Wednesday already - my week of is going by way too quickly! I had a hard time choosing songs this week. Yesterday when I was on iTunes, a bunch of my favorite artists had new songs out. Plus I made a couple of discoveries, which have been included below:

1) "Swing Life Away," Rise Against - I heard this song over the weekend on MTV2's Rock Countdown. I'm not really sure if it's a rock song. Perhaps their album is harder than this song. This one, however, is a simple acoustic piece and a line that liked the first time I heard it: We live on front porches and swing life away.

2) "I Saw," Matt Nathanson - Okay, I discovered this guy on iTunes, and after listening to the snippets on the album, I put it in my shopping cart. This song right now is my favorite from the album, but the whole thing is good. If you like some of the male songwriters around right now, such as Gavin DeGraw and John Mayer or bands such as Lifehouse, you'll like this guy.

3) "Seasons of Love," the cast of the movie Rent - My husband is so going to kill me for this one because he detests musicals. We went to the movies Friday night, and the trailer for Rent was one of the previews shown. The trailer was just the cast singing this song with snippets of the movie flashing before our eyes, but it was the song that gave me chill bumps the moment I heard it. Sorry, honey, I bought it off iTunes.

4) "Best of You," Foo Fighters - I just like it, and I like Foo Fighters. Dave Grohl doesn't hurt the eyes either. :-)

5) "Goodbye Is All We Have," Alison Krauss & Union Station - I've been listening to Lonely Runs Both Ways today, and this song stood out because is fits in a story idea I've had for a while. I like this group anyway. Over the past few years, I've been drawn to bluegrass music. I'm glad that it's had a resurgence. It runs circles around that sickening country pop that's been overplayed.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Writing Prompt: Write About Being Late

This past New Year's Eve, I was late - in the monthly way. Don't worry, I'm not going to divulge the details of my monthly cycle. Suffice it to say that as I sipped a glass of yummy, homemade Long Island Iced Tea and watched my husband flip through the channels on the TV (We're not big on New Year's celebrations), the realization dawned on me that my monthly visitor was overdue.

I don't remember the thought process that took me to that discovery. It could have been one of those annoying feminine hygiene product commercials, which, by the way, have become entirely too brazen in this millennium. I mean, who wants to watch a girl take a tampon out of her pocketbook and use it to plug a hole in a boat? And what male moron isn't going to figure out that that's what happened? And what woman is going to use a tampon to plug a hole anyway? Better yet, who has one to spare? It seems like I'm always bumming one from a coworker or trying to get the damn machine to take my freakin' quarter, even though it's never stocked with my preferred brand.

Sorry, probably too much info for you, so we'll move on. I was late by a week - not an abnormal amount of time but enough to freak me out. My husband tried to convince me to wait until the next day to get an at-home pregnancy test, but I could not be calm without knowing for sure.

Off to Kmart we went, and after perusing the choices, I decided on one of those with a digital readouts - no ambiguous colors or faint lines for me. Then it was back home to take the test. Luckily, the package had two tests in it because I botched the first one. I have a hard enough time peeing in a cup at the doctor's office, so when given nothing but a strip of paper as my target, my odds worsen even more. While the package had two tests, it had only one reader, and that fancy schmancy digital readout had to have 30 minutes to an hour to regroup before I could use the other test. That's what I get for going the technological route.

So I spend the next half hour running all the situations in my mind. I hadn't lost the weight I needed to lose to lower the odds of a high-risk pregnancy. We were still in debt up to our eyeballs. I couldn't afford not to work, but we couldn't afford the daycare costs for me to work away from home. And so on, and so on... I turn a problem over in my mind until it eventually throws up from motion sickness, and then I panic.

I retreated to the bathroom again to check that digital reader. It was still blinking that little icon that means, "Ha! You can't even take this stupid test! How are you going to raise a kid?" I figured it would still be a while before I could retake the test, so I went ahead and used the bathroom, and wouldn't you know it... the visitor arrived.

So the pregancy scare disappeared, but I did have those conflicting emotions of relief tinged with disappointment. Not to mention the fact that I paid for a two-test pack and the unused test was good only through February, so I couldn't even save it for when we actually were trying to get pregnant. Oh well, if I had been pregnant, I'd be due right here at the end of the summer. I'd be miserable, and I'd probably be making everyone else miserable because I like to spread the love. :-)

I'll just try to keep hitting the snooze alarm on my biological clock until I'm a little better prepared.

Monday, August 01, 2005

More Quotes About Writing, Part III

Where is this year going?! I've been blogging for three months now! Anyway, here are my chosen quotes about writing for the month:

"Don't think of literary form. Let it get out as it wants to. Overtell it in the matter of detail - cutting comes later. The form will develop in the telling. Don't make the telling follow the form." - John Steinbeck

"The main thing is to write a lot, to keep yourself immersed in the element of poetry, to stay deep in the creative possibilities." - James Dickey

You must not suppose, because I am a man of letters, that I never tried to earn a honest living." - George Bernard Shaw

"Every person you meet - and everything you do in life - is an opportunity to learn. That's important to all of us, but most of all to a writer because a writer can use anything." - Tom Clancy

And the one I really need to remember:
"If you write a hundred short stories, and they're all bad that doesn't mean you've failed. You only fail if you stop writing." - Ray Bradbury