2019-01-02 Finding the “Write” Space

Here we are again, second day of the year and I’m currently in the lecture hall/conference room biding my time until I meet with my mentor from last semester for lunch. I’m trying not to be nervous.

Hey, here is something interesting… I went to a great lecture this morning and the person giving the lecture talked about writing (of course) and about experience and inspiration and sublimation. The whole thing was really great and gave me a lot of good ideas to jump from for topics that I would like to explore, but one thing struck me as interesting. She told a bit of a story about a writer who had a job a far distance from where he lived. He had a three hour train ride each day to work, and then the same back home again. She said that he would use that time each day to write and that space, and the sounds and smells and the motion of the train became physically attached to the mental state of his writing. He began writing a novel in that space and that was what part of each day in that space was dedicated to.

Then he got a new job, closer to home and didn’t have to ride the train anymore. He found after a short time that he could no longer write in other spaces. The man had a novel to finish and could not write without the motion and sound of the train. He ended up taking another trip on that train and tape recording the ride.

He found a space in his house and bought a rocking chair and listened to that recording to get back into that space. He was able to finish his novel by doing that. That’s pretty interesting, right?!

I don’t have any way to verify that is true without going to the lecture reference/sources, but I feel that it is. I have experienced this strange phenomenon before. I used to try and write in the evenings and that was ok, but not ideal and I was often too tired to form thoughts that amounted to anything.

I would work and come home and take care of the kids and house and by the time I had a spare minute before bed, my tank was empty. Then Last year (well in 2016), when I quit my job, I suddenly had all kinds of time. I was able to exercise more and take care of the kids and house with lots of time to spare. That’s when I started to go to go to the gym right after dropping the kids off at school. That’s when I started typing in the Evernote app on my phone. That’s when my writing process became (at least partially) physically attached to the rhythm in my steps.

I get in that space now, and my mind transitions easily to the writing function. I attribute this phenomenon more to the rhythm of my movements than sights or smells or atmosphere, because I can get in that same headspace with such ease on the treadmill at my new house. I believe in the phenomenon because now, when I try to write in other spaces, I often struggle.

I sit down at my desk in front of my laptop and I think about work. My mind remains on my work there, and the transition away from project tasks and emails and documents and communication is a challenge. In that space, my mind wants to stay with work.

I’ve tried to take my laptop to other spaces in my house, like the bed where I’ve written quite a bit in the past. That doesn’t work for me anymore because of my ongoing struggle with fatigue and the moment I hit the bed, sleep starts to come over me. Frankly, I have he sake problem with reading in bed or working with hand writing or editing in paper notebooks.

I have also tried taking my laptop and notebooks to other spaces in my house and that’s better, but not quite as good/fast/easy as being on an elliptical machine or treadmill. The good news us, I’ve been so productive and healthy the last year and a half, it’s been great. The fact that I can multitask like that is a gift. Of course typing is much slower on a phone keyboard (especially the way I type) so I’m probably not as productive as I could be if I’d found my “happy place”, say, with my laptop in a coffee shop or another room in my house.

Mind you, I’ve never been able to do any editing that way, as that’s a whole different beast. I just find it fascinating the way I have experienced this “thing” that was discussed in lecture today first hand. It validated my experience in a way. That’s always good, you know, to not feel like you are the only one.

Obvi, I can still write other places, or this blog post would not exist. And on that note, it’s time to switch gears again and move on to the next thing.

Gimme Some Space,

~Miss SugarCookie

Advertisements

2018-12-30 Empathy Distorted By Estrangement

Truth IS stranger than fiction. As a writer I’m pretty good at statement and abstraction but I suck at image and I know that. In my MFA program I’m reminded of that fact almost every time I get feedback. “Needs more concrete detail” and “Show us” are regular comments.

So when I was getting in my frozen car last night in Nebraska City to make the dark night drive home, I thought about how to describe what I was feeling. I sat in the drivers seat for a short minute contemplating the bag of frozen peas on my windshield and wondering why my focus was on that instead of the family I’m mostly estranged from. It’s a family I was “married” into by my father’s marriage to his second wife. Her and almost all of her family exist a short distance away in the town I grew up in. As I sat in my car without words (or even feelings) for their most recent tragedy, the “when” and “where” and “how” were questions that weren’t even dancing in the periphery of my mind. The “why”, being a somewhat universal truth, needed no explanation. My step sister’s son committed suicide.

We (that family and I) haven’t been close in many years, and never really were, to be honest. Most of the memories I had in my youth of that family were not good ones. I’ve long harbored resentment and anger about my strained relationship with my father and those emotions have often been directed at them. This news of my step nephew came to me via text from my step mom, which was a strange thing but also not far off the mark for how things typically get communicated. I was standing in a bookstore, ready to purchase when I first saw it. I guess there is no good timing for getting such information, but then what is a person supposed to do or feel? I made my final selections, took my books to the checkout, and then headed for my car.

Quite frankly I am struggling with writing about this. Probably because I have so very little to say about it, which sort of speaks for itself. This is about my 4th attempt to put together even a few sentences on the subject. If I keep going, it will likely turn out to be even more self-centered than it already is and that will, in turn, make me feel even more guilt for not feeling anything for the family. My life has been touched by suicide in a profound way in the past, and I’m not sure why my empathy in this situation is so non-existent. In the title of this post I used the word “distorted” but it feels more absent than anything else.

The truth is that I had a frozen bag of peas on my windshield because that’s what I’m using to ice my elbow as I drive back and forth to Nebraska city to attend lectures for the winter MFA residency. I’m not enrolling this semester, but nobody seems to care that I’m lingering about the lecture hall and showing up to readings. I even had a nice conversation today with the director of the program about my continuation in the program next semester. That was good. Yesterday I was there so long, that the bag of peas got all melty and mushy and so I left it on the outside of my car on the windshield in the hope that it would freeze over again before the drive home, which turned out to be a lot later than I intended. On the drive home, I iced my elbow some more and thought in silence about the text I had received.

I did speak with Jim part way through my drive and that was good. I informed him about the text and we talked briefly about it. The information still too new for me to process. He agreed with me, though, that receiving that communication via text was odd and not quite right. After I arrived home, I engaged with my Z to watch a movie which we both did sort of half-heartedly. Both our minds were elsewhere and mine was truly also half asleep. I did not sleep easy and woke with a headache, which after another drive to NE City and back, was exponentially worse.

I spent the entire rest of the day today in a medicated fog cycling through trying to read, write, and sleep. Like I said, I’ve tried to write this post about 4 times now. I saw a few more details in FB posts (of all places) about this young person who is a stranger to me. The family is simultaneously posting publicly, airing their grief and lamenting the loss while also asking for privacy and time to be alone as a family to grieve. I’m not a part of that. I have not heard about services and can’t predict if I will or will not get communication about that unless I specifically ask. I should ask, but am not inclined to do so which, again, leaves me feeling guilty.

In just a few minutes Z and I are going to engage in yet another movie and it will be good for me to close out this truly awful day with some mindless couch potato-ing. Perhaps I’ll have more to say later about things, with better words on how I feel about it. Perhaps not.

Until next time (hug the ones you are with),

~Miss SugarCookie

2018-12-14 Why Wait for the New Year

Years ago I adopted a tagline. It’s a philosophy I try to remind myself when life has me saying “I’ll get to that tomorrow”. That happens more often than I’d like to admit. Almost daily I catch myself convincing myself to “start tomorrow” or the beginning of next week or next month.

The tagline is a mantra I use to try and counter balance all that. It it .. “Today is a good day to start”. If I have an idea about something I want to try or do, why not start today? There are lots of obstacles, and there always will be. I have to ask myself if those are just excuses or are there legit blockers in my way.

Life is too short to wait. Tragedy can befall any of us at anytime and if we wait, we lose out. If you read this blog regularly you know I struggle with life balance. I have a lot of commitments and responsibilities. At times all that just overshadows the things I’ve wanted to pursue in my life. In the last year I’ve made some changes to start going more in the right direction.

People used to ask me what I do. You know, that social situation question when you meet new people. “What do you do?”. I always hated that question. You are defined by what you do and I always found myself gravitating toward explaining my job. After about 30 seconds, I realize that’s it. It’s what I do to make money that defined me and besides that fact, it’s extremely uninteresting for most people to listen to. I’m not bothered by the fact that it’s uninteresting.. it’s a means to one end, but it should not be the *only* end.

I haven’t really celebrated the success of being half way through getting my masters in writing. It’s hard to believe that this time last year I had not even started yet and was just getting ready to go to my first residency. Going back to school to pursue my personal passion was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. There were (and continue to be) lots of obstacles but I went for it.

I woke up one day and said to myself “what am I waiting for?”. That day was truly a good day to start. And it has been a great ride so far. Sometimes, however, when you are on a ride, you don’t have the best view to look at that and reflect on the impact. Those things come after.

Of course life is always crazy and I could never have predicted a year ago that I would meet such an amazing person and begin building a life together. I also could not have guessed what my employment situation would look like.

This time last year I had just started at a new company after taking 6 months off to reflect on my life. Now I’m on my second big contract and working more than I intended. The balancing act never ends. Sometimes I live day by day, being prepared for only one day at a time. That makes starting new things a challenge and it takes thought and specific intent/commitment.

That being said, I’m not waiting for January 1 to make resolutions. I’ve started already. I’m deciding to start now, putting more focus on the things that matter. My health, both mentally and physically, are at the top of that list.

I’m making better choices starting today (actually one of those started in November and the other one last week). I’m reducing my sugar intake. I’m not weighing myself. I’m going to make an appointment with the eye doctor today to get my eyes checked and another for a mammogram which I am overdue for. I’m going to contine to moderate my liquid intake (alcohol and coffee) and get back to basics where sleep and exercise are concerned. That starts today because..

Today isn’t just a good day to start – it’s a GREAT day to start!!

The Time is Now,

~Miss SugarCookie

2018-11-29 Aaaaand That’s a Wrap…

Last night I finished polishing all the documents required for my MFA final that is due this week. I haven’t yet got feedback from my mentor on my 4th packet, but that’s not really a requirement. That’s one more thing checked off my list for November and I feel great about it. ✅😊❤️

I’m a little sad to not be attending residency this winter but it was a necessary sacrifice for my family and my sanity. Having a semester break between my first and second years in the program makes so much sense for several reasons…

1. My focus needs to be on moving and selling my house and finishing all my current work projects. I want those experiences to be positive and I want to have time to do a fantastic job and not just half-ass things. 🕰⏳⏰

2. Financially I can maximize the tax benefit of contributing to a 529 for all 4 semesters (4 years of max contribution) which equates to 2000 extra bucks in my pocket at tax time (500 per semester). 💵💰💲

3. Once my house is sold I will have enough to cover the next two semesters without taking a student loan. Again important for my bank account as I will save in whatever that interest would have cost me. 🏠💶💃

4. I’m skipping a term that starts with a residency in the winter. Being in Nebraska City in winter over Christmas break and the new year holiday is not awesome. Doing it this way I will get two more summer residencies and only one more that is over NYE. ⛄️👎🏻🌨

5. I will have my graduating lecture and graduation in Summer term which is superior to winter and I’ll be graduating in a traditional spring term with a larger class. ☀️🌈🥂👍🏻

I’ll also be sad about not graduating with the people I started the program with but, the benefits of skipping a term outweigh the negative things. And by now, you should know me. I’m all about that balance. ⚖️

So today I will not only be submitting those final assignments and sending hard copies in the mail, but also turning my attention to the rest of my November checklist which there are only two more days to complete.

I’m so looking forward to everything in December. 😊🎄📦 However, I also want to not jump ahead to quickly. I need to take some time and have some celebration for this semesters success and accomplishment. 💃🎉🍾 🎈

Time for me to go get this Thursday party started and tie a nice little bow on my final submission.

So Much Awesome!

~Miss SugarCookie

2018-11-28 These Are Strange Times

Here I sit in a random dentist office in the middle of the Universe. It might not be accurate to say Earth is in the middle of the Universe, but I suppose any planet that is not at the edge of the Universe is technically in the middle. Maybe not the center, but who knows, it’s all relative anyway right? I mean the Milky Way is, itself, a spiraling set of stars spinning on some other larger/unseen axis. We are just tiny little beings on a spinning rock that is spinning around a star. We are all spinning on so many levels it is a wonder that we aren’t all just falling down all the time, dizzy from rotation. Life is like endlessly attempting to walk straight lines while sleepy or drunk, until the end.

Human beings were one ignorant and arrogant enough to think the world was at the center of the Universe (and that the Earth was flat too). We may know a little better than that now, but not much. I mean, we are still arguing about borders and trade sanctions and starting wars in the name of beliefs and ideals we made up in our tiny little human brains to explain the unexplainable. I often think about how insignificant life is, and it is comforting in a way. It is comforting to know that no matter what happens in my life, that it doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. It’s just one life after all. And if I fuck it up, it will not matter and if I achieve everything I ever set out to achieve beyond my wildest imagination, that will really not matter either.

I wrote a poem about all of this recently, and even putting that through the revision process that I have now become accustomed to seems a little pointless. I mean, didn’t I say everything that I was inspired to say the first time around? If I mess with that, and tweak it to make it better or more clear or more consumable or enjoyable for my fellow humans will that really matter? I think not. In any case – here it is (the revised version)…

THESE ARE STRANGE TIMES

Cats and cats getting along like republicans and democrats
yeah just like that / scratches appear
across fingers crossed / keep your arms and legs inside the moving vehicle
at all times / it was the worst of times – it was the worst of times / I’m afraid
nobody will ever be nostalgic for 2018 except maybe yours truly.

I was falling in love while the rest of the world picked sides, stood
ground / grinding their teeth yielding pitchforks and torches / a set of fine china
(or Koreas) stacked too high waiting for one wrong move / shootings and
and sanctions and troops at the border / oh my / but they can’t touch me no
not even brutal murder in Turkey could keep me from my Thanksgiving feast.

2018 was the year that truth became a man, a myth, a legend / a story
you want to believe but the cake is a lie / Zoom out
to discover it doesn’t really matter / All matter and mass and energy
expanding in the vast universe is destined to go nova.
In Spanish “nova” means “it doesn’t go” / How appropriate.

***

So that’s my update for today. Random poetry. I hope you like it.
(but if you don’t that is fine too)
With Love,
~Miss SugarCookie

2018-11-25 Spin that Sunday Status DJ

It’s been such a strange long holiday weekend that today hardly feels like a Sunday. Alas it is yet, it will continue to not feel like Sunday since I have to work on multiple projects including preparing for another release of software tomorrow. I also have the house decorating party with the kids today and if I’m feeling ambitious I will work on my final summaries for school. We’ll see.

Last night I fell asleep at around 8 and woke up after 9. Since I’m low on sleep right now it would have been great to just sleep right through to this morning but that didn’t happen. I ended up going back to sleep around midnight with a little help from my little blue friend, Doxylamine succinate (Unisom SleepTabs). It’s an OTC antihistamine like Benadryl. It knocked my ass out and I slept until nearly 9, which was glorious. That kind of stuff leaves me feeling groggy and I don’t like that so I try not to do it too often. Like I said, it felt necessary which is the perfect lead in for today’s status…

Sleep.. 6 hours and 23 minutes per night on average for the week. Well under goal caused by a few seriously short nights. What’s up with that Mr. DJ??!! That made my monthly and yearly averages go down and I’m now just below my overall goal of 7 hours. 🤔

Exercise.. 14.3K steps per day. At the moment I’m only getting exercise from gym time and not taking classes at all so that’s all coming from the elliptical and treadmill and yard work. I haven’t lifted for months and I’m afraid my arms have turned to flab. I’m thinking about starting Jazzercise again which would help with that. 😊 I’m sort of holding off on that until the semester is over so I don’t start using that as an excuse to procrastinate.

Healthy Eating… Nearing the end of the month and at the beginning of November I had such high hopes with my goals. I’m sad to report most of that went to shit. There was too much drinking and indulging and the only thing I would count as a success is my abstaining from coffee and sweet drinks like that. It’s probably the wrong way to look at things but.. there’s always next month. 🤷‍♀️

Work.. My hours are low due to the holiday and I haven’t yet added them up for the week. I’m going to give this one a double – 🤷‍♀️🤷‍♀️

School.. Wrapping up the semester this next week. I spent a ton of time in the last week working on my 4th packet and finally pulled the trigger on sending that off yesterday (only 4 days late). Great success! ✅👍🏻✅. I also had a conversation with the coordinator of my MFA program letting her know I’m not enrolling this next term and will be returning in the fall. She understood and was overjoyed to hear about my engagement. Which leads right to my relationship status..

Happily Engaged! 💍 1 month out from celebrating our first Christmas together , 🎄, 2 months out from moving 🏰. These are crazy times. There’s nothing like getting everything you own out for decorating and packing at the same time. My house is likely to be a disaster for the next two months. Strangely, I’m ok with that. 😜

It feels like I’m forgetting something DJ?! What, oh what could that possibly be because I feel like I’ve already said too much.

Without further ado, It’s time now for me to switch gears and get back to enjoying my Sunday that’s not really a Sunday. 🎄✅😜👍🏻💍🤔🏰🤷‍♀️😊

12K and Climbing,

~Miss SugarCookie

2018-11-23 Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner

Last night I had some time to work on my next essay for school and my topic was “Thinking Like an Artist”. Hmmmm 🤔.. that sounds familiar. 😉 I basically expanded on my last post which was all about how our brains are trained to think a certain way as we go through school and get indoctrinated with common thought processes. I proposed that we lose some of our natural potential artistic tendencies in favor of those more “useful” skills but that they are not really lost, just buried.

One of the examples I provided in my essay to highlight the different ways people think was a story about a relatively new aquatintence who I have trouble communicating with. Well, we get by, but it seems a struggle for me and I conclude (for the sake of the essay and frankly my sanity) that it’s just that we are on such different wavelengths that I can’t understand him. This led me down a pathway researching why a person might truly have difficulty understanding another person and I ended up googling it.

I stumbled upon a site which talked about people with Type A personalities and their natural tendencies. The subject of personality typing is really intriguing to me so I spent some time reading through the list. What we are all searching for when we go down these rabbit holes is somewhat selfish. We want to find a personal connection that we can relate to. I’m no exception. I was interested to see how many of those qualities I have. As it turns out, not a lot. Not right now anyway.

There were about 10 things on the list and I only fit one or two, but thinking about all of them it seems there was a long period in my life where I had a lot of those qualities. Does this mean I used to be Type A but I’ve changed. Is that possible? 🤔 It must be. I used to arrive early to every appointment. I used to get obsessive about having an empty inbox, no unread messages and everything categorized and files in logical folders. I was particular about how things on the house were organized and displayed and typos in my writing that is posted online would drive me crazy. Frankly, I’m just not as bothered by any of that anymore.

I’m much more relaxed about details and arrive places either right on time or even sometimes a few minutes late. And don’t even ask me how many emails I have unread in my personal email – I actually don’t know because I turned that badge off on my phone app. Scratch that, I just looked and it’s currently at 6689!! 😱 This is what happens when you let things go unnoticed (and also my f-ing junk mail out of control). The point is, it doesn’t bother me.

So I’m not type A anymore, but that begs the question — what type am I now? Again, I’m interested to know. Using this classification there are actually now 4 defined types, ABC and D. Of course this was all probably developed by some Type A people because there are the ones who demand order and control. People with type A personality characteristics are ambitious, organized, and eager to help other people. They originally defined themselves and then labeled anyone not like them as type “B”. How selfish!

Now, however, B has been split into 3 types with major characteristics as follows:

Those with a type B personality have the ability to be relaxed and tolerate change very easily. C-personalities are true introverts who are extremely hard workers. Those with a type D personality are natural pessimists and are often living with a lot of stress.

Interestingly enough, the origin of this personality typing, A and B back in the 1950s, was for medical diagnostic purposes. Science was trying to find a correlation between types and the likelihood of developing certain diseases. According to the article I read, no correlation was found so that was abandoned and what we were left with is just some useful info that might help us understand our fellow humans.

Digging a little deeper, it seems I have some qualities of all 4 types and how I behave seems to shift and change based on the situation. This leads me to conclude that this typing is less useful in understanding other people than people give it credit for. That being said, I do suppose there is a dominant type we all belong too which is determined by which category we “fit” with the most or perhaps which ones don’t quite fit.

If I had to pick one, I would say I’m now probably type B. My unread email alone disqualifies me from being type A. 😜 I also used to be more of an introvert and a harder worker and those qualities have also softened over time so not likely to be tagged as type C. I’ve never really been pessimistic so that rules out type D for me (though I can totally see my sister as this type so I definitely see a case for that type for her).

However, Even if I am self classified as type B, it doesn’t change the fact that in some situations I am high anxiety, stressed, or introverted. That makes the general typing not as useful. I’m clearly on the fence about this.. swinging back and forth between desiring to have the Universe be organized and not wanting to be labeled, open to the possibility that things change. Maybe that means I’m halfway in-between Type A and B? We need a new system .. and I’m type AB.

But I’m not type AB either, I’m type O+ (at least according to the Red Cross 😂). What’s a girl to do??! The answer lies in acceptance in the flaws of our understanding of ourselves. For me it also means abandoning Thinking about the aforementioned system and returning to my more preferred typing, which is actually Myers-Briggs. There is more legitimacy in this classification as I have consistently come up as INTJ every time I have taken the test, with the first one being at age 23.

This has been useful for me to understand myself deeper and I tend to agree with each of the four elements. I guess that means I’m ok with being put in that corner, but whatever you do.. please, please don’t call me “Baby”. 😊

Returning to my original objective, which is to understand other people better, or figure out why there is sometimes a communication gap, it’s probably less about typing and more about just getting to know them. As for my confusing aquatintence, it’s going to be an ongoing test to see if I can bridge that gap. An experiment in human interaction, if you will.

We’ll see how the next conversation goes, which will likely be at residency in December. For now, however, I’m abandoning thinking about all this nonsense so I can back to reading all those unread emails. 😱 Or not.. ha!

Forever O Positive,
~Miss SugarCookie

(I temporarily turned badges back on to legitimize my email issue – it’s damn serious!)