Image: Monster. via flickr

Image: Monster. via flickr

Yes, it’s been awhile. I owe some Artist’s Way updates, but for now, my reemergence into the blogging world is going to be marked by a bit of venting about my novel-in-progress. Here’s the email I just sent off to a couple members of my writing group about my little problem…I thought I’d share so you, my readers, might have an insight into this sometimes frustrating process called writing a novel! I realize this is the first time I’ve used my characters names in this blog or even really mentioned any details (eve vague & unspecific ones) about the plot. Consider it a fluke or a sign of complete laziness to rewrite the email to take out any “specific” details.

And now, my vent… (more…)

Image: flattop341 via flickr

Image: flattop341 via flickr

Friday, the day before, 5 months, was harder than today.

For the most part, the day was busy. I had my writing group in the morning & then spent the late afternoon & much of the evening at the birthday party of a family friend. “B” is the younger sister of my oldest friend. She, with my friend, & their mother, were the first people here the day my mother died. “B” has proven to be a life-saver. She has helped me with walking the dogs in the last few months. Even before I dislocated my knee, I couldn’t walk them together. Leo & Teddy travel at two decidedly different paces. Leo loves to run. Teddy is content with a just the car ride & seeing the park. He prefers to kick back & lounge in the grass. So, “B” has been there to fill in the gap my mother’s loss left. She used to walk Teddy, while I ran Leo. “B” was also the one who dropped everything the day I had to take Teddy in for surgery & stayed with me until we knew for sure he had made it through surgery. It was good to be there to help her celebrate, but the unfortunate thing about any family event with her family is the noticeable absence of my mother. She would have been there. She was always there for parties, special occasions at their house. But still, it was a nice way to pass the day even if it did suck on some level.

But I’m learning that’s how it goes. Every day, every thing, even if it’s good or ok, still sucks on some level.

TheTruthAbout via flickr

Image: TheTruthAbout via flickr

(I’m getting bad about actually posting this on Saturdays….)

Saturday was actually a nice day. Started it out at my writing group. No writing, but we had a really great discussion about writing in general that was reaffirming.

Spent the afternoon watching TV & vegging out. It was raining, so perfect excuse to curl up on the sofa & do absolutely nothing.

Then in the evening, my oldest/best friend invited me over to dinner with her parents, sisters, husband, & kids. They are essentially my surrogate family. My friend, her mom, & her sister were the first people here the day my mother died. So, I love hanging out with them, even if it inevitably reminds me that my mom isn’t there. But, I guess that’s the price to be paid to have a few hours of distraction.

—–

Today, Sunday, actually proved to be the bad day. I miss having my mother to talk to. The unfortunate thing, at this point in my life, is that she was the one person who I could talk to about everything. So, today when I was thinking about somethings & everything, I realized there wasn’t one person who I felt I could call & talk to about it all. I really just started missing my mother, which of course led to tears. They come with the territory. I don’t know. I’d just like things to get easier–not necessarily the missing my mother (that I don’t expect to get easier), but how about life. It would just be nice.

Image: TheTruthAbout via flickr

Dey via flickr

Image: Dey via flickr

Got back into my routine today. With my brother & his girlfriend here for the holidays & my injury, I haven’t been able to do my usual Saturday thing. So, this morning I went to my writing group. No writing today. When we finally did stop talking, I couldn’t get anything out. I went back & reread what I had (big mistake). Thought it was crap & didn’t know where to restart. I’d planned to stay a couple hours after we usually end. I’d fed the dogs early, before I left, & let them spend some quality time outside; so, I would have been safe til about 2. But promptly at noon, I gave up & packed it in.

On the way home I stopped off & got some flowers–yellow gerbera daisies. I’d missed not buying flowers on Saturdays the last couple of weeks. But it wasn’t something I could really pass on to someone else to pick up for me. It’s something I have to do.

Came home, put them in a vase & then opened up the windows & front door & hung out outside with the dogs. It was about 80 today. Absolutely beautiful. I love 80 degrees in winter, even if it is wrong on so many levels! Then, I put the stereo on, hooked up the iPod, and played The National & read. As I was sitting there struggling to write this morning, it dawned on me that one of the reasons I’ve been struggling with writing lately is that I haven’t been reading. I’ve been reading non-fiction, but I haven’t been reading fiction. I realized, I need to be constantly reminded how other writers do it. I need to be reminded that 1st person POV works. I need to be reminded that a reader can care about a fictional character’s life. I’ve read that some writers can’t read fiction while they’re writing; too worried that they’ll be influenced by it. But, I think I’m the opposite. I need to read fiction. I need to get lost in made-up stories, so I can get lost in my own. So, I sat down in the big leather chair, propped the bad leg up on the ottoman, & sat down to finish reading The End of the Story by Lydia Davis. I started this book before my mother died, & hadn’t picked it up since then. For the past 16 weeks I’ve had trouble sitting down & reading fiction. Maybe a fear of letting my mind wander; even if my mind was supposed to be wandering in the author’s world, I was too afraid it would wander somewhere else. I also haven’t been such a big fan of the quiet that I usually require to read. But today, it felt alright. I don’t know why or what was different today. But I could sit down & read & I wasn’t afraid of my thoughts drifting off, & they didn’t.

So, we’ll see if reading gets me back on track with writing. (more…)

Image: Leo Reynolds via flickr

Yeah, still counting.

Managing the crutches much better. Discovered yesterday that my kitchen is ideally laid out for them. I can pretty much reach all surfaces when standing in the middle, which is ideal for moving pots from the stove to the counter to the sink. I made oatmeal yesterday morning with no problems, & will venture to cook for myself tonight as I’m on my own.

I’ve taken to carrying around a backpack when I move from room to room. That way I can carry my own stuff around & not have to constantly ask someone to get me or bring me something. I look like I’m running away from home. It amuses me. (more…)

You know, I’m really still waiting for all of this to sink in. Yes, there are constant reminders; and in those moments, there is a realness to it. But for the most part, it just feels like she’s on a long trip. When does that stop?

Today was a good-weird day.

Started it off at my writing group. I haven’t been in 3 weeks, so it was nice to get back. Most of our time was actually focused on writing, but I really only got a paragraph done, and I’m not even sure I like it. I’m struggling a bit with the beginning. I think I’m trying to get it right this time before I go too far forward. Right now it’s between one day & the next. I could jump forward or around & work on something else, but I really want to get this figured out because I don’t want to have to restart again. Also, I guess I’ve been having a little trouble focusing & getting in tune with my character this week. I really want to be over this lack of focus thing, & every time I think I am it just comes right back and kicks me in the ass.

At the end of the day, I guess I sould just be happy that I got 2 hours in of thinking about my story, even if there wasn’t much in the way of word count.

So, after writing group, I had lunch with an old friend from high school. We haven’t seen each other since we were 18. Yep, 15 years. So weird to begin with. Anyways, we reconnected through Facebook. I swore I’d never get on that thing, but I have to admit, in the 5 months I’ve been on I’ve reconnected with 2 friends that I had lost contact with & really had no clue how to get in touch with otherwise. So, very cool. Anyways. It was nice to see her, but it was weird. Right before a 3rd mutual friend showed up to join us (someone who I still keep in touch with, but whom she hadn’t seen), she tells me that her mother passed away 2 months ago. I hadn’t mentioned that my mother had as well until she said it. Before I got there, I wasn’t sure how to mention it or if I would need to. It’s definitely one of those weird things to bring up & just drop in a conversation. It’s kind of mood killer. We really didn’t talk about it because the 3rd person in our group showed up. The only thing I learned was that her  mother’s death was also sudden. It’s just weird to be sitting across the table from someone who really understands what you’re going through & who’s kind of at the same point in processing it. Yes, I have friends who have lost parents, but they’ve lost fathers. And not to devalue fathers–I love mine, but there is a diffrence. And there is something to losing someone suddenly. It’s differnet from losing someone due to long illness. With illness you get to say goodbye; there’s time to process what is about to come. I’m not saying it’s any easier; but it’s different. So, even though we didn’t talk about it today, it was just incredibly strange & comforting. I’m not sure where our relationship is going. We exchanged numbers & talked about getting together again soon. I did send her a message on Facebook saying if she needed to talk, to call me. So, we’ll see. It’s just weird that we’re both going through this & meet up again now.

I do believe there are no coincidences & people come into your life for a reason. So, we’ll see what this reconnection means.

One thing that did come up in our conversation was the fact that this new/old friend mentioned she was ready to get back out & date. I don’t know how much this has to do with the loss of her mother or to a relationship that ended a while back, but it brought up something I’ve been debating. The last deep conversation my mother & I had was the week before she died. The Saturday before we had gone to lunch & she ended up bringing up the fact that she really wanted to see me in a relationship & thinking about marriage. Now, usually my mother doesn’t butt in; but for some reason that weekend she did. There was even a comment about her being willing to fix me up. I said no thanks. Since I moved back here 5 years ago, I haven’t dated anyone seriously. Except for some ill-advised hook-ups with exes, who need to remain exes, I’ve been on my own. I’ve spent a lot of the last couple of years trying to figure out who I am, without needing to explain myself to someone new. I’ve met a couple of people & while I went out a few times with one of them, nothing really stuck. Just really wasn’t my type when it came down to it. So, now, I’ve been debating this whole dating/relationship thing. Yes, there is a part of me that wants to make a more concerted effort, but another part of me that is very conscious of the fact that I’m considering it because I don’t like being alone right now. And for me, that seems like a really bad reason to want a relationship. I don’t trust myself to make good choices right now. Even though I’m very self-aware, I could see myself choosing to be with someone just to be with someone, not because they’re the right person. So, I don’t know. Something to think about. At this point, I’m not going to over think it. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. But I’m a little wary right now.

My brother comes home for Christmas break in 3 days. I’ve never before been so excited to see my brother. It will be nice not to be in this house on my own for a couple of weeks. As okay as I am here, I am alone & as much as I used to love alone time, I’m over it.

Image: Leo Reynolds via flickr

Even I’m starting to wonder when I’m going to lose track of how many weeks have passed.

Well, didn’t really get any more details today on what’s next for Leo. The vet got called into an emergency, so only could remove his sutures & give me a call later. She did call this afternoon, but somehow I missed it. I think I was outside at the time. She did say that she wasn’t going to give me timelines on voicemail; they aren’t good. Not sure what “aren’t good” is–weeks, months, a year? She did say that the timeline with chemo was better. She’ll give me a call on Monday to go over everything in more detail. Honestly, I don’t mind waiting. I know I’ve been wanting to know what’s next, but now that I should know it, I really don’t care to know. I know I can’t avoid it entirely, but I’m in no rush. Although, I guess it would be better to get started on whatever comes next sooner rather than later. But I doubt waiting until Monday is really going to change anything.

One thing that did come out of today’s vet visit, Leo now has to take Benadryl–25mg, twice a day. Apparently, the tumor produces histamine or his body is producing it to fight the tumor. Not quite sure. Didn’t really understand the vet tech’s explanation. I’m just going with it for now, & will follow up with the vet when I talk to her. It was fun trying to get him to take the pill. Leo isn’t a pill taker. He’s well known in the vet office for his ability to spit out a pill even after you’re sure he swallowed it. It took about 6 attempts before I got it down his throat. I lucked out with finally hiding it in some canned dog food; this usually doesn’t work, thus it was not my first method. But before this worked, he actualy spit it out & it fell down my shirt. My white t-shirt is now stained hot pink from the coating on the pill. Lovely.

When I take 25mg of Benadryl, I’m a zombie. So far, he seems to have faired much better than me. Yes, he slept a good solid 4-hours earlier today. But he was up & alert for dinner & a little indoor play, but now he’s back to sleep. I’ll know whether or not it’s really affecting him if he misses his 9 PM whine session. This is a nightly occurrence when he likes to howl/sing to you for a good 10 minutes to get your attention. I can’t tell if he’s telling on his brother, my other dog Teddy; or bitching me out for not spending my entire day throwing his toy around. Usually it ends in me chasing him around the house for a bit to get whatever excess energy he has out, & then him going off to bed. Yes, he’s weird.

So, today was benign. Just hung out at home. I didn’t want to leave Leo home alone since I wasn’t sure what the Benadryl would do to him. I ended up watching the Christian Slater movie, Bed of Roses, on cable. Not bad. I vaguely remember seeing it years ago. But must say, it really was predictable in its timing. I was watching the clock during the last half-hour & could totally tell when key plot points were going to need to happen to provide some resolution. This is the problem with writing seriously & studying the mechanics: you over analyze every story. Yes, a great learning tool, but can really kill a film or book.

Oh yeah, NaNoWriMo ends tomorrow. I think all 4 of my writing group members are going to hit the 50K mark this year. I alas am not. But I’m fine with it. Life just got in the way, & slowed me down a bit. Slowing down isn’t a bad thing. I know what I need to do & I’m sure I want to move forward with this story & draft #2. So, I’ll just plug away through December and January & see where I am by February.

So, overall, benign day. I’ll settle for that.

Image: Leo Reynolds via flickr

Yes, I can honestly say, today was a good day.

It started off mundane enough. If anything, it had all the makings of a bad day: gray, cloudy, rainy outside; didn’t sleep well the night before; & woke up later than I’d wanted.

But finally got out the door & went to meet one of the members of my writing group for coffee. I dragged my laptop along with me, I guess with the intention of writing; but I didn’t. Instead, we ended up having a 3 hour conversation that really just made my day. We talked about writing & our respective novels, & our respective procrastination. We’re both on the same page. It’s always nice to know you’re not alone. I explained the plot of my WIP & it was nice to hear someone else say it sounded interesting. It was also good to bounce some ideas off on her & get feedback. If anything, it gave me a little kick in the butt that I really have something here & I need to get it done already!

But for the most part we talked about our lives. The nice thing about her is that she actually has a lot of the same spiritual beliefs as my mother. My mother was very involved in metaphysical/new age thinking, as well as her Native American belief system. So, she wasn’t exactly your typical mother. She always kept it interesting to say the least. So talking to her, it was nice to be around someone who thinks the way my mother did. Our get together really put me in a great mood even though we were talking about death. Go figure.

Then this evening I got to have fun. I went to the New Kids on the Block concert here in LA. Yes, I was/am a New Kids on the Block fan. Nsync & Backstreet Boys were after my time. I went to my first New Kids concert here in LA when I was 14 with my oldest/best friend C. Funny enough, my mother bought me the tickets for my 14th birthday. I went on to see them 2 more times in concert as a teenager. One trip even involved my mother driving me from Albuquerque to Phoenix. And the other involved her booking us a room at the same hotel they were staying at in Albuquerque in an attempt for me and my 15-year old friends to try & meet them. We didn’t succeed. She supported my teenage obsessions to say the least. Later, when I was in college in Boston, I went to a record signing & got their last CD before they broke up signed by all of them. So, to say the least, I was SOOOO going to see them in concert on this reunion tour. Admittedly, my music taste has matured to say the least. And I’ll be the first to admit their old material does not hold up well when listened to now. But still, C & I got tickets & saw them on October 6 here in LA, a couple weeks after my mother died. Then, it was a great distraction. We ended up having such a great time that we decided to see if we could get tickets to their 2nd added LA date. The tickets only came through this morning. Really short notice, but we were there. Again, it was so much fun. Before we went to the October concert, I hadn’t listened to their new album. Not really my taste. And I’ll be the first to admit I really thought that October show was going to be painful. I was prepared to be tortured. So, when it wasn’t & it turned out to be a hell of a lot of fun, I was pleasently surprised. And yes, the old songs actually held up pretty well live. Shocking I know. This time I had actually listened to their new album. I hate to admit it (REALLY, I do), but it’s actually kind of good. I’ve struggled when trying to listen to music in recent weeks. Apparently the bulk of the stuff on my iPod is depressing, serious, or sentimental. So, this album is just pure fluff. And fluff is what I need these days. So, yes, as much as it pains me, I have been listening to it a lot. So, this time I actually knew the new songs as well as the old ones. The whole thing was just fun. I’ve been to a lot of concerts in a lot of genres & surprisingly, these last 2 concerts of theirs rank as the funnest (yes, I know that’s not a word) concerts I’ve ever been to. Everybody was up out of their seats the whole time, at both. Yes, there were cringe worthy moments, but still, they were a good laugh. And that just made my day.

To cap off the evening: We had taken the metro to the concert. When we went to catch the last train to head home, we’d missed it. We had to call to get someone to pick us up. The funny thing: the exact same thing happened in October. Then we had to have my younger brother come pick us up. This time C’s younger sister had to pick us up. It just brings so many flashbacks of having our mothers pick us up from the New Kids’ concerts when we were teenagers. An amusing way to end the evening.

Oh, and when I got home, I got a text from another one of my best friends who was in India on business. I was concerned about him with the attacks that have been going there all day. I knew he was leaving today, but wasn’t sure what time. I got a text when I got home tonight saying he had just landed in the US. Good news.

A good day. Kind of nice.

Image: nigel appleton via flickr

8 weeks.

Yes, I’m still counting. I can’t not.

Started the day at my writing group. Got in a 1000 words. Tiny tiny dent. Still woefully behind. Today is the half-way mark for NaNoWriMo. Um, I should be at 25,000. Let’s just say I’m a tad bit behind.

After had lunch with a friend. Chinese. Very good.

Then, came home to clean up in preparation for the write-out at my house this evening. The dogs ran around making a mess in every spot I’d just cleaned. Typical. Then ran to the market to get food & wine to keep us writing.

Made it home just in time for people to start arriving. The write-out was good. For the most part we hung out, talked, & ate; but we did get a little writing in. I got in another 1,000 words. Finally broke 7,500 words. It was kind of fun to hang out with them & write at home. The dogs were well behaved. All their quirks were on full display. They entertained as usual.

The vet called with results from Leo’s blood tests. All normal. Another hurdle passed successfully. Two more to go: surgery & results.

(It’s benign.

It’s benign.

It’s benign.)

A busy enough day to keep me from obsessing over the fact that it’s been 8 weeks. But did find myself noting the time when I came home that day & found her. I realize I do that every Saturday. I wonder when that will stop. Probably the same time I stop counting the weeks. In other words, no time soon.

Image: tanakawho via flickr

I’ll thank the dogs for getting me up early & not letting me hit the snooze button on the alarm clock for an extra hour like I wanted to this morning. Definitely feel like I got a full day to do the stuff that needed to get done. Not all of it got done. But the big things I wanted to get done I got done: secured a new writer for the newsletter I help put together and gave the dogs a bath (No, it wasn’t retribution for making me get up so early; they needed it.).

As for my NaNoWriMo word count…status quo. I know I know. Horribly, horribly behind. Progress would be one of those things that didn’t get done today. Saturday is the half-way mark. Yeah, I’m nowhere near the half-way mark. But, my writing group is coming over Saturday evening & we’re going to write till we can’t write anymore. I should make some progress.

Ok day.