Lilly Lately

Taking a break from the blog. Meanwhile, over on Beautiful Detour…

Beautiful Detour

Thought I’d post a few photos of what’s been going on in Lilly’s world lately.

038 Bangs! She looks so much older. They’re already starting to grow out.

087 8th birthday party at the French King Bowling Center. The boys were busy playing games, but the girls were all about the food!

129 First snowman of the season. 

136 Cupcakes we made from one of the baking sets she got for her birthday. The vanilla frosting  called for butter, but since we had none in the house, we used margarine. Big mistake. Yuck. We frosted the others with Nutella. Yum!

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Movie Musings

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I love movies.

While following the storyline of a TV show over time is a wonderful thing–you don’t have to say goodbye to favorite characters for weeks, months, even years–there’s also something satisfying about a story encapsulated into a two or three hour span, and you’re done (unless we’re talking about sequels, prequels, or entire franchises, of course). To me, TV shows are like novels, while movies are short stories. I love them both.

Before my daughter was born, I could often be found in a movie theater, usually alone, eager to watch the story about to unfold on the big screen; or staying up late to watch a taped (yes, taped on VHS) movie that I’d been wanting to see for awhile. But that’s a rare thing these days. I find it difficult to get to the theater to see that new, interesting film, and by the time I do find the time to go, the one I want to see has moved on. Okay, I’ll have to catch it on cable when it comes around, I think. When it does, I record it on the DVR, and there it sits, waiting forlornly for me to watch. It seems neither my husband nor I can stay awake long enough to get in a whole two hour movie after Lilly is tucked into bed. Long before the credits roll, we’re snoring. That’s why TV shows have eclipsed movies in my entertainment world lately. It’s easier to fit in a one hour show, to take little bites of a long-running story.

I still have hope. I still make lists of movies I’d love to see, and maybe someday I will watch them. Here’s the latest list:

  • Hidden Figures. Who can resist this true story (that none of us knew of) about African American women who helped launch the space program? I can’t.
  • Manchester by the Sea. I love a good, quiet, intense indie film now and then. This looks like one of those I can sink my teeth into.
  • Arrival. Aliens, hello?
  • Rogue One. Not sure if I should care about this one-if it doesn’t directly concern the original characters, I’m all “Meh.” But I’m a fan, so I’ll probably view it sometime.
  • Dracula Untold. This movie has been around for a few years, and has been patiently waiting for me to watch on my DVR for six months. I really do want to see it.

 

In the meantime, we’re deep into the middle of the last season of Grimm, and I’m thinking about getting back to The Walking Dead On Demand to catch up on Season 7. Once I finished Season Six, I needed a break from that world. I couldn’t bear to witness the horrors inflicted upon the group by the evil Negan. But I’ve heard they’re rallying, and will try to overthrow that bad dude soon. That I have to see.

So what about you? Have you seen any of the movies above? What’s your opinion? Drop a line and we’ll talk about it!

 

White Elephant

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Let’s address the red, white and blue elephant in my digital room, shall we?

I’ve made it a point not to write about politics on this blog, for various reasons. Blogs can certainly be a podium for one’s opinions on just about anything, and I applaud those who use their digital space to make their (thoughtful) voices heard, no matter what side of the fence they’re on. But apart from re-blogging an article some time ago that rang true for me, I’ve decided not to use this space in that way.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have definite opinions or strong emotions concerning the current state of politics. I’ve spent my fair share of time watching, reading, and discussing current events from various sources (NOT the internet), with various people, and in various states of rationality. But one thing I will not do is rant on social media, no matter how angry, fearful, or frustrated I become. For one thing, I don’t think it will do one iota of good; for another, it would waste a lot of energy I’d rather be spending on creative pursuits.

What I have been doing is reading with interest how my writing and blogging peers have been dealing with their volatile emotions since the election, and for the most part, they’re pursuing constructive, empowering actions rather than ranting or crying in their beer (which, let’s face it, sounds tempting).

One writer listed dozens of untrustworthy websites that possibly reported “fake news”; another writer is re-evaluating her entire writing life and learning all she can about the government, the political process, and the law, after a lifetime of basically being “asleep” to politics (guilty here, too). Others are using their writing to affect change and spread awareness, in whatever way they can.

All of these are useful ways to channel the concern and passion we all feel toward people and events that seem so beyond our control. And I suppose that’s what I’m getting at: we can’t control everything that goes on “out there”. What we can control is how we conduct ourselves and our reactions to stressful events. I know people who are so upset and on fire about what’s happening in Washington, I’m afraid they’re going to develop an ulcer. Ulcers, people.

So what have been doing differently in response to all this? Well, nothing really. Nothing different, anyway. I’ve never been an activist. I would have loved to attend the Women’s March on Washington, or even the smaller gathering of over 1,000 people here in my hometown on the same day, but alas, I needed money and was at work. I get up in the morning and get my daughter ready for school. I wrote two short stories in the past month that have nothing to do with politics. I’m planning my daughter’s 8th birthday party. I do the laundry, help my husband cut vegetables for dinner, wash the dishes. I don’t feel that I’m ignoring anything or hiding my head in the sand (though again, that sounds tempting); rather, I’m focusing on the things I can control, things I never want to take for granted and would fight to protect. In other words, I’m getting on with it.

Please note, I said I’m “getting on with it”, not “getting over it”. I don’t think, for me, there’s any getting over what happened in November. What I’m suggesting is, please don’t make yourself sick. Don’t let outrage take over your life. Focus on the things that have personal meaning, and work productively on the things that can be changed.

I’ve been reading in my town’s newspaper that the League of Women Voters is becoming more active in my area in response to the upheaval that’s taking place. Dare I say I’m tempted to join? It would be wildly out of character for me, and yet, these are wildly out of character times. One of the more positive things I see coming out of this whole thing is that people are paying more attention, becoming more involved in their communities, and banding together to protect the things they hold dear.

And that, my friends, is a good thing.

 

 

Labels

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So I’ve been doing this writing thing for many years, beginning in my early twenties when I feverishly wrote in my journals, discovered Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg and decided to make it my practice, and penned fantasy stories about kings and priestesses, war and magic. It was, and continues to be, my “thing”.

I spent most of those years writing in private (I was a “closet writer” for a long time), and then later only showed my sister my work, or posted as an anonymous writer on Fanstory. It’s only been in the last 8 years or so (since my daughter was born) that I decided to become a “real” writer: write everyday if I can (even if I don’t feel like it-just show up); revise my work; and submit it to magazines and contests. I wanted to take myself seriously as a writer and try to sell my work. I even began telling other people that I was a writer (that was big). I started the blog over a year ago as a signal of my serious intention, to share work and meet other writers and bloggers.

During that time, I had one short story place in a fairly important contest (The Memory of Oranges, in the Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition in 2013), and an essay published in a Chicken Soup for the Soul book in 2015. I’ve earned a total of $225 for my writing, and a little bit of personal glory (and much-needed validation) for those two successes. I’ve had over a half dozen other stories rejected countless times. That’s okay-it shows I’m trying.

But something’s been bugging me for awhile now. Just what kind of writer am I? Am I a hobbyist or a “professional” writer? From certain sources, it seems you’re either one or the other. Either your writing is simply a hobby because you only write when you feel like it, or don’t approach it like a “real” 9-5 job; or you’re a professional because you are making a living off of your writing. Well. I certainly don’t make a living off of my writing, and I’m not a copywriter or journalist or even a writing teacher. I’m a cashier.

On the other hand, I bristle when others suggest writing is my “hobby”. It’s not like knitting, or stamp collecting, or gardening. It’s not something I do in my free time; it’s something I make time for. There are plenty of days I’d rather be sitting on my couch eating ice cream and watching Netflix, but I don’t. I’m getting out the notebook or firing up the computer to get something down. I finish stories, and I send them out. I’m very slow at this, because sometimes I can’t write everyday. But I do it, and will continue to do it indefinitely.

In another life I worked as a tax preparer for an accountant. We had lots of clients who filed a Schedule C for their small businesses. If the business recorded a loss for three years in a row, in the eyes of the IRS, that wasn’t a business. It was a “hobby”.  I don’t consider my writing a business because I’m not making any money with it, so I suppose in the eyes of the law my writing is a hobby.

And yet, it’s not. It’s more than that. It’s not my job, but it’s my work. It’s my practice, my discipline, my lifeline to meaning. And yes, someday I’d like to be published, and I’d certainly love to make money off of it. That’s definitely a goal. But I’d still do it even I didn’t accomplish that. I can’t not write.

So where does that leave me? A professional hobbyist? An aspiring professional? Do we even need these labels? I write, therefore I am a writer. That’s the only label I need.