One Possible Future, With Trees

Here I am — already one week into this thing called “the future” that our Day-20 assignment, from WordPress Writing 101, asked us to look toward. I’m a veritable time traveler. Look out world! Bam!

I still have more posts both to finish and to start. Some from Blogging U. and some that I just want to do. I expect this to be the case for a while longer. Possibly a long long time.

First there are ideas. Then starting to write. And then finishing a post or story…

All that life stuff keeps happening too — feeding the foundation, pumping fluids, circulating air.

It’s a cycle kind of shaped like a Christmas tree for me – lots of ideas form the wide bottom, somewhere in the middle I have all the stuff I’ve started. At the top are the those I’ve finished — this section is a little sparse. But if I plant enough trees and help them grow, hopefully I can keep some alive and some might thrive and maybe I’ll even manage to put a shiny star on top once in a while. (Then I’ll just have to manage to take it down before February, right? Oh, wait.)

I’m happy when I manage to finish a blog post and even happier when I finish a story. So going forward that’s what I’ll continue to aim for. More of both with special emphasis on stories. I’m even working on a schedule for myself.

Along the way, I look forward to gatherings of friends and family, old and new.

Way in the future, perhaps I can look back at my little Christmas tree farm and remember each one with fondness — even the ones that twisted and turned unexpectedly. And hopefully I’ll manage it all well enough that the laundry still gets done, some of the fish survive (gotta pick your battles), and the cats and humans in our family are happy and fed.

The cats do love to play with Christmas trees. The humans like them too (just not quite so much February to September … Or maybe October.)


Flaw Me To the Moon

I want to remember these tidbits of advice as much as I want to share them. I’m putting these links here so that I can find them on down the road. This also happens to fulfill the assignment for Writing 101’s Day 19 assignment*. (Yay! I fulfilled an assignment!) I may even make a separate page with this stuff that I can add more links and keep it all convenient.

10 Ways to Overcome Writer’s Block by Vincent Mars from his Boy with a Hat blog:

I especially like number 3, Reject Perfection. 
We can strive for perfection — always trying to make our writing and ourselves better. That’s good. But the quest for perfection can lead to paralysis too. We can be so afraid of making mistakes that, instead, we make no moves at all. Nothing. In all likelihood, most of us will never reach actual perfection. That’s fine. Sometimes it’s better to just DO. Write. Let it happen with all it’s beautiful flaws. We are supposed to be flawed. Aren’t we? I’d rather have 1000 words period, than to have felt like it none of it is good enough and end up with zero. I can find “flaws” in some of my very favorite books and blogs. I still love them! (In the for-what-it’s-worth department, I don’t really like overly perfect teeth, so take that.)

Actual Writing Advice: Online Presence, Blogging by Melina Moore on her Enchanted Spark blog:

That entire post resonated with me. 
I often feel pangs of inadequacy when I see some new blogger with 5000+ followers. I’ve been blogging for over five years now, and I don’t have that. But I remind myself that I didn’t start my blog in order to gain followers. I started it to give me a place to write. I love my followers and commenters (heck even just a quick Like is appreciated), but ultimately the writing is why I’m here. I love visiting other blogs too. In fact, I’d like to read more of them. Most days I’m lucky if I can manage a quick fly-by of other blogs. Hopefully, I’ll get some free time at some point and focus on the process. (Is what I say to myself more often than I’d like.) 

Sometimes I also spend more time blogging than writing my stories. I do the reverse too. So I want to be more conscious of where I spend my word counts. I love blogging and writing stories, but I don’t want to wake up with way too much blogging and no finished stories.

*If I actually managed stay on top of Writing 101 like I thought I was going to do, then I might actually have had a guest blogger here. I know some good ones I could ask. It could be fun. Did I manage that? Nope. 

I’ve been letting stuff like laundry, leaky aquariums, helping my mom move, and a sizable list of other stuff fill my time instead of hitting those alphabet keys in any kind of efficient way. It’s really good that a lot of that other stuff got done — very important even — but I’m still hungry to get more words down (not on paper). It’s kind of like doing my nails — been meaning to do them for over a month and still have pathetic, naked nails. I did manage to shave my legs and shower. That’s something! My nails are not just bare but in need of a trim now too. They click on the keys as I type. I feel like a stray dog that escaped from a groomer before the job was done.

According to Writing 101, Day 19, directions I can do the next best thing to having a guest blogger. That is, I can publish a roundup of great reads and share some blog posts that resonated with me. That is what this is. I’m excited about it too because I’m afraid I might forget where I read a few things and I want to keep these links handy. 

Catch Up Day – Still Not a Food Thing

Urgh! I’m supposed to be writing stuff and somehow hardly anything has gotten done this week. I managed some reading because, with apps on my phone, I can do that just about anywhere in tiny bursts. To some extent I can do that with writing too, but it is slower. Much slower. I only got a bit of writing done. Somehow time in this past week has evaporated like the last wisps of summer sun.

For the past month I’ve been meaning to do my nails and shave my legs.  I don’t get the bug to do my nails very often, but it does show up once in a while. So nearly every day I’ve been thinking, “oh, maybe I can do them today.” Then there’s laundry. Or a cat barfs. Or something else comes up. So that didn’t happen yet. The summer color I’d planned on doing just ain’t gonna happen at this point. I’m looking at you, Autumn.

Last week I had a follow up appointment with my Physical Therapist. I reeeaally should have shaved my legs if I was going to wear shorts there. Did it happen? Nope. If I’d have remembered this little tid-bit of info then I might have worn longer pants instead.

After that I should have, at least, shaved ’em over the weekend to avoid any more mishaps. Still no. Two days ago, I managed to haul my cookies up on an exercise bike again, guess what? I could feel my leg hairs swaying in the wind as I peddled. It’s not even like I can claim “winter legs.” At least I showered. 

Earlier I managed to paint a card for my daughter for her birthday. I’m proud of the card (proud that I finished it befor her birthday was over), and I’m even more proud of her.  I think she is a very cool young teen.

We had my daughter’s birthday party last weekend so it was a busy one. Plus we got her a nice but inexpensive cell phone, and activating it took a lot longer than I was expecting. 

First I’d tried to set her up on Cricket which didn’t work at all. It should have been the correct type of GSM unlocked phone to work there, but I think something is whacky. I’ll probably need go into a Cricket store to get the SIM to work. Like I have time. I can’t even manage to shave my legs.

Walmart Family Mobile plan to the rescue! I didn’t even know this existed until a few weeks ago. I’ll even save $5 a month over Cricket (but with slightly less high-speed data). I hope the coverage works OK, but the website for the service actually makes me feel like somebody put some thought into making it family friendly. More important, it actually worked. Excellent.

I meant to bake maple or caramel apple cupcakes for her birthday party, but that didn’t get  done either. Instead I purchased not-bad-for-store-bought cupcakes in vanilla and chocolate and decorated them with pumpkin spice marshmallows. They were a hit. Especially the marshmallows. I think they’ll be good in coffee or hot chocolate this fall.

We had a lot of fun at my daughter’s Laser Tag Adventure party. She has some great friends! The laser tag games are fun and the location was nice. But they had lots of video game redemption machines there, and some of the kids went a little wild with playing those. Seriously, why does it seem like so much fun for a machine to spit out paper tickets?

You can never get much with the tickets you trade in for “prizes” there or anywhere. Put in 25 cents and if you’re lucky you’ll be able to trade your tickets for a nickle worth of goods. 

My daughter got some Now & Laters — little hard taffy bricks that I’m pretty sure are nothing but an evil ploy of evil dentists. My daughter chose banana flavor. Against my good judgement she convinced my to try one. I promptly pulled a crown off my molar. I should have known better. Taffy is pure sweet evil incarnate, and this is not the first time that that crown has come unglued. It’s a fairly shallow, flat tooth.  At least I didn’t swallow it this time. That happened. And that’s another story for another time.

My mom and stepdad are moving in these next few days. I’m excited for them but also nervous as they’ll live farther away. This will be a big change. I helped with a few things yesterday, and I’m determined to help more this weekend.

I’m also determined to get some writing done, so here’s something. It looks like I’ve actually managed a blog post. I also have a couple of Cherokee Purple tomatoes finally ripening in our balcony garden. What’s not to like? It could be a good weekend.

I’m resetting my goals for the next couple of days. I am setting aside time. Still haven’t done my nails or shaved my legs though.

The Journal and the Head: Writing 101, Day Twenty

Day Twenty, most treasured possession – long form.

Our last assignment for Writing 101 is to tell the story of our most prized possession in long-form writing.

That is a bit tricky because it seems so materialistic. My thoughts travel to those things in the world that I most treasure — family, friends. My mind. Memory. The bits of me that make me, me. Laughter! My cat’s warm sleepy stretch exposing his tender underbelly. Above all things, I treasure my daughter. They way she makes me smile. Her hugs. The wacky food combinations she fixes us when she’s making us a meal.

But none of those are things that I possess any more than I can own the earth. Or air. I value those things, but I do not own them. They exist, and I treasure them.

So returning to something materialistic — that I can possess or own — I turned to two things. First, the journal I kept in the first year of my daughter’s life. Those pages hold all the little memories from her first smiles to her first words. The way she used to roll everywhere instead of crawl. The way she loved her swing. Her bouncy seat.

Along with the journal, I’d have to include the photos and movies we took of her along the way. Maybe I can put those on a flash drive and tape them to the journal for safe-keeping.

When I wrote the words in that journal I did not know that my child’s eyes would eventually turn from dark blue to hazel green when she was three. That she would like to laugh so much. Be so wonderfully silly. That her hair would lose the little waves and turn from strawberry to warm blonde. That baby is gone. She’s grown into a very silly tween. But I loved the baby as much as the tween, and I’ll cherish her always. I’ll also treasure that journal.

The other thing that I treasure is my Darth Vader head of original Star Wars action figures. Yes. Yes. I know. It’s dorky. And how can I have a toss up between my beloved journal and some plastic toys, right? I mean is it even a contest? Yes. And no.

If the house were burning down and I could only save one material thing (after the humans and cats, of course), then it would certainly be the journal. How could I replace those memories? Time travel back inside my own brain as I awed at the miracle of my child? It would be irreplaceable!

But for years before my daughter was born I guarded that Darth Vader head of original Star Wars action figures. I did not bring it with me to college as college held too many dangers. I brought a spare Yoda and a large Chewbacca that I got at a flea market. But the head? I needed to keep it safe. I made my mom swear not to sell or donate it as so many other mothers had done.

Inside the head are the first Star Wars action figures I ever got. Not dolls. Action figures. Not that I didn’t like dolls. Before we moved from Chicago to Mount Juliet, Tennessee, I really, really, really, really, wanted to buy Star Wars action figures. I had friends whose little brothers had them. I had a second cousins who had them. They were amazing! Luke. Princess Leia. Han Solo. Darth Vader and Ben Kenobi with their telescoping light sabers. I collected Star Wars bubble gum cards. But somehow buying these toys meant for little kids. Little boys, really. It set a fear into me. I was afraid, somehow, that I’d be breaking rules to buy Star Wars toys.

My grandparents used to have a drawstring bag full of beautiful marbles. I loved those marbles. I played with them when I was at their house. I chose my favorites. The ones that were clear with no swirl looked like little crystal balls, and I could imagine the wonders of the universe trapped inside them. If I could just look at them the right way, I might see what the future might hold. Maybe see what my future child might look like. My loves.

I wanted to keep the marbles for my own. My grandmother said, “no.” Marbles were for boys. I could pick some dolls. My cousin, David, could have the marbles if he wanted them. My grandparents wouldn’t let me have the chemistry set from the attic for much the same reason either. I had almost talked my grandfather into letting me have the chemistry set even though I was a girl. The little jar of uranium was covered with the coolest little screen. The bottles were glass with stoppers. These held the ingredients of magic. All contained with a buckle inside a yellow, wooden case. Alas, I almost had it, but my grandmother convinced my grandfather that the chemistry set was too dangerous for me. I might hurt myself. They would get rid of it.

So somehow this idea had sunk into my head that I could not have toys for boys. That I couldn’t have toys for little kids. I was nine when Star Wars hit the big screen. Soon to be a tween. Nearly a teenager. I’d almost ask my mom for action figures. Or I’d almost spend some of my own money. Then not.

Until we moved. Being displaced can be a strange experience. It’s as if by leaving everything you know behind you can find more of yourself. So I think it was for my thirteenth birthday, possibly twelfth, I asked my friends for Star Wars action figures. Most did not take my request seriously. Some teased me. I didn’t care. I was done worrying if it was OK. My first was a Luke Skywalker. He was a birthday present from my friend, Linda, and I stood him on my shelf next to books. My nightstand. My dresser next to my frilly girl stuff. It was awesome!

The spell was broken and I no longer cared a hoot if anybody else thought I was weird for wanting action figures. I wanted more. A few of the more popular figures were hard to find — Leia, Han, Darth Vader. I could find Power Droids and R5D4 just fine.

We ordered the set of basic characters through the Sears catalog. Even then it was hard to find the good ones on pegs in the stores. The catalog was a doorway to awesomeness. I was a little disappointed when the figures arrived in a plain white box instead of a bubble pack with pictures and descriptions of the characters. But they were nonetheless exactly what I wanted.

Soon I had enough for a whole Darth Vader head — the moulded case that held the action figures. But what to do with all those weapons? I didn’t want to just put them all in the case haphazardly. They might get lost or mixed up. I’d lost too many Barbie shoes along the way to know that those pesky little plastic accessories had a way of losing themselves like socks. So I taped each one to a strip of paper and labeled it with the character to which is belonged. It was perfect.

So there it is. My most prized possessions. Material things, yes, but inside each lives a special piece of my past.

The Darth Vader head now sits packed away on a self in my daughter’s room. My daughter doesn’t like them quite the same way. She likes other things.