resolutions

I don’t make them. I mean I do, but then I quickly abandon them. I tell everyone I don’t make them so I don’t have to tell them I’ve already quit doing whatever I promised myself I wouldn’t do, or stopped doing whatever I promised myself I would do. Last night I fell off the wagon, which I’d only been riding for three days: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. By Thursday, I needed/wanted a drink.

Apparently I’m not alone. Today, January 13, 2023, is Quitters’ Day–the day when everyone quits, gives up, abandons their New Year’s resolutions. The second Friday of January is the date by which we’ve all decided it’s just too difficult to change our behavior:

“Quitter’s Day is set aside to recognize those who set new year goals and fail to achieve them — and to encourage and equip them to try again and ultimately succeed. Research has shown that people quit their resolutions for the year by the second Friday of January.”

Fascinating! I’m part of the 80%. Do I get extra points for quitting early? I didn’t plan to resolve anything. I mean I have no resolve. I really just want to survive–survive the return to teaching, the winter, the next few years of my life. Drinking, even in moderation, probably doesn’t prolong my life. But how bad is it really? I mean the battles I wage with myself may be doing more harm than the booze. Perhaps I could give myself permission to be imperfect, to have the occasional evening of whiskey or wine.

“Progress not perfection.” I exercised every day this week so far = progress. I woke up early and wrote–at least a little bit–every morning this week = progress. I kept up with my classes in person and online = progress. I made time to read a book = progress. I practiced the piano = progress. I knit a sock = progress. I skied = progress. I avoided the TV news most evenings = progress. I spent quality time with my cats, daughter, and husband = progress. I wrote and mailed thank you notes for Christmas = progress. I came to this coffee shop and wrote a post for my blog = progress.

I resolve not to worry about being the imperfect being that I am. I resolve to be enough, for now.

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between

Happy to have this post up on So to Speak.

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new pubs page

After owning this blog for I don’t know how many years, I’ve finally added a new page, Publications, which includes the following sub-sections:

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sabbatical update – fall 2022

One month away from returning to teaching, and I’m feeling okay with my accomplishments. I completed my chapbook manuscript. Here’s the synopsis:

Unraveling disentangles the strands of the narrator’s life in order to reveal a woman’s capacity to unknot pesky relationships and unsnarl nasty situations. As she unravels the troubling bits, she knits together a freshly-pressed fabric of hope, joy, and love.

And here’s the full list of stuff I did:

July

  1. submitted VCEL article to Metropolitan Journal (7/7)
  2. connected with writing group
  3. compiled list of journals & deadlines
  4. researched chapbook publishers

August

  1. applied to artist residencies
  2. read various essays, memoirs, and books re: writing
  3. submitted “a rip in the fabric” (8/15)
  4. began The Artist’s Way 12-week course (8/24)
  5. submitted “Why I get up early” (8/31)

September

  1. met with memoir chat group (9/6)
  2. submitted three shorts: “black coffee,” “disorganized,” and “mouse” (9/9)
  3. attended Creekside Arts residency in Eureka, California (9/21-9/28)
  4. read three works (“Unraveling,” “Three Shorts,” & “Bubba”) @Creekside Arts (9/25)
  5. published “Why I get up early” on Brevity Blog (9/26)
  6. read various essays, memoirs, and books re: writing

October

  1. met with memoir chat group (10/21)
  2. submitted “a retreat to advance” (10/24)
  3. received acceptance for “three shorts” from Rathalla Review (10/30)
  4. read various essays, memoirs, and books re: writing
  5. started Write Your Memoir Month 2022 self-guided class (10/31-11/25)

November

  1. submitted Unraveling chapbook (11/11)
  2. completed The Artist’s Way 12-week course (11/16)
  3. submitted “cousins” (11/20)
  4. outlined memoir, Fanning the Flame
  5. drafted first chapter of memoir
  6. completed Write Your Memoir Month 2022 self-guided class (11/22)
  7. submitted “between” (11/22)

December

  1. began weekly blog posts (12/9)
  2. read various essays, memoirs, and books re: writing

Classes completed

  1. Personal Essay (April)
  2. The Artist’s Way (August – November)
  3. Write Your Memoir Month (October – November)

Chapbook completed

Unraveling (November)

Essays published

  1. Why I get up earlyBrevity Blog
  2. three shorts: black coffee, disorganized & mouse – forthcoming in Rathalla Review
  3. a retreat to advance?
  4. cousins?
  5. between?

Residency attended

Creekside Arts (September)

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happy birthday Cindy

You didn’t make it to 60.

I’m still in shock that you’re gone, though it’s been 2 months. Poof. Gone from the world. Nothing left. No children, no pets, no written words, very few photos and none recent, no sounds of your warm and infectious laugh, no lingering smile or mischievous grin, no witty rejoinders, no affectionate nicknames (Lux, Researcher Ray, Engineer Ed, Biology Bob), no dance moves to the Cure, no late-night chats about our love lives, no birthday emails exchanged, no visits to catch up on all the minutiae of our lives, no more hockey matches or swim meets or guys to obsess over, no more love to spread across your sphere. But perhaps I’d lost you long ago, in 1999, when you married and moved to Maine.

The slow, not so slow, march to death. I can see why Carolyn Heilbrun chose to leave early, though she delayed her departure by almost a decade. Go before someone parks you some place and you have no power to leave. If Georg was smart he’d have a plan to to end it. If he cannot function without you, however, he probably doesn’t have the means. Hard to imagine being so utterly dependent on another person. Did you like having him so vulnerable, so needy? Did it give your life purpose?

As I’m working on my own sense of purpose I imagine that having someone so reliant could at least give you a reason to get up every day. Then the equation changes: one of the components is removed. So what happens with the remaining one? Kind of a dumb analogy. But there it is. I often wonder about my parents–who will fail first, how will the other one respond–and about me and Dave. Surely a clean exit without any entanglements would be best.

All the time runs out and then it’s over 10 years since your sister-in-law saw Georg, and she has no idea how to help him. The sister says he has Stockholm Syndrome. What about you? Were you abused? Did he hurt you? Why didn’t I reach out to you more often? More than once a year for our birthdays. And maybe I should have visited, tried to be involved in your lives. So much I don’t know–and will never know–about your relationship. I can barely understand my own.

I wonder what you’d hoped to do today…were you and Georg planning a party, a trip, a dinner out?

Cause of death: obesity hypoventilation syndrome.

You couldn’t breathe. Your heart gave out.

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Why I get up early

Happy to have this post up on Brevity Blog.

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60

Today I am 60 years old. I’m tucked away in a cabin amidst the redwoods halfway between Eureka and Arcata, California. I slept for 10 hours last night. Only waking when the flickers pecked at the side of the house. The sun emerges between the trees and warms the floor while I stretch my old body on the yoga mat. Then just as I imagine sitting on the floor to do my morning reading and writing, the sun disappears. The floor once more cold. I’ll take myself to the shore, find some sand to walk on, hope for a sunny spot to contemplate life.

My C-section scar started itching in Reno. By the time I got here, it was raw and red. Why would it be hurting now? Have I gained so much weight that the skin stretches and strains the scar? Over 22 1/2 years since anyone emerged from the abdominal cut. Why pain now?

The sabbatical moves along, the writing not so much. I’m working through the 12-week course of The Artist’s Way, which makes me feel mildly productive. And I read lots of books. Perhaps the scar signals an upcoming spurt of creativity. A birth of some kind.

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up early

from sometime in July:

well at least up early-ish, compared to every other day in July thus far. it’s been a struggle to shift from work mode to sabbatical mode this time around, though honestly I cannot remember the last one–the last sabbatical, that is–because it was so long ago (8 years), and I was in such a different place: physically (living with my teenagers on Tyler Avenue and pre-menopausal), emotionally (still recently divorced), professionally (no longer assistant chair but not yet all the other administrative roles I took on since 2014), and spiritually (attending al-anon meetings and drinking very little).

today:

it’s been a struggle–motivating to write. the reading is no problem. I’ve torn through several memoirs and books about writing and mysteries and articles and magazines. plus I’ve compiled lists of submission prospects (journals, deadlines, etc.), books I’m reading, and tasks + timeline for my sabbatical. today I’m sorting notes and drafts–copying, cutting, pasting, formatting–into potential essays. but then I happened upon a saved document from 2015…a series of texts exchanged with my ex about attending a wedding. so much anger and pain expressed there. I need to process it before any kind of creativity will blossom again. I need to own what I did during my previous publication spurt seven years ago.

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sabbatical – fall 2022

Title

“Unraveled; or the Unraveling accomplished”

Abstract

My third sabbatical brings to fruition my creative non-fiction collection, Unraveling. A compilation of twelve previously-published essays and several unpublished ones, this book unravels the strands of a life spent “working it out”— climbing in, moving out, hosing off, carrying on, mopping up, and calming down.

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too much coffee

Friday morning: I had blocked out 3 hours on my calendar to write, so drove downtown, found a rare parking spot in front of Grounds for Coffee, ordered a 16-ounce latte, perched at the bar upstairs, opened my laptop, logged into my Catapult account, read through the Introduction to the Generating New Ideas for the Personal Essay online independent study class with Lilly Dancyger, created a list of experiences & identities that define me, moved to Exercise #1: Your Unique Perspective, tried to generate interesting pairs from the previous list, and realized I had nothing unique to share. My life is boring. Then I realized I’d had too much coffee: 2 cups at home and 2 shots of espresso at the coffee shop. Now what? Jittery, agitated–why hadn’t I paced myself?–impatient for inspiration. I DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO THIS ANYMORE! So I check email, download some files, organize folders, write on my blog. Sigh.

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