books and babies

In many ways, my relationship with books is new. I have always read, but it wasn’t really  until the past few years that I began to decide to have a personal relationship with books. Before, in graduation school and before that, books were something that came with the territory.

They were given, assigned, and talked about, thought about on the terms of someone else. Now, in my life, there is no one there to make me read. So if I am to read, I must decide it for myself. I decide upon it and must commit to reading in the evening and morning hours because it’s something I want to do, something I need to do.

So, I do read. In my third pregnancy, I think I read a book every week. I did this by making reading the thing I did whenever I could. I did this by choosing to pick up titles on the way to storytime for my toddlers and by deciding that the story worlds captured, usually, so beautiful in my novels and memoirs was something worth having in my imagination and in my life.

I like books. Hardcovers with thick paper pages. I like their smell. I like to look at them and place notes in them.

I like that they can be picked up at will, that they want and need nothing from me and have no expectations.

Even with bland story lines, I like to finish my books, to close them and put them on a shelf. I do this because, if nothing else they offer a departure from my real life as a mother.

I like that they don’t bother my children and that when they see their mom read they get a chance to see me doing something that is for me, something I’d like for them someday, too.

STOP.

Right now I’m reading “Ambulance Girl” by Jane Stern. I had a baby last week, so finding the time and energy to pick it up an read it has been tough, but I am getting through the chapters, bit by bit. What are you reading? What have you read that you would recommend?

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Posted in Motherhood, Writing | 1 Comment

A Writer Who Writes

When I started this blog, I had one goal in mind: To become the writer in real life that I said I should be in my head. There’s always been a disconnect for me. Somehow, between my life in academia and my professional career that skirted around the title I wanted, I avoided becoming or being that person I always wanted to become, or be.

The Internet, while bad for a lot of things, I think, is what introduced me to the possibility that I could indeed be a writer. I saw, through many a late night spent on Twitter or blogs from other women who like me became mothers and then aspired to write, that I could do this, that the path to get from point a to point b wouldn’t be as hard as I thought it always was.

But that’s the kind. It still was hard. Even with the Internet and access to all the “writer” opportunities and “tips” in the world, I still found it hard to do the very things I had been avoiding, the things that would have made me a writer. I didn’t want to put myself “out there,” whatever that means, nor did I want to really put my ego on the line. But to be a writer, you must do these things. You must put yourself out there and wait and pitch and be vulnerable and be held up to criticism. And in the end, the good ones, the ones who make it in this profession, get used to this, or as used to this as one possibly can.

I have a minute left and haven’t said much, but the point is that this blog has meant much to my journey as a writer. And while I’ve thought to abandon it and write on my official blog, I’ve decided to keep it. I will write here because I love it here. So, I’m sorry for being away for so long. I lost my domain name, but I’m still here.

STOP.

How have you all been? Have I missed much? I plan to spend most of today reading your blogs.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

indulgences

Gossip magazines and blogs with sensational headlines about stars that I like to pretend I know.

Chocolate pudding and oatmeal, not together, but I like them both… a lot.

Hair blogs and make-up tutorials, since I like to pretend that I will change something about my hair and makeup and not really ever buy the tools to make it happen in the way I’ve learned.

Lots of sleep. Is that an indulgence?

Good books, oh, and I like magazines that are hard to put down or throw away when I’m finished reading them.

Nice eyebrows, or getting my eyebrows done by a professional.

Nice shoes and musicals and show tunes that have that big Jazz feel to them.

STOP.

What are some of your indulgences?

Posted in Life | 2 Comments

little lady goes to a hardware store

I feel kind of bad that I haven’t written here in what feels like weeks. I don’t think I really have a legitimate excuse for not being able to come here and write for five minutes, daily. I do always have things to write about, and I sit down, uninterrupted, at least once a day. But usually, or lately, when I do get a chance to sit uninterrupted, I do nothing or I sleep. Or, I’ve been thinking much home improvement projects I’d like to make.

Yes, that’s what I’ve been doing. Oh, and I’ve been going to hardware stores to get things that I’ve never bought before, things like drywall anchors and power sanders and spray paint (which requires an ID these days) and nails. I’ve been a busy lady fixing my house, I guess. And since I’ve never done this before, I’ve taken to it like a fish whose…just jumped back into water…that he’s never been in? Uh. Never mind.

I’m not joking when I say that in the last few weeks I’ve been to the hardware store almost everyday, usually because I buy the wrong things and am too afraid to ask for help from those guys who line the aisles, those guys who often see me pushing a cart with two toddlers and think, “YES. If anyone needs help, it’s her!” And I do often need help. But I usually don’t let them know that. “Oh. I’m fine!” I often say through a smile that I hope doesn’t reveal that I’m really not fine, just insecure and overly conscious of looking like a “little lady” needing help in a hardware store.

But yesterday, a store attendant caught me off guard and instead of asking if I need help, asked what I was looking for. “Drywall studs,” I said, knowing that likely wasn’t the name of what I was looking for but said really fast to seem like this all, this whole going to the hardware store with children trying to escape from the cart is routine. He looked confused, then realized it was drywall anchors that I needed. “Yes, that’s it, or them!” I said. I bought them and left feeling like maybe I need to get rid of my inferiority complex and be okay with being a newbie at hardware stores. Yes. So next time, instead of saying “I’m fine.” I will ask for help. Yes!

STOP.

Do you frequent hardware stores and appear that you have it all together when you really don’t? Is this normal? Or, is it just me?

Posted in Life, womanhood | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

morning writing

I never write here in the morning and I’m not sure why. Wait. I do know why. I started once and then got so distracted with children waking and the impending need to actually start my day with something productive that I stopped writing here…in the morning.

But I think I may start again, or I need to start again because nights have now become hit or miss for me. There’s this thing I’ve been doing, perhaps you’ve heard of it…it’s called “sleep.” Yes. That’s what I’ve been doing every night at around 10 pm. I do no later because in my commitment to listening to my body, this is when my body says I need to go to sleep.

So, I do go to sleep then. Oh, and speaking of listening to your body. Once you start, you really can’t stop. Or, you can stop…but it’s hard. It’s hard to eat chocolate when your body is yelling at you to go to sleep. It’s hard to write on a blog when your body is yelling at you to stare at a wall because you’re exhausted and need silence and clear thoughts.

I did, at one time, for a long time, do all of the above things. I did ignore my body in order to get “important” things done. But then I realized. What can be more important than how you are feeling? So, right now, at this moment. I felt like writing and no one else is awake. So I decided to write. Hmm. And if I’m lucky, I will feel like this and my girls will sleep in past 6 am again tomorrow.

We’ll see.

STOP.

If you are a blogger, do you write in the morning or at night? What can explain your preference?

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

new home buyers

My husband and I purchased our first home a little over two years ago. We had been renting before then and prior to that, living with my parents. (We married young, as in 22 young).

So, we found our first home after looking at 67 houses. We said we knew what we were looking for in a home, but we really didn’t. We said we wanted a fixer-upper, but every time we walked in a home that had that “old” smell, we would go back on that idea.

Our realtor said we should get a home with lots of space. And we agreed, kind of. Like new parents, we thought we kind of knew better than her. Space- mace. Who needs space when you have a growing family? We knew better than that!

So the home we purchased is on the smaller side, but it looks new and didn’t have that “old” smell. And that’s why, or the latter part, is why we bought it.

We were so scientific-y in our decision. I know!

But now that we’ve been here for almost two years, we realize that maybe we should have listened to our realtor and all those home-buying shows, after all. Maybe we need more space. Maybe we did need that linen closet, after all. And, maybe, just maybe, we could use a two-car garage. Maybe.

STOP.

How did you prepare for your first home purchase? Did you regret some of your compromises or did you make no compromises at all?

Posted in Life | Tagged , | 10 Comments

facebook displays of affection

In case you don’t know, facebook displays of affection are public updates about things that you would have otherwise just shared with your spouse/love interest but decided instead that everyone else in your friend’s list should know about it, too. I don’t get these things. Or, I do get them and at one time in my life wanted them. I wanted my husband to be on Facebook so that we could share status updates telling the world about all the things that we’re doing that indicate that we “love” each other.

I brought it up to my husband years ago. He laughed, however, said it didn’t make any sense and would only reveal my own issues with needing public gratification. I didn’t say much then. I laughed, I think. Called him “outdated.”

But, years later, I can say he was right. I think it’s a certain kind of person, in a certain kind of marriage or relationship that thinks what they do in private necessitates “likes” and comments to know that it is good.

This is a true story so don’t laugh. I had a “friend” who would do these displays of affection on a daily basis. She would talk on facebook about the dinner she was preparing for her “baby” and say how much she “loved him.” In watching her, I always felt like crap because my husband is so old fashioned and boring that he only shares his declarations of love to me in person or by phone, maybe by a card. But online? Never. So, anyway, her updates continued for a year then stopped, suddenly. Of course, as I was a spectator to her marriage show, I wanted to know why. I learned why months later. She got a divorce! A divorce! Now this isn’t to say that all who proclaim their love on facebook to be headed towards “splitsville.” It just means that those updates you read are meaningless. So, now when I see them I don’t feel like “Oh, how lovely!” I think, why are you on facebook doing this? Can’t you just talk to your loved one and tell them yourself?

STOP.

What do you think about facebook displays of affection?

Posted in Marriage | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

the camel colored sofa set

I think bad design in a home starts with an odd piece that doesn’t work but that one holds on to out of a sense of obligation to its past life. Our odd piece was this sofa set, a brown, camel-like colored sofa set that we bought on sale at a local furniture discount store. It was what we thought we could afford. We would, we told ourselves, replace it when we had the  means, but until then it was good enough.

It was sofa set. Our ugly sofa set that we were forced to style our living room around. The golden drapes, the red turkish rug, the art work was all purchased to make that sofa work.

It was all okay until I looked around and realized I hated my living room. I had ignored it, convinced myself that feeling didn’t really matter, by cleaning it meticulously and focusing on what I could change. But there came this moment when I realized that beneath all of my efforts was a desire for something different.

So, I decided a month ago to get rid of the sofa and everything else. We started all over again with nothing and from nothing I could finally see what I really wanted for the room but couldn’t see with all the mass of bad decor choices. I wanted bold colors. I wanted blacks and whites and metallics. And that’s what I got.

I love my new room and from the experience I’ve learned.

Sometimes when our lives are cluttered with things that we’ve put in by compromise– relationships, clothes, foods– we never can get to the core of what we want, unapologetically. While compromise is a virtue, we should also remember to honor ourselves by holding dear and leading with what we  love instead of what we like enough to “live with.”

So, in closing. Buy well. And avoid camel shades of microfiber sofas.

STOP.

Is it just me, or did styling your home also help you have epiphanies about who you are? How did you decide on your decor?

Posted in inspiration & selfhood | Tagged | 8 Comments

Eat. Pray.Love

My sister gave me a copy of it for my birthday and I said I would read it soon. I was in graduate school then. It was my 24th birthday. The book was to be the start of me thinking more about how to live a more fulfilled life…at 24.

So, I started the book and stopped that year, blaming my inability on getting past Italy on all of my other school readings.

I started again the next year, again in Italy (the chapter), and again the next and the year after until finally I just rested it on the bookcase in my living room, convinced that it was “too slow” a book for me.

I saw the movie when it came out in 2010 and felt guilty, as I walked from the theatre, that as a new mom with a thirst for more literature, my book still sat on my bookcase.

So, I finished that book today. Finally. And I enjoyed it. It wasn’t too slow this time, but I think that I can attribute more of my sentiments on this to how much I’ve changed in six years! Six years! I have two children now and less time, but with age and more of an awareness that life doesn’t have to be rushed to be meaningful, I now can enjoy my books. I consume them like expensive, small desserts, bits at a time…and I savor.

So, I guess you can say this is a book review that’s six years overdue.

STOP.

Have you read Eat. Pray. Love? What did you think of it?

Posted in inspiration & selfhood, Life | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

myth of multi-tasking

Back in my career days, I had one answer that I would give to the beloved interview question, “What is your best quality?” I think that was the question. My response was that I am “a good multitasker.” And if the interviewer wanted examples, I would cite past internships, jobs, and academic assignments in which I “successfully” managed to balance two, or usually three, things at a time.

I put the word “successfully” in quotation marks because any named “multitasker” who’s recovered from the plight of multitasking knows that there is no such things as really being a “successful” multitasker. I mean, managing to get things done and no one dying in the process could be success. But is it really?

I am no longer a multitasker. I no longer try to do more than one thing at a time because I think whatever I’m doing suffers. So, I try to focus on one thing at a time. I do get many things done in my day, but those things are done on their own time. I’m a unitasker. Is that a word?

STOP.

Are you a recovering multitasker? Confess below.

Posted in Life | Tagged , | 3 Comments